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One of the best boat journeys in London with children

One in every of my favorite views of London is from the river – the Thames is on the coronary heart of the town, and with so many decisions of various boat journeys in London with children, it’s straightforward to suit at the very least one into your go to.

Open-topped boat sailing towards Westminster bridge with the Houses of Parliament and the tower containing Big Ben in the background - my pick of the best boat tours in London with kids

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And in addition to the best-known sightseeing boat excursions in London, there are historic London boat journeys, self-drive choices (in addition to self-paddle) and extra adrenaline-fuelled experiences to attraction to older children.

You may make a advantage of necessity and journey to Greenwich with one of many London boat excursions relatively than sitting on the tube, and even hop onto a ship between two artwork galleries for a cruise with tradition. Right here’s my decide of the very best London boat journeys for households to strive.

Ideas for London boat excursions with children

Crusing alongside the Thames is a improbable expertise, nevertheless it’s price being conscious of some issues earlier than you board, particularly for the London sightseeing boat excursions.

  • There’s usually a cold breeze out on the river, so whereas open-top sightseeing boats give nice views, it’s one to avoid wasting for sunny days – or wrap up heat.
  • It’s usually not the quickest technique to journey – particularly in central London, if boats are hopping between Westminster, the London Eye and Embankment. It’s in regards to the expertise relatively than the pace although.
  • Youthful children won’t be fairly so enthralled – whereas I can fortunately watch the surroundings for hours, when my daughter was younger, she appreciated our London boat journeys quite a bit much less, so like all journey, pack one thing to entertain littler ones.
  • Most of the bigger boats have extra restricted numbers, so in the event you’re boarding one and not using a timed ticket, it’s price boarding in the direction of the beginning of the route or getting there a bit early on busy days, in any other case there won’t be house on the primary boat.
  • For extra concepts on how to economize on days out in London with children, together with some boat excursions, take a look at my suggestions

For concepts of extra issues to do on the Thames with children, take a look at my decide of the very best of London’s riverside sights

One of the City Cruises boats on the Thames in London with the Shard and HMS Belfast in the background - one of the best boat trips in London with kids

Metropolis Cruises hop-on hop-off boats

There’s a complete vary of various sightseeing boat excursions from Metropolis Cruises, together with ones with afternoon tea but additionally a 24-hour hop-on hop-off ticket, so you may get on and off the sightseeing boats at 4 totally different piers, if you need a number of cruises.

Get 20% off all Metropolis Cruises sightseeing excursions utilizing code CC20 till the top of 2024 – click on right here to get the low cost

There’s commentary on board as they sail alongside the Thames, previous landmarks together with the Homes of Parliament and the London Eye, so it’s a enjoyable, hassle-free technique to spot a couple of highlights with children – if the climate’s good, you’ll be able to sit outdoors on the highest deck.

It’s also possible to decide up mixed tickets, together with for riverside sights such because the London Eye plus a ship tour, or the Tower of London plus cruise.

The boats run often between Westminster Pier, London Eye Pier, Tower Pier and Greenwich, which every part taking round half-hour (besides the primary two stops that are simply 10 minutes aside throughout the river).

For mixed boat and bus excursions, take a look at my decide of the finest bus excursions in London with children

Horrible Thames boat tour

What do you get once you cross the creators of Horrible Histories with 2,000 years of drama alongside London’s riverbanks? The Horrible Thames cruise, new in 2021, has turn out to be a household favorite, with journeys operating on choose dates between early April and the top of October (largely throughout faculty holidays).

With tales of revolution, beheadings and pirates (and the stomach-turning cause why Queen Victoria’s pleasure cruise lasted solely minutes), you sail from Tower Bridge to Westminster and again by way of Execution Dock, whereas prizewinning school-child Billy (or Billie) and their trainer carry out and supply the commentary.

View of a sign for the Terrible Thames boat tour and the boat itself, with Tower Bridge in the background on a cloudy grey day - one of the best boat tours in London with kids

The cruise itself solely takes 45 minutes however with songs, simply the correct quantity of viewers participation, plus an important steadiness of enjoyable and information, it feels such as you get twice as a lot packed in – all together with the same old Horrible Histories recipe of gruesomely ridiculous, gory sound results, plus loads of bathroom humour.

You’ll uncover some genuinely quirky information, plus it doesn’t draw back from the troublesome subjects, together with London’s function within the slave commerce. Departs from Tower Bridge Quay close to St Katherine’s Dock.

We have been invited alongside to assessment the tour earlier than it launched – my Horrible Histories-loving daughter (and I) gave it a really agency thumbs up – take a look at the total Horrible Thames assessment right here

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

In case you’re not on the lookout for an extended cruise, aren’t fussed about commentary on board or need a extra spontaneous choice, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is unbeatable.

When you can select the identical route as most sightseeing boat excursions in London, this operates nearly the identical manner as a water bus, so it’s a enjoyable technique to get round London.

