London loves: London canals – Little Venice to Camden Lock boat trip

London loves: London canals – Little Venice to Camden Lock boat tripThis article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info

London has many classic experiences but the purpose of this blog is to find those that are a little less obvious. One of my favourite things to do with visitors is cruise the London canals by taking a boat trip from Little Venice to Camden Lock.

London canals – boat cruise

houseboats on regents canal

The United Kingdom has over 2,000 miles of canals and waterways some of which are over 200 years old. In the early years of the Industrial Revolution they served to transport goods across the country efficiently before being superseded by the railways.  One of the most important canals in London is 8.6 mile long Regent’s Canal linking Paddington Basin in the city’s west to Limehouse Basin in the east.

Learn more about the history of Britain’s canal system

Take a narrow boat cruise down Regent’s Canal and view London from another side – one lined with trees and elegant Georgian buildings at one end and raw, edgy and industrial warehouses at the other. Along the way, you will get a sneak peek into the lives of people who live along the canal in their colourful houseboats.

The journey along Regent’s Canal

London's Little Venice

Little Venice | Warwick Avenue

Little Venice is an oasis in Central London. The focal point is picturesque Browning’s Pool where Regent’s Canal, The Grand Union Canal and Paddington Basin meet. I love the elegant Regency buildings that line the canal and pool overlooking paddling flocks of ducks and gliding swans.

The closest tube station is Warwick Avenue.

London Zoo | Regent’s Park

rose and castle theme on houseboat

Houseboats line the canal from Little Venice. These colourful boats are often decorated with roses and castles motifs, a tradition that has lasted since the nineteenth century.

After just over a mile past Little Venice and after passing through Maida Hill tunnel you reach Regent’s Park. These beautiful landscaped gardens were the former hunting grounds of Henry VIII transformed by architect John Nash in the nineteenth century.

regents canal and london zoo

Under the shade of tall elm trees the canal flows along the northern rim of the park and through London Zoo. You can see the zoo’s aviary from the boat and there is a separate jetty and entrance to the zoo from the canal.

Camden Lock | Camden Market

After the leaving Regent’s Park the canal continues just over half a mile through Primrose Hill until it reaches Camden Lock. Flanked by converted warehouses on one side and the famous Camden Market on the other, the lock completes the boat cruise if you start at Little Venice. You can also join the cruise here.

Camden Lock London

I love crazy and chaotic Camden Market and it was one of the first places I visited when I first moved to London as a teenager. Somewhat of a rite of passage for anyone interested in punk and fashion, the market has grown from humble beginnings in the 1970s to become a major tourist destination.

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You can easily spend a day browsing the shops and eating at the funky food stalls. The market is a lot more edgy than the experience you have on Oxford Street and is home to pop up shops and experimental retail ideas. I like the Cereal Killer cafe where you can try over 100 different breakfast cereals with 30 kinds of milk.

scenes from Camden Lock - Camden market

Houseboats of Regent’s Canal

Living on a houseboat is a unique way of life that I have always found fascinating. The boat tour along Regent’s Canal is a tantalising glimpse into this world. Here are some boats I spotted along the way.

regents canal houseboats

Related  A dreamy stay on a houseboat in Amsterdam

Houseboat on Regent's canal

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london house boat

If you are interested in learning about the people who live and work on the canals I loved reading the stories on the Humans of the Waterways series compiled by the Canal and River Trust.

Practical information

Join the riverboat cruise with London Waterbus Company at Little Venice, London Zoo or Camden Lock. Boats leave hourly from 10am to 5pm in the summer with a reduced schedule during winter months. The trip takes 50 minutes one way from Little Venice to Camden Lock stopping at London Zoo and vice versa.

Adult fares start at £9 for a one way ticket. Concessions are available

I like to start at Little Venice as visitors love shopping and browsing the stalls and shops at Camden Market and grabbing a bite to eat at the many eateries by the lock. The return journey is lovely too and if you time it right you could enjoy your lunch or a drink at canal side pub The Bridge House after strolling around Little Venice.

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More local tour ideas

Staying on the London canals

Has your imagination been captured by this cruise down Regent’s canal? We stayed on a houseboat in Amsterdam and it is an experience I would love to try in London. There are 8 London houseboats listed for rental on London’s best collection of inspiring places to stay – The Plum Guide. Time to start dreaming .

Stay on London houseboat with Plum Guide

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission if you click these links and choose to make a purchase. There will be no additional cost to you. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own based on personal experience. You can read more about our affiliate policy on our disclosure page.

London things to do - canal boat trip from Little Venice to Camden Lock

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  1. Addie
    22nd January 2017 / 10:45 PM

    Back when I was living in London last year I took a boat down the canal to the London Zoo and absolutely loved it! Hopefully when I get a chance to go back to the city I can take it all the way to Camden Lock.

