Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race 2023 route: Where to watch along the Thames in London
On the final weekend of March, crowds of eager spectators will line the Thames in west London for the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race, as the UK’s two oldest universities square up for another episode in their longstanding waterborne battle.
Over a 4.2-mile stretch from Putney to Mortlake, men's and women's teams will battle it out to splash their way into the history books.
This year, the big day falls today, on Sunday March 26 and venues in Putney, Hammersmith and Fulham are going all out for the women's race at 4pm and the men's at 5pm.
From restaurants and pubs to parks and bridges, these are the best places to catch the light and dark blues this weekend.
The start line
Eager spectators can catch the start of the race at Putney Bridge. It’s found just a short walk from the tube station of the same name, but best to get there well before the races start as unsurprisingly it gets extremely busy.
This Thames-side park, on the north bank of the river, is also at the start of the race, right by Putney Bridge. As in previous years, it's opening at midday, with big screens showing all the TV coverage and traders set to sell official boat race merchandise. Expect a smattering of food and drink stalls too (and note that you’re not allowed to bring your own alcohol into the park).
Bishop's Avenue, Fulham, W6 6EA
Alternatively, see the two teams set off from the Boathouse on the Sunday. Situated on the waterfront, this lively Putney spot is promising burgers, roasts and pints, and tables can be booked in advance.
32 Brewhouse Lane, Putney, SW15 2JX, boathouseputney.co.uk
Thai Square Putney Bridge
Keen rowing fans can get an elevated view of the very first strokes from Thai Square Putney Bridge. Located near the starting line, it’s a firm favourite on Race Day — especially with its outdoor seating and patio area. It’s in keeping with the nautical theme too, as the building itself is designed to resemble a ship. As usual, the second-floor restaurant will be a more formal dining affair but more casual snacks will also be served outside where there will be buy-five-get-one-free drinks. Pimm’s O’Clock!
4 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1JN, thaisq.com
The Duke’s Head
This grand, Grade II-listed Putney pub located near the start of the race will be screening the men’s and women’s races live on different screens throughout the pub, to ensure nobody misses out on the action. The celebrations will continue into the evening. They’ve been a Boat Race staple for more than a century; don’t expect them to stop now.
8 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1JN, dukesheadputney.com
A little further on
This pub, on the Middlesex side of the river (that's the north side, to most of us) is about one and a half miles into the race and steeped in boat-race history: the stretch of the course it overlooks is even named Crabtree Reach after it. Unsurprisingly, they're going all out for the Boat Race, with a big knees-up promising plenty of fun from 11am, including live bands, DJs, food stalls and pop-up bars.
Rainville Road, Fulham, W6 9HA, thecrabtreew6.co.uk
The Blue Boat
The spacious patio terrace at this Hammersmith pub guarantees a great view of the Thames; inside, it’s a reliable Fuller’s pub, and the cocktails are far better than might be expected.
Distillery Wharf, Parrs Way, Hammersmith, W6 9GD, theblueboat.co.uk
The Blue Anchor
Just 10 minutes from Hammersmith tube, the Blue Anchor is always popular. It's the first of five pubs that line the north bank around the midway point and its outside space, the walkway, takes you right down to the river. It's right by the Rutland Arms, so if you can't squeeze in here, pop next door.
13 Lower Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9DJ, blueanchorlondon.com
The Rutland Arms
Another one that’s always packed, The Rutland shares the same great view as its neighbour, The Blue Anchor, but is slightly bigger. There will be classic burgers-and-chips pub grub and TVs for the occasion. If you can face the crowds, wander up to Hammersmith Bridge itself for the truly special views.
15 Lower Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9DJ, greeneking-pubs.co.uk
The outside area of this charming little pub is small and gets packed at the best of times. There are two levels, and the upstairs one only seats a handful, but has the best views. According to the Guinness Book of Records, one of its bars is the smallest in the world – so if you miss the race, you'll still have something to look out for.
19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TA, dovehammersmith.co.uk
The Old Ship
The final pub on the midway stretch, The Old Ship has a terrific view down Chiswick Reach towards Chiswick Steps. It’s a big space with terraces up and downstairs and a large beer garden. This is where the race really starts to get exciting, as often at this point a clear winner isn't always obvious, making it a great spot to pitch up at.
25 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TD, oldshipw6.co.uk
The final stretch
The Bull's Head
This popular jazz venue in leafy Barnes is just before Barnes Bridge. Screens inside will be showing the action, and they usually have a little live music going too. Want a better view? A £50 ticket grants access to the upstairs private room, where unlimited canapés will be served 3–4pm with a complimentary glass of English sparkling wine.
373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes, SW13 9PY, thebullsheadbarnes.com
The White Hart
The White Hart has stunning riverside views from the south bank of the Thames and its position between Barnes Bridge and the finish line at Chiswick Bridge makes it the perfect spot to watch the final quarter of the race — even if the final outcome is often already decided by then. A four-course “Boat Race Banquet” will be served upstairs between midday and 4pm, after which lunchers will have the best seats in the house from which to watch the race; outside, there will be two alfresco bars plus a barbecue for sliders and slaw.
The Terrace, Riverside, Barnes, SW13 0NR, whitehartbarnes.co.uk
It's not terribly often there's a photo finish in the Boat Race, but if there is, this beautiful Greene King pub is the place to watch it. It gets busy with crowds eagerly waiting to catch the first glimpse of boats coming round the bend after Barnes Bridge and, with a view of the final stretch, it’s the perfect place to celebrate — or drown your sorrows. Screens inside will keep you up to date with all the action until then and there are DJs and live bands in the courtyard.
The Ship, 10 Thames Bank, Mortlake, SW14 7QR, greeneking-pubs.co.uk