From leisurely cruises along the Thames to speedboat rides, and canoe hire to white water rafting – yep, really – there are all sorts of ways to take to the water in London. Raise the black flag, hoist the mainsail and anchors aweigh – here are twelve of the best London boat trips in town:
1) GoBoat London, Paddington, Canary Wharf and Kingston
Kicking off this roundup of brilliant London boat trips is a way for you to captain your own ship. GoBoat boasts a fabulous fleet of picnic boats that rule the serene waters of London in three different locations. These charming little craft boats really do offer one of the best days out in London, particularly when you can motor through tranquil Little Venice, leafy Kingston, or past the impressive towers of Canary Wharf.
Perhaps the best way to boat hire in London, they can seat up to six people, and pooches are more than welcome so you can happily bring your furry, four-legged friend on board with you. There’s also space for picnics to boot. Sign up here.
2) Skuna, Canary Wharf
For our money, the best way to take to the London waters is in a goddamn awesome hot tub. And whilst the impracticality of putting a hot tub in a canal was once insurmountable, it isn’t anymore. The reason? A fun and innovative mode of travel, aptly-known as the ‘Hot Tub Boat’.
Each Skuna hot tub boat holds seven suave punters, and the tubs are heated to a balmy 38 degrees. The boats hold up to seven different punters, you’ll get training provided and you’ll also get 75 minutes’ worth of sailing time. Oh, and you can also enjoy alcohol onboard too, so this is one booze cruise you won’t forget in a hurry!
3) London Shell Co., Regent’s Canal
London Shell Co. is known for their floating fish restaurants in Paddington, The Prince Regent and The Grand Duchess. Dine on deck of the permanently docked Grand Duchess boat, or hop aboard The Prince Regent for a cruising lunch or dinner down the historic Regent’s Canal through Camden in Central London.
You can always expect to enjoy the freshest catch and outstanding seafood here, and menus change daily. Along the way, you’ll sail through the Maida Hill Tunnel and past iconic landmarks such as London Zoo and Regent’s Park.
4) Moo Canoes, Lea Valley
If you’d rather travel under your own steam, you can hire kayaks and canoes from Moo Canoes, and embark on your own expeditions around East London’s many waterways, including Regents Canal, Limehouse Cut and Hackney Marshes.
There’s twelve different routes of varying difficulty, leading everywhere from Angel to Clapton, dogs are welcome, and they also have SUP (stand up paddle boards) in Poplar Union Canal.
5) The London Craft Beer Cruise, River Thames
Love craft beer? Know the ins and outs of your IPAs? Then step on board for this leisurely afternoon ride down the River Thames, right through the heart of central London.
Joining you onboard will be representatives from various different London breweries and fellow beer geeks behind the bar. As you soak up London’s iconic skyline, you’ll see breathtaking scenes while sipping on five delicious indie beers aboard the London Craft Beer Cruise. We’ll cheers to that!
6) Hidden Depths, Regent’s Canal
For party vibes, you and your friends can hire a narrowboat – with a captain at the wheel – to take you around the canals as you drink and, no doubt, attract admiring glances from land-lubbers.
Perfect for big groups, you’ll get the chance to sail through the 200-year old Islington Tunnel – one of the longest tunnels in Britain at a mile long – and down the leafy Regent’s Canal. For big parties, you can even hire a boat with a capacity of 42 – yep, seriously – and there are other smaller 12-capacity vessels too. It goes without saying that booze and banging tunes can be bought on board the Hidden Depths boats too.
7) Thames Rockets, River Thames
Got a real need for speed with your London boat trips? Then look no further than the Thames Rockets. These speedboats will send you screaming along the Thames, with journeys departing from both the London Eye and London Bridge. Their most unlikely offering pairs a speedboat journey with the Up At The O2 climb – another includes an afternoon tea too.
Routes take you all the way down to the Thames Barrier and you can also opt to charter your own speedboat too if you’re wanting your own private tour.
8) Uber Boats, River Thames
If you’re looking for something slightly more leisurely and chilled out, then a ride on one of the twenty or so Uber Boats, which traverse the Thames all the way from Putney in the west all the way down to Woolwich in the east.
You’ll pass all those famous London landmarks along the way, and during the summer months, you can even head out to Hampton Court in Surrey. Prices start from just £3.50 with a travelcard – explore your options here.
9) White Water Rafting, Lee Valley
We’re upping the ante with this next entry on our roundup of London boat trips. Did you know that you can go white water rafting in London? Us neither, but turns out you bloody well can! Situated in the far reaches of London (but just within the travelcard zones, so it still counts), you’ll be able to conquer the course used during the 2012 London Olympics at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Before you hit the rapids you’ll be kitted out with wetsuits, boots, helmets and bouyancy aids, then trained up by an expert instructor and put through your paces on the course. You can even charter an entire raft (which holds a maximum of 12 people) for a big day out with your mates.
And once your high-octane adventure is over? Celebrate your aquatic success with a pizza and a pint (or just steady your nerves post-raft!) at The Terrace Bar & Café on site. You must be having a raft mate…
10) Speedboat Experience, River Thames
Rounding off this list of the best London boat trips is another adrenaline-filled adventure. Departing from Embankment Pier, you’ll career down the Thames for 50 minutes at exhilaratingly high speeds, passing some of the city’s most famous landmarks along the way.
These Speedboat Experience ribs are London’s ‘biggest, fastest and loudest’ boats, and they’re fully-loaded with sound and PA systems, safety rails and 740HP Yanmar high performance engines, so you’re in for a hell of a ride with this boat trip. Routes all have guided commentary, and you’ll head all the way past the towering skyscrapers of Canary Wharf out to the Thames Barrier. You can grab a ticket for the experience here.
Other London boat trips for more of a party crowd
11) Skylines Boat Party
You’ll find it hard not to get the party started with this one. With three decks of London’s best DJs and performers serving up the hottest beats, from club classics to Ibiza party anthems, you’re in for a real blast on this London boat trip.
Take in the famous city sights as you sip on a whole host of drinks at pub prices, alongside like-minded revellers. But it doesn’t end there at the Skylines Boat Party. Collect one of the wristbands and you can continue to groove all night long at a secret after party location!
12) ABBA Boat Party
Super troopers, unite! This ABBA Boat Party will set sail from Blackfriars Pier, blasting the biggest dance hits from the beloved Swedish pop group. As you travel down the Thames, you’ll also travel back in time to the 70s hey-day of knee-high boots, wide-legged trousers, and sequins galore.
Across four hours, expect lively music and amazing views of the city. Once you’ve dropped anchor and are back on dry land, you can then dance the night away at a PopWorld afterparty. Voulez-vous (aha)!
Also published on Medium.