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Looking for the best things to do in Canary Wharf, London UK?
I’m a local Londoner and I can help!
Canary Wharf is a particularly scenic and beautifully designed area in the Isle of Dogs. The entire area was developed on what used to be the West India Docks and is often referred to as ‘The Docklands’.
The area is synonymous with banks and The Docklands and is considered one of London’s main financial centre.
Naturally, it also contains lots of entertainment and shopping, restaurants, and public art installations. all alongside the legendary Thames River in Central London. But in recent years, the area is shaking off its stiff corporate persona for a more chill, relaxing vibe, where Londoners like to hang out or meet up for drinks after work.
Naturally, it also contains lots of entertainment and shopping, restaurants, and public art installations. Some of the most popular Canary Wharf places to visit include Canada Square, Cabot Square, and Westferry Circus.
This incredible zone is officially part of the London Central Business District, and this is an in-depth guide to what you will find and what you can do in Canary Wharf, London.
Things To Do In Canary Wharf London
When people talk about Canary Wharf, the conversation usually has something to do with banks, finance, and the Docklands.
But there is more to Canary Wharf than slick bankers and glass buildings. I’ve listed some of the cool things to do in Canary Wharf.
1. Canada Place
Canada Place has the most famous malls in Canary Wharf, which feature an impressive array of boutiques, fashion stores, retail fitness outlets, and more. Canada Place is a collection of five separate malls combined in one building.
The stores featured at Canada Place specialize in top-end products and designer labels. The eateries and restaurants are well-regarded, and even the street food offered is often artisanal.
So, if you’re on the lookout for a high-end designer gift or somewhere to grab a tasty meal during a long day of shopping, this is a good place to start.
2. Crossrail Place Roof Garden
The Crossrail Place Roof Garden is one of the top things to see in Canary Wharf. Urban gardens seldom come more spectacular than Crossrail Place. Since it’s on top of a tall building, the view through the sky roof is unencumbered.
This creates a wonderfully surreal experience as you walk the path between the greenery while experiencing the open sky.
The garden is open till 21:00 most days and in summer will stay open until the sun has set. This Canary Wharf Roof Garden is a great place to simply find a bench to relax with your lunch or a good book.
However, it can get a little busy at lunchtime as a lot of the office workers visit the garden during this time. There are even shows to watch in the theatre.
The amphitheater can accommodate 80 people and regularly hosts festivals and music events. Most performances are free, and some even invite active participation. There are special programmes for kids as well.
An utterly unique aspect of the garden’s design is related to its position on the planet. The Crossrail Place Roof Garden happens to sit very close to the Meridian line. The Crossrail Place Roof Garden is a wonderful place to visit alone in London.
Plants originating from the East are planted to the east of the garden. Similarly, plants from the West are located to the west.
3. One Canada Square
One Canada Square is the name given to one of the tallest buildings in the complex. The building was finished in 1991 and is currently the third tallest building in the UK at 771 feet (235 m). It has a total of 50 floors.
The fantastic retail stores are on the lower floors, but the building is a prestigious office location for some big businesses. It is estimated that about 10,000 people work in the tower.
The lower floors, including the ground and basement floors, are open to the public and have some retail options. There’s no observation deck, so, unfortunately, the public cannot visit the upper floors of the building.
But the lower floors do contain several impressive artworks, both permanent and temporary, that the public can visit and admire.
4. Jubilee Park
If you need to take a break from all this city life but you don’t fancy a trip up to the roof, you can stay on the ground at Jubilee Park.
It’s a green, tree-filled space with paths to walk and room to sit on the grass and just zone out for a few moments.
You’ll find plenty of local workers enjoying their lunch here, and it’s a convenient stop right above a Jubilee Place tube station entrance.
You’ll also find many families enjoying the sunshine and fresh air during the holidays. Take a break from all that retail therapy and enjoy your ice cream or takeout lunch here. Jubilee Park is one of the places to see in Canary Wharf.
5. Wood Wharf
Wood Wharf is one of the new, up-and-coming neighborhoods in Canary Wharf. The area offers lots of upscale apartments and mixed-use development that appeal to people of all ages living in London.
