London grew up around the Thames, and a stroll (or a boat ride) along its banks is one of the city’s real treats. This step-by-step itinerary, adapted from our brand new edition of The Pocket Rough Guide to London, takes in some of the river’s best sights. Pick a sunny day, sling a camera around your neck and pack some comfortable shoes for walking.
1. Get your bearings from the top of the London Eye
2. Take a stroll along the South Bank
A saunter along the South Bank’s car-free promenade is one of London’s undisputed highlights. Stop by the Undercroft skate park and watch the skateboarders and BMXers do their thing. A bit further east at Gabriel’s Wharf, you might see families and couples larking on London’s very own “beach” (at low tide).
3. Marvel at the Tate Modern, inside and out
Feast your eyes on contemporary art from across the globe at the Tate Modern, the world’s largest modern art gallery and one of London’s most impressive architectural monuments. Don’t miss the views from the new Switch House viewing platform.
4. Cross Millennium Bridge
Strolling over London’s only pedestrian-only river bridge, designed by Norman Foster and unveiled in 2000 with a slight wobble, is the best way to approach St Paul’s Cathedral.
Fill up at the exceptional food stalls in Borough Market (daily except Sun) or nearby Maltby Street (Sat & Sun), or enjoy a Spanish feast at Pizarro.
5. All aboard! Off to Greenwich
Catch a Thames Clipper from London Bridge pier, and watch the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Docklands go by en route to Greenwich. The on-board guides are fonts of knowledge, and will share grisly tales of the river’s history.
6. Explore the Old Royal Naval College
This is the one building in London which exploits its riverside position to best effect, and harbours two fantastic eighteenth-century interiors to boot. If you have time and energy, take a walk up to the Observatory in Greenwich Park to see where time “begins”, and enjoy the view over Canary Wharf.
7. Take a sundowner at Somerset House
Take the boat back to Festival Pier and cross Waterloo Bridge to the sole survivor of the grandiose palaces that once lined the Strand. If the weather plays ball, enjoy a sundowner at Tom’s Kitchen on the Somerset House terrace.
Head to Covent Garden for a gigantic and delicious pizza at Homeslice, followed by a pint in one of the West End’s historic (and often heaving) pubs. Or, for lovers of craft beers, head to the Temple Brewhouse, which brews its own beer on-site – a rarity in central London.