Canary Wharf is one of the larger business centres in London.
Modern architecture, towering skyscrapers, and financial services dominate this area.
The Wharf, as it is commonly known, is not a tourist spot. However, it’s the perfect place for people who prefer to explore local areas rather than just tourist destinations.
It is also quite close to central London and offers many cheap hotels, serviced flats, excellent standards of restaurants, shops, pubs and more.
In this article, I talk about the history, safety, sights and things to do in Canary Wharf.
Where Is Canary Wharf
The Wharf is situated on the Isle of Dogs in East London, just a few steps away from the famous River Thames.
This vibrant locale is built on the location of West India Docks, which was one of the essential docks in Europe during the early 19th century.
Its location next to a waterbody (the River Thames) provides a pleasant aesthetic aspect to the entire area.
What Zone Is Canary Wharf
As I said, Canary Wharf is conveniently located on the transport route, making it easy to get to and from London and the surrounding area in minutes.
Specifically, the district is in Fare Zone 2 of the Transport for London (TFL) zonal fare system.
If you are unfamiliar with London’s transport system, you should know that the city is divided into six concentric zones. These are used to determine the cost of single tickets and travel passes.
Zone 2 is an inner zone of the TFL. It consists of several stations, including the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), the London Underground Jubilee Line and the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail).
The good thing is that you can travel on the DLR and the Jubilee Line with a ticket or pass covering zone 1 and 2. Travel time to/from central London on these routes does not exceed 30 minutes.
Is Canary Wharf Safe
Canary Wharf is a relatively safe environment for anyone visiting or working in the financial district.
Thousands of people visit this area every month without incident; although there are things you can do to increase your chances of an accident-free visit.
Remember that street crime such as pickpocketing occurs in all major urban areas, and The Wharf is no exception.
However, at 16.58 per 1000 people, the crime rate in Canary Wharf is low compared to London’s, which stands at 190.32.
In addition, Canary Wharf is an outpost of the City of London and is primarily used by the financial services industry. So you can be sure that security is paramount. Most of the area is under video surveillance and heavily protected to deter crime and other threats.
Source: Royal Docks Security
Even so, it is best to be cautious.
A good rule of thumb is always carrying your belongings in front of you and never behind you. Never in your back pocket or thrown over your shoulder where you can’t see them!
At night, it’s advisable to stay together and stick to well-lit, busy streets.
It’s also safe to use licensed taxis instead of mini-taxis. The latter are cheaper and most drivers are honourable and trustworthy, but passengers have reported several cases of assault and robbery by undocumented drivers.
More importantly, stay alert to your surroundings, especially when near or in theatres and concert halls, since these places are the most crime-ridden in Canary Wharf.
How To Get To Canary Wharf
Getting to The Wharf is hassle-free, as it is very well connected to the East of London thanks to the DLR and the Underground Jubilee railway lines.
The new Elizabeth line also makes access to Canary Wharf easy.
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You can get to The Wharf in fewer than 30 mins from the central business district.
In addition to the railway lines, Canary Wharf is also served by several buses (135, 277, D3, D7, D8, and N5500) via the routes below.
If you’re interested in a more scenic route, a boat trip on the Thames will take you to Canary Wharf Pier, a short walk from the centre of the Canary Wharf Estate, near Westferry Circus.
The water taxi journey takes about 30 minutes from central London.
For international visitors, the London City Airport isn’t far from Canary Wharf (about 4 miles) and offers flights to/from over 50 destinations worldwide.
The DLR takes less than 14 minutes to get to the airport, while taxis take around 10 minutes.
When Was Canary Wharf Built (History)
Canary Wharf is a successfully redeveloped area of London that was formerly West India Docks and part of the Port of London.
The Docklands served large industrial areas in east London and beyond.
However, they became less important in the 1960s when the shipping industry introduced the container system for freight transport, and the docks could not accommodate the much larger vessels that containerisation required.
This led to their closure between 1960 and 1980, leaving around 8 square miles of wasteland and high unemployment in East London.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the London Docklands was transformed into a mix of residential, commercial and light industrial areas.
The extension of the Jubilee Line and the Docklands Light Railways (DLR) improved East London transport links to Beckton, Lewisham, London City Airport, North Woolwich and Stratford.
This regeneration led to a massive increase in property prices and a real estate boom in the area.
Today, Canary Wharf is a vibrant business district with one of the highest concentrations of skyscrapers in Europe and a direct challenge to the City of London’s media and financial dominance.
Some of the London Docklands’ former warehouses have been converted into flats, and the docks are now used as water sports centres and marinas.
Multinationals such as ABSA, Citigroup, HSBC, Credit Suisse, KPMG and many others enjoy top-quality buildings, facilities and infrastructure in this bustling financial centre of London.
The working and residential population in Canary Wharf has also grown exponentially.
