Summer in the City: The Best Riverside Pubs and Bars in London
The River Thames is one of London’s unsung heroes. Fortunately as it winds its way through the capital there are plenty of places to enjoy a drink by it and take in the views across the water. Some of the historic pubs have links to fisherman and pirates and date back hundreds of years. Others have taken advantage of the redevelopment of old London wharves, and then there are the moored boats turned bars. So when the sun's shining and the breeze is balmy, here's our list and map of 35 pubs and bars on the riverbanks, from Richmond in the west across to Canary Wharf in the east.
Riverside pubs and bars map
West London riverside
Here are a host of places to try from Richmond to Battersea.
1. White Cross, Richmond
Built in 1748 this looks like a traditional English pub (complete with cobbled streets outside). Bang on the river bank - even when the river has flooded the pub keeps serving - they serve real ales and classic comfort food in the beer garden or on the balcony. It's very popular with rugby fans (England’s home ground Twickenham is across the water) for pre or post match drinks. Getting there: Off Water Lane, Riverside, Richmond, TW9 1THWebsite
2. The London Apprentice, Isleworth
This large pub on the river bend is Cask Marquee certified as a Real Ale pub of excellence, so you should get a decent choice of beer. Their patio, which juts out from the pub, has great views up and down the river – and they have heaters for when the sun goes down. If you're eating, book a table in the Riverview Room (it’s obvious why). Getting there: 62 Church Street, Old Isleworth, TW7 6BGWebsite
3. The City Barge, Chiswick
Enjoy a pint of real ale at this riverside pub in one of London's prettiest locations, Strand on the Green. There's plenty of outside seating and trestle tables at the front of the pub, just yards from the river, where you can try some of their seafood specials.
FACT:The pub featured in the Beatles film Help! (1965)
Getting there: 27 Strand-on-the-Green, Chiswick, W4 3PHWebsite
4. The White Hart, Barnes
Very popular with Boat Race goers as you can see the last quarter of the race, this pub is a winner for its super views from its two terraces. If you want to sit inside, choose a comfy armchair or sofa and watch the river go by - the spot has had a pub here since 1660. In the summer they fire up the barbecue. Getting there: The Terrace, Riverside, Barnes, London, SW13 0NRWebsite
The Boat Race’s course, featuring crews from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, goes from Putney Bridge and heads west to Chiswick Bridge along the River Thames. Many of the pubs in this stretch of the river have names that are affiliated with this Blue Riband rowing event.
5. The Black Lion, Hammersmith
Enjoy great views of this sweep of the Thames at this pub with a pretty black and white exterior. The large riverside garden is great to have a beer and barbecue food in the summer. Unusually the food and drink theme is all things Kiwi, so enjoy a drop of New Zealand wine while you have a traditional game of English Skittles in their authentic alley. Getting there: 2 South Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith, London, W6 9TJ Website
6. The Dove, Hammersmith
Drinkers have been enjoying the view from The Dove's riverside terrace since 1796. Another popular boat race spot, the pub offers a range of real ales and fresh-cooked food.
FACT: The pub appears in the well-known novel by local resident, A P Herbert, The Water Gypsies, under the thinly-disguised name - "The Pigeons".
Getting there: The Dove, 19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London, W6 9TA Website
7. Blue Anchor, Hammersmith
Hammersmith Bridge provides the backdrop to this attractive historic pub (1722) There are trestle tables out front on the riverbank to sip one of their four on-tap real ales. And they also have a good wine list and pub menu (head upstairs to the River Room for dining with a view) Getting there: 13 Lower Mall, Hammersmith, London, W6 9DJWebsite
8. The Blue Boat, Hammersmith
This modern pub’s name highlights the close link between the river and the famous boat race – and the decoration has a nautical theme. They promise a great pint of London Pride (the pub’s only a couple of miles from the Fuller’s brewery) and other rotated real ales. Sink a few beers from their large outdoor terrace. As you would expect, seafood dishes are the star attractions from their open kitchen. Getting there: Distillery Wharf, Parr's Way, London, W6 9GDWebsite
9. The Crabtree, Fulham
Nestled in between the bridges of Hammersmith and Putney - you can enjoy riverside views from the pub’s terraces along with their range of guest real ales. Food wise, they try and keep the ingredients in their cosmopolitan cuisine seasonal, and they even have a barbecue going in the warmer months.