    • 23rd January 2017 / 9:48 AM

      It’s such a great way to get to Camden Market and soak up all the atmosphere there. Hope you make it there soon Addie

  2. 23rd January 2017 / 8:51 AM

    I’d love to do this one day..I walked by this canal (partly) but it’s different to go on a boat ride:)

    • 23rd January 2017 / 9:46 AM

      It’s a lovely trip Tanja and actually takes about the same time as walking but there’s nothing like cruising along a canal on a boat

  3. 24th January 2017 / 10:29 AM

    LOVE THIS! Pin! Would love to experience this next time we’re in London! #CityTripping

    • 24th January 2017 / 1:22 PM

      It’s a lot of fun but nicer in the sunshine I must confess!

  4. 24th January 2017 / 1:28 PM

    Wow that glimpse inside the boat is not what I imagined. That looks gorgeous, a canal holiday has suddenly registered in my want list and London would be amazing. #CityTripping

    • 24th January 2017 / 2:19 PM

      Doesn’t it look cosy? Some of the boats are incredibly luxurious but I like the cosy feel too. We stayed on a houseboat in Amsterdam last year and it was one of my favourite experiences of the year. Thanks for dropping by

  5. 24th January 2017 / 2:09 PM

    I’ll bet this is a deliciously serene way to see London. Some great recommendations for pubs etc, too – thanks x #citytripping

    • 24th January 2017 / 2:20 PM

      I love a good pub! Thanks Nell x

  6. 24th January 2017 / 8:27 PM

    Well now this is embarrassing- all the years I’ve lived in London and I’ve never been on its canals. Little Venice is so pretty and I did haunt Camden myself when I moved to London after university. Another thing for my list (albeit maybe in summer!) #citytripping

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:01 PM

      Maybe I saw you on the dancefloor somewhere?! One of my new best friends in London and I were at the same WonderStuff gig in Brixton in the errrr 90s.. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I would write! ?

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:19 PM

      I think the boat takes as long as the walk but you do get some commentary along the way!

  7. 25th January 2017 / 10:16 PM

    Wow I have never seen the canal, I would love to have a wander along with my camera x

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:13 PM

      The photo opportunities are endless actually! You could also try out your paparazzi skills on the celebs of Primrose Hill.. actually just enjoy the boats!

  8. annette @afrenchcollection
    26th January 2017 / 9:40 AM

    Love your photos of canals and their gorgeous boats. The boats look quite spacious when painted white inside. I love walking along canals and do this when ever we can. My favourites are Canal du Midi in France (near our house) and the three locks at Teddington in England and their canals. This is a fabulous area and the kids and I love the walk to Hampton Court from the Teddington shops… perfect in summer or spring!

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:22 PM

      It is one of my dreams to do a canal boat holiday on the Canal du Midi Annette. I just imagine my self sipping pinot gris and nibbling my fromage while my husband works the locks. That sounds terribly sexist but he really would enjoy that task. Great tip on the Teddington locks too. We will give that a go in the summer

  9. 26th January 2017 / 11:53 AM

    I’ve never been to this part of London – One for the list #farawayfiles

  10. 26th January 2017 / 12:27 PM

    This sounds like so much fun! I’m adding this to my growing list of things to do in London. #farawayfiles

  11. 26th January 2017 / 2:08 PM

    I used to live in London, and I have been to Camden area so many times, but I haven’t done this cruise. Looks like a fun thing to do. Perhaps next time… #FarawayFiles

  12. Clare Thomson
    26th January 2017 / 3:14 PM

    I’ve always fancied doing this – your photos have inspired me to put it on the list for this year. I’ve always been fascinated by houseboats, I do love cruising past them on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath. And I’m a big fan of Camden Market of course – a million worlds away from Oxford Street! #FarawayFiles

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:14 PM

      Meet you at Warwick Avenue?

  13. 26th January 2017 / 3:40 PM

    I’ve walked the route a few times but never taken a boat trip. My kids love Camden Market, particularly the food stalls, so they’re actually quite happy to walk there, no cajoling required. #farawayfiles

  14. 26th January 2017 / 4:47 PM

    I haven’t been to London yet but I’ve never heard much about its canals so this really seems to be a more off the beaten path (if that’s even possible in London) activity. Would love to go on a ride like that. I went on one in Manchester and it was really lovely 🙂

    • 26th January 2017 / 9:57 PM

      Did you ride down the River Irwell in Manchester? I didn’t know you could do that! I went to university there .. ok a long time ago. Looking forward to welcoming you in London soon Vanessa 🙂

