London is a treasure trove of fascinating sights, from the historic Tower Bridge to the modern Shard, from the majestic Buckingham Palace to the spectacular London Eye. But have you ever wondered what these landmarks look like while paddleboarding in London?
Imagine standing on a paddleboard, floating on the River Thames, with an unparalleled view of London's spectacular skyline.
As a seasoned paddleboarder who calls the beautiful south coast of Sussex home, London offers an exciting new adventure waiting to be discovered. It's very different from the quiet waterways and coastal waters I'm used to.
What is Paddleboarding?
Paddleboarding is a water-based sport where you stand or kneel on a large board and use a paddle to move through the water.
It is an incredibly accessible activity suitable for almost any age and fitness level. It offers an excellent full-body workout, targeting your core, legs, and upper body.
It's also a great way to connect with nature. Even within the confines of Central London, it offers a tranquil yet exhilarating experience on the water.
Best Places to Paddleboard in London
With its serene waters, complemented by an abundance of welcoming clubs and SUP rental locations offering board hire, London is one of the best places in the UK to learn the basics of paddleboarding.
The city is also an intriguing locale for experienced paddleboarders.
Miles of canals and an extensive network of basins, reservoirs, and the iconic Thames River presents a diversity of water landscapes to explore. These features genuinely make London a paddleboarder's paradise.
Here are my top picks for paddleboarding in London, including some of the most popular spots.
1. Paddington Basin
This modern area offers placid waters for paddleboarding in London. Whether you're new to the sport or a seasoned paddler, it's a great place to start.
Its flat waters in the city's heart provide a calm starting point for novices and a gateway to exploring Regent's Canal for experienced enthusiasts.
On the north shore of Paddington Basin, Active 360 offers a variety of lessons and group sessions. With its friendly team, flat water, and affordability, Active 360 at Paddington Basin promises an unforgettable paddleboarding experience.
Post-paddle, local bars offer an ideal spot for relaxation. Or, take a walk south to explore London's Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
Getting there: If traveling by train, head to either Paddington or Edgware Road stations for quick and easy access to Paddington Basin. If traveling by car, be warned parking is often difficult to find in this area.
2. Brentford Lock
Located a stone's throw from the junction of the River Brent and Grand Union Canal, Brentford Lock is a calm paddleboarding location. It's particularly suitable for families and beginners.
Brentford Lock's tranquil setting offers a peaceful contrast to the usual city hustle, making it a popular choice among groups of varying skill levels, including those with children.
Active360 enhances the experience by offering coaching lessons and group sessions. In addition to paddleboarding, sit-on-top kayaks add a different dimension to the water adventures here.
With plenty of delightful cafes in the vicinity for post-session refreshments, Brentford Lock promises a well-rounded, relaxed water-sport experience.
Getting there: You can access the water at Brentford Lock in West London, just a short walk from Brentford Station. Alternatively, there is a multistory car parking close by.
3. St Katharine Docks
For those who yearn to witness London's grandeur up close, paddleboarding at St Katharine Docks offers a unique vantage point.
This captivating corner of East London immerses you in the city's luxurious side, with a dazzling marina and an array of upscale restaurants contributing to the overall charm.
Paddleboarding at St Katharine Docks offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, placing you amidst calm waters and transporting you into a tranquil world.
Paddleboarding London provides a diverse range of activities at St Katharine Dock. These include private classes, group sessions, and even paddleboard yoga. SUP yoga is sure to add a new twist to your London paddleboarding experience.
Getting there: Located near the Tower Bridge, St Katharine's Dock is a destination that can be conveniently reached from any part of London. A mere ten-minute stroll will take you there from Tower Gateway Station.
4. Kew Bridge
Kew Bridge, nestled in the heart of West London, is a prized hotspot for paddleboarders.
Depending on the whims of the tide, you can embark on SUP tours leading either toward the bustling urban landscape of Hammersmith or the charming historic beauty of Richmond.
Each direction provides unique, stunning views of the city that can't be experienced elsewhere.
The popularity of Kew Bridge among the paddleboarding community makes it an excellent spot to meet other paddling enthusiasts. It is a great starting point to explore this stunning section of the River Thames, which flows through West London.
Active360 can be found in all the top spots around London, and Kew Bridge is no exception. They offer a range of sessions, from beginner taster options to lessons for the more experienced paddlers.
Getting there: Get the train to Kew Bridge Station, then walk South for a few minutes until you reach the River Thames.
A stone's throw south of the city's bustle, Walton-On-Thames stands out as a go-to destination, ideal for a serene paddleboarding escapade.
This charming location, boasting quaint homes, delicate architecture, and cozy coffee shops, offers an enchanting backdrop to your water sports adventure.
Diverse in offerings, Walton-On-Thames is suitable for both beginners and seasoned paddlers. Visit the renowned Blue Chip SUP School.
Accredited by the Academy of Surfing Instructors, their expert trainers offer group sessions designed for novice and advanced boarders and private coaching options. This idyllic spot caters to everyone's paddleboarding needs.
Getting there: Hop on a South Western train for 30 minutes from Waterloo Station to Walton-on-Thames.
6. Camden Town
Famed for its vibrant vibe, Camden Town remains a firm favorite for Londoners and tourists alike. Thanks to its ever-evolving collection of hip eateries and music venues that dot its streets, the area hums with energy.
Yet, there's a distinctive charm in discovering Camden from the vantage point of its waterways.
This different perspective adds a unique layer to your exploration of the surrounding area, offering insights beyond what's gained from the usual trodden paths.
This blend of urban hustle and serene waterway exploration forms an enthralling juxtaposition. It truly redefines what it means to explore London's heart.
Taking the adventure further, Paddleboarding London offers more than just a chance to explore the Camden waters.
With tailored private lessons and social tours, they ensure that your paddleboarding experience is as immersive and engaging as possible, allowing you to fully embrace the unique charm of this popular London neighborhood.
Getting there: Walk North from Camden Town Station until you reach Regent's Canal.
7. Richmond Bridge
Renowned for its natural beauty, Richmond has recently blossomed as a premier hub for paddleboarding. The area around Richmond Bridge, abundant in natural beauty, is distinct from the urban feel of the city center.
You can paddle upstream towards the scenic Eel Pie Island and Teddington or meander downstream towards Isleworth, Kew Gardens, and Chiswick.
After your SUP session, head to Richmond Park to see the herds of deer roaming the park. It's an incredible sight!
Paddle Richmond has got you covered with an array of paddleboard and kayak experiences, including lessons, trips, expeditions, and adventures, all conveniently based at Richmond Bridge.
Getting there: Richmond Bridge is easily accessible from Richmond Underground Station. London's extensive network of buses that crisscross the city also service this area.
Essential Tips for Paddleboarding in London
- Equipment Check – Ensure you have the right gear, including a suitable SUP board, paddle, and leash.
- Wear a Life Jacket – No matter your swimming ability, always secure a life jacket when paddleboarding London waters – it's your first line of defense in an emergency.
- Weather and Timing – Be mindful of the weather conditions and the time of high and low tides if stand-up paddleboarding on tidal waters.
- Waterways Licence – Obtain your waterways license before you embark – it's a vital compliance measure for paddleboarding on the River Thames and some canals.
As our list of the top spots for stand up paddleboarding in London concludes, it's clear that London, with its unique blend of historic landmarks, stunning waterways, and serene sites, offers something special for everyone, from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts.
In addition to being a lot of fun, paddleboarding has the added benefit of being a great workout. Happy paddling!