There are many famous sightseeing activities which visitors to London are told to do, from getting a bird’s-eye view of the city from the London Eye to visiting Harrods and other famous department stores for a bit of shopping. If you want to experience something truly original and memorable, there are loads of things to do along Thames riverside, and plenty of ‘must do’ activities which are not your standard fare. From historically-themed dinners to novel guided tours and modern art exhibitions, London’s Thames riverside offers many options for people who prefer to avoid the obvious choices and would rather sample fantastic scenic views, watch the boats glide past, hear the seagulls in the air, and enjoy the soul of London.
If a culinary experience is something you enjoy, then eat, drink and be merry with the ladies and lords of the Medieval Banquet in St Katharine’s Docks. Set within the archways of a medieval dining hall, this themed dinner venue is a must-see for fans of theatrical fun and excellent entertainment. Be prepared to eat and drink your way through four courses of authentic medieval food as King Henry VIII’s court entertains you with jesters, dancers, wenches and wassails.
When you enter into the underground vaults, you are transported back in time: you can even hire your own medieval finery if you’re feeling festive, but be sure to get there early to take your pick of elaborate velour gowns. You could be a wench or a knight, a jester or a Lady. Once you’re appropriately attired, you sit down to sup with a group of around 20 fellow diners in one of the decorative dining bays.
There’s a lot of fun on the go throughout the entire banqueting experience, from juggling acts to jesters, from singing damsels to sword-fighting. You have the opportunity to join in too with lessons for women in the fine art of handkerchief-waving and conga-line dancing. Men can enjoy rowdily bashing beer jugs on the tables – the traditional way to get a wench’s attention. There’s also an after-banquet disco for those night owls who enjoy late night parties, and sitting on King Henry’s throne makes for excellent pictures, so be sure bring along your camera.
When you want an entertaining tour of the city, rather than the snooze of a listless guide intoning historical dates, try driving straight off the edge of the Thames in the most bizarre London sightseeing adventure, and book an afternoon with the London Duck Tours. To commence the tour, you clamber aboard a yellow, land-and-sea-going tank-style vehicle, and you can prepare to be wowed by London’s top attractions as you see them from land and sea. These include Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and Hyde Park Corner.
The amazing amphibious adventure begins with a land tour through the streets of London, as you explore the capital’s historical landmarks, such as 10 Downing Street, Nelson’s Column and St James’s Palace. After this, you head down to the water at MI6’s Secret Intelligence Service and cruise along the Thames to see the Houses of Parliament, the Buxton Memorial and MI5. Each landmark offers up its own highlights, stories and secrets. Perhaps the best part of the Duck Tour is the live-action commentary, which includes alternative titbits which you wouldn’t hear on ordinary sightseeing tours.
In addition to the standard land-and-sea package, you can choose a themed tour too, including a D-Day special where you’ll hear about your vessel’s interesting wartime history. There is also the James Bond commentary tour where you get to see all of the famous settings for the movies, plus some additional MI5 and MI6 extras. Whether you’re new to the city or you’ve done it all before, the London Duck Tours offer up a fantastic alternative way to explore famous London scenery while taking in the finest riverside views.
If you’d prefer not to try out your sea legs and are feeling more in the mood for an artsy experience, along the Thames River lies the Tate Modern. It’s a giant reddish-orange building opposite the Millennium Bridge – the one that takes up most of the skyline. Instead of walking past it this weekend, why not head in? You’ll discover an astounding collection of modern artworks, from Andy Warhol to Jean Arp, plus an utterly charming coffee shop. You’re allowed to bring small sketch pads and pencils into the Tate, so take this opportunity to try your hand at sketching a Picasso, or find out whether you’re the next Matisse. You can buy Tate-themed art supplies in the various shops within the gallery, so don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your own at home.
If you like all things puzzling and intriguing, don’t forget to also pay a visit to the Op Art gallery inside the Tate. Here you’ll see some of the finest optical illusions, and you can keep a lookout for live music performances that take place amongst some of the most influential artworks in cultural history. If you leave the Tate wanting more, you can pop down to the pier and take a Tate-to-Tate ferry to the Tate Britain. With unconventional dining, tour and art-viewing opportunities aplenty, your visit to London could be a riot of unique experiences.