The boats go away from 23 totally different piers alongside the Thames with common boats via central London, plus much less frequent routes to take you west to Putney and east past Greenwich, so far as Woolwich (Royal Arsenal).

You need to use contactless to pay (in addition to your Oyster card), or guide by way of their app, so there’s no have to plan your tickets manner upfront. It’s price understanding that it’s not included within the tfl every day fare cap although.

Or you’ll be able to decide up a one-day limitless River Roamer journey go: if there are two adults in your group, the household go implies that children go free.

Image showing a graphic of the London Eye on the Essential Guide to London with kids ebook cover, and the words 'click to buy my 33-page guide to London. Itineraries, tips and all you need to know before a visit to London with kids' linking to my the London with kids shop page

Thames River Sightseeing Cruise

One other traditional sightseeing London boat tour, Thames River Sightseeing additionally operates via central London – though stopping at a pair extra piers than Metropolis Cruises – with dwell commentary.

There are additionally audio guides in a number of different languages, and an open deck to observe the sights on sunny days, as you cruise from Westminster Pier and Tower Bridge Quay, close to St Katharine Docks, to Greenwich.

Try a few of the finest issues to do in Greenwich with children right here

It’s also possible to decide up a two-day household go to cowl all of your boat journeys in London with children, at present £47.80, in the event you’re hoping to do numerous cruising alongside the river.

View down the Thames with boats on the river and the edge of Hampton Court Palace just seen, on a sunny day

Turks River Cruises

The London boat excursions from Turks Launches have been cruising alongside the Thames for over 300 years, giving households an opportunity to find a distinct stretch of river.

The eye-catching boats (most famously a Mississippi-style stern wheeler) run most days between Richmond, Kingston and Hampton Court docket, passing lovely Hampton Court docket Palace, Teddington Lock and the quirkily fascinating Eel Pie Island.

Children get discounted tickets whereas these aged two and beneath journey free, with journeys lasting between 35 minutes and 1 hour 45 minutes, relying how far you select to cruise.

E book tickets to Hampton Court docket Palace, right here, to mix each for an important household time out.

The Thames Barrier and the end of the Thames Path - some boat tours of London with kids travel to this point

Thames Rockets RIB Voyage

In order for you one thing extra thrilling than a mild pootle alongside the river, take a look at an adrenaline-fuelled RIB speedboat expertise as an alternative.

You’ll find a sequence of high-speed RIB experiences from Thames Rockets – the Final London Journey is household pleasant, with a 50-minute journey previous HMS Belfast and the Oxo Tower, from the London Eye pier, whereas Captain Kidd’s Canary Wharf Voyage is aimed particularly at households.

E book right here for tickets which will be cancelled as much as 24 hours beforehand

For an extended journey, you’ll be able to select the 80-minute 30-knot thrill trip to the Thames Barrier, or a shorter 40-minute Break the Barrier choice, ranging from London Bridge Metropolis Pier and winding across the Greenwich peninsula, all accompanied by tunes from the final six a long time.

It’s a must to be 10 years previous or above to hitch the Break the Barrier trip, due to the speeds concerned, however in any other case the boat journeys are appropriate for teenagers of all ages (though none are appropriate in the event you’re pregnant and will not go well with nervous little ones), particularly the Captain Kidd trip.

It’s effective to carry luggage on board (though not bigger circumstances) and whereas there’s all the time the possibility of spray off the water, there are waterproofs supplied so it’s best to emerge good and dry, though together with your coronary heart racing!

Beforehand you additionally had another option of ThamesJet speedboat rides, however these are not working.

Image showing a graphic of London's iconic sights and the words 'click to read my quick start guide to London, all the essentials you need to know before a visit to London with kids' linking to my blog post guide to London with kids

Take a Canal Waterbus

In case you’re on the lookout for extra laid-back boat journeys in London with children, the Thames isn’t the town’s solely waterway, with a number of totally different canal waterbus choices cruising alongside Regent’s Canal.

The Jenny Wren canal boat tour lasts 90 minutes, cruising from Camden Lock to Little Venice and again once more, with a information stating a few of the highlights alongside the best way.

Or Jason’s Journey Canal Waterbus has been working since 1951. The classic narrowboat takes you on a 45-minute journey from Camden Lock to Primrose Hill, previous Regent’s Park, London Zoo (look out for a few of the animals!) then on to fairly Little Venice, with its cafe-lined canals, the place you’ll be able to hop off to discover Paddington or stroll the streets.

In case you’d want to sail in silence, go for Jason’s Journey and putter to Little Venice with out the guided chat (solely customary on Jason’s Journey cruises beginning on the Little Venice finish).

Kids are welcome and you may take buggies or strollers on board Jason’s Journey, so long as you’ll be able to fold them, whereas under-fours go free on Jenny Wren.

For extra issues to do in Camden with children, take a look at my high picks

Houseboats lining the canal at Little Venice - the perfect place to start a canal boat trip in London with kids

Canal Museum Tunnel boat

Uncover extra about London’s canals earlier than taking a ship journey alongside the Regent’s Canal and thru the Islington tunnel, with a particular tour from the London Canal Museum, not removed from King’s Cross station.

