London Off the Beaten Path: Regents Canal Boat Hire London with Go Boat

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No matter how many times you visit London, no matter if you are a local or a tourist, the capital will always have plenty of things to surprise you with. London off the beaten path opens up to everyone who wants to discover it, with magnificent parks and gardens, intriguing museums and theaters, hidden cocktail bars, unique attractions and so much more.

Did you know that one fantastic way to discover the hidden London is by boat? If you venture North of Central London you will discover an oasis of green and a network of canals that will not only surprise you but also offer you both fun and relaxation moments.

I discovered Little Venice a few years ago, when I booked a hotel in the area. I remember my amazement of how beautiful the area was, and also the pub next door which made its own chocolate beer. Think of it as Guinness with a chocolate aftertaste. I returned to Little Venice a few months ago and followed the Regents Canal all the way to Camden, and further ahead to King’s Cross. And I loved it so much that the following weeks I filled my Instagram feed with the photos I took during that walk, depicting quiet green areas, the African hunting dogs from London Zoo, colorful moor boats docked alongside the canal, yummy dishes from the food trucks in Camden Market, street art and quirky cafes.

 

GoBoat Canal Boat Hire

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On my most recent trip to London, I asked my friend Amy to join me on a unique, London off-the-beaten-path adventure. And it was such a treat! Whether you’ve already visited London and seen the most-travelled sights, or you’re looking for something new and refreshing to experience in the English capital, I guarantee a GoBoat tour is a relaxing, enjoyable way to see London’s finer points whilst coasting wistfully on the water. I’m eager to share with you our experience on the GoBoat Canal Boat Tour.

I highly recommend reserving a boat in advance, so you have smooth sailing on the day of your excursion. Reserving a GoBoat is simple. Just go to GoBoat’s website and click on the “Book Now” button. Of course, life jackets are available and are included in the price. Note the maximum number of passengers is eight (8) per boat. GoBoat vessels are canal boats, so they are large “Jon” boats, with an outboard propeller motor, handle grip accelerator/gear shift and steering rudder. The maximum speed is approximately 4 miles per hour. This is a leisurely canal cruise, not a speed boating experience. I recommend taking a quick “practice lap” with your GoBoat steward prior to setting off on your canal cruise.

 

How to Get To the Docks

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GoBoat’s base location and pick-up point is conveniently located in Merchant Square, Paddington, London, W2 1JZ. If travelling on foot, we advise you to take the main streets – it is an easy enjoyable stroll from Hyde Park. Taking the Tube is also recommended, both Edgware Road and Paddington are withing walking distance from Merchant Square. Be sure to arrive 15 minutes prior to your designated reservation time.

As you approach Merchant Square, you will pass between two large office buildings and see a large public fountain. You will see the GoBoat canal boats clearly marked on the waterfront. Look for the GoBoat stand, where a staff member will be on-hand to greet you, confirm your boat reservation, give you operating instructions, and explain the map for boating on the Regents Canal and surrounding areas. Now you’re ready to set off on your GoBoat excursion!

 

Setting the Stage

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Before heading to the Merchant Square location to check in and board our GoBoat, we gathered our canal boating essentials at the local M&S. Afterall, what is boating without a picnic? We selected a few tasty snacks just around the corner from the pickup location, including a cheese platter, crackers, petit fours and of course, a couple drinks to whet our whistles. As you know, boaters get hungry and thirsty. With our treats bought we were ready to cruise the canals!

Do remember though that GoBoat has an alcohol limit, for safety! Also, you can’t drink and drive so why would you steer a boat whilst being over the limit?

 

The GoBoat Experience

GoBoat prides itself on sociability and sustainability, with the boats made 80% out of recycled plastic. GoBoats are powered by electric engines in order to ensure no noise or environmental pollution, countering London’s damaging public transportation by water. To top this, GoBoat London collaborates with popular businesses holding a similar goal; The Paddington Partnership and the Canal & Rivers Trust.

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Hiring a GoBoat is a clever and affordable way to spend time with friends, family and colleagues while enjoying London’s scenic canals. You can check the prices on the website, by clicking here.

We left Merchant Square and sailed northbound to Little Venice, along the Regent’s Canal up to Camden Lock. One of the thing we liked about the GoBoat experience is its accurate, functional map which is provided on both on the GoBoat website and at check-in.

So there we went, two adult women, on a single lane canal, with a map, heading towards Camden…. The wrong way. After an hour of “Hmmm, I wonder how far is still to the London Zoo” we checked the map and realised we went the exact opposite way. However, we still enjoyed very beautiful sights!

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What surprised us most was the street art we witnessed on the canal tour. We especially loved the canalside gardens we passed by, as well as the unique houseboats and canalside restaurants. We waived at other boats and admired an old man’s stunning sculpture garden. We tried to guess which one is the Innocent Tower (I’m a huge fan of their marketing) and “aweeed” at bird families building their nests over the water.

