Have you ever wondered what it would be like to discover London by boat? It’s a city that can be explored in a myriad of ways; as a passenger on an open-top bus, by bike or on a free walking tour. But taking to the water lets you gain a whole new perspective to the capital that you would otherwise miss out on. There are so many boat companies out there that offer boat tours of London and I’ve been on my fair share of boat parties along the river and Thames Clipper rides. So when GoBoat approached me about the launch of GoBoat Kingston back in 2019, I jumped at the chance of exploring a different part of London’s River Thames.
What is GoBoat?
GoBoat is a self-driving boating experience, based in London. Their aim is to encourage locals and visitors alike to see London in an entirely new way. And doing that from the water is the way to go. GoBoat harnesses Danish technology to create environmentally friendly, sustainable and safe boats for those to enjoy. All without the need for a boating license!
My experience of the GoBoat Kingston Tour
May last year marked two things. My 27th birthday. And the launch of GoBoat Kingston. So I put the two together and did some birthday boating. The experience was gifted to me by the people at GoBoat to celebrate the launch of this new route and what a fantastic, sunny day it was! From picking up the GoBoat at Kingston Bridge (and trying to avoid hitting any of the local swans) to the two-hour boat ride along the Thames towards Hampton Court Palace.
As we only had two hours, we had to decide between going north or south along the river. The north route would have taken us to Teddington Lock, where the weir and suspension footbridge is visible. We chose south which took us past Thames Ditton Island and Raven’s Ait right up to Molesey Lock. Seeing Hampton Court from the water was fantastic as this would have been how many visitors to the palace would have arrived back in the day (full disclosure I am a huge Tudor history nerd, hence my excitement).
How easy is the GoBoat to drive?
Honestly, not too hard, once you get the hang of it. Neither Dan nor I have any boating experience, so this was a first for us. Just listen to the staff member explain the rules of the river- you drive on the right-hand side of the river, not the left, get out the way of larger vessels and don’t get too close to parked boats. Simple. On a windy day, like on our GoBoat ride, just be sure to take that into account when steering, otherwise, you may end up getting blown in the wrong direction.
What other locations does GoBoat have?
As well as GoBoat Kingston you can discover London by boat in Paddington too. GoBoat Paddington allows you to explore the canals between Camden and Ladbroke Grove. Your trip will begin at Paddington Basin and from there you can decide between heading east or west. The east route will take you along Regent’s Canal to the quaint area of Little Venice, past London Zoo and all the way to Camden Lock. And if you decide to take the west route, you’ll be sailing along the Grand Union Canal towards Ladbroke Grove.
How much does a GoBoat cost?
In terms of pricing, boats are charged by the hour and will depend on whether your visit will be during peak or off-peak times. GoBoats have a capacity for eight people, so the price shown below can be split between you and your friends and family!
- One hour: Peak £79, Off-Peak £59
- Two hours: Peak £109, Off-Peak £89
- Three hours: Peak £139, Off-Peak £119
Just bear in mind that the time limit will determine how much of the river or canals you get to explore. For example, the full three hours on the GOBoat Kingston will allow you to explore all the way from Teddington Lock to Hampton Court Palace, where-as one will get you to Teddington Lock and back. With GoBoat Paddington one hour will get you a ride-along Little Venice, but the full three hours can take you along the Regent’s Canal, as far as Camden Lock.
Have you ever explored London by boat? What landmarks did you see? And did you enjoy the experience? I’d love to know how you found seeing London from the water. Plus I am always on the lookout for more ways to see the city I call home.
Until next time.