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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 fireplace crackles in the corner as a quick-witted 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 (and the whole of the United Kingdom); a throwback to a bygone era that remains oddly fashionable in the modern metropolis. And we can’t get enough of them.
Some of the 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.
Therefore, instead of designing a single London Pub Crawl, we created 3 bar crawls in London to pubs by River Thames. Each of our River Thames bar crawls in London feature 6 incredible River Thames pubs that are conveniently located along (or near) the water
Top Tip: While we think these are the best pub crawls in London along the River Thames, some of London’s most historic pubs are located in the City of London. As this is one of our favorite areas for bar hopping, we share the details of an Oldest Pubs in London Pub Crawl – as well as options for Craft Brewery Tap Room Bar Crawls and Guided Historic Pub Tours London.
Best Classic Pub Crawl London
A River Thames pub crawl in London is a fantastic way to combine 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.
Each DIY London pub tour features a specific area – Central London, 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 some of these pubs on a Thames Clipper pub crawl!).
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.
For many travelers, our outlined Central London Pubs Thames River Crawl offers the best sightseeing – as it features bars that provide views of London’s iconic places and famous skyline.
That said, the East London Pubs River Thames Bar Crawl features some of the oldest pubs in London, which is fun for history buffs and travelers who like to escape the crowds. The furthest pub crawl – in Greenwich – can be reached by boat and features both modern and historic pubs – as well as two craft breweries.
London Pub Crawl Guide
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 pubs on the Thames.
Tips for Sightseeing in London
Each bar 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 either the Central London pubs along the Thames in the evening or the East London pubs by the river.
The next day, begin with visiting the sights in Greenwich, using our guide of Things To Do in Greenwich, then embark on the Greenwich Pub Crawl.
In addition to the pubs on the Thames in London, beer drinkers who want to extend their crawl can use our suggestions for other pub crawl routes at the end of the article.
Central London Bar Crawl to Pubs by the River Thames
This is one of the best Central London Pub Crawls and a highlight for many visitors. This pub crawl takes tasters from the north side of the river across to the south bank from Blackfriars Bridge to Tower Bridge in Central London.
#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. This Nicholsons 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.
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.
Almost always crowded, on pleasant days, 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. Another Nicholsons bar on our London pub crawl tour is The Doggett’s Coat and Badge, which sits right on the river on the south end of Blackfriars Bridge.
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, a Young’s & Co establishment, 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 sail 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 Anchor Bankside
MAP. Dating to at least the mid-1600s, Anchor Bankside is one of the fun bars on our riverside pub crawl in the London borough of Southwark. A Greenking Pub, Anchor Bankside is located in a traditional brick building, with red painted trim, featuring cozy rooms on multiple levels and two bars. The spacious waterfront deck is super for sunny afternoon and warm nights, offering phenomenal views.
The pub was long a favorite watering hole in London’s early theater district – and it is where Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London destroy the City across the river in the year 1666. Today, locals, tourists and even dogs are invited into the bar.
Exuding a classic British atmosphere, the pub offers a nice range of beers and a menu of pub classics, too.
#5 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 near the stunning Southwark Cathedral on cobblestoned streets next to 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 (a feature of most Nicholsons Pubs), with a dedicated British savory pie menu to please gravy-loving palates.
#6 The Horniman at Hayes
MAP. The last stop on our Central Pub Crawl London route is The Horniman at Hayes (yet another Nicholsons venture!). Located in a former tea warehouse, The Horniman at Hayes boasts a well-decorated interior, especially during Christmas in London!
While the interior is gorgeous and classic, we love the outdoor tables with views of Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and the City of London Skyline.
East London River Thames Pub Crawl
The East London pubs on the River Thames are a step off the heavily trodden tourist trail. It’s the best London pub crawl to see some of the oldest bars on the River Thames.
#1 The Angel
MAP. Begin your East London Pub Crawl on the River Thames at The Angel.
Occupying an area that is steeped in history, The Angel Pub is a fantastic neighborhood pub complete with a wood burning fireplace. Perched along the River Thames, the incredible views of Tower Bridge are a bar highlight.
