Boating Holidays Masthead
Boating Holidays Masthead

Thames Boating Holidays

The River Thames is known the world over as the river passing London’s famous landmarks – the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, and the unique Tower Bridge.

A Thames cruise takes you close by some of England’s best attractions – Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Eton, Henley, and Legoland near Windsor. It passes historic towns, typical English villages, and riverside pubs set in beautiful green countryside.

From West London the River Thames can be cruised for 200km on a non-tidal section via Oxford to rural Gloucestershire. Allow 2 weeks for London to Oxford and back.

River Thames Area Map

Our two boat bases on the River Thames give you a full range of boating holiday options – you can cruise one-way between our bases at Chertsey and Benson near Oxford, or out-and-back from these bases. Short break cruises pass many of the sights.

The locks on the River Thames are normally operated by lock keepers, with moorings in towns and villages mostly free. There are many riverside eating places, with Michelin star restaurants operated by celebrity chefs.

East of our Chertsey base is Hampton Court, Henry VIII’s riverside palace, open daily. Don't miss the gardens and the famous maze. Cruise past Runnymede with its memorial to President Kennedy. Kingston-on-Thames offers shopping, theatres and restaurants, whilst world-famous Kew Gardens are not far.

Going west, reach Windsor and its famous 900 year-old castle, open except when the Queen is at home. Perhaps see the ‘Changing of the Guard’. Nearby is the leading family theme park of Legoland and the elite Eton College.

The river continues west to Maidenhead and its historic railway bridge built by Brunel. Pass Cliveden House and Cookham village before reaching elegant Marlow and Henley-on-Thames, noted for its famous Regatta in July.

Reading the Kennet and Avon Canal meets the River Thames. The river becomes more peaceful as it winds through Wallingford to our boat base at the riverside village of Benson.

From there is is a short trip via the ancient market town of Abingdon to Oxford. Home to the historic University, Oxford is the city of 'dreaming spires'. Perhaps go punting on the river or seek out Inspector Morse TV locations.

Above Oxford, the Thames flows through rolling countryside with more frequent locks to reach Lechlade. Narrowboats from our canal boat bases near Oxford can travel the river (Thames licence is payable) or continue northwards on the Oxford Canal to Cropredy and Banbury.

A boating holiday on the River Thames takes you on an unforgettable cruise through some of England’s most scenic and historic highlights.

Area Highlights

Highlights of the River Thames

  • Windsor Castle
  • Hampton Court Palace and Cliveden House.
Cruising on the River Thames

Useful Information:

  • All the locks on the River Thames are automatic and manned by lock-keepers. There is no charge to use them and they are open on bank holidays.
  • Cruising beyond Teddington Locks towards central london is not permitted.

Suggested Routes from our cruiser bases on the River Thames

View Routes from:

River Thames Boating Map

Boat holidays from Benson

This large, attractive village lies at the foot of the beautiful Chiltern Hills and it home to the main marina on the Thames. There is a village adjacent with a small supermarket, off licence and an attractive pubs serving good food.

One Way Routes

Benson - Chertsey

Short Break One Way • 4 Days • 96km • 20 Locks • 16hrs

Out and Back Routes

Benson - Oxford - Henley-upon-Thames

Return Trip • One Week • 186km • 30 Locks • 32hrs

From Benson it is a short cruise through the market town of Abingdon to the spires of Oxford churches and university colleges. Explore the delights of Oxford, and maybe go punting on the river. Then turn back downriver through riverside towns to Henley-on-Thames, noted for its annual Regatta.

Benson - Windsor

Return Trip • One Week • 155km • 36 Locks • 30hrs

South from Benson cruise past ancient riverside towns, through the city of Reading and henley-on-Thames to reach Windsor. On the banks of the river, Windsor Castle is still used as a Royal residence, the Queen's standard flying when she is there. Nearby landmarks include Eton, the famous boys' school.

Benson - Marlow

Short Break Return Trip • 4 Days • 75km • 28 Locks • 14hrs

Henley-on-Thames offers a postcard-perfect scene — rowing crews in sleek craft, and colourful waterfront pubs and shops look inviting. Perfect for a lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding washed down with a pint of local ale!

Boat holidays from Chertsey

Chertsey is one of the oldest towns in England, founded in 666AD. These days this picturesque village, with its antique shops and restaurants. Chertsey also host an annual country fair dating back to 1883. In contrast, it is also home to Thorpe Park, the UK's leading Theme Park.

One Way Routes

Chertsey - Benson

Short Break One Way • 4 Days • 96km • 20 Locks • 16hrs

Out and Back Routes

Chertsey - Windsor - Kingston-upon-Thames

Return Trip • One Week • 70km • 14 Locks • 10hrs

Standing in front of the stately Hampton Court Palace near Kingston-upon-Thames, you think about King Henry VIII, who once lived there. You spend time sightseeing, and then cruise on the Thames to incredible Windsor Castle. Along the way, sample waterside pubs with traditional ale and food.

Chertsey - Henley-upon-Thames

Short Break Return Trip • 3 Days • 75km • 18 Locks • 16hrs

The easygoing pace of a River Thames boat hire relaxes you almost immediately, and the villages with waterside pubs and pretty greens tempt you to stop. Perhaps cycle into the countryside for a real taste of England, and sightseeing is unforgettable in Royal Windsor.

Cruising on the River Thames
Cruiser Boat Hire on the River Thames
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