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London wouldn’t be London without the River Thames. It’s what attracted early settlers to the city, Victorians ice-skated on it during frozen winters and more recently it saw 670 boats parade past Queen Elizabeth II as part of a flotilla to mark her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
The river is still a key feature of the UK capital, dividing it into North London and South London, with many of London’s most iconic landmarks lining the Thames and the bridges that cross it equally as famous.
If you’re staying at the Montcalm at the Brewery, the River Thames is within easy reach, so why not take the time to enjoy a boat ride along it and take in the sights of London from a completely different perspective?
1. The sightseeing river pass
Many tourists choose to see the city’s sights from an open-top sightseeing bus that they can hop on and off throughout the day, but did you know you can enjoy a similar experience on the river?
Hop-on and hop-off river cruise passes are available, running every 40 minutes from various points including Westminster Bridge, the London Eye and the Tower of London. You can get off at each stop and spend as long as you like exploring the nearby attractions before getting back on the boat to see even more of the city from the water before heading to the next brilliant attraction.
2. Afternoon tea on a city cruise
If you’ve been to London before and already seen all of the sights, a river cruise is a great way to see a different side of the UK capital, which can be injected with an extra dose of Britishness with the addition of afternoon tea.
Several Thames cruise providers offer this experience, which typically involves delicate finger sandwiches, iced fancies and scones with jam and clotted cream being served up alongside a pot of tea, although some offer the option of upgrading this to a glass of prosecco or even champagne.
What could be a better backdrop to this quintessentially English custom than iconic landmarks like the Big Ben and the Tower of London?
3. Thames Jet speedboat
If you’re more of a thrillseeker and like to take life at a slightly faster pace, then the ThamesJet speedboat should be right up your street.
This boat trip takes in all of the classic sights along the Thames, including Tower Bridge, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, before turning into a speedy military-grade boat ride.
The ThamesJet speedboat experience takes under an hour to cruise up and down the river, making it perfect if you’re pushed for time – just remember to hold on tight…
4. London Showboat
For those looking for an evening out on the river itself, the London Showboat is the perfect option. This is a river cruise that comes complete with a four-course dinner, before turning into an unusual nightclub, with guests then dancing the night away throughout the rest of its three-hour journey time.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll be able to see stunning views of the sun setting over the London skyline from the tranquility of the water as the city comes alive after dark.
5. Canal cruising in Little Venice
Although this one isn’t a cruise along the River Thames, it’s still another excellent way to see London from the water, which is why we’ve included it in this list.
Little Venice is the name given to the beautiful waterside area surrounding the Grand Union and Regent’s Canal. Once a countryside wharf area, Little Venice still retains much of its original picturesque charm, with a canal boat the best way to experience the area.
Tourists can hire a canal barge to take them from Little Venice to Camden, a route that takes in many of the old wharf buildings of the industrial revolution, as well as Browning’s Island. This is a land mass named after the Victorian poet Robert Browning, who used to live in the area, where you should be able to see many beautiful birds, including Mandarin ducks and Egyptian geese.
This makes for a lovely way to spend a few hours, offering a totally different pace of London life to that which you’ll find in the rest of the city.