Hyde Park - credit Jelena Mbugua/iStock

Things To Do

Talisa Dean 17/07/24

The Best Places To Go Boating In London

There are few things better in life than having a row with your partner…

…particularly when London is full of lovely little lakes to do it on.

Think pedalos in Greenwich Park, or taking a rowboat across the water in Crystal Palace Park, overlooked by a herd of Victorian dinosaurs. And because London likes to take everything to its logical extremes, there are also quirky options like the self-driven GoBoats, perfect for picnics up and down Regent’s Canal, or Skuna Boats – who offer both floating BBQs and hot tub boats to anyone who’s feeling up to it.

Either way, they’re all right here…


Alexandra Palace

boating lake at alexandra palace

Ever ridden a flamingo? Or a swan? Or a VW Beetle… on the water? If you answered yes to any of those you’re either a terrible person, a terrible driver, or you’ve been to the boating lake at Ally Pally. It’s a beautiful building, a lovely lake, and there’s a delightful little cafe on the shore if you want to want to grab a panini and a glass of freshly squeezed orange. Oh, and there’s the city’s largest beer garden too, if you fancy getting a little wetter.

Address: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY | Opening times: March-October, Monday-Sunday, 11am to 5:30pm | Boat capacity: 4 | Book boating at Ally Pally

Victoria Park

Victoria Park boating lake

Victoria Park is the biggest and most popular park in East London, and its lake is the biggest and most popular lake. Which is unsurprising really, considering the 40-strong fleet of boats which you can hire come rain or shine. The surrounding scenery too is pretty spectacular, including the enchanting Chinese Pagoda. Story has it that it was once home to a Chinese family, who used to sneak out at night to feeds the ducks and swans. There’s also the gorgeous Pavilion cafe, with its huge glass dome roof. Arrive early on a Saturday and you might be lucky enough to bag a table for one of their expert Sri Lankan breakfasts, otherwise you can always stop by for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake once you’re all done boating.

Address: Grove Road, E3 5TB | Opening times: Late March – 31st October, 11am-5pm | Boat Capacity: 4 | No pre-booking

Greenwich Park

greenwich boating pond


Home to the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park was once the training ground for tens of thousands of navy officers. And now you too can learn to captain your boat on its small, kidney-shaped boating pond, with pedalos for a piddling £4.40.

Address: Park Vista, SE10 9LZ | Opening times: Weekends, bank holidays, and daily during school holidays from April-October 10am-6pm | Boat Capacity: 5 | No pre-booking

Hyde Park

boating serpentine

The Serpentine is a 40-acre lake created for Queen Caroline back in 1730. It’s now home to the Serpentine Swimming Club, apparently the oldest swimming club in Britain. But if you want to stay dry, you can also hire row boats and pedalos by the half-hour, giving you the best view of the park’s impressive scenery. And if you really want to kick back, you can hop on board the Solarshuttle and let the sun do all the work.

Address: Hyde Park | Opening times: Daily between April and October, Wed-Sun from November – March, 10am-sundown (about 4pm in winter, 7.30pm in summer) | Boat Capacity: 4 | No pre-booking | See our perfect day out round Hyde Park here

Regent’s Park

Boating in Regents Park

Regent’s Park isn’t short for things to do – there’s the open air theatre, the zoo, the live music bandstand – but on a scorching summer’s day it’s that big body of water that’s the most enticing prospect. While dips are generally frowned upon here (for those lakes, see our guide to best places for outdoor swimming in London), you can take a rowboat or pedalo out for a spin to admire the park’s scenery, which includes a community of herons amongst the willows. And for the picnic after (because that’s definitely on the agenda) you’ve also got Primrose Hill nearby…

Details: Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR | Opening times: 11am-6.30pm Mon-Fri & 10am-6.30pm Sat-Sun, April-October | Boat Capacity: 4 | No need to book

Moo Canoes

Best Places To Go Boating in London: Moo Canoes

Despite the name, Moo Canoes also offer Moo kayaks and Moo paddleboards, but they clearly don’t roll off the tongue quite as easily. To take one out for a spin, just head down to one of their bases at Hackney Wick (canoes), Limehouse (kayaks), or Poplar Union (paddle boards). They’re all large enough for 2/3 people and a dog, and you’ll get a brief sailing lesson from the staff on dry land before you hop in.

