Looking for unique things to do in Canary Wharf? Look no further! Here’s the best things to do in the area — from a London travel blogger.
When I think about fun in London, Canary Wharf doesn’t exactly come to mind.
But with its endless skyscrapers and a slight New York City charm I decided to take a chance and explore a new part of the city years ago, and its had me hooked ever since.
Venturing East I found tons of fun things to get up to so I thought I’d compile the best things to do and places to see for a jaunt in this shiny London corner.
In this post, I’ll be sharing the best and unique things to do in Canary Wharf including secret places in Canary Wharf, things to do in Canary Wharf for free, things to do in Canary Wharf at night, places to eat in Canary Wharf and the coolest outdoor activities in Canary Wharf to make the most of your time in the area in 2023.
The Best Things to Do in Canary Wharf
Why Visit Canary Wharf?
A docklands area blitzed during the Second World war, Canary Wharf was completely transformed into a buzzing business hub. Without any major roads, it’s extremely peaceful on the weekends making it the perfect outing to avoid the crowds or a lovely pitstop on your way to Greenwich.
Whether you’re a local or tourist alike, you’re bound to find some fun things to do and places to go for your time Canary Wharf, however brief.
1. Stroll along the Crossrail Roof Gardens
When it comes to bringing the outdoors to the city, London overwhelmingly takes the cake, and the open green space housing plants from around the world, Crossrail Roof Gardens, is one of those places in Canary Wharf you’ll keep coming back to.
In fact, it’s one of the largest roof gardens in London, meaning you’ve got plenty of room to wander aimlessly along all the exotic plants on offer. Depending on the time of year it also doubles as an amphitheatre with free events on year-round. Win-win.
Plus, on the floors underneath this hidden oasis, is the not so hidden Crossrail Place, yet another shopping centre in London giving you an al fresco experience has some unmissable spots to eat and shop. Grab a bite at Chai Ki for some authentic Indian food, or sip on some cocktails at Pergola on the Wharf while gazing at the city style skyline after your time at the roof gardens.
2. Walk the Crossrail Tunnel at One Canada Square
A quick look at the Canary Wharf gram and you’ll see the Crossrail Tunnel pop up more times than you can count. But sometimes the popular sights come with good reason—and if you head to One Canada Square, you’ll see why.
This futuristic tunnel is a Canary Wharf staple and used for everything from light shows to music videos. Walking through this gem of asymmetrical eye candy you’ll feel like you’re stepping through time.
If you go at the right time you can even catch it in color!
3. Visit the Museum of London Docklands
Every now and then the history buff in me needs her fill. So without hesitation I decided to pay a visit to the Museum of London Docklands. Tickets are free and it’s a great way to learn about stories of London and how the docks came to be.
Split between three floors it’s a pleasant walk around and doesn’t shy away from some of its more shameful history, which I appreciate. From the outside you’d think it wasn’t that big, but there’s a ton to see so be sure to take your time roaming the displays.
4. Roam Jubilee Park
The first thing you’ll notice once you exit Canary Wharf station (which is quite striking on its own) is Jubilee Park. Perched on top of the station its unlikely location makes you feel like you’ve left the city.
The quaint garden has little nooks of benches throughout, which if you’re anything like me you’ll take full advantage of—sitting down and looking up at the skyscrapers through the trees.
Surrounded by sculptures and a waterfall, you’ll instantly be glad you made the trip.
5. Visit the Winter Lights
If you time your visit just right you can see Canary Wharf in its full glory at the Winter Lights. With the business district asleep the area is filled with light displays and shows that will make you feel like you’ve walked into a London dystopia.
I went last year with friends and couldn’t believe how fun (and free) looking at Christmas lights could be. Many of the shows are interactive so from stepping into glowing rows of stringed lights or jumping into beaming balls it’s definitely one for the books.
6. Take in the Public Art
One of the things you’ll effortlessly do in Canary Wharf is take in the amazing public art on offer. The Canary Wharf Group put a lot of effort into adding artistic charm to the financial district, and it shows.
Commissioned from across the world Canary Wharf is dotted with beautiful sculptures, paintings and mosaics in all kinds of unlikely places.
