The Thames is such an iconic part of the scenery in London that it’s easy to take it for granted. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that this waterway is the city’s life source, and the reason that such a vibrant city has grown up here. The Thames is inextricably intertwined with London’s history, and as such, there’s a lot to do and see along its banks. When the weather is clear, the water itself is also the best place from which to see the city.
At Greenwich, you can visit the site from which all the time zones in the world are measured: the Greenwich Meridian, which is connected to Britain’s history as the world’s foremost naval power. The Old Royal Naval College, the architectural center piece of the site, is an architectural marvel and UNESCO World Heritage Site, while Greenwich is also home to the Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper.
Having taken in some history in Greenwich, why not take a boat to Canary Wharf to see some of modern riverside London? With its towering skyscrapers, Canary Wharf is a symbol of modern London and an integral part of the skyline, but with the addition of Crossrail Place, it’s also a brilliant shopping, dining and leisure destination. There’s an array of international dining options, a cinema, and a vibrant programme of arts exhibitions and events.
Some of London’s most famous buildings and landmarks are best viewed from the river and sit on its banks. The Houses of Parliament – or the Palace of Westminster, to give them their official collective name – have been the seat of English democracy for centuries, and have survived the ravages of the Great Fire (among others) and the Blitz. Big Ben is an enduring icon of London, and given that only UK residents can go inside – and even then only with the written consent of their Member of Parliament – you’re best off viewing it from the comfort of a river cruise. For your city break in central London, look no further than the luxurious London City Suites by Montcalm: a range of offers are available with packages and excursions to help you make the most of your stay.
Of course, as you make your way along the Thames, you’ll likely pass under several of its famous bridges. Perhaps the most iconic of these is Tower Bridge, which has become a symbol of the city since its construction was completed in 1894. Many visitors are content to get a picture of the bridge from the river, but it’s a fascinating tourist attraction in its own right. Tower Bridge Exhibition tells the bridge’s story along modern high-level walkways, which also feature a spectacular new glass floor: these are also a great place from which to gaze over the rest of London, with views over St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Monument, and St. Katherine Docks. You can also visit the Victorian Engine Rooms, where the original bridge-lifting machinery has been beautifully preserved.