Things To Do In Canary Wharf
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For a visitor, there is no shortage of great experiences in and around Canary Wharf.
Here are my top suggestions:
Take a short break with a Thames Cruise
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One of the best options for fun things to do in Canary Wharf is to take a river cruise with the Thames Clippers.
This river tour offers several options that vary in length and places to visit. The tour takes you along the Thames River past some of London’s best attractions, allowing you to experience them from an exceptional angle.
Visit the Docklands Museum
London’s Docklands Museum is another must-see when visiting Canary Wharf. Housed in a 200-year-old warehouse, this museum tells the story of the River Thames.
It is packed with old photographs and more, giving visitors a better understanding of the history of this famous river and the area. For children, there is a water playground where they can let off steam while the adults relax and enjoy the spectacular views.
One of the main reasons why some people choose to stay at a top hotel in The Wharf is for retail therapy.
The area is a true shopper’s paradise with five ultra-modern shopping centres – Canada Place, Jubilee Place, Cabot Place, Churchill Place and Crossrail Place – boasting more than 300 stores.
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You can spend your time browsing the many shops, ranging from boutiques to designer brands (Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Tiffany’s etc.). Here you have the opportunity to let loose in one place as you need and deserve.
Catch a movie
For lighter evening entertainment, there are several cinemas in Canary Wharf that you can take the kids to on a humid afternoon or go for a date night in the evening to watch the latest release.
Cineworld Cinema on West India Quay and Everyman Cinema (the experience here is top-notch) in Crossrail Place are the most popular. They offer the latest movies at different times of the day, making them particularly convenient.
Enjoy some outdoor ice skating at the Canary Wharf Ice Rink
During the winter, there’s a giant ice rink in the area that attracts many people. The rink is open from October to February every year and offers a real winter feel and an excellent opportunity for experienced skaters, novices and even children.
Visit the National History Museum
The National History Museum in Canary Wharf offers visitors the chance to see some rare animals spanning centuries.
Enjoy a meal at one of the fine restaurants
The Wharf has a selection of fine restaurants offering a wide range of dishes.
You can grab a delicious steak at Goodman Canary Wharf or Gaucho Canary or enjoy hearty British cuisine with fantastic views of the fountains in Cabot Square at Boisdale of Canary.
Bella Cosa offers fine Italian dining in an elegant yet friendly atmosphere. The renowned ROKA serves contemporary Japanese robata with spectacular views of The Wharf’s dramatic skyline.
For modern French cuisine guaranteed to get your taste buds dancing, try Le Plateau.
And for the best seafood and BBQ go to Big Easy at the Crossrail Place Park level or MMy Wood Wharf on George Street.
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This is just a handful of the restaurants you’ll find in Canary Wharf. With so much to choose from, it’s easy to find the perfect restaurant for a relaxed family meal, a romantic dinner date, or to cap off a business meeting after a long day.
Other landmarks and attractions in Canary Wharf include One Canada Square (one of the tallest and most iconic towers in the UK), Mudchute, a 32-acre urban farm with over 100 animals, and the Underground Station.
There is also a choice of parks and gardens where you can relax and soak up some sun on a warm day.
If you like to go for a walk, you can stroll along the trails in the parks and enjoy a peaceful and relaxing experience while staying in Canary Wharf.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a leisurely meal in the evening and then stroll along the riverbank before retiring to your hotel room.
A stroll down the boardwalk in Harbour Quay Gardens is equally refreshing.
Canary Wharf Core Operating Hours And Other Practical Information
Most shops, service centres and attractions in Canary Wharf are open from 9am to 8pm on weekdays, 10am to 7pm on Saturdays and 12pm to 6pm on Sundays.
However, opening hours may change depending on various factors such as time of year, public holidays, etc. It is therefore best to check with the individual facilities.
District management: The Canary Wharf Group
Location: One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AB
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7418 2000
Is there car parking in Canary Wharf?
Yes, of course!
Canary Wharf has over six thousand parking spaces, 2500 of which are in public car parks.
The Wharf has parking for pedals and motorbikes at various locations. There are also designated parking spaces for disabled drivers and people with children.
Some car parks you should check out are:
- Canada Place car park
- Jubilee Place car park
- Cabot Place car park
- Westferry Circus car park
Are there smoking areas in Canary Wharf?
Smoking is strictly prohibited in shopping centres and indoor areas of restaurants, bars, shops and other public spaces.
However, The Wharf compensates for this with several designated outdoor smoking areas with appropriate signage and markings.
Is there free Wi-Fi at The Wharf in London?
There is free public Wi-Fi for all in the Canary Wharf district.
Is Canary Wharf a nice place to live in?
In a word, yes.
The location, jobs, leisure opportunities and affordable properties in Canary Wharf make it a dream come true for many people. The area is also very safe for families and offers a good choice of schools. Few areas in London offer so much within such an easy reach.