One of the most popular pieces is the Traffic Light Tree statue created by Pierre Vivant, and without giving anything away, it depicts exactly how I think people who drive in Central London feel with all the craziness, lol!
If the art buff moves you there’s even a handy map of all the displays throughout the area so you won’t miss a thing.
7. Go Back in Time at The Breakfast Club
If you truly want to feel like you’ve stepped into the 80’s movie, head to The Breakfast Club. Inspired by the iconic film the cafe’s filled with disco balls, retro booths and a very snazzy breakfast menu to match.
Slowly but surely it’s become my brunch go-to for Canary Wharf. So if you’re looking for a fun way to start your day in the area don’t forget to pop in.
8. Gorge on Godiva at Jubilee Place
Because in Canary Wharf fashion, it wasn’t enough to simply have a tube station. In fact, if you venture through Jubilee Gardens you’ll soon find your way down to Jubilee Place Mall.
An underground haven of sorts, filled with all the shopping and food staples you could ask for (Hello Nandos). But I’ll let you in on a secret.
If you go down on the ground floor you’ll find the absolute best hot chocolate to ever meet the city (or at least Canary Wharf). Pop into Godiva and treat yourself with a hot chocolate or two before carrying on for the day. My personal favorite is the Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate with coconut milk. It’s to die for!
9. Get American at Big Easy
No matter how many years I live abroad, I’ll never stop craving some good ole American grub. Which is why when I heard of Big Easy, I immediately had to book a table (yep, it gets that full).
A Bar.B.Q & Lobstershack they’ve got everything from home smoked B.B.Q to yummy frozen slushy cocktails with all the Southern interiors to match. I usually get the Home-Smoked B.B.Q Taste-O-Rama leaving the American in me very, very satisfied.
The building itself is massive, overlooking the entire area. So for an added bonus pick the right seat and take in sweeping views over Canary Wharf with your meal.
10. Get a Taste of Street Food Vans
If you’re anything like me, a bit of wandering is sure to give you the munchies. Cross over the South Quay Footbridge and you’ll find yourself surrounded by Canary Wharf’s best street food.
Don’t let their humble exteriors fool you. Street Food Vans has some of the best filling and well-priced finds I’ve seen in a while. Especially for a business district. But alas, travel blog bias must ensue, and you have to try Munchies Cubano sandwiches.
11.Ride a Hot Tub Through London with Skuna Boats
It’d be hard to find a more unique thing to do in Canary Wharf (or in London really) than riding a hot tub through the city.
The floating boats play off the Scandinavian tradition of keeping warm no matter the weather. Fitting up to 7 people at a tasty 38°C you’ll pass by Canary Wharf locals and get a sightseeing experience of the area like no other. You can read more about the experience here.
12. Do the Electric Shuffle
If you’re looking to unwind in Canary Wharf, Electric Shuffle might be calling your name. The live shuffleboard experience is great for big groups (up to 32 people!) with delicious food & drinks to match.
You can read more about the experience here.
13. Relax at Everyman Cinema
Fair warning. If you go to Everyman Cinema your standards for movie theaters may never be the same. I had heard of lifestyle movie theaters before—the kind where you trade your fizzy soda for red wine and enough recline to put airlines to shame. But I didn’t expect how much I’d absolutely swoon over the experience.
With a new approach to cinema the food and drink selections are top notch, and the customer service makes it feel like your personal theater.
Watching Hustlers while feeling like a literal queen never felt so good and out of all the things to do in Canary Wharf, this is definitely how you’ll want to end your night in the area.
14. Get Your Sweat on at Bikram Yoga
One fateful Groupon led me to a free class at Bikram Yoga and I haven’t regretted it since. Get your sweat on at Bikram Yoga with one of their hot yoga classes. Now I’ll admit, this may not be for everyone as the heat can get intense, but I’ve never felt so good after a fitness class.
The staff and members were super kind and helpful (even for a newbie like me) and out of all the places to go in Canary Wharf, this would definitely give you a reason to keep coming back. And of course, get your sweat on.
15. Grab a Pint at Meantime Brewery Tour
Still patiently on my bucket-list is the Meantime Brewery Company. Now open to the public you can take a tour of the brewery guided tours through the factory led by one of the experts.
