The River Thames has a transformative power. It has the ability to turn otherwise average pubs perched on its banks into hot destinations, particularly during the summer months.
Us Londoners can’t get enough of waterside drinking – and luckily there are plenty of places to do it. Here are the best riverside pubs and drinking spots in the capital, perfect for a leisurely afternoon in the sunshine…
Much-loved South West haunt The Ship has been around for over 200 years, but still reels in the crowds at weekends. They have a big beer garden that’s practically on the water, with a Burger Shack sizzling up BBQ food and top notch curly fries. Feels a bit like you’re on a boat, in a good way.
Long-standing, characterful pub The Dove has a rich history. A framed list of patrons hangs over the lower bar’s fireplace, which features the likes of Charles II and poet James Thomson alongside actors and writers of the modern day. But it’s not just about name-dropping: The Dove is a lovely spot in itself – inside you’ll find the smallest bar room in the world (according to The Guinness Book of World Records), with a larger space outside for riverside drinking.
The ever-popular Cutty Sark has been sat on the river banks for over 200 years, offering glorious views of the city. You can’t beat its quayside patio on a bank holiday afternoon.
A former print factory transformed into a brewery and pizzeria by locals, CRATE Brewery is hipster London at its peak. Sip on house-brewed beers and thin crust pizzas while watching boats cruise along the canal.
Coppa Club’s Instagram-friendly riverside igloos have been given a makeover for the summer, transforming into surfer shacks set against a backdrop of tropical plants and surfboards. From here, enjoy spectacular views of Tower Bridge, The Shard and the city beyond while sipping on a cocktail or three.
The main drawing point of The Crabtree is its giant beer garden, which meanders down to a quiet stretch of the Thames between Hammersmith and Putney bridges. A BBQ grill operates from spring to autumn, with plenty of big tables for groups.
Off-the-beaten-track gastropub The Gun is a bit of a walk from Canary Wharf, but it’s well worth going slightly out of your way for. Its waterside terrace boasts lovely views of the 02 and Greenwich – but be sure to secure your spot early, as this stylish spot fills up quickly during the summer months.
A chic three-floored bar and restaurant in Granary Square, The Lighterman is named after the Victorian lightermen who worked on flat-bottomed barges, known as ‘Lighters’, on the canals and rivers of London. Perched on Regent’s Canal with a large wraparound terrace, it serves a modern British menu from breakfast through to to dinner, with meat and fish cooked on a wood-fired grill.
Another long-standing Hammersmith classic, found on Lower Mall just down the road from The Dove. A firm favourite with locals, The Rutland Arms offers classic pub grub, with cocktail pitchers available during the summer. Get there early to nab an outdoor table and watch the world go by.
Its prime spot on the River Thames has drawn fans into Le Pont De La Tour since it opened back in 1991. Though primarily a sophisticated restaurant serving a mix of traditional and innovative French cuisine, the large outdoor terrace is an idyllic spot for drinks during the summer months, with lovely views of Tower Bridge and the city centre.
There’s a country feel to this charming pub, perched on the banks of the river in Chiswick. Ideal for a sunny Sunday, with great food, fresh ales and cheerful service.