From award-winning theatre to historic landmark bridges, these are the best things to do on the River Thames in London
The River Thames is one of the most recognisable features of the London cityscape. Muse for artists, playwrights and poets – not to mention architects – this winding waterway offers incredible views along its route through the capital. Over 2,000 years old, the River Thames is London’s lifeline, and has occupied an important part in the lives of locals for centuries. Today, the river still inspires a multitude of events and attractions along its meandering course, from world-class cuisine at St Katherine’s Dock and Oxo Tower Wharf, to innovative exhibitions at the Design Museum. Join us as we explore the best things to do along the River Thames in London.
A stone’s throw from Tower Bridger lies St Katherine’s dock, a marina filled with boats – including the Queen’s rowbarge, Gloriana – and surrounded by restaurants and cafés. This is a great place to simply wander along and take it all in, before stepping into 18th century warehouse, The Dickens Inn, for a quick pint.
Situated at Greenwich pier is the celebrated Cutty Sark. The 19th century sailing ship is the sole surviving tea clipper and is a fascinating attraction for those interested in maritime history. Enter the ship and discover what life was like as a seafaring Victorian through a series of exhibits, and walk underneath the raised ship to admire the boat’s traditional craftsmanship.
Southbank is known for its performance art. But as well as providing space for street performers to entertain crowds, it’s also home to a number of theatres and museums. Visit Shakespeare’s Globe to learn about illustrious playwright William Shakespeare, check out BFI to discover the best of the British film industry, or book into a show at the Southbank Centre, which presents a diverse programme of comedy, music, dance, theatre and art shows most nights of the week.
The landmark Oxo Tower Wharf is a hub of art, design and dining; formerly an office tower, it’s now home to an innovative mix of art galleries, independent fashion boutiques, specialist design studios, restaurants and cafés. Right at the top you’ll find Oxo Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie, which offers striking panoramic vistas of the city and the River Thames.
See Tower Bridge from a fresh perspective by walking along the raised glass walkway between the two towers. To get there, visitors must climb one of the turrets, where they’ll pass through an exhibition and learn about the history of the bridge and how the landmark was built.
After a day of sightseeing, relax with a drink at The Grapes, Charles Dickens’ former watering hole – if you’re a literature fan, there’s something extraordinary about sitting in the same pub that this famous writer once visited. Knowing that Sir Ian McKellan (who played Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings) is the owner is just the cherry on the cake.