If you have some time too, you can spend a few lazy hours sipping away on London’s best craft beer. One of the more booze filled things to do near Canary Wharf, you might want to save this for last.
Fueled by liquid passion the tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable, plus they’ve got a rich lunch menu!
16. Skate at the Ice Rink
Although there’s no shortage of things to do in London for the holiday season, ice skating at the Canary Wharf Ice Rink is definitely up there. And I personally believe chilly evenings in London can always be remedied through a winter skate. With twinkling skyscrapers as your backdrop, it’s a must-try if you’re heading to Canary Wharf in winter.
You can beat the crowds with a morning skate, or if you’re feeling romantic, catch the sunset on the ice.
17. Explore Crossharbour
Of course, out of all the places to go in Canary Wharf, I couldn’t not say a thing or two about Crossharbour. In fact, this is where I used to live not long ago!
A hidden island dockside only a stone’s throw away from Canary Wharf, Crossharbour is a quiet oasis from the city, and easy to see in a day. From grabbing a bite along the river to wandering Mudchute Farm it’s a lovely local gem.
18. Wander Canada Square Park
Smack in the center of Canary Wharf you’ll find Canada Square Park.
Now, I’ll be honest, it is a small green space and visually there not not much else too it, but! this is exactly what makes it one of the best places to take a rest while you’re out and about exploring Canary Wharf. Plus, surrounded by the skyscrapers and sounds of the rushing Thames nearby it’s, of course, beautiful.
Year round it’s bustling with fun events and activities, like open air movies, dance, music or other performances and in the summertime it becomes a hub full of young professionals looking to grab a little sun on their break, or take a picnic lunch.
19. Ride the DLR
I know what you’re thinking, um I already took transport to get down here, why would I ride it for fun? And, you’re totally right to say that…anywhere else…but down here at Canary Wharf you can’t miss it.
The DLR or Dockland Light Railway provides a refreshing view for commuters and visitors by having one of the best views of Canary Wharf.
By hopping on at Heron Quay, and riding it through Canary Wharf to West India Quay, you’ll catch a glimpse of the iconic Tik Tok famous (and London famous) video spot of the Wharf when riding between stations!
20. Check Out the Art & Culture at the Trinity Buoy Wharf
Basically a two for one, this is both another stunning part of the wharf in and of itself, and separately a centre for arts & culture.
No bit of London, would be a bit of London without art, and if it didn’t have enough already (is there really a thing of too much?) Trinity Buoy Wharf comes in swinging. With gallery rooms, and studios this centre adds a creative little corner to Canary Wharf.
21. Be an Early Bird at Billingsgate Market
Early Bird gets the…fish?
If you aren’t going to Billingsgate Market for a stock collection of fresh fish for your business, it is definitely one of the more unique things to get up to when at these London docklands. But, if you can handle the smell, don’t miss it!
This historical inland fish market is the biggest fish market in the UK, and it’s highly likely that if you’ve ordered a fish dish at any restaurant in North, West, South, or East London, chances are it was from here. Small world!
Make sure you set your alarm early if you plan to go though as it’s only open from 4 to half past eight in the morning.
Also- embrace your inner tourist of course, but be respectful during the peak hours of trading!
22. Plane Spot at London City Airport
I know I know, London City Airport seems like a fever dream because…have you ever flown in or out of it?? Well, either way, turns out it really does exist!
Now, it isn’t directly in Canary Wharf, but it’s not a far journey if you want to get right up close to the planes. But, if you’d rather stick near the main bit of Canary Wharf, why not secure a seat at one of the rooftop bars, relax with a cocktail and watch as the planes fly overhead and land in the distance.
23. Take a peek at Wood Wharf
Are you looking to live luxuriously, or just vicariously through those who do? Did you know that there is a new up and coming neighbourhood right in Canary Wharf?
Wood Wharf is an exciting new area of this part of London, made up of 23 acres and built up with stunning apartment complexes.
You can admire Canary Wharf, from the aptly named wooden dock or just take leisurely walk through, and if you’re lucky you might even be able to see a yacht or two!
Map of 23 Unique Things to Do in Canary Wharf, London
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