With all of the development projects bring an influx of Canary Wharf restaurants and other cool entertainment places in London that can make for a great night out with your friends in London!
Some of the best Canary Wharf tourist attractions are found in this neighborhood, including Mercato Metropolitana at Wood Whard (a plaza of various food stalls), Hawksmoor, and Lowback Bar.
6. Jubilee Place
Jubilee Place is an underground shopping mall on the south end of Canary Wharf. Like any good mall, it offers a fine selection of shops, cafés, restaurants, and retail outlets.
The mall has many remarkable aspects, including pedestrian links to neighbouring buildings, easy access to transport, and it is often said that it does not feel like it’s underground due to its innovative design.
7. Canary Wharf Malls
Canary Wharf has a total of five shopping malls that contain 300 shops, cafés, and restaurants. Many top retail brands can be found here, including Tiffany’s, David M Robinson, and Hugo Boss.
Here are the Canary Wharf shopping centre shops list and their opening times:
- Crossrail Place – 9:00 am
- Canada Place (Canary Wharf) – 9:00 am
- Cabot Place at Canary Wharf Station – 9:00 am
- Churchill Place Shopping Mall – 9:00 am
- Jubilee Place In Jubilee Park – Open 24 hours
8. Public Art Around Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf is home to London’s most extensive collection of public art. Some of the works are integrated into their contextual settings, others are interactive, and others still are entirely standalone.
In total, 75 pieces can be spotted. If you’re particularly interested in seeing them all (or most of them, at least), you can download or pick up an interactive map and take a walk.
All the art was commissioned from highly respected artists, and some went well beyond the standard sculpture or conventional artwork.
For example, Constance de Jong’s Speaking of the River is an audio experience connected to the benches along the riverside.
Other Places to Visit in Canary Wharf
So, there’s shopping, there’s plenty of food, and you can even explore the Crossharbour with its many residential buildings – but what about other things to do in Canary Wharf that aren’t found on every list?
Check out these unique and fun attractions designed for groups of adults, families, and even individuals.
9. Ice Rink Canary Wharf
The open-air ice rink in Canada Square Park is a seasonal rink made for winter fun. Families can enjoy the vast ice park and take breaks in the adjacent areas like Off Piste Bar – a thankfully heated restaurant and drinks venue just off the ice.
This is a special place, if only for its setting. All around you, the towers of Canary Wharf rise with their twinkling office lights — it’s like being in an urban woodland, if such a thing can be imagined.
The rink is open between October and February, usually between 10:00 and 22:00.
10. Skuna Hot Tub & BBQ Boats
If you can imagine yourself sailing down the Thames in a hot tub, Skuna is for you. It’s something you should try at least once.
You also have the option of joining some friends on a floating barbecue cruise — that involves cooking and eating your relaxed BBQ meal on a boat!
Allegedly, this is an adapted tradition from Norwegian culture. Regardless, it seems like an enjoyable thing to do sail along London’s iconic river while sitting in bubbly hot water, drinking a glass of your favourite libation.
On the other hand, if you’re hungry, what’s better than barbecued meat on a soggy London day? Best of all, you’ll feel quite exclusive and posh, being in your boat as the other tourists have to crowd along the West India Quay in their ordinary restaurants and bars. This is one of the fun things to do in Canary Wharf.
11. Everyman Cinema
Everyman Cinema is a lifestyle concept applied to the movie experience, for those who didn’t know. You can sip on a glass of wine or beer in these cinemas and have food delivered to your chair, which is often a comfortable sofa.
This expanding franchise is gaining popularity with the general public, may become the new standard. After all, who doesn’t want to feel like you’re sitting in your own lounge when watching the latest blockbuster? We’ve certainly all become used to it by now.
The Canary Wharf Everyman Cinema is located in the lower mall of Crossrail Place.
12. Electric Shuffle – Canary Wharf
The Electric Shuffle has become a surprisingly popular destination for having some fun and having a drink when the day gets long.
Originating in the US as a shuffleboard-focused bar, the venue is now a popular restaurant and gathering place for young, energetic people looking to free their competitive natures.