Address: Limehouse Basin 30 Pinnacle Way, London, E14 7JZ | Opening times: Daily, 10am-4.30pm | Boat Capacity: 3 | Book a Moo Canoe

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace boating lake

Crystal Palace’s boating lake is overlooked by the world’s oldest dinosaur statues. Which, in the realm of dinosaur statues, makes them… dinosaurs. You can hire a pedalo for a quick half-hour calf workout, before exploring the rest of the park with its enormous maze, Sunday food market, and more.

Address: Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Road, SE20 8DT | Opening times: Weekends, bank holidays, and daily in school holidays, 10.30am-5pm, April-October | Boat Capacity: 5 | No need to book, just turn up.

Hot Tub Boats

Hot Tub Boats

To be clear, this is not just a hot tub on a boat. This is a hot tub that is a boat. Fresh water’s pumped in for each trip, and heated up to a balmy 38 degrees by the on-board wood stove (which, incidentally, brings a lovely sauna-like aroma to proceedings). You’re completely in charge of the boat’s engine, so you can explore the waterways of West India Quay at your leisure over the 90 minute experience, and they’ve even got little ice pockets on board to keep the beers cold.

Address: West India Quay, Off Hertsmere Road, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4AL | Opening times: Daily | Boat capacity: 7 | Book a hot tub boat

Epping Forest

Epping Forest

Abi Skipp/Flickr

The Hollow Ponds at Epping Forest are lovely at any time of year – in autumn the surrounding trees are burnished with gold, and in the spring you can see baby cygnets paddling across the water. The row boats here have a proper vintage feel to them, and can be hired by the half hour or hour, if you want to properly navigate round all the islands and through the weeping willow branches.

Address: Whipps Cross Road, London E11 1NW | Opening times: Daily, 12-7pm | Boat Capacity: 5 | No need to book, just turn up.

BBQ Boats

bbq boats london

Moored up alongside the hot tub boats at the West India Quay docks, Skuna’s BBQ boats offer a more clothed alternative: a private boat where you and up to 9 friends can rustle up a BBQ. Rock up, and you’ll be given a crash course in boat steering (not literally, calm down) before hopping aboard your craft and scooting around the Canary Wharf canals while scorching your marinade-soaked feast.

Address: West India Quay, Off Hertsmere Road, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4AL | Opening times: Daily from 12-9.30pm | Boat capacity: 9 | Book a BBQ Boat

GoBoat | Paddington, Canary Wharf, Kingston, Thames Ditton

goboat self driving boats london

For the times you don’t fancy using your hands or feet, there’s GoBoats, available to cast off from four locations in London. GoBoats are electric powered, which means you can forget about all the rowing and the peddling and instead, kick back and enjoy a picnic, or a glass of fizz, alongside minimal steering. Choose to leave from Paddington and you’ll get to ride up and down the beautiful Regent’s Canal; from Canary Wharf you’ll have access to the London Docklands; whilst from Kingston and Thames Ditton it’s either all the way to Teddington Lock, or to Molesey Lock, passing Hampton Court Palace along the way.

Opening times: Daily | Boat Capacity: 8 | Book a Go Boat

Dulwich Park

Dulwich park boating lake

Right in the centre of picturesque Dulwich Village is Dulwich Park – 29 acres of leafy green. And right in the middle of Dulwich Park is Dulwich Boating Lake – a charming little expanse of water, surrounded by trees, where row boats and pedalos are just £6 every half hour.

Address: College Road, SE21 7BQ | Opening times: Weekends, bank holidays, and daily in school holidays from Easter – October, 10am-5pm | Boat Capacity: 5 | No need to book

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park rowboats for hire

You know what underrated aspect of boating Finsbury Park does better than any other lake? Ducks. There are tons of them. All manner of waterfowl, actually. Apparently the water is blessed with “geese, coots, moorhens, grebes, even the fish and terrapins”. So when you jump into your trusty craft, they’ll give you a complimentary bag of duck feed to pass out to your new feathered companions.

Address: Finsbury Park Boating Lake, London, N4 1EE | Opening times: 12-6pm Easter to October, then weekends only | Boat capacity: 4 | No pre-booking


Looking for outdoor ideas? Behold our list of (really good) places to eat outside in London