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How to Take Uber Boat in London

If you’ve spent any time walking along the Thames in Central London, you’ve probably seen an Uber Boat go by. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably stopped yourself and wondered, “Wait. Uber has boats? How does that work?”

Well, the answer is yes, but it’s probably not exactly what you’re thinking. Keep reading to learn more about Uber Boat and how you can get on board.

Millennium Bridge on the London River, Clem Rutter, Image, CC BY-SA 4.0

What is Uber Boat in London?

Uber Boat does not operate the same way as the Uber rideshare app. You can’t go into the app and request a boat to get you and your friends to your destination on demand. That’d be cool though, right?

Instead, Uber is just the branding on top of a pretty traditional water taxi. Uber Boat in London is a ferry boat that operates on a set schedule along set routes. It’s the river arm of Transport for London and works essentially the same way as the London Underground and London Buses work.

There are a lot of names and terms thrown around regarding water transportation in London, so I want to be clear. Throughout this post, we’re specifically talking about Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, which is the official name for the River Bus, which is Transport for London’s term for water taxi. There are also other sightseeing and cruise boats on the river, many of which share the same piers as Uber Boat, which we are not covering here.

Where does Uber Boat go?

Uber Boat has four main routes that serve 24 piers along the Thames. You can view the full map here.

  • RB1: This line operates daily in both directions between London Eye and North Greenwich, with popular stops at Westminster (Big Ben), Bankside (Tate Modern), Tower (Tower Bridge) and Greenwich (Prime Meridian). This route extends further east during peak times (weekday mornings and evenings, and weekends) and further west during off-peak times (weekdays, midday).
  • RB2: This line only operates on weekends. It runs both directions between Battersea Power Station (west of the London Eye) and North Greenwich. It makes fewer stops than the RB1, but still includes the popular tourist stops mentioned above.
  • RB6: This line only operates on weekdays during morning and evening commute hours. It runs both directions between Putney and Canary Wharf. The RB6 stops at all of the same stops as the RB1 except for the London Eye.
  • RB4: This is a river crossing and not a complete line. It operates daily between Canary Wharf and Doubletree Docklands.

For tourists, the most popular route is between Westminster and Tower Bridge. Depending on what day and time you’re traveling, you can hop any of the RB1, RB2 or RB6 Uber Boat lines. Another popular trip is to take Uber Boat to Greenwich, which calls for the RB1 or RB2.

In both cases, Uber Boat might not be the fastest commute, but it’s definitely the most fun. It’s a good way to make the transit an adventure on its own right.

When does the Uber Boat run?

The Uber Boat schedule varies by line, pier, and day. You can view the official timetable here.

Generally speaking, service begins around 6:30 AM on weekdays and 8:30 AM on weekends and holidays. Boats start making their final stops around 9 – 10 PM.

If you’re a tourist traveling between any of the popular piers between Westminster and Tower Bridge or on to Greenwich, there are boats running daily. During peak times, including weekday commutes and weekends, boats run every 10-20 minutes.

How much does Uber Boat cost?

Just like the London Underground, pricing for Uber Boat is by Zone — aka it’s more expensive the further you’re go. The pricing also varies based on how you pay. You can view the detailed price chart by zone and payment method here. There’s also a River Roamer ticket, which includes unlimited rides all day for £21.20 per adult.

Here’s a quick look at the pricing for popular trips if you pay via credit at the pier. To get round-trip pricing, be sure to use the same credit card when you tap on and off for each leg of your trip.

  • Westminster and Tower Bridge: £10.50 one way or £17.80 round trip per adult
  • Greenwich and Central Zone (anywhere between Westminster and Tower Bridge): £12.30 one way or £20.90 round trip per adult

NOTE: Children 5-15 are always half price and children 4 and under are free.

You can save a few pounds if you buy online in advance or pay with an Oyster card. I used to always have a loaded Oyster card on me, but now that you can tap-to-pay on all London transportation and it includes fare capping, there’s really no reason to do that. Uber Boat is not included in fare capping, but the Oyster card discount for Uber Boat isn’t enough for me to keep the card loaded and with me.

Another way to save money on your Uber Boat fare is with a Travelcard. A Travelcard is good for unlimited rides on London buses and most rail lines (including National Rail and London Underground) within certain zones for a set number of days. While the Travelcard doesn’t included unlimited Uber Boat transit, it does get you 1/3 off of the regular fare.

How to get tickets?

Riding Uber Boat is as easy as riding the London Underground. The easiest way to get tickets is to simply tap a contactless credit card at the pier when you board and at the pier when you get off. You don’t need to buy a ticket or download an app or do any planning in advance if you don’t want to. This is my favorite way to pay.