Part of the appeal is how the concept takes the traditional game of shuffleboard and modernises it. This is electric shuffleboard, combining the best of modern tech with the age-old mechanical fun of physically pushing pucks around a game board.
Groups of fancy kids can book their own table for up to 16 competitors. Then it’s time for your teams to take each other on in the game.
Of course, there’s a lot to be said for the post-tournament drinks, but you can actually have them while you play as well.
13. Crossrail Place at Canary Wharf
Crossrail Place contains the Canary Wharf railway station. It is situated in the West India Docks. It can be considered a subcomplex of Canary Wharf and includes shops, a cinema, and even a rooftop garden.
One particular space within the mall to note is Cargo, a social space that offers kiosks, a place to take a break and even a market hall.
Their catchphrase is “arguably the best-connected building on the wharf”, so you know it has vibrancy and people in mind.
Take out spots like Yum Bun and Island Poke will take care of the grumbles, or you can hit Psycle and Barry’s Bootcamp to work off the same.
14. West India Quay
West India Quay is where outdoor diners and drinkers go to enjoy themselves while they’re visiting Canary Wharf.
The many food options range from burgers and pizza to Caribbean and Mediterranean, and you might even pick up a couple of fancy European dishes. The Quayside also boasts a cinema.
If you visit Canary Wharf in the summer, this is a must-stop as it also has some establishments for health and beauty purposes and other fun distractions for adults and children alike.
15. Museum of London Docklands
The Museum of London Docklands in Canary Wharf is a fascinating free museum that focuses on the history of the River Thames and the growth of the Port of London.
It also provides intriguing insight into how the area now known as Canary Wharf was developed through the years.
The museum is found in the West India Quay and is part of the Museum of London. Incredible collections are mostly sourced from the Port of London Authority Archives, and the museum has video exhibits, artefacts and models, and galleries.
One of the many points of interest for those fascinated by history would be the focus on the Atlantic slave trade and how it influenced many aspects of the docks and Docklands area. The Museum of London Docklands is one of the top things to see near Canary Wharf.
Things To Do Near Canary Wharf, London
16. Traffic Light Tree
You can also ponder the Traffic Light Tree. French sculptor Pierre Vivant created this public sculpture, now found near Billingsgate Market. The sculpture contains 75 sets of traffic lights and is 8 m (26 feet) tall.
The sculpture, put simply, is meant to emulate the natural landscape of the London Plane Trees area while also alluding to the area’s vibrant commercial and financial activity. Seeing the Traffic Light Tree is an unusual thing to do in London.
17. Mudchute Park and Farm
Venture just a bit south of most other things to do in Canary Wharf is a place called Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs, and you’ll find Mudchute Park and Farm. Yes, it’s an actual urban farm in the middle of one of Europe’s biggest cities.
The farm operates much like any farm would and has unique attractions, like a children’s nursery and stables. It is usually free to visit and functions as a community charity.
This is a great place to bring kids to interact with some animals and learn about farm life.
A note that if you’re travelling by train, the closest station is Crossharbour, although there is a Mudchute DLR (Docklands Light Railway) station.
18. Trinity Buoy Wharf
Trinity was an actual historic working wharf on the Thames. It can now be considered an arts quarter with many artists, studios, gallery spaces, and certain types of commerce uniquely built around and out of shipping containers.
You can still see many boats in this area, as the pier is still in operation and many boats are moored here.
Visitors also take some time to enjoy some of the local food at the riverside, opting to drink and enjoy a little bit of American music at the retro diner.
19. Limehouse Marina
Limehouse Marina is also in the general area, although it is technically between Canary Wharf and Greater London. Historically, Limehouse used to be famous for its numerous opium dens.
Thankfully, today it is a modern marina that is a great central point from which to explore Canary Wharf or even other parts of London.
It is considered by many locals to be a posh riverside residential area with lots of expensive homes and apartments.
But it’s also incredibly pretty, especially at dusk with lights from the harbour and the many boats moored at the dock.
This light display makes for a beautiful photo as you enjoy your meal or cocktail. Some of the restaurants here are known for their great food and drink, so try The Narrow or The Grapes restaurants.
