20 of the Boat Trips to Enjoy Around the UK in 2021
With around 20,000 miles of coastline, as well as various rivers, lakes and canals, the UK is home to some beautiful stretches of water. Hop on a boat and explore the history and beauty this country has to offer. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite boat trips, from the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish coast.
1. Canterbury River Tours, Canterbury, Kent
Lying on the River Stour in Kent, the cathedral city of Canterbury is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famed for its fascinating history and rustic beauty, Canterbury draws thousands of visitors from around the world.
Embark on an expert-led tour through the city’s waterways with Canterbury River Tours. Hop on a boat and explore ancient history, pausing to marvel at landmarks such as Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey.
2. City Cruises, London
Arguably one of the most famous cities in the world, London is a bustling metropolis teeming with historic landmarks and exciting things to do.
From afternoon teas to evening dinner cruises, select from a variety of options for the perfect boat trip through London. With boats departing every 30 minutes, City Cruises offers an alternative way to see the capital’s landmarks, including Big Ben, the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral.
3. Crannog Cruises, Loch Linnhe, Scotland
Shimmering in the shadow of the UK’s tallest mountain, Loch Linnhe is a loch lying on the west coast of Scotland. Operating from the Town Pier in Fort William, Crannog Cruises offer a wonderful trip on Loch Linnhe accompanied by expert commentary from the skipper.
Jump aboard Souters Lass, a historic vessel constructed in 1948, and float through the serene beauty of the Scottish Highlands. The cruise boasts panoramic views of Ben Nevis as well as local wildlife, including seals, dolphins, porpoise and a diverse array of birds.
4. Cruise Loch Ness, Fort Augustus, Scotland
Steeped in mythological folklore and legend, Loch Ness is Scotland’s most famous loch. Famed as being the home of the elusive Loch Ness Monster, this loch is the most visited tourist attraction in the Highlands.
Departing from Fort Augustus, at the southern end, Cruise Loch Ness takes you through 500 million years of history, wildlife and natural beauty. If you’re curious about which creatures inhabit the loch, keep an eye on the onboard sonar equipment which beams live images to the passengers.
5. Dartmouth River Cruise, Dartmouth, Devon
Situated beside the mouth of the River Dart, Dartmouth is a scenic harbour town and one of the most popular destinations in South Devon. With cobbled streets, historic landmarks and fresh seafood, Dartmouth is the ideal place for a summer camping holiday.
One of the highlights of any trip to Dartmouth is a boat tour on the River Dart. Starting and finishing in the town, Dartmouth River Cruise takes you on a circular journey, past Bayards Cove, Kingswear and Dartmouth Castle.
6. Dolphin Spirit, Moray Firth, Scotland
Renowned for its resident population of dolphins, the Moray Firth is a vast inlet of the North Sea, a short distance from Inverness. According to experts, around 130 bottlenose dolphins live in the Moray Firth, making it one of the best places to see dolphins in the wild.
If you want to get up and close with these majestic creatures, Dolphin Spirit offers comfortable cruises around the Inner Moray Firth, accompanied by an expert-guided commentary.
7. Falcon Boats, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Named after the patron saint of Wales, St Davids is Britain’s smallest city with a population of just over 1,600. In 1972, St Davids was designated as a conservation area by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Sitting just off the coastline, Ramsey Island is a dramatic island with cliffs that rise to 120 metres tall.
Starting in St Davids, Falcon Boats takes passengers on a trip along the Pembrokeshire coastline and around Ramsey Island. Along the way, you’ll encounter fantastic marine wildlife accompanied by expert guides who tell stories of shipwrecks, legends and history.
8. Farne Islands Boat Trips, Seahouses, Northumberland
Sitting just off the coast of Northumberland, the Farne Islands are home to arguably the best seabird colony in England. During the summertime, around 150,000 pairs of seabirds cram onto the islands, including the 43,000 pairs of puffins.
Farne Islands Boat Trips offer a range of tours, including the Grey Seal Cruise, giving you a close and personal experience with the 4,000 grey seals that inhabit the islands. The Staple Trip takes you from the seaside village of Seahouses to the shores of Staple Island, giving you the chance to closely observe the seabirds.
9. John O’Groats Ferries, Orkney Islands, Scotland
Home to idyllic beaches and dramatic cliffs, the Orkney Islands are a collection of enchanting islands off the coast of northern Scotland. Overlooking the North Sea, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney is a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting over 5,000 years of fascinating history.
Despite the name, John O’Groats Ferries also offer tours departing from Inverness. The coach will take you to the most northerly point of the British Isles, where a ferry will be waiting to take you across the Pentland Firth to the untamed beauty of the Orkney Islands.
10. Llangollen Wharf, Wales
Located on the edge of the Dee Valley Way AONB, Llangollen is a small picturesque town in the Welsh county of Denbighshire.
Since 1884, visitors have flocked to the local canals, and Llangollen Wharf continues this tradition with horse-drawn boat trips. This unique experience offers the opportunity to drift slowly between the majestic peaks of the Snowdonia National Park.