Classic and sometimes a bit quiet (except on exceptionally beautiful days), The Angel serves up a traditional pub menu and is a good place to watch sunset.
#2 The Mayflower Pub
MAP. Dating to the year 1550, The Mayflower claims to be the oldest pub on the Thames. Whether that is accurate or not, it is absolutely true that The Mayflower is a quintessential English pub. Nestled in the Rotherhithe district along a cobblestone lane, the interior of The Mayflower is cozy and welcoming.
However, the best seating in the house for river views is from the dock. In fact, the dock marks the site where the Mayflower ship was moored prior to beginning its journey to the New World in 1620.
#3 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.
The converted warehouse is brick and wood, this Greenking Pub has lovely outdoor seating and river views. Known for their Sunday Roast, the menu features classics alongside gastropub fare.
#4 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 pub 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 guided 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.
#5 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 décor 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 brewery, which was established in 1758. We recommend having a pint of Taddy Lager, their signature beer.
#6 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 too 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 garden 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.
Greenwich London Pub Crawl
The final of our London Pub Crawl routes works its way east of the city center to Greenwich. For this Self Guided Pub Crawl London, we recommend taking the Thames Clipper boat or other public transit – and making a stop in Canary Wharf on the way to Greenwich to visit one of the most famous bars on pub crawls in London.
#1 The Grapes
MAP. A famous pub that is featured in all of the best London pub crawls, The Grapes is a must for fans of historic bars.
Housed 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. In fact, Charles Dickens was said to be a patron of the establishment. That said, fans of Lord of the Rings flock to the bar to see Gandalf’s walking stick that is displayed behind the bar.
The narrow bar has a smattering of historic memorabilia – plus there are two small outdoor spaces to enjoy river views.
The Grapes in located a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf – and travelers can reach the pub from the Canary Wharf Pier if taking the boat to Greenwich.
#2 The Sail Loft Greenwich
MAP. In stark contrast to the previous pub, The Sail Loft is one of the new bars on our Greenwich pub crawl. The modern glass building and sleek waterfront patio allows guests to imbibe right on the river’s edge.
It’s a fabulous perch – and on warm afternoons it’s a great place to order a classic London gin cocktail.
#3 Trafalgar Tavern Greenwich London
MAP. Trafalgar Tavern on the River Thames is located in Greenwich – and the next stop on our Thames River Pub Crawl London in Greenwich.
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.
#4 Cutty Sark at Ballast Quay
MAP. A beautiful 200-year-old pub on the Thames River, Cutty Sark is an old London pub that embraces its history. Not to be confused with the ship of the same name, the Cutty Sark pub features a brick exterior and wooden interior.
Occupying three stories, the Cutty Sark offers fine river views and features an exquisite menu of fresh, in-season food alongside famous fish-and-chips. The riverside tables are the perfect place for enjoying a pint!
#5 Brew By Numbers BBNO
MAP. A contemporary brewery on the Thames River, Brew By Numbers – or BBNO – is one of the best local craft breweries in London. Originally brewing on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, the new brewery space – Brew By Numbers Modern Wharf – sits right on the water and is a wonderful place to get a taste of locally produced craft brew.
The warehouse brewery features ample seating – both inside and out – and DJs.
#6 Meantime Brewing Company
MAP. Not on the riverbank, but worth stopping by, Meantime Brewery is a longtime London brewer that makes a great last stop on any best pub crawl in London Greenwich!
In addition to sampling their products on site at the brewery, they also offer brewery tours and guided tastings.
Tips for Our Pub Crawl Routes London
We shared 3 different London bar crawl routes that features some of the best Thames River pubs. However, the River Thames pubs can be reshuffled to fit your schedule – and we have a few more fun London pub crawl ideas.
We are sharing a couple different ways to create your ultimate London pub crawl of bars along the Thames.
Creating the Best Pub Crawl London for Your Trip
With short walking distances (or boat connections, in the case of Greenwich) and just 6 pubs in each London Pub Walk, it is possible to complete each London pub tour in a single outing.
However, the London pub walks could be combined and extended into longer pub tours by using our London Pub Guide as an outline. On the other hand, visitors could cover more ground, but visit fewer pubs – and we share tips on how to do it.
