21 Oct 2020 — Thames River Sightseeing
If you’re planning days out with the kids in October half-term, a day trip to London with the family is a possibility. At the time of posting, London is subject to high-level Tier 2 restrictions. As long as you follow the social distancing rules and you are with your own household, you will be able to travel into London to visit tourist attractions. However, it’s important to note that every attraction has its own COVID-secure procedures in place, and booking in advance is essential, so check their websites for further information.
Here are our suggestions of things to do near our piers between Westminster and Greenwich.
A boat trip is always exciting and with all our boats having access to fresh air on deck, it’s one of the safest ways to travel. We have implemented measures in line with public health guidelines to ensure safety standards and have been awarded the We’re Good To Go safety mark from VisitEngland. What’s more, we’re offering 40% off the cost of tickets between 23rd October and 1st November 2020 – just use the code OCTOFFER2020 when you book your tickets.
Our service is hop on, hop off, so you can cruise between attractions, hop off to have a look around, then hop back on again to go to the next one. Here are some of our favourites to give you a flavour of what you can expect.
Film buffs of all ages will love the trail of statues in Leicester Square (nearest pier: Embankment). Scenes in the Square is a trail of bronze statues of some of the best-loved characters in cinema history – from Bugs Bunny to Laurel and Hardy, Batman to Wonder Woman. Find a bench and sit next to Mr Bean, or share a marmalade sandwich with Paddington Bear. These fun and selfie-worthy statues will definitely bring a smile to everyone’s faces!
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the good of everyone during the pandemic are the focus of Everyday Heroes, a free outdoor art and poetry exhibition celebrating some of the key workers who have worked so hard to keep the country running this year. Exhibited around the Southbank Centre, there are 29 portraits and poems to find, produced by some of the country’s leading artists.
All of the outdoor areas at the Tower of London (nearest pier: Tower Bridge Quay) are open, and while some indoor spaces are closed to visitors, the most popular attractions are still open, such as the Crown Jewels, the Bloody Tower, some floors of the White Tower, and the Torture at the Tower exhibition. You can still get to meet the Yeoman Warders (aka Beefeaters) and, of course, the famous ravens. And if you want to see what goes on behind the scenes, the Channel 5 series Inside The Tower of London is currently broadcasting its third series.
Not literally, but the half-term activities for kids at Tower Bridge (nearest pier: Tower Bridge Quay) include recreating real stunt flights using paper aeroplanes. Activities are included in the entry price which also gives you access to the glass-floored walkways high above the river and, of course, the engine rooms.
Let the younger kids search the ship for Wally in the Where’s Wally? Spooky Museum Search aboard the Cutty Sark (nearest pier: Greenwich). Older kids might be happier chatting to the Cutty Sark characters who used to work on board the ship to find out what life was like for the people who sailed it.
Explore 500 years of history at the Old Royal Naval College (nearest pier: Greenwich). This year, the College won Gold in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, as well as the London Visitor Attraction of the Year. After extensive renovations, the most famous room in the College, the Painted Hall, reopened last year. The paintings in the hall depict 200 kings, queens and mythological creatures, so there’s plenty to see. There’s also a special exhibition, Black Greenwich Pensioners, which looks at the lives of Black mariners working for the Royal Navy in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Royal Observatory and Planetarium have just reopened, so half-term will be a great time to catch up with what’s been happening in time and space. Stand across the Greenwich Prime Meridian Line, learn about longitude and admire the splendid views of Greenwich and London before sitting back and enjoying a trip around the solar system.
If the situation changes and you can’t make it into London, you can still enjoy many of London’s attractions virtually. For example, the Old Royal Naval College has a virtual tour of the Painted Hall, and the Planetarium has virtual shows as well as online Mars-themed workshops for the kids over half-term. There are also virtual workshops and streamed performances at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, as well as virtual tours of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.
For more ideas for days out with the kids in London this October, please also check our Attractions pages.