5 of the best boating lakes in London


During HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, 1,000 boats sailed down the River Thames in front of a specially-designed Royal Barge to mark the occasion.

While London may not be home to a flotilla every day of the week, the Thames has a strong nautical heritage and despite being one of the world’s most hectic cities, the UK capital has several hidden boating spots for the amateur rowers and wannabe Ellen MacArthurs among us to enjoy.

Here, we take a look at five of the best boating spots in London.

The Serpentine, Hyde Park

Serpentine Boating Lake

The Serpentine Boating Lake is one of Hyde Park’s most famous features and many believe this is the best place to take to the waters in the capital.

Visitors to the lake – which is open from April until the end of October each year, between 10:00 and dusk – can choose from a selection of rowing boats and pedalos, each of which has space for up to six passengers.

Those of you who prefer to take more of a backseat approach can take a trip on the Serpentine Solarshuttle, which can carry as many as 40 people for a short cruise around the lake. The innovative Solarshuttle is the first of its kind to come to the UK and gets its power from the sun, allowing it to glide across the lake on summer days.

Hyde Park is located just a 15-minute walk away from the Park Grand London Paddington, so if you’re staying at the hotel this summer, treat yourself to a day out on the Serpentine at the same time.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is the perfect place to visit for tourists who are after a particularly nautical-themed day out.

You can hire a variety of rowing boats and pedalos to take out on the park’s lake on weekends, bank holidays and during the school holidays between Easter and October, with costs coming in at £10 for a family of four, or £4 per adult and £2 per child.

What’s more, the National Maritime Museum is just a short walk away, while the Old Royal Naval College and Cutty Sark are situated close by, meaning there’s plenty for boat lovers of all ages to explore.

Alexandra Palace Boating Lake

Alexandra Palace Boating LakeAlly Pally Boating Lake, as it’s affectionately known, is open all-year round, with longer hours during the summer when the evenings are lighter.

This is a particularly fun place to bring the kids to, with the lake’s pedalos coming in a choice of designs – swan, dragon or classic Volkswagen Beetle. There are also rowing boats, with prices for both adults and children coming in at around £5 for a half-hour ride.

The Lakeside Cafe is also a hub of activity, with live music events, exhibitions of local artwork and a function room for private events.

Ally Pally Boating Lake is a popular spot for fishing as well, making it an ideal place for a summer day out for all the family.

Kew Gardens’ Palm House Pond

Kew Gardens' Palm House PondKew Gardens’ Palm House Pond is another great location for a spot of boating in the capital. Take a boat out on the lake or check out the world-famous gardens themselves.

This August, you can enjoy afternoon tea at the Royal Botanic Gardens after you’ve worked up an appetite rowing on the boating lake, or pop along to the Full of Spice culinary event, which runs until September 6th.

If you’re not a fan of boats, but just want to enjoy the views, the gardens will be home to a pop-up cinema until September 4th as part of the Kew the Movies event. A range of films, including Back to the Future, Mamma Mia!, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Casablanca are being shown at various times throughout the summer.

The River Thames

Boating in River ThamesIt’s not a boating lake as such, but we couldn’t publish an article on boating in London without mentioning the River Thames.

Steeped in history and stretching for 215 miles in total, a cruise down the Thames makes for a fascinating boat journey.

There are quieter stretches surrounded by countryside, before you reach the hustle and bustle of the inner city and stunning urban landmarks such as the London Eye, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London itself.

River cruises are a popular choice for travelling down the Thames, but you can also hire narrowboats or for the more daring tourist, sailing or rowing down the river are further options.