Bar Crawl London Route to More Pubs
Sippers could use our guide as a London Pub Crawl Planner and combine the 3 separate bar crawls to the pubs along the Thames into just 2 Pub Walks London. The two London pub crawls would then have 9 pubs each.
For these longer bar walks, add the first 3 pubs of the East London tour to the end of the Central London tour – and start the next tour with the last three pubs from the East London tour, then continue to Greenwich.
Longer London Pub Walks to Bars on the Thames
Walking the River Thames is one of the best ways to sightsee in London. It is, in fact, possible to walk all the way from Central London to Greenwich.
Visitors who want to make the long walk to enjoy the sights can use our guide to visiting the best bars on the River Thames. To ensure you complete the entire walk, eliminate some of the pubs and/or order half-pints.
Map Of London Pub Crawl On Thames River
For an interactive, online version of our map of pubs along the River Thames, use this link to Google Maps.
One More London Pub Tour
While we think our tours highlight some of the best pubs on the River Thames, there are a few more nearby and historically notable bars that can be visited on an Oldest Pubs in London Pub Crawl. These pubs are located in the oldest part of the city – the City of London.
#1 Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub
MAP. Not one of the pubs on the Thames path, but definitely worth a visit, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of the world famous London pubs. Often claimed to be London’s oldest pub, the original pub was actually destroyed by the 1666 London Fire, so the current version dates to 1667.
That said, we recommend drinking your pint in the cellar, which is believed to be part of a 13th century Carmelite monastery.
#2 The Old Bank of England
MAP. The Old Bank of England Fleet Street pub is relatively new, but it is housed in the former Bank of England’s Law Courts. The gorgeous building alone is worth taking a peek inside. That said, it’s also fun to tip pints inside the old London bus in the courtyard garden.
#3 The Seven Stars
MAP. Dating to 1602, The Seven Stars is a typical old London boozer. With creaking floorboards, friendly bar staff and a resident cat, it’s easy to get cozy at The Seven Stars.
#4 The Knights Templar
MAP. A JD Weatherspoon establishment (our least favorite of the British bar chains), The Knights Templar is actually a addition to your historic bar crawl. This London pub’s history doesn’t go back as far as the Knights Templar, but is housed in the old Union Bank, which retains many original grandiose and ornate Georgian architectural features.
#5 Ye Olde Mitre
MAP. Less than a 10 minute walk away, Ye Olde Mitre is dedicated to keeping tradition alive. Opened in 1547, the pub is located along a narrow alley and is the perfect place to get a ‘proper pint’ in London. (Closed Weekends!)
London Beer Mile Breweries
We have recommended bars that are perfect for a self guided Pubs on the Thames London Bar Crawl and a Historic Pubs Crawl. That said, there are several craft breweries in the city and it is quite easy to create a Craft Beer Pub Crawl in London, as well. We are highlighting the two best 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. Occupying the arches under the railroad tracks, this hip and industrial beer mile is a must for fans of craft brew.
Walthamstow Blackhorse Beer Mile
Located in the northern suburb of Walthamstow in an industrial park, the Blackhorse Beer Mile is a bit out of the way for most London visitors, but a true gem in the current London craft beer scene.
Fun independent brewers to visit on the beer mile are Hackney Brewery, Exale Brewing, Signature Brew and Pretty Decent Beer. Then, stop by Big Penny Social for a bite to eat and some fun.
More Pub Crawls London
Travelers looking for a guided pub crawl or a themed self-guided pub tour London have a few more options. We are highlighting a few of the best.
Guided Historic Pub Crawl
Pub crawling London on your own is fun, but it can be even more fun with a local guide and fellow travelers. Join the Guided Historic Pub Crawl – one of the Best Pub Tours London – for a fun afternoon in London’s best pubs. Book it here!
Guided Party 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. We highlight some of the most Famous London Food for visitors who want a taste of the local cuisine.
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 after a few pints! 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 traveling together, up to 10 devices can be connected at once and it’s powerbank! GlocalMe uses Cloud SIM (eSIM) technology, so you pre-purchase data and are connected the moment you touch down off that long-haul flight!
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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