20. The Thames Barrier
The Thames Barrier is a visually stunning construction designed to prevent flooding for the low-lying areas of Greater London. It is 520 metres long and consists of ten moving steel gates. It was put into operation in 1982.
The fantastic engineering feat allows the system to open and close depending on whether the water is high or low. It can be found about 3 km or two miles east of the Isle of Dogs in Silvertown, not very far from Canary Wharf and quickly accessed if you’re in this area.
21. Emirates Cable Car (Emirates Airline)
The Emirates Cable Car runs from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. It offers superb views of the Thames area, the London skyline, and the surroundings, including a classic view of the O2.
Tickets for the cable car cost around £9.50 (when you use your contactless bank card), and you can book private cabin trips.
You can get to the cable car experience from Canary Wharf in about 2 minutes by subway, taxi, or shuttle service.
As you might expect, there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of eating options in Canary Wharf.
Outdoor seating is immensely popular, especially in the summer months when Londoners enjoy the excellent weather with good food. These are some of the best places to eat in Canary Wharf for all tastes include:
22. Have Brunch At Big Easy
If barbecue and seafood are what you are after, the Big Easy brings a bit of Americana straight into the heart of London.
There’s also a healthy serving of great live music to enjoy as you drink and eat in this establishment named after New Orleans.
Big Easy in Canary Wharf claims that it has 500 whiskies to choose from and lots of ice-cold beer on tap as well. It is the biggest version of Big Easy in the world so far.
One of the other highlights is a spectacular roof terrace that offers impressive views of Canary Wharf.
Don’t forget to try the room lounge, and if you’re feeling like a special occasion, book the private dining room, which is known as the Captain’s Table. The Big Easy is also a great place to have bottomless brunch in Canary Wharf.
23. Pergola on the Wharf, Canary Wharf
The folks at Pergola seem to have a knack for selling big. Their ambitious marketing around their opening was quite notable for its ability to draw headlines. As it happens, Pergola on the roof is set in the Crossrail Place Roof Garden.
It may not quite have live up to its promise of being a Giant Peach on the water, but it is quality food and service nonetheless.
Pergola actually took over from a street food vendor market space and still features some aspects of that offering. But it also has its own specially curated food, which is seasonal and overseen by chef Nick Wyborn.
If you’re not up to having a full meal, you can enjoy one of the three bars. Keep an eye on the diary as Pergola has lots of live concerts and festivals and even special events in the space.
24. Sip Coffee at The Alchemist
When you’re in the mood for a drink, this place has incredible cocktails. Each is crafted with detail and uniqueness in mind.
Attached to the bar is a restaurant spread over two floors, and the food here is outstanding, too. There are two outdoor spaces with Reuters Plaza and Canary Wharf views.
25. Plateau Restaurant
This top venue, located in One Canada Square, offers great elevated views as you enjoy light meals in the afternoons and evenings.
You have a choice of à la carte and set menus in French themes, and in the daytime, you can expect a business crowd to be talking up a storm. It makes the venue vibrant and exciting.
All the fine things, including cigars, whisky, tartan sofas, and a music selection approved by Jools Holland, make this a standout venue to visit. Many live performers frequent the restaurant, spanning jazz, blues, and soul.
The Boisdale restaurant fills a second floor and includes a whisky bar with more than 1000 bottles of the finest.
This would seem standard if you consider that the venue presents itself as a Scottish restaurant! It’s one of the best restaurants in Canary Wharf.
27. Billingsgate Fish Market
A special mention should be made of Billingsgate. Britain’s largest inland fish market is named after an original fish market that was located in the southeast of London.
The market covers 13 acres, 98 vendor stands, 30 shops, and a couple of cafés. The complex is self-contained, with cold rooms and other facilities to accommodate the producers and vendors.
In terms of wares, fish and fish-related products are supplied from all over the UK and abroad.
The market also offers supplementary wares like cooking oils, trade gear, and catering supplies. It’s worth taking some time to browse this market if you’re into fish.
Street food is abundantly available, especially if you’re on the go and need a quick Canary Wharf coffee fix or takeaway.