On the museum itself, you’ll be able to be taught extra in regards to the individuals who lived and labored on the waterways, the cargoes the boats carried (together with ice from Norway!), and get a peek inside a narrowboat cabin – plus some bonus historical past of the ice commerce and ice cream.

However it’s also possible to guide the Canal Museum’s Tunnel Boat tour, a 50-minute journey alongside the water, together with some extra background on the three-quarter mile tunnel… together with the truth that initially males needed to lie on the boats and push in opposition to the partitions with their legs to get via.

Fortunately it’s quite a bit simpler nowadays! Not one for the youngest children, who could be spooked by the lengthy, darkish tunnel although.

There are restricted seats on board, and it solely runs on Thursdays and Sundays, so do guide upfront.

If all of the ice cream historical past has whetted your urge for food, take a look at Ruby Violet within the Kings Cross canal quarter, close to Granary Sq. and its fountains, with flavours starting from conventional favourites to peanut butter, ardour fruit and liquorice.

Tate Boat

London has not one however two branches of the Tate gallery, with Tate Trendy and Tate Britain each on the riverside – and in the event you fancy a time out which mixes each, you’ll be able to hop between the 2 utilizing the Tate Boat.

Operated by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers (scroll up for extra), it’s really a part of the RB1 or RB2 route so you’ll be able to guide as regular utilizing their app, in addition to shopping for tickets from the Tate – the galleries themselves are each free to enter.

It’s positively a enjoyable promoting level for teenagers who love artwork, and this explicit boat journey in London with children makes rather more of an occasion of a go to to the 2.

Or in the event you’re on the lookout for an much more memorable expertise, you’ll be able to guide a Tate To Tate tour, which features a guided tour of the Tate Britain within the morning, a visit on the Tate Boat, and a guided tour of Tate Trendy within the afternoon, in addition to different family-friendly personal excursions of the artwork galleries.

View of the Millennium bridge over the Thames with a view of Tate Modern and the Shard in the background - the Tate boat is one of a string of boat tours in London with kids that you can take

Bus and boat tour of London

In case you can’t resolve whether or not you fancy a ship tour of London or a bus tour, why not do each? There are a number of choices obtainable together with the Massive Bus open-top hop-on hop-off bus mixed with a River Thames cruise, and a selection of tickets lasting as much as three days, to find the varied routes.

Or take a look at this classic bus and boat journey as one other technique to journey via the town on two iconic modes of transport. The traditional doubledecker bus leaves from Victoria Coach Station previous sights resembling Westminster Abbey and the Homes of Parliament, earlier than hopping on a ship alongside the Thames.

Some departures embody the possibility to see the Altering of the Guard at Buckingham Palace too, relying which period you decide.

Uncover extra royal locations in London with children right here

Go Boat self-drive cruise

In case you want the thought of getting behind the wheel of a ship your self, take a look at the totally different choices from GoBoat London, with house for as much as eight in every electrical boat (and it’s dog-friendly as properly).

You don’t have to have expertise earlier than you set off – there may be coaching given on arrival, together with a route map, plus you’ll get life jackets for infants and buoyancy aids for kids too. The captain should be over 18.

You possibly can depart from Paddington and Canary Wharf, providing you with the possibility to discover round Paddington Basin and the Regent’s Canal or via the Docklands, in addition to Kingston, cruising alongside the river in West London between Teddington Lock and Molesley Lock, passing Hampton Court docket Palace.

Convey a picnic – you’ll be able to rent the boats for as much as three hours and there’s a desk to sit down round – though it’s essential know that Paddington is an alcohol-free location.

Try our assessment of GoBoat with children from Paddington

View of someone in a kayak on the river Thames with St Paul's cathedral and Blackfriars bridge in the background - one of a string of London boat trips with kids to try

Kayak London’s waterways

Wish to be the captain however fancy being accountable for a barely smaller craft? It’s also possible to discover a few of London’s 100 miles of waterways with a spot of canoeing or kayaking.

Moo Canoes has a base at Hackney Wick in the event you’re seeking to take out a canoe (good for households who all need to be in the identical boat) or Limehouse for kayaks (nice in the event you’re a solo guardian, or want to separate children and adults between the boats).

In case you’re decided to get out onto the Thames, the London Kayak Firm additionally does reserving for households with children aged 9 and over (the group journeys are for adults solely).

*final up to date 2024*


The best boat trips in London with kids - from self-drive options to sightseeing boat tours, kayaking, traditional canal narrowboats and adrenaline-fuelled RIB experiences, my pick of the top London boat trips for families

Disclosure: This publish accommodates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I’ll obtain a small fee. A number of experiences have been provided to me freed from cost for assessment, however all opinions are my very own

Predominant picture, Little Venice, Tate Trendy, kayak courtesy of Depositphotos, Metropolis Cruises courtesy Metropolis Experiences, all others copyright MummyTravels


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