Often thought of as the financial centre of London, Canary Wharf is often avoided by tourists, leaving the area heavily populated by London locals.
However, between the mass of grey skyscrapers, which would not look out of place in New York City, under the shadow of the towers, is a part of the city which should not be missed.
Canary Wharf is full restaurants, bars and various things to do. I often head to this area of London when I still want the buzz of the city but with less of the crowds.
What to see and do in Canary Wharf?
1 Indulge in some Luxury Shopping
For upmarket purchases head to Canary Wharf where you will find three arcades of shops; Cabot, Canada and Jubilee Place.
The three arcades encirculate Canary Wharf tube station and have over 200 shops combined.
Due to its financial background, the stores are targeted to an upmarket audience, making it the perfect place to head to for some luxury indulgence.
2 Watch a film in style at the Everyman Cinema
Gone are the days of watching the latest blockbuster in a cramped cinema.
The Everyman Cinema invites guests to watch the newest release from the comfort of a sofa while having a waiter on hand to bring drinks and hot food.
Tip from Sam: Due to the exclusivity of the cinema, Everyman Cinemas only have a limited number of screens. Therefore not all the latest releases are shown, and when they are, it is only for a week or two. Be sure to check what is being aired online to avoid disappointment on arrival.
3 Get your skates on! (November to February)
For 15 magical weeks of the year, part of Canary Wharf is transformed into an icy wonderland.
Visitors are invited to put on some skates beneath of a sea of twinkling lights to indulge in a winter tradition – ice skating.
Between November and February, a 1200 metre square ice rink is constructed in Canada Square Park and the whole area is transformed into a winter wonderland.
Tip from Sam: To save money, arrive early. The first skate session of the day is at a lower price in comparison to the rest of the day. A session will give you 50 minutes on the ice (including boot hire) and advance booking is recommended.
4 Watch the sports with a Pimm’s
In the summer, during major sporting events such as Wimbledon Tennis, large screens are erected in the middle of Canary Wharf to show the events.
Passers-by are encouraged to grab a deck chair and support their side. Bars are also available to provide a Pimm’s or two while you watch.
5 Visit the Museum of the London Docklands
The warehouse museum located in the North Dock reveals the long history of London as a port, through stories of trade, migration and commerce.
Through a combination of permanent and changing exhibitions, visitors are encouraged to discover artifacts and learn about London’s involvement with the transatlantic slave trade plus other areas of interest.
At present entrance to the Museum of the London Docklands is free.
6 Crossrail place roof garden
Many people have heard of the Sky Garden, but not so many have heard of Crossrail place roof garden.
A 300 metre enclosed garden with an abundance of plants and trees which have been carefully selected to reference the history and geography of Canary Wharf.
Visitors can relax on a bench nestled between the plants or take in one of the many free shows or performances which are scheduled daily.
7 Go on an art trail
Visitors are encouraged to download an art map from the official website and then spend time following the trail. At present the trail has seventy stops making Canary Wharf one of the United Kingdom’s largest collections of Public Art.
My favourite stop is 48, located in the west winter garden. Stop 48 is a photographic lightbox named the ‘Spirit of East London’ and uses a collection of images to encompass this area of urban London.
8 Jubilee Park
Placed above the underground station, Jubilee Park has a serpentine water channel with rough stone wall as its main feature, the grass area of the park is a hotspot with lunch time sunbathers, wanting to catch some much needed vitamin D during their lunch hour.
9 Marvel at the Skyscrapers
Canary Wharf is considered one of the main business districts of London, and in business bigger is always better.
Which is why Canary Wharf is home to some of London’s tallest skyscrapers, in particular One Canada Square, which stands a whopping 235 metres tall.
One Canada Square was once the tallest building in London before it was overtaken by the Shard in 2009.
10 Enjoy cocktails at Smollensky’s
If you are looking for a laid-back haunt in the middle of a business centre then you will want to head to Smollensky’s.
Smollensky’s is an American themed bar which was awarded with ‘The Best Happy Hour in Canary Wharf’ award in 2018 and serves a wide range of both classic and contemporary cocktails.
Throughout summer they also have a large outdoor seating area, perfect for enjoying summer in the city.
11 Take the kids to Mudchute park and farm
It is hard to believe you can find 32 acres of farm in East London, but you can and it is home to a whole host of farm animals. Situated on the Isle of Dogs, Mudchute farm is a community charity project with the aim of education.
Due to the vast open space, over the years a plethora of wildlife have also began to call this area home, meaning it is a great place to see wild animals not normally seen in the city. At present entry is free but donations are encouraged to keep the farm running.
12 Visit Billingsgate Fish Market
Billingsgate Fish Market is the United Kingdom’s largest inland fish market and an average of 25 000 tons of fish is sold there every single year.
While the fish market is most popular with restaurants and catering companies, it has now become a place for the public as well.
Early visiting is recommended (around 6.30am) and you can even book into the Billingsgate seafood school
Tip from Sam: if you are still a fan of Pokemon Go, head to Montgomery Square which is a Pokemon Gym and often a place to catch rare Pokemon.