Canary Wharf is built on the Isle of Dogs in London (not to be confused with the movie!) and it’s the concrete jungle of London, where a lot of the banks, law firms and the skyscrapers are located. It is very protected with security personal and CCTV everywhere and it always feels odd going there, but since it’s a comfortable commute for me, I go there to dine sometimes. It has really changed from when I first moved to London and now it is becoming a little more family friendly and it was even busy on a Sunday, which was very unlikely a couple years ago. In this post, I want to give you a quick guide into navigating Canary Wharf and what you would expect from that part of town.
How to get to Canary Wharf?
Canary Wharf is connected by the underground’s Jubilee Line and the Dockland Light Railway, DLR, which makes it easy to access if you are coming from South and East London. To get the best travel route you can check Google Maps, City Mapper or the official Transports for London website.
Things to do in Canary Wharf
Enjoy all the sculptures
If sculptures are you thing, then you would love walking around Canary Wharf with a lot of the sculptures are on display around the squares and the buildings. You can follow the official art map and see them. I spotted a few that I liked, which I thought was cool, but I am one of the people who went all the way to the Sculpture park in Norway. My favourites are #21 and #23 in case you are wondering.
The Dockland Museum
Canary Wharf is the home of the West India Docks, which was an important port from 1802 till the late 1980s when it started declining. It was later taken by the government and sold to various companies and redeveloped to what it is now. If you want the detailed history of all of this, you can go see it and read about it in the Dockland museum. The building itself dates to 200 years ago as well! It’s one of the warehouses in the image below.
I really like the small roof garden in the Cross rail Place. It’s usually quiet and good place to walk to after lunch. It will take you 15 minutes max to go around it by the way. There are two bar restaurants there on either side, but you don’t usually hear any noise. They have a few nice plants and even some fern from New Zealand if you are into that!
Canary Wharf has a few shopping areas and plenty of shops to choose from. You can find the usual high street brands and the upper scales ones. They also have one of the most expensive malls there with a lot of the luxury brands. Here’s their official directory if you want to look up a specific brand.
I would advice going to Canary Wharf during the day to be able to see the buildings and the riverside. It is too quiet and dark at night to enjoy unless you are just going for dinner and leaving straight away. My favourite time of the year to visit the area is Christmas because they have a nice Christmas market and a skiing rink that is quieter than most in London.
Billingsgate’s Fish Market
I know the fish market is random and I actually never wake up early enough to go because it’s only open from 4am to 8am. I heard amazing things about the freshness and the choices of the fish there. This is where restaurants go get their fish selection and one of those days, I will try to get there and do my fish shop!
Canary Wharf Restaurants
There are many restaurants dotted around Canary Wharf, but the three main areas I go to are: The Jubilee Park Mall, the Cross Rail Place and sometimes the river facing restaurants. I have not tried all of them, but there are a few that I like and go to often and are mentioned below.
Ps. Not all restaurants are open late or on weekends. The ones mentioned here usually are, but always check opening times if you are making the trip from a long distance.
Breakfast or Brunch in Canary Wharf
The Breakfast Club
If you are going on the weekend, be prepared to wait up to 40 minutes especially if it’s brunch time. It gets packed so quickly! But it’s a big space with upstairs area and they sometimes have evening events there too. The breakfast club is loved by tourists and locals, but it’s slightly hyped and they don’t always have great service there. It’s a safe option for food though with a lot of options for meat eaters (not halal) and vegetarians (that’s what I get!).
It’s just next door to the breakfast club and is usually my second stop when I do not get a table at the breakfast club. The prices for mains are very similar to the one above, but they charge for everything! I even extra syrup for pancakes. It is a nice place still and their service is very good. Their chicken and lamb is halal so that’s a plus.
Lunch or Dinner in Canary Wharf
Sticks n Sushi
This is one of my favourite Sushi restaurants in London and this branch is much easier to find a table than the rest of the branches in London and their service is always fantastic. I usually get their sea food or vegetarian/vegan options, but if you don’t drink alcohol double check their ingredients because even their regular soya sauce contains it.
I always forget it is there! But if you want a nice, reliable Italian pizza, then that is where you need to go! Their prices are reasonable and the pizzas are always delicious.
Is Canary Wharf a good location to stay while visiting London?
Well it depends. If you are there on business and your time is limited it’s better to stay there, but if you have flexibility and you want to see a more authentic part of London then no. I personally would not stay there if I am in London for a short time because it is a very modern and built up part and I like the other quirky side of London that has more culture and heritage.