The Olympic Games come to London in 2012 and details of venues and events are just starting to leak out. One thing that got me excited is the announcement that the Olympic Torch will travel on a floating stage down the River Thames from Hampton Court Palace to Stratford, the site of Olympic Park in East London.
The Thames is London’s spine. Over history, goods and people used the river as their main thoroughfare, including King Henry VIII when he and his courtiers were coming and going from Hampton Court Palace, (south-west of central London), so this river route is culturally significant.
The route of the Olympic Torch along the river will pass the Tower of London, Lambeth Palace (home of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th century), Big Ben, the Tate art galleries, Putney where the famous Oxford Cambridge university boat race starts, Kew Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Richmond, Kingston (coronation place of medieval kings) and through Teddington Lock. Not only will it traverse much of London, past and present, but it will allow people to watch it pass by with as little disruption to the city and its traffic as possible which seems like a really smart plan in a city as busy and circuitous as London.
Throughout the year, sightseeing boats go from Westminster, London’s political heart and home of Big Ben, up to Hampton Court Palace via Kew and Richmond. (And the other way downriver towards Greenwich.) Even when the Olympic Torch is not floating past, a boat cruise on the Thames is an excellent way to see this city.
Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s London tours & things to do, top London attractions, and top London travel recommendations. Make sure to check our Thames River Cruise, Tower of London and City of London Tour for stunning views of the Thames River.