It’s summer in London, which means two things: everyone wants to be outdoors, and everyone wants to head to the pub on sunny afternoons. Fortunately for us, there are places that combine the two quite well. Foremost among them are the city’s waterfront pubs. In celebration, today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to the 12 best riverside pubs in London. Here they are, from east to west…
Out east in Canary Wharf, The Gun is a favorite for its historic interiors and great terrace on the Thames. It’s packed on weeknights with the banking crowd, which spills out from nearby skyscrapers after work every summer evening.
Gordon Ramsay’s gastropub on the river was one of the first pubs I ever visited when I moved to London. The celebrity chef’s famous food is served both indoors and outdoors at this pub in Limehouse, drawing people from all over the city to an often overlooked part of London.
The Prospect of Whitby
The Prospect of Whitby pub in Wapping is not only London’s oldest riverside pub, but also one of its best. Full of legend and lore, the 16th century pub is said to have been visited by everyone from Samuel Pepys to Frank Sinatra. Above all, it has great ambiance to match its centuries of history.
Across the river in Rotherhithe, The Mayflower pub is famous for being the place where the Pilgrims departed for America in 1620. In addition to Pilgrim-related paraphernalia over two floors, the pub has a great outdoor deck above the river. Just watch that your feet don’t get wet at high tide!
Right down the Thames from The Mayflower is a pub called The Angel. Another of Rotherhithe’s great riverside pubs, this one has a tiny bench on the outside where a few lucky patrons can file in for a front-row seat to the boat show.
The Dickens Inn
Nearby in St Katherine Docks, The Dickens Inn isn’t technically on the Thames, but sits on the waterfront in the marina right next to it. The pub is best known for its multi-story facade, which shows off an impressively colorful array of flowers in the summer months. Its outdoor areas are great for soaking up the sun on warm days, too.
The Old Thameside Inn
Right next to Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral, and the Golden Hinde II, The Old Thameside Inn has a big deck on the water with great views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the skyscrapers of the City. It’s an ideal place to rest and escape the chaos and crowds of the market on sunny Saturdays.
Conveniently located by Shakespeare’s Globe and London Bridge, The Anchor pub not only has a great facade with lots of bright red accents, but also a terrace on the Thames. It’s the perfect place for a pint after a day of sightseeing along the South Bank.
The Founders Arms
While not as special to look at as the others on this list, The Founders Arms makes up for its lack of charm with its spectacular location. Located right in front of the Tate Modern, the pub sits on one of the most visited stretches of the Thames in central London. Get there early on a sunny day to snag a table on the terrace and watch the street performers entertain passersby.
The Duke’s Head
South of the river in Putney, The Duke’s Head pub is famous for being the ideal location from which to start a day watching the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. But even during the rest of the year the pub is a good place to spend an afternoon spotting rowers from the nearby clubs going up and down the Thames.
Between Hammersmith and Chiswick, The Dove is one of the best riverside pubs in London both for its location and for its history. Dating back to the 17th century, the pub was frequented by Charles II and his mistress, Nell Gwynne, and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world’s smallest bar room. But the real appeal is the little deck on the river from which it’s fun to watch the boats row by.
The White Cross
Way out west in Richmond, The White Cross is not only famous for its riverside location, but also for the fact that it becomes an island at high tide. If you’re brave, head over as the water rises and see how fast you can make it to land before the tide strands you. Then again, being stranded on a desert island with a pub on it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world…
How about you? What’s your favorite riverside pub in London?