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

London canals boat trip

This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here

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the early years of the Industrial Revolution they served to transport goods across the country efficiently before being superseded by the railways.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.

READ:   Beyond the spray can: A street art tour of East London

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

READ:   A dreamy stay on a houseboat in Amsterdam

Houseboat on Regent's canal

READ:   11 quirky accommodation ideas for travel inspiration

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.

READ:   Best apps for London - download before you go!

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

Linked with:


53 thoughts on “London loves: London canals – Little Venice to Camden Lock boat trip

  1. Addie says:

    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.

    • Katy says:

      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

  2. Coombe Mill says:

    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

    • Katy says:

      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

  3. MummyTravels says:

    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

    • Katy says:

      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! ?

    • Katy says:

      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!

  4. Bumble Bee Mum says:

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

  5. Alex Muir says:

    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

  6. annette @afrenchcollection says:

    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!

    • Katy says:

      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

  7. Clare Thomson says:

    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

  8. afamilydayout says:

    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

  9. vanbrune says:

    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 🙂

    • Katy says:

      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 🙂

  10. Ruth says:

    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

    • Katy says:

      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!

  11. tracycollins2016 says:

    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

  12. Ahila says:

    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

  13. Kat says:

    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

  14. WanderMum says:

    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

  15. oregongirlaroundtheworld says:

    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

  16. Ali May says:

    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

  17. youngandundecided says:

    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

  18. fifi + hop says:

    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

  19. daisythebus says:

    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

  20. Danielle Wisniewski says:

    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

  21. Natalie @ says:

    This is still on my London to do list that I’ve not yet got round to doing!! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

Comments are closed.