I was having dinner overlooking the Thames the other week and I started thinking about how many amazing places there are along the river in London. As I soaked up the view, I picked out my favorites. Now I want to share them, so today I bring you 21 amazing places to see on the Thames in London.
21 Places to See on the Thames in London
The following is an east-to-west list of riverfront spots in London I’ve come to love. From famous landmarks to secret gardens, there’s no shortage of gems along the water. I hope you enjoy discovering them as much as I have.
1. Thames Barrier
I recently had my first up-close look at the Thames Barrier, the flood barrier that protects London from aggressive tides and storm surges. I previously thought it was more functional than aesthetic, but it turns out it’s a work of art in its own right.
2. Emirates Air Line
One of the most unusual ways of traveling in London is by air. The Emirates Air Line cable car soars over east London and offers views of everything from the 02 to Canary Wharf. It’s a good way to see a different side of the city from a unique angle.
3. Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Whenever I’m in Greenwich I love seeing the view of the Queen’s House through the Old Royal Naval College. The symmetry of the buildings and grandeur of their design is beautiful from any angle, but it’s particularly lovely from the river and the hill.
4. St Katharine Docks
St Katharine Docks always transports me into another world. The boats in the marina are reminiscent of the seaside, and the shops, restaurants, and markets always offer me something new to discover. I love the flower-covered facade of the local pub, too.
5. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic feats of engineering. Its Victorian style and eye-catching towers make me reach for my camera every time I’m on the Thames.
6. Tower of London
Speaking of towers, the Tower of London is one of the city’s oldest and most revered landmarks. With layers of history and sparkling jewels, it deserves its place among the top places to see on the Thames in London.
7. Borough Market
For food, there’s no better place along the river than Borough Market. Grazing through the stalls and taking in the smells and colors could occupy me all day (and often does).
8. Shakespeare’s Globe
When I’m in the mood for theater, Shakespeare’s Globe is the perfect riverfront stage. Whether I go for a classic play or something modern, I know I’m in for a treat.
9. Tate Modern
Next door is Tate Modern, one of the most visited museums in the world. The art is lovely to look at, as are the views from the terrace on the top floor of its Switch House.
10. OXO Tower
Just down the river, the OXO Tower not only illuminates the night sky with its neon letters, but also offers some of the best views of the Thames from its restaurant terrace. I had my aforementioned dinner here and couldn’t stop staring at the City skyline.
11. London Eye
Equally impressive are the vistas from the London Eye, one of the city’s most iconic contemporary landmarks. I’ve conquered my fear of heights twice just to get a glimpse.
12. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The highlights of a ride on the London Eye are two more of the best places to see on the Thames in London. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are some of the most recognizable symbols of the city.
13. Tate Britain
Down the way is Tate Britain, another of London’s great art museums. Its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions both draw me in for frequent visits, and I love having lunch at the restaurant’s outdoor tables in the summer.
14. Chelsea Physic Garden
When I’m in the mood for nature, I beat a path to the Chelsea Physic Garden. This green space is full of medicinal plants and botanical beauties from around the world, and it’s the perfect respite from the busy streets.
15. Hurlingham Club
As is the Hurlingham Club. This private venue in Fulham is worth getting invited to for its lush gardens and sprawling croquet lawns. I enjoyed an afternoon barbecue here last summer and could have stayed all season.
16. Thames Path in Hammersmith and Chiswick
Up a bend in the river, the Thames Path in Hammersmith and Chiswick is one of my favorite places to walk along the water. From the cozy pubs to the beautiful houses, this stretch delights me every time.
17. Kew Gardens
Around another bend lies Kew Gardens, one of the city’s most impressive green spaces. I could spend all day walking through the grounds, but the real highlight is the collection of historic glasshouses that transport me straight back to Victorian England.
18. Syon Park
Across the river is Syon Park, another place I like to wander. It too has a glasshouse, but the weeping trees and arched bridges are equally lovely.
19. Richmond Pubs
When my feet need a rest, Richmond is one of the most welcome places to see on the Thames in London. Its waterfront pubs are some of the best places to soak up the sun on warm days, and the neighborhood atmosphere makes the experience all the more pleasurable.
20. Eel Pie Island
My most exciting surprise along the river has been Eel Pie Island. This gem in the Thames is full of quirky houses and artists’ studios, making it a great place to explore the unexpected.
21. Hampton Court Palace
Way out west, Hampton Court Palace is one of London’s most impressive royal residences. I love how the interiors are rich in history and the gardens full of secret mazes and colorful blossoms.
There are a lot more places to discover along the waterfront, but I hope these give you a good base to start from. Someday I would love to venture up or down the river, but for now London is keeping me busy enough.
What are your favorite places to see on the Thames in London?