Best Boats to Visit in London


To celebrate the recent London Boat Show, Parallel went in search of the best floating attractions to visit in Old Blighty.

Indie filmmaker Lance Bangs once told us: “The cities that have the most interesting underground cultures are the ones that have rivers running through them.”
Life and culture tends to bloom around the bodies of water that connect cities. Is there anything more romantic than sitting on the Seine during a summer Paris sunset? Or spending the day at one of Berlin’s secret swimming lakes?
London is a city that uses its waterways more creatively than most. So Parallel went in search of some of the best boats to visit in London and found a new perspective on the city.
The London Book Barge
The London Bookbarge, also known as ‘Words on the Water, is a cool floating library usually to be found somewhere along the Regent’s Canal – often at Broadway Market on the weekend when the food market is in full swing, or along the vibrant Victoria Park (where a café on the lake ‘The Pavillion’ serves great Eggs Benedict), or at Granary Square near Kings Cross and only a stone's throw from Generator London. Run by three friends, the 100-year-old Dutch barge offers an eclectic range of reading material as countercultural and philosophical as the river-livers themselves.

Tamesis Dock
No London boat list would be complete without a party boat. There are quite a few in the city but Tamesis Dock, a permanent pub and music venue, on the south side of the river opposite the Tate Britain, is one of the best Head on in to be transported out of the Big Smoke and onto a tropical distant shore thanks to their extensive cocktail list, summer BBQ menu and bouncing club nights.


HMS Belfast
The HMS Belfast is probably one of the most famous boats in the city. It’s a former Royal Navy light cruiser that has been restored to its WW2 glory and the ship now serves as a museum, docked permanently between London Bridge and Tower Bridge on the River Thames. It’s a great example of what a historical warship looks like and is still used often for film shoots – keep an eye out for it in the second season of The Crown.

HMS President
Another former warship on the Thames, the HMS President has been permanently docked on the north side of the river, between Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, since 1922. The President showcases some amazing “dazzle artwork” – the geometric camouflage employed during WW1 to confuse attackers. Unfortunately the ship was moved to Chatham at the end of last year during construction of the Thames Tideway Scheme, but there’s currently a crowdfunding campaign for her restoration. Hopefully she’ll be docked back for your viewing pleasure before long.

River Bus
The River Bus departs from the section of river in front of the Old Royal Naval College (which, as well as the Greenwich Observatory on the top of the hill, is well worth a visit) and takes you up the Thames, offering a brand new perspective on all the sights of the city. See the peaks of the financial district fall into the distance as you meander past iconic landmarks only visible from the river – the Executioner’s Dock, the Antony Gormley ‘Another Time’ statue and more. You can even tap on with your Oyster travel card as the service is operated by Transport For London.
Farmopolis is a new development on Greenwich Peninsula’s Old Coal Jetty and features a landscaped greenhouse, café, restaurant and performance space. It’s a unique collaboration between an experiential events company, sustainability/farming company and regeneration project and aims to educate people about all things green as well as making incredible food and scheduling amazing gigs and talks. Very atmospheric zone to grab a drink. Unfortunately it’s in hibernation now for the winter but will reopen in Spring 2017.


Inspired to book a trip to London?

Now that you've seen some of the nautical treasures to discover in London, check them out for yourself!