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Of all the things to do in London, visiting at least a few classic pubs should be on every visitors’ list. Dark interiors, wooden bars and cask ales are as much of a part of London as sights like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Our Self-Guided River Thames Pub Crawl London features the most iconic pubs on the Thames River.
Pubs on the Thames
In a dimly lit room, the wooden floor creaks and a fire crackles in the corner fireplace as a business-mannered bartender fills dimpled glass mugs with tepid cask ale. The scene in a typical London pub – and could accurately describe any one of the thousands of pubs in the city (yes, thousands).
Classic pubs are a staple in London; a throwback to a bygone era that remains oddly fashionable in the present-day metropolis. And we can’t get enough of them.
Some of the most classic and oldest bars in London are pubs by the River Thames. With more than 40 pubs along the River Thames in London, it would be impossible to get to them all in a single day. Instead, we designed a London Pub Crawl that meanders with the curves of the river, with stops at 8 River Thames pubs along the way.
Classic Pub Crawl London
A River Thames pub crawl in London is a fantastic way to combine city sightseeing and essential London experiences. Most of the pubs on River Thames offer outdoor seating and phenomenal city views…along with local pints of beer and a bit of history.
Our DIY London pub tour extends from Central London to East London and Greenwich. The pubs by the River Thames are well-connected – and can be reached on foot, by boat or with public transport.
With an early start, it is very possible to complete our London pub tour in a single day. A walk along River Thames is a beautiful way to explore the city – and the route passes by some of the city’s most famous sights. And the furthest pub – in Greenwich – can be reached by boat.
However, the distance between the pubs along the Thames may be too far reaching for some revelers. Therefore, we would recommend splitting it into two London pub crawls; visit the first four pubs on one day, and on the following day, visit the last four pubs.
London Pub Crawl Pro Tip
This could also work well with daytime sightseeing. For example, we would recommend touring the sights in Westminster, using our Self-Guided Walking Tour London and then visiting the first four of our listed pubs along the Thames in the evening. The next day, begin with visiting the sights in Greenwich, using our guide of Things To Do in Greenwich, then visit the last four bars on our list…but reverse the pub crawl route (visiting #8, then 7, 6 and 5).
8 Pubs by River Thames: London Bar Crawl
Our Self-Guided London bar crawl includes the best pubs on the Thames. For each River Thames pub, we include a link to Google Maps (so that you can easily route your way to it!) and information about the bar. At the end of the post, we include a helpful map of the pubs on Thames in our bar crawl.
#1: The Blackfriar
MAP. The Blackfriar is one of the best bars in the city – and a perfect place to kick off a London historic pub crawl. The bar isn’t directly on the river, it’s 500 feet (about a 2-minute walk) from the riverside – but it is nearly on the Thames and it is legendary – so it is worthy as a stop on the tour.
The triangular Art Nouveau building was built in 1875 on the previous site of a monastery. The dark, wooden interior is brightened by light streaming through the stained-glass windows and shimmering brass. It is even said to be haunted by a ghost.
Almost always crowded, patrons spill out the front door and into the adjacent park. The Blakfriar bar has rotating taps – and helpful bartenders who are happy to suggest a local craft cask ale.
#2: Doggett’s Coat and Badge
MAP. The second bar on our London pub crawl tour is The Doggett’s Coat and Badge, which is just across the river.
The Doggett’s Coat and Badge pub is named in honor of Thomas Doggett. He was the man responsible for starting the London Bridge to Chelsea rowing race on the Thames 300 years ago, in which he awarded the winner a coat and badge. The pub’s riverside location comes with a small outdoor seating area, which fills up quickly on nice days.
However, the interior is charming – and there are a few tables inside by the windows. At the Doggett’s Coat and Badge, patrons can get a sample board of cask ales – which are offered from a range of brewers.
#3: Founders Arms Bar & Restaurant on River Thames
MAP. Founders Arms is one of the best located pubs along Thames River. The modern bar features a fantastic outdoor space – with a long deck that provides an impressive city view.
No open seats on the patio? No problem. Guests can stand along the deck to take in the skyline and St. Paul’s Cathedral while watching boats float up and down the river. And, with floor to ceiling windows, the seats indoors aren’t too shabby either.
Founders Arms is also a great spot for dining on the River Thames. Serving classic British fare, the pub features a special brunch and Sunday roast, too.
#4: The Old Thameside Inn
MAP. Next up on our Thames River Historic London Pub Crawl is The Old Thameside Inn. We first spotted the pub during our boat ride on the River Thames – and we were determined to find it once back on land. Tucked away behind the stunning Southwark Cathedral on cobblestoned streets near the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship, Golden Hinde, The Old Thameside Inn is filled with history…and good beer.