28. 640 East
Get your coffee fix from the shop made from shipping containers! It even has a deck, and serves cocktails too.
29. Badiani Gelato
This Florentian creator and vendor brand was born in 1932 and still serves some of the best gelato available today. Perfect for Summer months —who are we kidding— great gelato is great any time of year.
30. Biang at Wharf Kitchen
Chinese food made the authentic Silk Road way, offering the unique blend of western and eastern flavours that global trade brought to Xi’an. Try the Biang Noodles or the Chinese burgers.
There are actually several Birleys sandwich emporiums dotted around Canary Wharf, including at Canada Place, Cabot Place, Churchill Place, and One Canada Square.
32. Black Sheep Coffee
This is another coffee shop in Canary Wharf that prides itself on its unique sourcing, including grounds from Papua New Guinea and Uganda.
33. Meantime Brewery Tour
One top-rated tour in Canary Wharf itself is the Meantime Brewery Tour, which takes place in Lawrence Trading Estate and costs around £25 ($34 USD).
The tour takes you around the brewery, explaining the process and nuances of the beer trade. You’ll also get to taste some of the products.
The tour covers everything you could want to know about mash, fermentation, bottling, and of course, taste.
There are several other tours on offer for various interests in Canary Wharf, too. Many involve boat rides along the Thames, like the high-speed Bubble Experience Boat Ride from the embankment. But Canary Wharf also offers a great brewery tour hosted right in the complex.
34. Channel Your Inner Child at Fairgame Barcade
Fairgame is a Canary Wharf arcade built for adults and it’s one of the best things to do in Canary Wharf for tourists and locals alike. The adult arcade/bar is not only one of the Canary Wharf attractions, but it’s relatively inexpensive, too, with game packages starting at £15 per person.
Some of the games included are skeeball, whack-a-mole, water gun targets, and basketball.
In addition to games, they have a full-service bar with delicious bar food, too. You can get Tacos from Dos Mas, Rudy’s famous Pizza, burgers, and other side dishes. If you’re looking for Canary Wharf Attractions to check out while you’re in London, this is one you shouldn’t skip!
Open from Tuesday – Sunday (11:30 AM to 12:00 AM/1:00 AM)
35. Check Out The Best Views in Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf is remarkably pretty as a skyline feature of London. But where would you go if you wanted a fabulous picture of that skyline?
Here are six places that you might want to visit in the area to see the full splendour of Canary Wharf from a distance.
Thames Path runs 184 miles, stretching from the Cotswolds through to London and beyond, all along the Thames.
But don’t worry, you don’t need to traverse very much of it to get the benefit of a great Canary Wharf view. You want to get to section three of the path in London specifically to check out the fantastic view of the Wharf from there. It is one of the best things to do in Canary Wharf and is found between Tower Bridge and Greenwich.
Greenwich Park is one of the biggest public parks in the Canary Wharf area and part of a World Heritage Site.
Not only can you grab a fabulous view of Canary Wharf from here, but you can also see some impressive views of greater London itself due to the park’s raised elevation. Interesting fact —this park used to be a Royal hunting park.
If you’re travelling on the Thames by boat, you can’t beat the view of Canary Wharf from the Greenland Docks.
Located in Rotherhithe, the docks aren’t in primary use anymore, but they can be accessed via the Uber boat. The view of the Canary Wharf skyline from here is broad and impressive.
Here lies the national collection of British Art —it’s one of the top ten visited museums in the world.
But the somewhat unusual suggestion of the Tate Modern shouldn’t be sniffed at. There’s a lesser-known viewing deck on the 10th floor. It’s free to access, and the view is understandably spectacular.
🔭The Thames Barrier
This previously mentioned anti-flooding marvel might already be on your to-see list for the area. If you visit it, remember to take a moment to admire the view of Canary Wharf from here.
So, besides the impressive gates of the barrier, the skyline is well worth seeing, especially from the south side.
🔭The Emirates Airline Cable Car
Why not check out the view from an actually elevated position, like, say, an “airline”? Well, technically, as stated before, it’s a cable car.
The car runs from the O2 to the Royal Docks, and along the way, you can catch a magical view of the Canary Wharf skyline.
