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

Free things to do on The Thames in 2019

Granted, when you’re in London it’s easy to spend money like it’s going out of fashion, but a day out in the Capital needn’t be expensive. If you do a little forward planning, you can have a really good touristy day out, even in the middle of winter when a walk in the Royal Parks isn’t quite so appealing!

Be a culture vulture

London is full of free museums and art galleries – all of which are world-class attractions that people travel from all over the world to come and see. The most notable gallery on the Circular Cruise route is the Tate Modern (nearest pier: Bankside), where you can either challenge your perceptions of Art or scoff at the things, quote “a five-year-old could have done better” unquote, depending on your point-of-view!

A 10-minute walk away from the river, located on Trafalgar Square (nearest pier: Embankment), is the National Gallery. Trafalgar Square is a tourist destination in itself, with the famous stone lions guarding Nelson’s Column. In more recent years, the empty Fourth Plinth in the Square has become a micro-gallery itself, introducing the public to new artists and their work.

Window shopping

If you fancy doing a spot of window shopping, there are plenty of places to mooch around. A short walk from Bankside Pier is Borough Market, a covered market which has been on the same site for over a thousand years. These days, it’s more of a farmers’ market with artisans and producers selling products and street food. You don’t have to buy, just enjoy looking around!

Not far from Borough Market is Hays Galleria, a converted wharf and bonded warehouse complex which has a large covered area full of shops, restaurants and cafés, with the added bonus of a huge, beautifully strange bronze sculpture of a sailing ship called The Navigator. Worth the walk just to see the ship alone!

If you like looking around little independent shops, head to Gabriel’s Wharf on the South Bank (nearest pier: Festival).


If you’re walking along the South Bank, you should be able to see performances by buskers – one of the prime spots in London so hopefully you’ll see some really good acts.

You can also catch the Friday Lunch concerts in the bar of the Royal Festival Hall (nearest pier: Festival). The South Bank Centre runs lots of other free events throughout the year – check the What’s On section, ticking the Free Events filter to find out more.

Chinese New Year 2019

This year, Chinese New Year will be celebrated between late January and mid-February, so London’s China Town will be buzzing with activity. The main celebrations will take place on 10th February in Trafalgar Square (a 5-minute walk from Embankment Pier) with a parade, food and lots of entertainment.

50% off

If you’re in London at the weekend and only have a small budget for treats, take advantage of our half-price Winter Weekends offer so you can enjoy a rest at the same time as getting to your next destination! Book your hop-on hop-off tickets online using the discount code WEEKEND50, then enjoy all the free activities happening along The Thames!


Latest Blogs

Accessible London
Thames River Sightseeing

Festive London in December

Journey through Festive London in December  Welcome to December in London, where the city sparkles with festive cheer! As winter sets in, London transforms into a magical wonderland. Join us

Read More »