FACT: This part of the Thames on the Boat Race course is called the "Crabtree Reach" after the pub.
Alongside its links to the Boat Race, it’s also close by to Craven Cottage, the stadium of Fulham FC. Getting there: Rainville Road, Fulham, W6 9HAWebsite
10. Star and Garter, Putney
This glorious Grade II listed building has three floors with river views, next to Putney Bridge on the south bank. Check out their 30 wines, kept in an enomatic machine, specialist G&T menu and craft beers on offer. Unusually this cosy pub has plenty of original features including a walk-in cheese maturing room, the perfect place to pair their dairy and wine. Getting there: 4 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, London, SW15 1JN Website
11. The Boathouse, Putney
Staying on the south bank, this is a popular Putney haunt for casual drinks and a spot of seafood. This bright and modern pub in the wharf area sits alongside Putney Bridge and has great views from its outdoor terrace as well as "upper deck" balconies. Getting there: Brewhouse Lane, Putney, London, SW15 2JXWebsite
12. The Ship, Wandsworth
One of the most fun and funky pubs along the river - this is an historic pub (1786) which remains young at heart. Slap bang on the banks of the Thames, they serve some cracking real ales alongside their summer barbecue. Its fabulous outdoor area meant it was also included in our best London beer gardens list. Getting there: 41 Jews Row, Wandsworth, London, SW18 1TB Website
13. The Waterfront, Wandsworth
A new addition to the south bank, this modern pub in the Battersea Reach development, looks out to Wandsworth Bridge and has a large outside area to eat and drink in. They have a proper pizza oven and make all their own dough, so you can get a real feel of the Italian Riviera down by The Thames. Getting there: Juniper Drive, London, SW18 1TSWebsite
14. The Waterside, Chelsea
This sleek Chelsea establishment on the Thames path has lovely views from the "lower deck" terrace out front. The terrace (which is heated) has ample seating to enjoy a Bloody Mary and peruse the organic menu while watching the river flow by. Getting there: The Boulevard, Imperial Wharf, Fulham, London, SW6 2SUWebsite
Central London riverside
Try these pubs and bars from Vauxhall to Tower Bridge
15. The Riverside Bar & Restaurant, Vauxhall
You can watch the sun set on the iconic Battersea Power Station from the two outside terraces at this bright and airy bar. With 200 outdoor seats, and heaters for when the sun goes in, this is a popular spot to enjoy a cask conditioned ale or a bottle of premium lager by the water. Tucked away in St George Wharf, the restaurant here serves up British classics. Getting there: Hamilton House, 5 St George’s Wharf, London, SW8 2LEWebsite
16. Tamesis Dock, Vauxhall
Carrying on the fine tradition of floating pubs in central London is this converted 1930s Dutch barge. Permanently moored between Vauxhall Bridge and Lambeth Bridge, you can see the London Eye and Houses of Parliament from the deck. This is the place to hear live music (mainly free) on the water (they do put on the odd private or ticketed event - so check their Facebook page for the latest news) Getting there: Tamesis, Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TPWebsite
17. Bar & Co, Temple
Get on board this floating boat bar moored at Temple pier which has dancing downstairs and an upper deck for catching a few rays. If you like watching sports, this might just be your spot for the summer, as you can watch the football, tennis or rugby on one of their five big screens (one open air) Getting there: Temple Pier, Victoria Embankment, London, WC2R 2PNWebsite
FACT: The River Thames name is thought to be an amalgamation of the Celtic word “Tamesas” – meaning dark – which was adopted by the Romans. The “Th” was added later as it was thought to have referenced the River Thyamis in Greece.
18. Doggett's Coat and Badge, Blackfriars / Southwark
This central London pub's Riverside Bar has a huge outdoor terrace overlooking the water to enjoy a real ale or specialty gin. In the warmer months there is a special summer bar and barbecue outside, while the terrace is also heated if there is a nip in the air.
FACT: The intriguing name of the pub comes from an amateur rowing race. First organised by London character, Thomas Doggett, in the 18th Century, the winner would get a coat and badge for their efforts.