11. Mersey Ferries, Liverpool, Merseyside
Home of The Beatles and the football club of the same name, Liverpool is a historic city in northwest England. Flowing through the heart of the city, the River Mersey is home to one of the largest harbours in the world.
Explore the city’s most iconic landmarks aboard the Mersey Ferry. Offering panoramic views of Liverpool’s skyline, the ferry guides you through the UNESCO World Heritage Waterfront, along with expert commentary.
12. Needles Pleasure Cruises, Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight’s most popular tourist attraction, the Needles are an iconic chalk formation that soar out of the sea off the western coast of the island. Take advantage of this ideal photographic opportunity of the dramatic, jagged rocks beside the 19th century lighthouse.
Through the summertime, boats operate from Alum Bay every day of the week. Board a vessel with Needles Pleasure Cruises and enjoy spectacular close-up views of the Needles. The expert guides offer a fascinating insight to the history of the local area.
13. Oxford River Cruises, Oxford, Oxfordshire
Sitting beside the meandering River Thames, Oxford is a university city teeming with ancient history, cultural landmarks and captivating museums. The city is best known for being home to the oldest English-speaking university in the world.
Following the path of the famous University Regatta, Oxford River Cruises offers sightseeing tours, picnic and dining river trips. Drift past college boathouses, Folly Island and Christ Church College and Meadows.
14. Padstow Sealife Safaris, Padstow, Cornwall
Nestled on the North Cornish coastline, Padstow is a charming fishing port surrounded by golden beaches. Tourists flock to this pretty harbour town to take sample the local food such as Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant.
From the harbour jetty, take atrip with Padstow Sealife Safaris to uncover an exotic array of marine wildlife. Marvel at the dramatic views of the Cornish coastline and keep an eye out for a glimpse of playful dolphins, curious seals and swooping puffins.
15. River Adventures, Bath, Somerset
Built by the Romans for pleasure and relaxation, Bath is arguably the prettiest city in the UK. From the stunning Georgian architecture to the Roman Baths, there is plenty to see and do in this historic city.
You can explore the UNESCO World Heritage city on foot or by bike, but the unique way is by boat with River Adventures. Hop on one of their river cruises led by a savvy guide and let them take you through the cities rich history, taking in sights such as Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge and Parade Gardens.
16. Sabrina Boat Trips, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
The county town of Shropshire, Shrewsbury is a hidden gem close to the Anglo-Welsh border. Comprising historic architecture, boutique shops and cobbled streets, Shrewsbury is the ideal place for a camping trip.
Departing from Victory Quay, near Welsh Bridge, Sabrina Boat Trips gently sail along the River Severn and through serene Shropshire scenery. Take advantage of the various photographic opportunities along the way, before listening to entertaining and informative commentary from the knowledgeable captain.
17. Titanic Boat Tours, Belfast, Northern Ireland
In the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, construction of the world’s largest ship began in 1909. Eventually, the RMS Titanic set sail for New York and sank in arguably the most famous marine disaster of all time.
Get closer than ever before to this tragic story by taking a guided boat tour of Belfast’s rich maritime heritage with the Lagan Boat Company. Take a trip through Belfast harbour and discover where the RMS Titanic was built and what impact it had on the surrounding city.
18. Windermere Lake Cruises, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria
Sitting proudly in the heart of the Lake District National Park, Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United Kingdom. Our Bowness-on-Windermere Club Site overlooks the glimmering water, which has inspired countless artists, poets and writers for centuries.
Calling at Bowness, Lakeside and Waterhead, Windermere Lake Cruises glides slowly through this peaceful, picturesque stretch of water. Jump aboard a new launch or a historic steamer and soak in the breath-taking panoramic views before you.
19. Windsor Duck Tours, Windsor, Berkshire
Home to the world’s largest and oldest inhabited castle, Windsor is a historic market town in Berkshire. If you’re camping with the whole family, take a trip to LEGOLAND Windsor and ride the rollercoasters.
Windsor Duck Tours are a small family-run business who offer the chance to sail on the UK’s most iconic river, the Thames. Hop aboard an amphibious boat and tour the cobbled streets of Windsor before taking to the water and appreciating breath-taking views of the castle.
20. York City Cruises, York, Yorkshire
Teeming with spectacular architecture and historical landmarks, the walled city of York is the county town of the UK’s largest county. Despite being founded by the Romans, the city eventually came under Viking rule and became Jorvik – the Viking capital of Great Britain.
Enjoy the beauty and history of York on the city’s most popular sightseeing tour. City Cruises take you on an informative, entertaining journey on the River Ouse. The local skipper delivers a fascinating sightseeing commentary as you float past landmarks of York.
If you are looking for a traditional camping holiday near the coast, read our guide to the best seaside towns in the UK. Are you thinking of visiting some of the UK’s historic cities? Make sure you take a look at our favourite locations for city camping breaks.