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By hiring a boat and cruising Regent Canal, we got the unique opportunity to shoot beautiful photos of London, from the water. Due to the GoBoat’s sustainable and contemporary design, our ride was smooth, ensuring clear photos to capture the natural sights around us. The only thing that made us stop a few times was the propeller getting stuck with plastic wrappers and bags. Unfortunately some people still think it’s OK to throw their garbage in the water.

One extra special perk we enjoyed was the kind, courteous tips the welcome steward gives for our journey. For instance, he warned us of a nesting swan family which was located just before we reached Little Venice. My Gosh, I thought the Dame would board our vessel! She broadened her gossamer wings like an Albatross, hissed and coasted through the water toward us with the speed of a U-Boat. Thankfully, we had fair warning and steered clear. Other than that, we enjoyed a restful, uneventful journey. The best for which one may hope on any journey in a boat, right?

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Even if we did get lost, on our way back we did do a detour and explored Little Venice a little bit. Sailing through the narrow, one way tunnel at the end of Little Venice was both fun and spooky in the same time. But no worries, out boat was equipped with a front light.

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Have you been on a London canal boat adventure before?

 

Disclaimer: Please note that I was a guest of GoBoat and I received this experience complimentary. However, all the opinions in this article are my own and I would not recommend anything that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself doing or think it was a great place to visit.

Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights, tours or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

37 Comments

  1. I think a boat tour like this would be so much fun! I’ve seen London several times, but I’ve never seen it by boat and canal.

  2. I love being on a boat. Boat tours are really fun. I have never been to London but if my dream ever comes true, I will definitely explore by boat!

  3. Oh wow, you’re right! London seems to always have many things to surprise you with. I spent quite some time in London 1.5 years ago but I never knew about GoBoat Canal Boat Hire. It surely looks like an awesome experience. Gonna put that on my itinerary on my next visit to London! ~ Ola @ WanderWithOla

  4. I have never been to London but when I go..def adding the boat canal experience on my list! This looks so cool! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Having water ways in your city sounds like such an awesome experience. I love learning about the culture of a new city.

  6. I have been to London but never knew that you can explore it with a boat. That’s an amazing experience. I really love to see how London neighborhood looks like and not just the touristy spots in the city. What an adventure.

  7. I have never been on this boat trip but I lived in London for 30 years. I used to live in St John’s Wood and walk along the canal. It was amazing.

  8. I’ve visited London many times. It’s one my favorite cities in the world. However I never did it on a boat, it sounds so cool!

  9. This sounds like such a fun experience – what a great and unique way to see London from another angle.

  10. My immediate goal is to take a long break from my job and go on a multi city trip starting from London.

  11. My niece has relocated from Los Angeles to London for work. I’m daydreaming about my trips to visit her already. I would love to see the city by boat. It sounds like a unique way to get to know London a little better.

  12. That sounds really fun to rent and explore London with a boat. I’ve been dreaming of having a vacation in London, wish I could be hers someday.

  13. We have been planning to visit family in London and now I know what to do when I visit. Thanks for sharing about this great place.

  14. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. London is in our bucket list from long time and we are planning for a tour soon. I am adding this place to our to do list.

  15. I had no idea you could hire canal boats in London! I’ve only been to London once, but I’m moving to the UK very soon and will doubtless be in London often. This is definitely something I’d love to do, as it looks peaceful, quiet, and relaxing!

  16. This is just amazing! A brand new London for me! What a lovely post. Your pictures are amazing and now I want to discover this other side of this fantastic city! Thanks for sharing….

  17. What a nice way to see London. London always gives me an impression of a financial hub. The serenity from your photos tells a different story.

    1. How amazing! I actually heard that London is built on ‘water??’ And if that’s so, it’d definitely be great to tour London by boat. After all, boat rides can be so fun although sort of scary…haha. I’d literally meet one of my fears head-on.

  18. Such a fun and unique way to explore London! This seriously looks like a ton of fun, and has me wanting to visit more than ever now!

  19. That looks so cool! Sometimes the best things in countries are the secret hidden things not everyone knows about.

  20. This is so cool. I was in London a few years ago and have never heard of this. It looks like such a fun time!

  21. When I think of European cities with canals, London never comes to mind. This looks like a fine way to spend a day in beautiful London!

  22. That would be so awesome to just rent a boat to see all of what London has to offer. Thank you for the recommendation.

  23. That sounds so fun..! I’ve been thinking what else to do when I’ll be in London, it’s one of my bucket list.

  24. It sounds really fun to ride a boat when in London. I will definitely try this if ever someday I could have a vacation here.

    1. London’s not only about the amazing rain and classy stuff. Although this kind of boat trip looks a bit classy too, it’s definitely a unique way to see London. Pretty adventurous and so much fun!

  25. Oh wow! I’m not sure I could ever leave that place. it is absolutely one of the best experience I’ve ever seen.

  26. They say , ‘London was built on water’ so definitely,exploratio on a boat would be amazing in order to see all those hidden yet amazing spots in London. The tunnel ride would make me ecstatic.

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