If you haven’t been to Canary Wharf in a few years, you’re in for a (pleasant) surprise – you may even find yourself double-checking whether you’ve disembarked at the correct stop, so changed is this area from its business district days.
But those skyscrapers are unmistakable – it’s the network of green parks, pretty waterways, and tempting eateries, bars and shops that have sprung up between them that have given this area a completely new lease of life.
The Wharf is a hive of activity, proven by the fact that it is now as buzzing on the weekends as it is during the week – with punters making the journey specifically for the delicious food, fabulous shopping, and jam-packed programme of events and activities. Intrigued? Read on for details…
New arrivals: restaurants, sports, video games, shopping and healthcare
Canary Wharf recently added winning options to its offering: there’s Vietnamese restaurant Pho (named after the traditional broth that it does so well), and Fish Game, a foodie spot specialising in British game and fish (the clue is in the name).
You don’t need to be vegan or veggie to get excited about the arrival of Mallow – if the food at sister restaurant Mildreds is anything to go by, this is set to be a fantastic option for meat- and non-meat-eaters alike. For those seeking quality cuts, however, old-fashioned chophouse Blacklock should fit the bill.
Activities-wise, Padium, the pay-and-play padel centre, will be opening later this month (the racquet game has recently surged in popularity). For those who prefer games of the video variety, make a beeline for Platform – where you can play Nintendo, Xbox and PS5 classics.
Get some shopping in at Russell & Bromley, Boggi Milano or social enterprise Circle Collective – and you can tick off those practical bits at Canary Wharf, too: get a check-up at Randox Health, your nails done at Townhouse, or pick up beauty essentials at Aesop.
Activities: Basketball, Mini Golf, Food Markets and open-air screens
Whether you’re a basketball-lover, or just want to snap some pics at one of London’s most Instagrammable spots, head to Bank Street Park to check out the Yinka Ilori-designed basketball court. Equally fun is the mini golf course designed by artists Craig Redman and Karl Maier in Montgomery Square – no need to book, just turn up and play. Next door you’ll find the Lunch Market, an extravaganza of mouthwatering global cuisine.
For the moments that the sun does come through, we have a hot tip: Canary Wharf’s Summer Screens, which will be showing all the major sports fixtures until 24 August. The open-air screens will also host a Family Film Club and Movie Nights – catch the last two on 15 and 22 August (it’s the perfect date night).
Entertainment: Go-karting, games, parks, swimming and boating
As well as the carousel of pop-up events and activities, there is also a dependable roster of brilliant entertainment here. Turn the drizzle into a positive with a go-karting session at Capital Karts, fairground games at Fairgame, and shuffleboard at Electric Shuffle. They’re all heaps of fun.
Concrete jungle no more, the Estate has really taken advantage of its waterside location to create something of an urban oasis; you’ll be hard-pressed to find more pleasant spots than Harbour Quay Gardens, Jubilee Park or Crossrail Place Roof Garden. You can even swim in Middle Dock, or, if you’d rather stay dry, try a GoBoat – self-drive boats with snacks and drinks? Yes please.
Also, if you’re coming from out of town and need a place to rest your head, we recommend TRIBE Canary Wharf.
Food: Brunch, Al Fresco Foodie Spots, Sustainable Restaurants and Live Music
If there’s one thing that Canary Wharf does well, it’s brunch – there’s California-inspired Feels Like June, elite coffee roaster Caravan, and fan-favourite Dishoom, to name a few. If the weather allows for al fresco dining, the terraces at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, La Terraza and The Ivy in the Park are particularly picturesque.
For those who describe themselves as ‘foodies’, the likes of Six by Nico, ROKA and Sticks’n’Sushi promise exciting culinary experiences. And, of course, sustainability is an ever-growing concern for restaurant-goers, which is why places like M Restaurant, MMy Wood Wharf and Hawksmoor are throwing themselves into ethical ethoses.
Finally, make the transition from dinner to drinks to dancing at Boisdale, with its schedule of great acts and bands – while No. 35 Mackenzie Walk and Pergola both host DJ nights.
Shops: Men's and women's fashion, sportswear, beauty products, accessories and jewellery
If you like to shop, rejoice. Fashion-wise at Canary Wharf, there’s Mango, Reiss, COS, Maje, Sandro, Zara, Bimba y Lola (we could go on) for women, and Levi’s, Calvin Klein, BOSS, Paul Smith, Hackett and Charles Tyrwhitt for men. A pair of leggings and sporty trainers now go beyond the gym, and you can find the best athleisure-wear at Lululemon, Sweaty Betty and ASICS.
Visit Bobbi Brown and MAC for make-up; Malin+Goetz, Kiehl’s or SpaceNK for skincare; and Penhaligon’s or Jo Malone for perfume. Accessories can be found at Coach and Kate Spade New York, and shoes at LK Bennett and Dune. Finally, Monica Vinader, Pandora and David M Robinson are go-tos for jewellery, just as Omega, Breitling and Bremont are for watches. Like we said, heaven for those prone to a spot of retail therapy.
Services: Supermarkets, homeware, childcare, exercise, beauty and wellness
They call Canary Wharf a ‘15-minute city’ for a reason – you can basically get everything here. There are plenty of supermarkets, from Waitrose to Amazon Fresh and Asian supermarket Tian Tian, as well homeware stores like John Lewis & Partners and The White Company. You can also now access childcare on the Estate – a godsend for parents who work here – in the form of Wood Wharf Kindergarten.
Get your daily dose of movement in – however you choose to do it – at Barry’s, SWEAT by BXR, In2Sports, Nuffield Health, Stretch Inc. or Third Space. The full body MOT continues at David Clulow for an eye test, Blink Brow Bar for eyebrows, London Grace for nails, Browns Tanning for tanning, Weather and Palette for a facial, TONI&GUY for a haircut, and even Get A Drip for a vitamin infusion – why not?