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Ask most Londoners about the scheduled river boat services on the River Thames and they will probably know little of what you're talking about.
The service is there though and should be hugely attractive to visitors to London. You can even use your Oyster card or Travelcards to enjoy discounts on fares.
For visitors the key stretch of river is between the London Eye and Tower Pier in the shadow of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
The popular London hop-on, hop-off open top sightseeing tours also include a river cruise in their tickets on this stretch of water.
The route of the London Commuter Service is shown on this London River Services map.
Schedules are broadly every 20 minutes Monday to Friday and 20/30 minutes at weekends, but there are different operators with different rules and regulations.
Generally, you need to get your ticket from a pier ticket office before boarding a boat. However, if the ticket office is closed you can buy it on board.
If you use a Travelcard, you can get a third off most River Bus fares. Oyster pay as you go is accepted on Thames Clippers services, and it gives you a 10 per cent discount on most single journeys.
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Specifically aimed at leisure visitors is a service that links Westminster Pier (Big Ben, Westminster Abbey), London Eye, Tower Pier (Tower Bridge, Tower of London) and Greenwich.
The service operates year round with winter and summer schedules.
It is these river services that the popular London hop-on, hop-off open top sightseeing tours use as part of their day tickets. You get a voucher that allows one cruise between Westminster Pier or the London Eye to Tower Pier in front of the Tower of London.
The whole cruise on this sector non-stop takes about 30-40 minutes. It is certainly worthwhile taking advantage of as it gives a totally different perspective of London and many of the top attractions that the boats pass.
You can buy individual tickets or there are day tickets where you can use the boats as a hop-on, hop-off service.
London's popular open top hop-on, hop-off tour buses all offer a free cruise as part of their standard tour ticket. This covers a river cruise in the centre of London giving a different and informative perspective to London's delights.
These buses offer comprehensive coverage covering nearly all the main sights in London and operate at very high frequencies. In the peak summer months just stand at any of the key attractions and there will probably be one in sight.
From April to October there are at least two services a day in each direction for the three-hour trip out to Hampton Court. The timetable means there is not enough time to do the river trip in both directions and have time for a visit to Hampton Court itself, so you would need to organise a hotel or transport for your return to London separately.
The service has many stops including Kew Gardens, Richmond and Kingston (the latter are major suburban shopping centres). If you require a full day at Hampton Court Palace it's best to get the underground out to Richmond then catch additional services for the one-hour trip onto Hampton Court.
There are frequent trains from London's Waterloo Station to Hampton Court that take a fraction of the time of the boat. Waterloo is only about 10/15 minutes' walk from Westminster Pier where the boats start from.
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