Important Service Update: Butler's Wharf Pier is now part of our river cruise route! Click here for more details.

A family day out on the Thames

When you bring the kids on a family day out to London, you want them to get as much out of their visit as possible. Most of the time, these trips involve a lot of walking, but there is a very effective way to stop the kids grumbling about how much their feet ache – travel by boat on the Thames instead!

It doesn’t matter how old or young your kids are, a boat trip is always exciting. Combine that with boats that have indoor heated lounges, as well as open top decks, so it doesn’t matter what the weather’s doing, add a commentary into the mix, and you’ve got the perfect way to keep the kids happy on your day out.

Here’s a suggested itinerary for a day out with the kids on the Thames. With our family return ticket, you can hop-on and hop-off as much as you want to – at every pier if you like – giving you the chance to explore an area, then get on a boat which will take you to the next pier. You’ll see historic sights of London as you cruise and then after the family’s had a chance to rest, you’ll be ready to explore the next area.

The beginning of the day

We suggest you start your journey at Westminster Pier. If you’re getting there by tube, leave the station at Exit 1, turn left, and you’ll see the ticket booth as well as the gangplanks to get on the boats as well as the ticket booths.

The first stop on the cruise is Embankment Pier. It’s not far so you’ll probably want to stay on the boat for a while longer. However, from Embankment it’s just a short walk to Somerset House which, from 15 November to 14 January, will have an outdoor skating rink.

The Southbank

The next stop is Festival Pier. Disembark here to enjoy the lively atmosphere of the Southbank. There are always a lot of people around so if you do nothing else, it’s a good place to sit in a café and watch the world go by. Or you could wander around the venues on the Southbank, such as the Royal Festival Hall and National Theatre, as there are often things to look at in the foyers and sometimes music too. And between 10 November and 4 January, there’s a Winter Festival with a Nordic Christmas market.

The Tower

From Festival Pier, you’ll stop at Bankside where, if you have older children, you might want to visit the Tate Modern art gallery or the Globe Theatre. Alternatively, stay on board until the final stop on your outbound journey, St Katharine’s Pier. Before you dock, you’ll cruise past the Tower of London where you’ll get a great view of Traitor’s Gate which was where famous prisoners like Anne Boleyn were taken into the Tower. You’ll also pass underneath Tower Bridge, giving you a different view of one of London’s most famous landmarks.

When you alight at the Pier, you’ve got two choices about what to do next. You can either spend the rest of the day exploring the Tower, or go to the Tower Bridge Experience. At this point in the day, you won’t have time to do both – and you probably won’t have had lunch yet! (In which case, you may want to explore the cafés around the marina at St Katharine’s Dock.)

If you want to visit the Tower of London, we have a great offer available – if you book your Tower of London tickets through our website, you’ll not only get your Tower tickets at a discounted rate, you’ll also save 50% on your Circular Cruise tickets by using the voucher code TOL2017 on the Checkout page.

Return times

If, at the end of an exhausting but fun day, you want to return to Westminster Pier by river, make sure you check the return times from St Katharine’s Pier for the time of the last boat back!

Click here to find out more about Circular Cruise tickets. Either book in advance online to take advantage of our Tower of London special offer or, if you’d prefer to wait till the day, you can get a third off the ticket price if you present a valid London Travelcard.


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