Insiders regularly ask about what to do in London. During our latest visit to London, we did a Thames river trip that I would recommend to everyone. You need to allow a day, so not for a whistle stop visit, but if you have the time, and the weather is good, it is wonderful and also quirky.
This is it Thames River Boats . It is a very simple website, that doesn't say a lot, but it does give the times of sailings etc. We went from Westminster to Hampton Court. You buy tickets at the pier ticket office at Westminster, then go to the pier get the boat. It will not be a large, modern, state of the art vessel. We were on a small vessell, capable of taking 130 passengers. It was built in 1926, and was one of the small ships that sailed to Dunkirk to rescue troops stranded on the French beaches in 1940. It was a vessel of character. The reason the ship has to be small, is that the trip involves a couple of narrow locks, and going through them is a terrific experience.
Because the boat is small, the catering is limited. But there is a small bar with teas, coffee, beer, wine etc. The guy will also make you a toasted sandwich - ham, cheese or cheese and ham! There are also crisps and muffins. Enough to keep you going during the trip.
You get a brilliant commentary on the journey to Hampton Court. Many people buy one way tickets to Hampton Court, visit the palace, then get the train back to London, which is an easy trip
Because of the locks and tides, the time given for the journey can only be taken as approximate. So don't think the times are rigid - nature gets in the way.
If you do this trip - get to Westminster Pier very early. It is extremely popular!
Thanks for the information!
Have not done this cruise, but seen it many times from County Hall! This would be a wonderful way to spend a day in nice weather and really relax on The Thames. The amount of boats in the area is really amazing. Thank-you for sharing with us! Here are a few photo's of some of the varied boats in that area. Always, there are huge crowds enjoying the water.
Is this were you depart from Westminster?
This was quite a scene! I think the Queen was on this boat. Note the crowd on Westminster Bridge!
Never a "Dull Moment" at County Hall! That is really Queen Elizabeth II, sailing by the hotel!
Thanks for sharing your experiences on The Thames! It's a wonderful way to spend a day!
Yup that's the pier at Westminster. I have taken a couple of photos of the boat. I wll post them when I have a minute.
Your pictures of the Queen were from her Diamond Jubilee river procession in 2012. It poured with rain all day!
Very busy here at the moment. Only got home last night and loads of things to catch up on.
Yes, it was a "Nasty Day", unless you where staying at County Hall and watching from your room! I had forgot that part of the day, it was memorable!
Really look forward to seeing your photo's!
This would be the way to "Tackle the Thames"! It might be a rougher ride, but looks like a lot of fun. Located between the London Eye and Waterloo Station!
No, No and thrice NO! They are lethal. Read this. London Duck Tours boat bursts into flames forcing terrified tourists to jump into River Thames - Mirror Online And they have had problems elsewhere too. You wouldn't ever get us on one of those death traps.
Had no idea! But this makes sense. I know we would never go on one. That would be a horrible experience.
Again, thanks for sharing!
Will stick to your suggestions!
There are so many beautiful things to see on a Thames River Cruise!
The Tower of London is spectacular, as seen from a cruise boat. Here you see, "Traitors Gate"!
Don't forget that you can also take a boat the other direction down to Greenwich. That's a worthwhile destination too. The Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory, and Maritime Museum are all there. I didn't go by boat but used the Docklands Light Rail (DLR). Made for a great day trip.
Hi bejacob. Yes, we have done that as well. The reason I mentioned the one to Hampton Court is that it only operates in the Summer months, and I have not seen it mentioned on Insiders, whereas I have seen the Greenwich trip.
You are right, that is a lovely day out too. Some boats even go through the Thames Barrier as well!
I wish I had photos of Hampton Court to share, but those came from the days before I had a digital camera. It is truly amazing, and you'll feel like you're in the Tudors (but better -- but lots!) or any other film about them. You can visit the Haunted Hall of Katherine Howard, true to historical fact kitchens, beautiful gardens, all in an idyllic setting except if you remember how Henry VIII got HC -- by dispossessing Cardinal Wolsey (no role model), who had served as virtual king during most of Henry's early reign. But you can get a real sense of the whole reign of Henry VIII from visiting. And once you get there it can be as relaxing as you want!
I loved reading all of these great suggestions for the London Thames trip! I haven't been to London in many, many years, and I definitely didn't know about this great option (I love being on the water). My husband has never been to London and it's #1 on his list. We hope to go within the next year. Do you think this would be a good option for kids as well, or is it mostly geared toward adults?
jmart, there were kids on the boat. I would say it could be a bit long for very young children, although there was a little girl who loved all the attention she was getting. But most kids love all the sights and sounds. There is always interesting stuff on the banks of the river, aided by the commentary. And needless to say, they just LOVE the locks. If you do a one way trip to Hampton Court and go in the palace, there is plenty for kids - in fact they actively encourage them. All I would say is go on a fine weather day.
Anything else you want to know, just ask.
Thanks, Tommo781! I remember LOVING locks when I was young as well. So intriguing as a kid - we used to spend a lot of time up north in Michigan, and would go through the Sault Ste Marie locks any chance we got. I will be back in touch when we plan this trip!
OK. I've loaded my holiday snaps now. Here is the little boat we were on. The Princess Freda. Isn't she delightful and charming? There is a lot of information and pictures of her if you google the name.
And here are Mr & Mrs Tommo on board! It was very hot and sunny, hence the collars up to protect our necks.
Jerrycoin, note what is in the background!!!!
And finally, this is the boat in a lock, waiting for the water level to rise. Amazing!
You two look "Smashing", on a beautiful, but warm, day on The Thames!
That is a wonderful way to relax!
Thank-you for sharing!
Hope we can all at least, "Take a walk" around the area, in September. Lady Coin and I have had "Bad Experiences" on our "Boat trips", so we enjoy the "Shore's" a wee bit more!
Thanks for sharing your pictures and experiences. We head over to LHR on June 13th and start off with 7 days in Scotland, a couple in York, and finish up with London. This is only our second visit to London and we were planning our first Thames trip. I do not know if we will have the luxury of a full day but were planning on a cruise to Greenwich and the train back. We are open to any suggestions that you or the other Insiders may have.
shashack, Greenwich is wonderful. Plenty to do, so if you don't want to spend the full day, you'll have to be selective. Options include the Cutty Sark
the Royal Naval College
the National Maritime Museum
and the Royal Observatory (which I didn't have time to visit). There is also a bit of the town to explore (right near the DLR station) including some a couple good pubs where you might have lunch. There is also a foot tunnel under the Thames. Worth a peek.
There is enough to keep you busy for a full day, but if you're selective, you can pick the sights most suited to your interests and see a fair bit in perhaps half a day.
I envy your 7 days in Scotland. My visit there several years back was for just over a week but I would have loved to stay longer. If you post a new thread about Scotland with your plans, I'm sure you'll get some excellent suggestions.
shashack, as Bejacob rightly says, start a new thread and give us a few more details about your travel plans. For instance, whereabouts in Scotland will you be, where are you staying in York and London? Are there places/attractions you are keen to visit, or anywhere you particularly don't want to go? There will be several MRIs who will be only too pleased to help you. As I have said in the past, I am from the UK, have visited Scotland several times, and go to London & York every year. I know York better than my home town!! I would be glad to help you in any way I can.