The River Thames is one of London’s most famous and oldest of landmarks, running throughout the city and beyond. This waterway is part of what attracted the Romans to establish ‘Londinium’, and has since helped support an ever-changing city as it continues to grow and develop in the 21st century.
People travel from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the Thames up close, and there are lots of different activities and experiences to indulge in on and around the water. Whether you just want to watch the world go by, or fancy taking part in something a little more active – this guide should soon have you taking along the Thames, and perhaps indulging in a little sightseeting en-route in style…
Go for a walk
Thanks to the Thames Path National Trail, you can explore the Thames on foot, travelling along this famed waterway while staying at the Montcalm luxury hotels. The walk starts outside of London (in the Cotswolds) and traces the source of the Thames for around 184 miles. Understandably, not everyone who visits London will have the time (or energy!) to undertake the entire trail, as it passes through Oxford, Henley, several stunning villages and Windsor before making its way to the city. Nonetheless, sections can be enjoyed on a smaller scale, and the Thames Path has recently become more dog-friendly, with lots of swimming and paddling opportunities along the way.
For fans of cycling, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the River Thames, including sections of the Thames Path National Trail (though most is reserved for walking), and areas on the National Cycle Network, particularly routes four and five. These two routes take in additional areas such as Reading, Windsor and Oxford allowing you a glimpse of the river as you travel towards your destination. For energetic visitors staying in one of hotel rooms near River Thames, this is a fantastic way to see the sights and get fresh air and exercise at the same time. Plus with two wheels instead of two feet, you’ll get to cover more ground and see a little more of the country.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a devoted fishing expert or simply enjoy casting a line as a hobby, the River Thames has opportunities for all experience levels. To go fishing on the Thames, you’ll need to get your hands on a rod fishing license, which allows you to fish for freshwater fish, eel, salmon, smelt and trout with a rod and line. Be sure to carry your license with you on your journey, and then head to a nearby fishing spot during your stay at our London city suites hotel.
One of the most obvious ways to enjoy the River Thames is to get out onto the water. There are lots of options for you to customise the trip to suit your own preferences, including everything from opting for an organised trip, to hiring your own boat and heading off on an adventure.
If you want something more offbeat, then there are also kayaks, canoes and rowing boats available for hire along the Thames, though each option requires a little more energy and commitment than letting someone else sail the boat for you!
See a stunning garden
If you prefer to stay a little more static, then visiting a delightful garden situated beside the Thames is a wonderful way to explore. There are lots to choose from, such as Hampton Court Palace, which has a garden designed by Capability Brown. The garden was created in 1764 on the orders of George III, and offers lots of beautiful sights close to the water. There are other options for you to head for, which will provide not only a lovely day out, but some inspiration for your own garden, and a unique way to see the sights before you celebrate with a meal at The Grill at The Montcalm.
Take a trip at Henley-on-Thames
The name should provide a clue, but the picturesque town of Henley-on-Thames provides some of the finest views of the Thames available, as well as hosting the yearly Henley Royal Regatta each summer. For this special event, boating talent from around the world competes to win a selection of races – and spectators line the waterfront to see the latest action.
Whilst the Regatta may be over for another year, there are still other ways to enjoy a day on the water, with daily trips which echo the journey taken by competing teams at the main event. These boat trips generally travel at a leisurely pace, and can be booked on-site for great views and a chance to do some Thames sightseeing just outside of London.
You could even pop to the local River & Rowing Museum, to find out more about the sport and the history of Henley itself. In addition, a trip to this museum keeps you close to the river and includes a permanent ‘Wind in the Willows’ gallery which celebrates the children’s classic set on the Thames.
Take a speedboat tour
There are regular tours of the Thames on a RIB (rigid inflatable boat), perfect for anyone who wants the energy of an active boat ride, but still wants to be able to see some of the city’s major landmarks along the way. The trip takes you underneath the famed bridges in the capital on a suitably speedy trip, zooming past some of the key historic sights in one fantastic journey you’ll certainly remember long after it’s over!
Use the Thames as your transport
As a working waterway, the Thames doesn’t only serve as a sightseeing device – it’s also a tried and tested way of getting around the city conveniently. One of the major river boat operators is MBNA Thames Clippers, which provides convenient journeys every 20 minutes and leaves from different piers around the city. Tickets can be combined with access to the likes of the Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe, making this option ideal for accessing major attractions by boat.