The brick building with exposed wooden beams was originally used as a spice house and the long deck literally hovers over the river. Today, the Old Thameside Inn is touted as a Specialty Pie House, with a dedicated British savory pie menu to please gravy-loving palates.
#5: Town of Ramsgate
MAP. Continuing our Historic Pub Tour London in East London, the Town of Ramsgate has a history dating back to 1545. The pub, which sits on the same site as a previous pub that dates to the 1460s, is classic and intimate. It claims to be the oldest pub on the River Thames (but, like all such claims, the fact is disputed by some).
Inside the brick building, cask ales line the bar and there is a small courtyard in the back faces the river. Being such a historic and classic pub, it’s difficult to not go with a classic cask choice, like a pint of London Pride.
#6: Captain Kidd
MAP. One of the pubs overlooking the Thames, Captain Kidd is housed in a former coffee warehouse. Spread over three floors, the pub also boasts a large, riverside outdoor seating area.
The pub is named after William Kidd, a 17th century pirate who was hanged on nearby Execution Dock. The riverside pub’s decor tells the story of Kidd and features a nautical design.
Although big bay windows face the river, allowing natural light in, the interior is dim and cozy. As a Samuel Smith pub, the only beers on tap are from their own brewery, which was established in 1758. We recommend having a pint of Taddy Lager, their signature beer.
#7: The Prospect of Whitby
MAP. One of the most popular pubs by the Thames, The Prospect of Whitby dates to the year 1520. It, too, claims to be the oldest on the Thames, bearing some original features (like the 400-year-old stone floors). Most of the classically decorated rooms have views of the river and there is an outdoor beer garden, as well.
With its long history – and as one of the famous Thames riverside pubs – The Prospect of Whitby has seen a slew of merrymakers pass through its doors. From sailors and smugglers to politicians and princesses, The Prospect of Whitby is often featured on London pub tours.
The pub serves a range of drinks (including unique creations and classic standards) and a full menu of British pub fare, too. We indulged in a sausage platter – a perfect accompaniment to any beer! – but other notable dishes include a Sticky Pickle Sausage Roll and the Steak & Ale Pie.
#8: Trafalgar Tavern
MAP. Trafalgar Tavern on the River Thames is located in Greenwich – and the last stop on our Thames River Pub Crawl London. The tavern was built in 1837 on the site of a former bar, The Old George Tavern. Once frequented by politicians and Charles Dickens, the tavern was closed from 1915 until 1965 (when it was used as a working men’s club and to house seamen).
Today, the grand establishment stands on the banks of the Thames with a cheerful pale-yellow exterior and a bright and airy interior. Popular with both locals and tourists, the most coveted tables are those by the large, river-facing Regency windows.
The bar menu features a long list of cocktails and a good selection of bottled beers and craft beers on tap.
That wraps up our London pub crawl of bars along the Thames! Cheers!
Looking for other beer adventures in the city? Create your own London CRAFT beer crawl on the Bermondsey Beer Mile!
London Pub Tour: More River Thames Pubs
While we think our tour highlights the best pubs on the River Thames, there are a few more nearby and notable bars that you might want to add to your London pub crawl.
The Mayflower Pub
MAP. Another bar that claims to be the oldest pub on the Thames, the bar sits on the site where the Mayflower was moored prior to beginning its journey to the New World in 1620.
MAP. Located in a building from the 1720s (and on the site of a former pub dating to 1583), The Grapes is a classic British pub that has long been popular with writers and artists.
MAP. Occupying an area that is steeped in history, The Angel Pub is perched along the river with views of Tower Bridge and a traditional pub menu.
Map of London Pub Crawl on Thames River
For walking directions to the pubs along the River Thames, use this link to Google Maps.
What You Need for a London Pub Tour
Before setting off to visit the pubs on the River Thames, you will want to make sure you are prepared for your Self-Guided Pub Crawl London!
If you plan on bar hopping London by walking from pub to pub, you will certainly want to make sure you wear comfortable shoes! I like to wear these city walking shoes by Columbia – and Kris is most comfortable in his Merrell Shoes.
City Map (or available WiFi!)
Although our London pub crawl tour follows the river, it is possible to get turned around or a little lost along the route. We recommend carrying a city map just in case!
If you would rather use online maps, just make sure you have available WiFi. When traveling abroad, we use a GlocalMe mobile hotspot. Perfect for families or groups (up to 5 devices can be connected at one time), GlocalMe can use SIM cards or data purchased online.
We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
Need help planning your trip? Use our detailed 3-Day London Itinerary!
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