The longest river in England and dotted with areas of outstanding natural beauty, the River Thames was once the lifeblood of London and an essential trade route for supplies. Today, its banks are transformed into a destination of its own right with dining, shopping, sightseeing, and picturesque walks and tourist attractions lining its banks. If you’re looking for cool things to do in London, head for the water and start walking – whether you’re looking for iconic sights like the London Eye and Tower Bridge or want to take in some culture, you’ll find it by the Thames. If you’re struggling to decide which direction to head in, these are out top picks for things to do en route.
Up at The O2
Nearest tube: North Greenwich
The Dome sits right alongside the Thames and has become an iconic destination for music events, but that’s not all it has to offer. Adrenaline junkies can get an incredible view of the capital and its landmarks with an urban mountaineering experience 52 meters above ground level. If you have a head for heights, you can climb over the landmark and take in the cityscape views from the top.
Nearest tube: Southwark
Housed in a former power station, the Tate Modern is home to an incredible collection of international modern and contemporary art. With a range of exhibitions, films and performances throughout the year, it’s well worth a return visit even if you’ve been before.
Nearest tube: Waterloo
The Southbank Centre is a vibrant complex of venues along the banks of the Thames spanning music, art, literature, performance and dance. Every year thousands of free and paid events take place throughout the complex. There is current an exhibition by artist DJ Roberts which explores the poetry of Philip Larkin. Entitled Larkinworld, the event runs until the end of April, with works in neon, drawing and a display of pop culture ephemera. The third Waterloo Billboard Commission festival is on show until the end of March and showcases work by Danish artists group Superflex. Running until August, Adventures in Moominland explores the internationally renowned stories as part of the Nordic Matters festival.
Nearest tube: Blackfriars
For history and literature lovers, Shakespeare’s Globe is a must visit destination. The venue is, of course, home to an amazing array of plays from the famous playwright William Shakespeare but there’s a range of other events on the calendar. The reconstructed Elizabethan playhouse is open all year round with guided tours to bring its colourful history to life.
Nearest tube: North Greenwich
The British Empire’s long seafaring tradition comes to life at Cutty Sark, the world’s sole surviving tea clipper, known as the fastest and the greatest sailing ship of her time. A great choice for family friendly culture along the Thames, visitors can walk the planks of the legendary 19th century vessel, touch the copper hull and take advantage of a fantastic programme of events, including a wide selection for kids.
Nearest tube: Waterloo/Charing Cross
If you’re looking for fantastic views of the Thames and the iconic landmarks that line her banks, there’s only one place to head – the London Eye. On a clear day, you can see up to 40 kilometres, that’s as far as Windsor Castle. Look out for other landmarks such as Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.
Nearest tube: Tower Hill
Tower Bridge is a sight most tourists will recognise, but did you know you can tour the landmark too? From Victorian era engine rooms to modern glass walkways along the top of the structure, there’s more to experience at Tower Bridge than you might expect.
With so many cool things to do in London on the banks of the Thames alone, you’ll never be at a loss for something to do when you visit the capital.