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London’s long and tumultuous history is written upon the face of the city, and the River Thames has watched it all. A 19th-century Member of Parliament, John Burns, said it best: “The Mississippi is muddy water, but the Thames is liquid history.” In modern-day London, history comes to life on the 70 wharves, which have remained in operation after centuries. As you make your way down the river’s dark waters, you will enjoy a unique snapshot of life in this dynamic but resolutely historical city.
Any trip down the Thames is a trip into London’s mighty past, as the story of this river is entwined with the history of London and its surrounds. The current London Bridge is located near the site where the Romans built the river’s first bridge, some two millennia ago. By the post-industrial Victorian era, London was notorious for its dreadful public health conditions and the Thames had become more or less an open sewer. Eventually, however, the river was cleaned up. Some say the decision to clean the river came about because the members in the riverside House of Parliament at the time could no longer bear the smell.
Today, the Thames is far more hygienic and atmospheric. A variety of companies offer cruises of the river. For an unforgettably picturesque experience, take a cruise around sunset. Adventurous visitors might prefer to row their own way down the river, starting in the clear Upper Thames and passing through Windsor before winding into the heart of London.
Take a walk along the Thames Path to enjoy a fine city hike. The path will take you past famous sights, including the Millennium Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tower Bridge, as well as some of London’s quieter zones. The views along the river are beautiful, so remember to bring your camera.
The River Thames is easily accessible from most London locations. Look online to survey the various cruise and tour offerings available.
Give yourself heaps of time at Thames River. Here are the most popular activities:
For more activities, take a look at our Lambeth things to do page.
Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. St. Thomas' Hospital and Sea Life London Aquarium are also within 5 minutes. Waterloo Underground Station is only a 4-minute walk and Lambeth North Underground Station is 6 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Covent Garden Market, Piccadilly Circus and London Dungeon. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are also within 1 mi (2 km). Charing Cross Underground Station is 5 minutes by foot and Covent Garden Underground Station is 5 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Imperial War Museum, Westminster Bridge and Sea Life London Aquarium. Coca-Cola London Eye and Big Ben are also within 15 minutes. Lambeth North Underground Station is only a 2-minute walk and Waterloo Underground Station is 8 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Florence Nightingale Museum, Imperial War Museum and The Vaults. Southbank Centre Book Market and Lambeth Palace are also within 10 minutes. Lambeth North Underground Station is 6 minutes by foot and Waterloo Underground Station is 11 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. Jubilee Gardens and The Vaults are also within 5 minutes. Waterloo Underground Station and Lambeth North Underground Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Oxford Street and The British Museum. Russell Square and Queens Theatre are also within 15 minutes. Tottenham Court Road Underground Station is only a 3-minute walk and Goodge Street Underground Station is 6 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Tower Bridge, Tower of London and HMS Belfast. Tower Gateway Station is 6 minutes by foot and Tower Hill Station is 7 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Tate Britain and Houses of Parliament. Westminster Abbey and Big Ben are also within 15 minutes. Pimlico Underground Station is 10 minutes by foot and Westminster Underground Station is 13 minutes.