River Thames on a Budget

November 1st, 2017 / / 4 Comments »

Unusual Ways to Explore the River Thames on a Budget

No doubt visitors to London will be enjoying the view via The London Eye – cheap tickets & vouchers but did you know there are plenty of other unusual ways to explore the Thames on a budget too?  Why not try out a lesser-known commuter ferry, a cable car or even a foot tunnel under the Thames & enjoy London on a budget.

1. The Thames Clipper Commuter Ferry

Whilst the Thames Clipper is known to locals as the commuter ferry, it offers both workers & tourists a budget trip down the River Thames at a fraction of the price of more costly river cruises, (more details below).


Thames Clipper along the River Thames by Houses of Parliament

Thames Clipper on the River Thames, (photo; Phil Loach)


The Thames Clipper, (more details)

The Thames Clipper runs from the London Eye to Greenwich, taking in all the sights along the river including the Tower of London, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament & Tower Bridge. Whilst there is no commentary during your trip, if you know your sights of London this is a great way to enjoy the Thames on a budget.

Select a daily river roamer ticket that gives you full flexibility for the day along the River Thames.   Alternatively, simply do as the commuters do & select a single ticket for a one way journey along the Thames.  Discounts are available for those with an oyster or travelcard, (excludes family river roamer tickets).  One top tip for those using an oyster card is to ensure you await a member of staff before tapping the card reader to join the ferry and don’t forget to tap out as you finish your journey to avoid being charged the maximum fare for an incomplete journey.  Why not take a one way trip on the Thames Clipper & simply return by public transport covered within your oyster/travelcard.

Follow our Tower of London Guide packed with cheap ticket options and queue-busting tips!


thames rvier cruise by the tower of london

Thames River Cruise; Free with a London Pass, (photo; Phil Loach)


2. Thames River Cruise

The Thames River Boat Cruise runs a hop-on & hop-off service between Westminster & Greenwich with the option to stay on board & enjoy a leisurely 3 hour tour of the Thames.  The boat trip takes in sights such as Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye & Cutty Sark and offers four optional stop-offs along the way.  More information available at Thames River Boat Cruise.

3. Emirates Air Line

The Emirates Air Line, (also known at the Thames Cable Cars), runs from Greenwich to the London Docks and offers a bird’s eye view of the Thames. Reaching a height of 90 metres above the Thames, you can take in views of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Canary Wharf, the City of London & the O2 Arena. This 1.1km journey across the river takes approximately 10 minutes each way during off peak times, (only 5 minutes during commuter peak times), with tickets reasonably priced.  More information available at Emirates Air Line.

Top Tip; take the Thames Clipper to the North Greenwich and then take a short walk to Emirates Greenwich Peninsula Terminal for a trip on the cable cars.


River Thames Cable Cars

Budget London; Emirates Air Line


4. Walk Under the River Thames; Greenwich Foot Tunnel

An unusual way to explore the River Thames is by making use of the Greenwich foot tunnel that offers you the chance to walk under the Thames.  This FREE foot tunnel runs under the River Thames, (from the Cutty Sark to the Isle of Dogs), and originally provided workers with a passageway through to the London Docks.  The foot tunnel runs over 15m deep & the original 200,000 glazed white tiles as still visible dating back to 1902.

Although the foot tunnel has seen better days, it is currently undergoing a £11.5 million refurbishment that began back in 2009.  The refurbished lifts are looking great & it is fun to walk under the Thames from one bank side to the other.  More information available at Greenwich on a Budget.

Top Tip; combine the Greenwich foot tunnel with a trip on the Thames Clipper by alighting at Greenwich Pier.


Greenwich Foot Tunnel under the River Thames

Entrance to Greenwich Foot Tunnel under the River Thames


5. Budget Itineraries Across the River Thames

Here’s a route that gives you a chance to explore under, over & across the River Thames in one day;

1. Take the Thames Clipper to Greenwich Pier, (single fare using an oyster/travelcard).

2. Take the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the Isle of Dogs & back, (free).

3. Take the bus, (129) to North Greenwich, (use your oyster/travel card).

4. Take the Thames Cable Car from North Greenwich to London Docks, (single fare using an oyster/travel card).

5. Take the DLR, (Docklands Light Railway) back into London, (use your oyster/travel card).

Why not take a look at our money saving ideas on Views of London on a Budget for further savings too!



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  1. Sue Merchant says:

    Great – jotting notes as I go. Have a London trip booked for Easter so we can certainly fit in some of these freebies – the roof terrace at the One New Change Shopping Centre looks amazing and the tips for the clippers will come in handy.

    • Hi Sue, that’s great to hear – you are sure to have a great trip! The roof terrace offers fantastic views of St Paul’s Cathedral as well as further afield, (even the view from the lift is pretty spectacular), and you can’t beat the Thames Clipper for a budget trip along the Thames. Have a great time, Liz

  2. fazlul haque says:

    good morning, i am looking 6 persons ticket for thore park ticket , 2 for 1 offer,

    next tuesday , how can i buy those ticket let me know please…

    fazlul haque

    • Top Dog Days
      lizwalsh says:

      Hi Fazlul, you can find information on cheap tickets and 2 for 1 vouchers over on our Thorpe Park page. More information available at Thorpe Park Deals. You can pick up a 2 for 1 voucher for Merlin Attractions, (including Thorpe Park), on promotional packets of Kellogg’s cereals & breakfast bars.