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Of all the things to do in London, visiting at least a few classic English pubs should be on every UK visitor’s 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.
London 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 is a typical London pub – and could accurately describe any one of the thousands of pubs in the city (yes, thousands).
Classic English 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 very 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 unrealistic 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.
Best 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 views of London…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, with public transport or by boat (yep, you can visit these pubs on a Thames Clipper pub crawl!).
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 London’s most famous sights. That said, the furthest pub – in Greenwich – is best reached by boat.
The distance between the pubs along the Thames may be too far reaching for some revelers. In that case, we would recommend splitting it into two London pub crawls; visit the first four pubs on one day, and on another day, visit the last four pubs.
London Pub Crawl: Pro Tip for Sightseeing
This crawl of the London river pubs 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 the 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.
Additionally, we offer suggestions for more pubs on the Thames in London for beer drinkers who want to extend their crawl. We also offer suggestions for other pub crawl routes at the end of the blog post.
#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. The Blackfriar is even said to be haunted by a ghost.
Almost always crowded, patrons spill out the front door and into the adjacent park. The Blackfriar 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. While not historic, 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 terrace to take in the London 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 London
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 with a great view of the Sky Garden. 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 Pub London
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 Greenwich London
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!
Map Of London Pub Crawl On Thames River
For walking directions to the pubs along the River Thames, use this link to Google Maps.
London Pub Tour: More River Thames Pubs
While we think our tour highlights some of 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.
MAP. Housed in a building dating to 1615, the Anchor Bankside is spread out over several floors and rooms (plus a wonderful deck overlooking the River Thames during the summer months). A Green King Pub, Anchor Bankside is always lively and could drop in nicely between #3 and #4 on our London Pub Crawl!
The Horniman at Hayes
MAP. Located in a former tea warehouse, The Horniman at Hayes boasts a well-decorated interior (especially during Christmas in London!) as well as outdoor tables with views of Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and the skyline of the City of London.
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 a destination for 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.
Old Salt Quay Rotherhithe
MAP. One of the popular pubs on River Thames (especially in the summertime), Salt Quay Rotherhithe has a location right on the riverside.
Cutty Sark Pub
MAP. A beautiful pub on the Thames River, Cutty Sark offers river views and is just steps from Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub
MAP. Not one of the pubs on the Thames path, but still worth a mention, as it’s one of the world famous London pubs (plus it’s just around the corner from The Blackfriar).
More Pub Crawls London
We have recommended bars that are perfect for a self guided Pubs on the Thames London Bar Crawl. That said, there are many ways to create a pub crawl in London – so we are highlighting a few more options.
Bermondsey Beer Mile
Beer aficionados can skip the Greene King and Sam Smith London pubs and instead get a taste of the craft beer that is brewing locally on the Bermondsey Beer Mile.
Central London Pub Crawl
Join fellow travelers on a epic night of partying. Participants visit 5 London bars – with free shots and discounted drinks. Reserve your spot!
Monopoly Pub Crawl
A free pub crawl, London Monopoly Crawl is a theme-based tour of 26 of the best London pubs. Find the route, a map and the board on the website.
Camden Pub Crawl
One of the best London neighborhoods for bar crawls, pub-goers can create their own pub crawl in Camden or join this highly rated tour.
Circle Line Pub Crawl
Highlighting 27 phenomenal pubs that are near Tube stations, the Circle Line Pub Crawl can be a fun night out with friends! Get info here.
Battersea Pub Crawl
Although mostly a residential area, a lot is changing in Battersea and there are a handful of places that are fun to discover on a pub crawl. Get the list here.
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!
Pub crawls of London are only fun if you make it to the finish line! Make sure you eat a meal before (or during) your bar crawl. Bring a water bottle along to stay hydrated between pub visits and snacks – like pretzels – as well.
If you plan on bar hopping London by walking from pub to pub, you will certainly want to make sure you wear comfortable travel shoes! I like to wear these city walking shoes by Columbia – and Kris is most comfortable in his Merrell Shoes.
London City Map (and 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.
London Weather Gear
Whether you prefer to travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you’ll also want to have a great day bag to organize and secure all your favorite everyday travel items! We recommend bringing a zippered day pack for your bar crawl – that way, if you get a little too tipsy, it’s less likely things will tip out of your bag. It’s also essential for stowing your weather gear and travel camera.
London Travel Insurance
If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to England, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.
Need more ideas on planning your trip to London? Use our detailed 3-Day London Itinerary!
We want to know: Do you have a favorite pub in London? What would you add to our River Thames Pub Crawl? Tell us in the comments!
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