Try to book a cable car ride for around 19:00, when the cable car does a particularly slow glide over the route to enjoy the dusky light.
FAQs: Canary Wharf Things To Do
Just in case you’re still in doubt, here are some of the FAQs about Canary Wharf that you might have niggling on your mind.
What Do People Do at Canary Wharf?
Most people live and work in Canary Wharf. But for people traveling to London, there are tons of exciting shopping streets, massive malls, cool coffee shops, comedy clubs, and endless restaurants/bars. to check out in the evening.
Is it Worth going to Canary Wharf?
Yes, it is worth going to Canary Wharf! There’s an incredible choice of things to do in Canary Wharf, including malls, shops, public art, food, and just a crazy number of recreational activities.
Is Canary Wharf a Nice Area to Stay?
Yes, Canary Wharf is a super nice area to stay in London, especially if you are most interested in live entertainment, restaurants, and shopping. There aren’t many iconic London attractions in the area, but you’ll never get bored.
Is Canary Wharf Safe at Night?
Yes, it is. It’s also one of the safest areas of London to explore. It’s a highly residential area and remains relatively quiet at night, so you will feel very safe hanging out in Canary Wharf!
What is Famous about Canary Wharf?
London Canary Wharf is known for many different things. The first thing to understand about Canary Wharf is that it isn’t simply a tourist-centric destination. It is partly a business/financial area and somewhat a residential area.
For those planning a trip to London, here is a quick list of just a few of the most popular highlights and attractions and what makes them so cool.
It’s by no means comprehensive, but to start, here is a list of interesting tidbits to get you in the mood:
What are the 10 Tallest Buildings in Canary Wharf?
With such a vast and impressive area covered, it’s even more incredible that the complex has such tall buildings – and many extend their public spaces to below ground as well. Some compete for being among the tallest in the UK. These are the ten tallest in terms of metres.
|One Canada Square||235m|
|South Quay Plaza||215m|
|One Park Drive||205m|
|8 Canada Square||200m|
|25 Canada Square||200m|
|Wardian London (East Tower)||187m|
|Wardian London (West Tower)||168m|
Opening times for most of Canary Wharf’s public areas, galleries, and malls are largely standard:
- Monday – Friday: 9:00 – 20:00
- Saturday: 10:00 – 19:00
- Sunday: 12:00 – 18:00
Bear in mind that certain establishments may also operate on their own time. Check the respective websites for specifics.
Is There Free Wi-Fi?
Canary Wharf has free public Wi-Fi. When searching for a network, select _VM_CWG_Public and follow the prompts. The coverage extends to all the malls and most shops, restaurants, and outdoor areas.
Is Canary Wharf Good for Shopping?
As you might expect, shopping is a crucial attraction for the area. Generally, the Canary Wharf shopping experience feels slightly less chaotic than London’s West End High Street.
The ultra-modern designs of the malls contribute to this. The higher-end feel of many outlets also lends the feeling of superior service in many cases.
Another aspect worth noting is mobility. You can essentially move between many buildings without going outside.
That makes winter shopping much more pleasant, especially since much of the underground area is temperature-controlled.
That said, there are some peak hours to avoid if you can, noting that this is also a residential and work sector of the city. Peak commuting hours (before 9:00 and after 16:00) may feel a little crowded.
Tip: Parking is free for three hours, as long as you buy something.
Can I Bring My Dog to Canary Wharf?
Dogs are allowed within the Canary Wharf district, but only guide dogs are permitted in the malls. Some cafés, however, are dog-friendly. Examples include No. 35 Mackenzie Walk and Three Colt Gallery, as well as The Humble Grape wine bar and restaurant. As all pet owners know, leashes are usually required in public spaces.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do In Canary Wharf
Any visit to London is immensely exciting and there are numerous different attractions worth seeing in the great city.
All of these things to do in Canary Wharf are modern examples of what makes London great.
It’s even more intriguing when you consider that it’s built in a region of London that was so strongly tied to its maritime history.
There’s no best time to visit London, either, as each season offers its own charms, even within the chilly streets and snow-filled parks offering some of the best things to do in Canary Wharf during winter.