What to do in and around Canary Wharf - London
Canary Wharf is a busy financial district in an area that was once London's port industry. One Canada Square started the trend and there are now many gleaming high-rise office blocks. Away from the city centre, Canary Wharf has more open spaces and it feels good to be by the water.
1. ONE CANADA SQUARE
This 50-storey high stainless steel-clad building can be seen for miles around with its pyramid roof and the flashing light to warn aircraft. It's mostly offices but One Canada Square Restaurant & Bar is a modern European restaurant and cocktail bar with stylish dining in a stunning art-deco space at the foot of the iconic skyscraper.
Canary Wharf has two main shopping complexes. The largest is Canada Place Shopping Mall that runs from Westferry Circus, underneath Canary Wharf and to a large Waitrose and John Lewis store. Jubilee Place Shopping Mall runs from Montgomery Square – where you will find a large M&S Simply Food – to Heron Quays DLR station. There is also shopping at Churchill Place, Cabot Place, Columbus Courtyard and Crossrail Place which means Canary Wharf offers well over 300 shops in total.
There's a focus on higher-end clothes stores for the business shopper such as Hackett, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Paul Smith for men and Karen Millen, Whistles, LK Bennett and Reiss for women. There is also quality clothes brand for non-work time including Ted Baker, GAP, Zara and Superdry. And the gift shopping is good with Tiffany & Co, Links of London and Godiva chocolates. You can see the store directory online.
3. PARKS & SQUARES
The four main public spaces in Canary Wharf are Canada Square Park, Cabot Square, Westferry Circus and Jubilee Park.
Canada Square Park is a grassed area to the east of One Canada Square. It is surrounded by trees and restaurants. Outdoor screens go up here each summer to watch major sporting events such as the Wimbledon tennis championships and there are open-air concerts too.
Cabot Square is to the west of One Canada Square and is dominated by an impressive central fountain. To the west of the Canary Wharf estate, Westferry Circus is a beautifully planted walled garden in the centre of a roundabout. And Jubilee Park is over the top of Canary Wharf station with lots of trees, grassy areas and water features that make you quickly forget you are in the city.
4. CROSSRAIL PLACE ROOF GARDEN
Part of the Canary Wharf Crossrail station, the Crossrail Place Roof Gardens is a lovely urban jungle that offers a range of free events, workshops and performances. The 300-metre enclosed garden is open daily until 9pm and is a representation of the history and the geography of Canary Wharf as the plants are arranged according to which hemisphere they're from. The wooden and glass structure surrounding the roof garden is designed to evoke a ship coming back to London laden with exotic specimens.
Because Canary Wharf is located on the prime meridian, the garden is divided into East and West sections. The East section features plants from Europe, the Caribbean and Australasia, and the West section contains plants which originate from the Far East.
5. ICE RINK CANARY WHARF
From November to February each year Ice Rink Canary Wharf appears at Canada Square Park. Open seven days a week, it's a huge 1300 square metre rink with a skating path that takes you under the twinkling lights in the trees.
Everyman Cinema shows independent, blockbuster and classic films. Its three cinemas have comfy armchairs and sofas for two making it great for date night. This is definitely fancier than other cinemas as the bar menu includes real meals and not just popcorn.
A short stroll from the Museum of London Docklands is the 10 screen Cineworld West India Quay which tends to stick to the newer releases.
7. MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS
Showcasing the rich history of Canary Wharf and other London ports is the Museum of London Docklands. The displays cover London's history from the Roman settlement era to the development of modern-day Canary Wharf. Housed in a 200-year-old warehouse, the museum aims to tell the story of our capital through the eyes of trade, migration and commerce over the past centuries.
This family-friendly museum has excellent temporary exhibitions and there are ten permanent galleries including the Victorian reconstruction 'Sailortown' and the Mudlarks indoor play area for young children. Entry is free, and the museum is open every day.
Next door, there's the Rum & Sugar Caribbean restaurant and bar and there are more places to dine along West India Quay.
8. EXCEL LONDON
Linked to Custom House DLR station on the western end and Prince Regent station on the eastern entrance, this huge exhibition centre has impressive annual shows and conferences. Do check what's on.
9. PUBLIC ART
Download an Art on the Estate map as Canary Wharf has one of the largest collections of public art in the UK. The artworks include impressive sculptures, floor mosaics, light art and benches you are allowed to sit on. There's a Children's Art Trail too.
Boisdale restaurant in Canary Wharf not only has a whisky bar, terrace and an oyster bar & grill but it puts on fantastic live jazz, soul and blues every week. The music here is always great entertainment as they get some really big names performing at this intimate venue.
11. BILLINGSGATE MARKET
Canary Wharf is no longer an active trading port but it has had the UK's largest inland fish market since 1982. Billingsgate Market is a wholesale market that covers 13 acres. This is where London shops and restaurants come to get the freshest catch but it is open to the public too. Just be aware you will need to go in the early hours of the morning as it is open from 4am to 8am. Maybe leave the first hour or so to the wholesaler buyers and be there for 6am when it is less busy.
12. MUDCHUTE PARK AND FARM
After seeing skyscrapers and office blocks it can be a surprise to know there is a working farm within walking distance of Canary Wharf. Mudchute Park and Farm is open every day across 32 acres of city countryside (there's an oxymoron!) You can see cows, pigs, sheep and alpacas as well as geese, ducks chickens and turkeys too. There's a café here and you can take horse riding lessons at the Mudchute Equestrian Centre
13. TRINITY BUOY WHARF
To the east of Canary Wharf, Trinity Buoy Wharf is well worth a visit. It's an interesting arts quarter with a black taxi on a cafe roof with a tree growing out of it and London's only lighthouse. The historic buildings often have live music events and you get views across the Thames to The O2.
14. UP AT THE 02
Cross the river and you could not only see a great show inside The O2 but you can climb over it as well! Up at The O2 is an exhilarating climb along a tensile fabric walkway to reach a viewing platform at the top. You can do daytime climbs, evening climbs and even climbs to do yoga at the top. It's very safe and if children can manage this, you can too.
15. MARITIME GREENWICH
16. MEANTIME BREWERY TOURS
Also in Greenwich, you can visit the Meantime Brewery for a tour of their craft brewery. Learn about the brewing process followed by a tutored tasting session of a selection of Meantime beers.
WHERE TO STAY
Fraser Place Canary Wharf has 108 modern serviced apartments close to the shops, restaurants and tube station. Overlooking the marina, the cafe at Fraser Place offers a continental breakfast, snacks and drinks for guests not wishing to cook. Studio apartments are perfect for couples or solo travellers, and families will love the 2-bedroom apartments or penthouse residences for even more space. With a 24/7 Reception and an on-site gym, Fraser Place is a great choice for business or leisure.
Written by Laura Porter - Travel writer for Frasers Hospitality