  15. 26th January 2017 / 5:06 PM

    I love how quiet and uncrowded the boat ride seems. Doesn’t feel like London at all! #FarawayFiles

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:18 PM

      It’s a tiny bit secret that’s why 😉

  16. 26th January 2017 / 5:56 PM

    Definitely putting this on my “next time I’m in London” list! #farawayfiles

  17. Ruth
    26th January 2017 / 6:52 PM

    This is a neat experience! Had no idea it was possible to do something like this in London. I think I really like main European cities because a lot of them are located next to rivers or lakes. The views from the water are some of the best. Plus, I will not miss stopping by Camden Market and trying that cereal cafe (what?). #farawayfiles

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:07 PM

      I feel the same way Ruth. The rivers and lakes in Europe are huge compared to our Australian versions. You must visit the cereal killer café – such a novel concept and cheeky name!

  18. 26th January 2017 / 7:47 PM

    The cereal killer cafe – brilliant! Who knew there was that much choice out there!? We’ve walked this canal path before and absolutely loved it, it’s really quite fascinating I thought. #citytripping

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:09 PM

      That cafe is so Camden though isn’t it? Back in the day I would have preferred the Camden Lock end of the journey but these days I love Warwick Avenue and cant get that Duffy song out of my head!

  19. tracycollins2016
    26th January 2017 / 9:41 PM

    Will save this as may do this in the summer – looks like a lovely day out and something different to do in London too! #farawayfiles

    • 26th January 2017 / 10:18 PM

      Thanks Tracy!

  20. 27th January 2017 / 1:34 AM

    I am definitely taking the canal cruise next time I visit in London in summer. I have gone on a cruise along Thames but not around the canals. Loved your post. #CityTripping

    • 27th January 2017 / 2:29 PM

      Thanks Ahila! It’s lots of fun

  21. 27th January 2017 / 8:09 AM

    Am definitely bookmarking this post for future reference 😉 I had always thought canal cruise is only in Amsterdam, it’s great to hear that London has it too. #farawayfiles

  22. 27th January 2017 / 1:24 PM

    It’s funny I should read this post now, we drove through little Venice last weekend when we had to take a bit of a detour and it made me realise I haven’t been there for a while. I’d love to do a canal cruise although I’m with Cathy on doing it in the summer! Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • 27th January 2017 / 2:30 PM

      I could totally live in Little Venice.. in my next life as a zillionaire! It’s so pretty isn’t it? Especially in summer!

  23. 27th January 2017 / 3:36 PM

    Oh I wanted to do this when we were there a few years back! Can’t believe I haven’t been to Camden or Little Venice – seems right up my alley! Or canal! Cheers and thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  24. 29th January 2017 / 10:28 AM

    This would be awesome! I have so many memories of visiting Camden when I lived in London. I loved walking across the bridges, and enjoying the variety of foods around the market area, any time of year. But staying on a boat, or just exploring the area by boat is an experience that would really be amazing! Thanks for sharing! #FarawayFiles

    • 29th January 2017 / 1:55 PM

      I agree Ali. I am always drawn to water related activities wherever I go

  25. 29th January 2017 / 4:44 PM

    Canals are so quaint and peaceful! I once stayed a weekend on a barge when I was in the Guides (kind of like Girl Scouts) and I even got to steer for a while! I’ve never seen the London Canals but they look so pretty! Sounds like a lovely trip 🙂 #farawayfiles

    • 29th January 2017 / 6:41 PM

      Wow Chiera, your Guides experience was cooler than mine! ?

  26. 30th January 2017 / 3:18 PM

    Oh I do enjoy a canal ride..making a note of this for our eventual trip to London, a place my girls are dying to go to since some of their friends at school are from London. The cereal cafe sounds quirky and right up my alley – I’m a complete cereal nut! #farawayfiles

  27. 31st January 2017 / 10:18 AM

    What a beautifully different perspective on London. I’ve long been fascinated with the United Kingdom’s network of canals, often thinking that an exploration of them (by boat, bike or foot) would make a wonderful “slow travel” experience. Some day… #FarawayFiles

  28. 1st February 2017 / 8:28 AM

    I LOVE this part of London!! The last time I was there, we went to the international food market right on the canal and it was fantastic. That houseboat looks so cozy I want to move in. What a way to travel! #FarawayFiles

  29. 1st February 2017 / 10:41 PM

    Yes! I LOVE running along the canals during my business trips in London. My office is near Reagent’s park so I take the tube over towards little Venice and then run back. It’s a great jog/stroll/picture taking fun! Maybe sometime I’ll take the cruise like a proper person. 😉 Thanks for sharing! #farawayfiles

    • 8th May 2017 / 8:58 PM

      No problem! I think it’s best enjoyed on a sunny day – hope you get there soon

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