Like I mentioned above though, you can save a few bucks if you pay with an Oyster card or book in advance. You can buy tickets for the reduced fare online in advance (single trip, round trip, unlimited River Roamer) in the Uber app or the Thames Clippers app.

If you want to pay with an Oyster card, you’ll need to have one loaded up before you get there. You can get an Oyster card and top it off at any London Underground station, but you can’t buy or top off at the Uber Boat piers themselves.

You can also buy tickets from physical kiosks at each pier. This is slightly cheaper (same price as the app/Oyster card), but can take longer.

What is it like on board?

The Uber Boat is the nicest commute you will have in London.

First off, the boats are large, which means they’re very smooth on the water. I’m prone to seasickness, but I did not get sick on the Uber boat. In fact, it’s easier on my stomach than the Tube.

The boat has a fully enclosed, temperature-controlled seating area. The seats are padded and comfortable, and each have a folding tray table. There are large windows that extend to the ceiling, so you get a great view of the city along the way. There’s also a bit of outdoor seating in the back of the boat, but I found it to be a bit fume-y out there.

Not only is the seating comfortable, but there are some creature comforts that you won’t find on most public transit. First, there’s a cafe on board. You can buy snacks, drinks, souvenirs and even alcohol on the boat. And along with that, there’s a bathroom (that’s clean!), which is equipped with a baby changing table. Uber Boat has with free wifi, which is definitely something you won’t find on the London Underground.

How to ride Uber Boat in London?

Okay, let’s put everything together.

First, make your way to one of the 24 Uber Boat piers along the Thames. These piers are all labeled with the Transport for London circle in blue with “River” across the bar. Near the pier, there will be an information board and a ticket kiosk. Some piers serve other boat experiences, so follow signs for the River Bus.

Then look for directional signs. At most piers, boats pass through going both directions. At larger piers, each boat may stop at a different boarding point. There will be separate queues for each direction, and each will be labeled, including which stops are included in each direction.

Now wait for your boat to arrive. Some piers have standing queues and some have seating available.

When the boat arrives, they’ll let exiting passengers off and then board new passengers. There’s a tap point where you can tap a contactless credit card, Oyster card, or mobile ticket before boarding the boat.

Once onboard, kick back and relax. Or move around if you want! You’re free to move about the boat, even when it’s in motion.

Uber Boat has open seating, so you can grab any available seat inside or outside. The cafe is always open, so I highly recommend grabbing a beer. I also recommend sitting at the very front of the boat for some of the best views.

You can ride the boat to any pier along the route. The captain announces each pier stop over the speaker, which you can hear anywhere onboard. Between the announcements and the many windows, it’s hard to miss your stop.

When you get to your stop, make your way to the exit. Depending on the pier, this might be at the front or back of the boat. After you exit the boat, there will be another tap point. Be sure to tap the same payment method or ticket you used when you boarded.

Follow signs to the exit and carry on to your next London adventure.

Where to take the Uber Boat?

The Uber Boat is a fun way to get around Central London. Some of the piers are in residential areas and serve locals making their daily commute, but many of them are beside some of the city’s best tourist attractions.

Here’s a list of some of the Uber Boat piers that are most popular for tourists and what attractions are nearby.

  • London Eye (RB1): Most obviously, this pier is right by the London Eye Ferris Wheel. It’s also near Jubilee Gardens, which has a great playground for kids, and the Queen’s Walk, which is a lively portion of the riverfront that has street food, entertainment and outdoor pubs in the summer. It’s also close to Waterloo station.
  • Westminster (RB1, RB2, RB6): Westminster Abbey and Big Ben are both right outside this pier. Continue on and you’ll hit St. James’s Park, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park.
  • Embankment (RB1, RB2, RB6): From this pier, you can walk to Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Covent Garden, all in 15 minutes or less. This pier is also near Charing Cross station.
  • Blackfriars (RB1, RB6): Get off at Blackfriars mostly just if you’re interested in St. Paul’s Cathedral or have business in City of London.
  • Bankside (RB1, RB2, RB6): This pier is just steps from Tate Modern and the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge. It’s also not far from one of our favorite hotels in London, Bankside Hotel.
  • London City Bridge (RB1, RB2, RB6): Get off here for a stroll through Borough Market or to visit the observation deck at the top of The Shard. This is also the closest pier to London Bridge station for rail connections.
  • Tower (RB1, RB2, RB6): This pier is just to the west of Tower Bridge on the north side of the river. It’s also close to Tower of London, St. Katharine Docks, and Sky Garden.
  • Greenwich (RB1, RB2): Uber Boat is my favorite way to get over to Greenwich. This neighborhood is home to the Greenwich Park, Cutty Sark (cool boat), National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory Greenwich, where you can walk the Prime Meridian.

Interested in another boat ride?

For a another unique water adventure, head over to Little Venice and take a ride on the canal boats to Camden Market.