Getting there: 1 Blackfriars Bridge, London, SE1 9UD Website
19. Founder's Arms, Blackfriars / Southwark
This riverside pub has a continental feel, with plenty of outdoor seating alongside the river - and the views from inside of The Thames are pretty good too. It's close to some of London's finest cultural hot spots, like the Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe. This is a Young's pub so expect some of their own ales as well as guest beers. In the summer they offer Pimm's by the glass or pitcher to enjoy in the sunshine. Getting there: 52 Hopton Street, Bankside, London, SE1 9JHWebsite
20. Northbank Restaurant and Bar, Blackfriars / St Paul's
You might be lulled into thinking you were in the South West with this Cornish-themed restaurant and bar. The bar and outdoor terrace have lovely views over the water and the cider and cocktail range is particularly good. You should try the Cornish Mead, first brewed in the 16th Century, for a riverside tipple with a difference. Getting there: Millennium Bridge, 1 St Paul's Walk, London, EC4V 3QHWebsite
21. Anchor Bankside, Southwark
This traditional pub has a lovely raised seating area outside on the South Bank, with views of the river and local landmarks like The Shard. Enjoying a rather colourful history – it’s been a tavern, brothel, brewery and ship’s chandlers – due to its location it also can lay a vague claim to having been the local of Doctor Samuel Johnson, creator of the English dictionary. Situated just five minutes away from Shakespeare's Globe and Borough Market, they do a good range of ales and pub classics.
Getting there: 34 Park Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9EF Website
22. The Banker, Cannon Street / The City
One of the best central locations, sitting between London Bridge and Southwark Bridge, this is the place where city workers come to unwind by the water. Unfortunately this pub doesn't open at the weekends, which is a shame as it has a wonderful beer garden right on top of the water, with cracking views of the riverside skyline. Getting there: Cousin Lane, London, EC4R 3TEWebsite
23. The Oyster Shed, Cannon Street / The City
This restaurant and bar has a large outdoor area (with heaters) and fantastic views up and down the Thames. They have a great wine list and plenty of beer options if you just want a drink, and if the weather isn't great, the large and airy interior, with a nautical, stripped back theme is very inviting. Oysters are however the star of the show on the seafood-themed menu, and have long been a traditional London delicacy down by The Thames. If you're thinking of heading down, it's only open on weekdays, but can be hired out on Saturdays. Getting there: 1 Angel Lane, London, EC4R 3ABWebsite
24. The Horniman at Hay, London Bridge
This large and spacious pub is found in what was once a tea warehouse, and while they still serve a decent cuppa it's more the riverside views and real ales which have will have you returning.
Named after the tea dealer who owned the warehouse, Frederick Horniman, the pub pays tribute to his travels with friezes of his adventures in Africa, India and the Americas inside.
25. Perkin Reveller, Tower Bridge
This riverside restaurant and bar is actually owned by The Historic Royal Palaces, mainly due to the fact its next-door neighbour is the iconic Tower of London. Attention to detail, from the extensive cocktail list to the two bars' décor (one a converted antique church pulpit and the other copper topped and ornate), is second to none. They also have a large outdoor seating area with one of the best daytime and evening views of Tower Bridge in London. Getting there: The Wharf, Tower of London, St Katharine's & Wapping, London, EC3N 4ABWebsite
East and south east London
Or try this lot from Wapping to Canary Wharf...
26. Town of Ramsgate, Wapping
While claims to be the "oldest" riverside pub in London should be taken with a large pinch of sea salt, the Town of Ramsgate probably has the strongest. There has been an inn on this site since the 146os, but the pub was renamed in 1811 to its present moniker after the fishermen from Ramsgate who would drop their fish off at the steps to avoid the taxes at Billingsgate. The pub sits right on the edge of the river and has small beer garden at the back where you can hear the river lapping against the bank.
FACT: The Wapping Old Stairs next door to the pub have the gruesome legacy of being where condemned pirates were chained to the bottom of the steps and left to drown at high tide.
Getting there: 62 Wapping High Street, Wapping, London E1W 2PNWebsite
27. The Captain Kidd, Wapping
Named after the famous pirate, whose treasure haul is believed to have been discovered off the coast of Madagascar, this pub has a spacious outdoor seating area. From the garden you can see from Canary Wharf across to Tower Bridge, and the views from the wood-panelled interior isn't bad either. It doesn't have a website, so if you want to book for lunch of dinner, you'll just have to do it the old-fashioned way. Getting there: 108 Wapping High Street, London, E1W 2NENo Website - contact number: (020) 7480 5759
Visit the Wapping riverside pubs and find out more about the rich history of the area. For 400 years part of the area was known as Execution Dock. It was here smugglers, mutineers and pirates' death sentences from the Admiralty courts were carried out.
