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The very best boat journeys in London with children

Certainly one of my favorite views of London is from the river – the Thames is on the coronary heart of the town, and with so many selections of various boat journeys in London with children, it’s straightforward to suit at the 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 can also make a advantage of necessity and journey to Greenwich with one of many London boat excursions quite than sitting on the tube, and even hop onto a ship between two artwork galleries for a cruise with tradition. Right here’s my choose of the very best London boat journeys for households to attempt.

Suggestions for London boat excursions with children

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

  • There’s typically a cold breeze out on the river, so whereas open-top sightseeing boats give nice views, it’s one to save lots of for sunny days – or wrap up heat.
  • It’s typically not the quickest approach to journey – particularly in central London, if boats are hopping between Westminster, the London Eye and Embankment. It’s in regards to the expertise quite than the pace although.
  • Youthful children may not be fairly so enthralled – whereas I can fortunately watch the surroundings for hours, when my daughter was younger, she appreciated our London boat journeys rather a lot much less, so like every journey, pack one thing to entertain littler ones.
  • Most of the bigger boats have extra restricted numbers, so for those who’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 may not be house on the primary boat.
  • For extra concepts on how to save cash on days out in London with children, together with some boat excursions, try my suggestions

For concepts of extra issues to do on the Thames with children, try my choose 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 an entire 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 completely different piers, if you need a number of cruises.

Get 20% off all Metropolis Cruises sightseeing excursions utilizing code CC20 till the tip of 2024 – click on right here to get the low cost – in addition to 50% off grownup and baby 24-hour river cross tickets for those who guide earlier than Could 24 utilizing the code welcome50

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 approach to spot just a few highlights with children – if the climate’s good, you’ll be able to sit exterior on the highest deck.

You can even choose 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 frequently 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, try my choose of the finest bus excursions in London with children

Horrible Thames boat tour

What do you get whenever 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 grow to be a household favorite, with journeys working on choose dates between early April and the tip of October (largely throughout college 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 through 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 incredible steadiness of enjoyable and details, 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 rest room humour.

You’ll uncover some genuinely quirky details, 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 had been invited alongside to evaluate the tour earlier than it launched – my Horrible Histories-loving daughter (and I) gave it a really agency thumbs up – try the complete Horrible Thames evaluate right here

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

Should you’re not in search of an extended cruise, aren’t fussed about commentary on board or need a extra spontaneous possibility, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is unbeatable.

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

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

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

Or you’ll be able to choose up a one-day limitless River Roamer journey cross: if there are two adults in your group, the household cross signifies 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 by means of 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 look at the sights on sunny days, as you cruise from Westminster Pier and Tower Bridge Quay, close to St Katharine Docks, to Greenwich.

Take a look at among the finest issues to do in Greenwich with children right here

You can even choose up a two-day household cross to cowl all of your boat journeys in London with children, at the moment £47.80, for those who’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 special 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 stunning Hampton Court docket Palace, Teddington Lock and the quirkily fascinating Eel Pie Island.

Youngsters get discounted tickets whereas these aged two and underneath 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 incredible 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

If you need one thing extra thrilling than a mild pootle alongside the river, try an adrenaline-fuelled RIB speedboat expertise as a substitute.

You will discover 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 may 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 possibility, ranging from London Bridge Metropolis Pier and winding across the Greenwich peninsula, all accompanied by tunes from the final six a long time.

You must 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 youths of all ages (though none are appropriate for those who’re pregnant and should not go well with nervous little ones), particularly the Captain Kidd trip.

It’s positive to carry luggage on board (though not bigger circumstances) and whereas there’s at all times the possibility of spray off the water, there are waterproofs offered so it is 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 now 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

Should you’re in search of extra laid-back boat journeys in London with children, the Thames isn’t the town’s solely waterway, with a number of completely 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 mentioning among 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 among 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.

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

Youngsters 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, try 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 you can too 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 towards the partitions with their legs to get by means of.

Fortunately it’s rather a lot simpler today! Not one for the youngest children, who may 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 prematurely.

If all of the ice cream historical past has whetted your urge for food, try 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 for those who 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 youths 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 for those who’re in search of 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 non-public 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

Should you can’t determine 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 Large Bus open-top hop-on hop-off bus mixed with a River Thames cruise, and a alternative of tickets lasting as much as three days, to find the assorted routes.

Or try this classic bus and boat journey as one other approach to journey by means of the town on two iconic modes of transport. The traditional doubledecker bus leaves from Victoria Coach Station previous sights similar to 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 era you choose.

Uncover extra royal locations in London with children right here

Go Boat self-drive cruise

Should you favor the thought of getting behind the wheel of a ship your self, try the completely different choices from GoBoat London, with house for as much as eight in every electrical boat (and it’s dog-friendly as nicely).

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

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

Carry 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 to know that Paddington is an alcohol-free location.

Take a look at our evaluate 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 in charge of a barely smaller craft? You can even 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 for those who’re trying to take out a canoe (good for households who all wish to be in the identical boat) or Limehouse for kayaks (nice for those who’re a solo mother or father, or favor to separate children and adults between the boats).

Should 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 submit accommodates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I’ll obtain a small fee. A number of experiences had been supplied to me freed from cost for evaluate, however all opinions are my very own

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


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