28. The Mayflower, Rotherhithe
Found at the final mooring point for the famous ship of the same name before its journey to America, this historic pub is another to claim the oldest riverside hostelry in London title. Indoors its all oak panelling and candlelight, but they also have plenty of modern trestle tables outside to take your drinks and check out the riverside views. They have a good range of craft beer and real ales and the food is of the gastro-pub kind. Getting there: 117 Rotherhithe Street, London, SE16 4NFWebsite
29. The Salt Quay, Rotherhithe
This large converted warehouse has a bit of a haunted house theme park look to it from outside, but it also has one of the largest outdoor spaces on the river to have a drink at. With Canary Wharf as a backdrop, this pub is a little harder to get to then most, which makes it great for avoiding the central London crowds. They have real ales, craft beer and a decent cocktail menu, along with pub classics as dining options. Getting there: 163 Rotherhithe Street, Rotherhithe, Greater London, SE16 5QUWebsite
30. Prospect of Whitby, Wapping
Once the haunt of smugglers and pirates, now the clientèle is more respectable and there is more than just rum on the menu. The beer garden and terrace offer views along the river, and the maritime past is reflected in the nautical-influenced interior. One of the oldest pubs along the river (an inn has been here since the 16th Century), the pub retains many old and original features. Getting there: 57 Wapping Wall, Wapping, London , E1W 3SHWebsite
31. The Narrow Restaurant and Bar, Limehouse
One of the newest fine-dining restaurants on the river and part of the Gordon Ramsay Group, this is a sophisticated edition to this East London stretch of the river. Large floor-to-ceiling windows give wide views along the river. And you can also relax in the The Narrow bar and watch the river go by while sipping a cocktail on a comfy sofa. Getting there: 44 Narrow Street, London, E14 8DPWebsite
32. The Grapes, Limehouse
This historic pub in the heart of Limehouse has a real traditional Victorian feel to it. There is a tiny terrace at the back above the river, which overlooks the Antony Gormley statue, Another Time XVI, 2012. But if there isn't room there you can also get great views from the dining room on the first floor - particularly of Canary Wharf. The snug is named after Charles Dickens, as he is rumoured to have danced on the tables there, as well as making a veiled reference to the pub in his classic novel, "Our Mutual Friend".
One of the leaseholders is Sir Ian McKellen - and he has written a short history of the pub.
Limehouse - Getting there: 76 Narrow Street, London, E14 8BPWebsite
33. The Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich
A popular spot for those visiting Greenwich Park, Greenwich Market and the Maritime Museum, this large regency pub has wonderful views across to the O2, Canary Wharf and The City. It has huge bay windows on the ground floor, giving you wide views of the river, but in the warmer months, people spill outside to the beer garden and promenade area to have their drinks. Do check the website however, as its well-preserved architecture and location means some of the pub is booked up for weddings over some weekends. Getting there: Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NWWebsite
34. Cutty Sark, Greenwich
Right on the bend of the river, the view from the upstairs bay window is one of the best in London. Tucked slightly out of the way from the centre of Greenwich, this is well worth a few minutes walk. There is plenty of outdoor trestle seating across from the pub and bang on top of the riverbank. They do excellent Bloody Marys and Sunday roasts. Getting there: 4-6 Ballast Quay, Greenwich, London, SE10 9PDWebsite
35. The Gun, Docklands / Canary Wharf
Last but by no means least, this 250-year-old pub, now a Grade II listed building, has been refurbished with the advice of English Heritage. This has been the local of smugglers, stevedores and dockers - and also the meeting place of one Lord Horatio Nelson. He used to court his mistress upstairs in what is now The River Room. The outdoor terrace is open from May to September - make sure you check out the pub sign - its rather fun. Getting there: The Gun 27 Coldharbour Docklands London E14 9NSWebsite
Have you got as favourite riverside establishment?
We'd love to hear what you think about our list and are always open to hearing about any you would like including. Tell us where you love to drink and eat down near the water by leaving a comment below. If you're searching for more alfresco drinking spots - check out our guide to London's best beer gardens. Or if you want to look at London from above - these rooftop bars are a great option.