With towering glass and steel architecture that forms an iconic part of the London skyline, Canary Wharf represents sleek, ultramodern urban living at its finest. Known as one of London’s global financial centres, the district contains some of the city’s premier office spaces and is home to many top banks, media groups and financial institutions.
The area is highly prized by busy professionals wanting the luxury of living in walking distance of work, and with City Airport just 10 minutes away, it’s an ideal location for international business travellers and those seeking a stylish pied-à-terre in London.
But Canary Wharf isn’t all business: there’s plenty of pleasure on offer here too, with a world-class selection of restaurants, bars, shops and high-end amenities, plus fantastic views over the city and River Thames.
The surrounding Docklands area is awash with fascinating maritime history, while the City and West End are but a short tube or DLR ride away. Meanwhile, there are some surprising green spaces nearby to keep the kids entertained – including the area’s very own urban farm.
Join us for a cruise along the River Thames as we reveal all the perks of this prime London location.
Architecture and areas
Canary Wharf’s property market is dominated by luxury high-rise apartments and exclusive riverside developments – the very best of which feature spectacular penthouses with fabulous views across the capital. Most property here is chic and contemporary to suit the fast-paced lives of busy bankers and city workers, though there are pockets of period homes and stylish warehouse conversions to be found – like the highly sought-after Dunbar Wharf, which recalls the area’s industrial past and has become a benchmark for open-plan loft living.
A few more traditionally built homes can be found dotted among the roads surrounding the central business area and the historic streets of Limehouse and Blackwall, including Georgian and Victorian terraced houses and a few Edwardian cottages. For those seeking green and outdoor space, homes along the streets off Manchester Road on the Isle of Dogs include private gardens and benefit from being close to St John’s and Millwall Parks.
If you follow the curve of the River Thames west all the way down to Tower Bridge, you’ll discover the historic districts of St Katherine’s Docks and Wapping – though technically not in Canary Wharf itself, these neighbourhoods are among the city’s most atmospheric, with converted shipping warehouses and quaint cobbled streets that provide a real Dickensian feel.
St Katharine Docks is Central London’s only marina, now boasting a number of luxury homes, hotels and office space, while a wander down to Wapping’s waterfront will put you in touch with the area’s nautical past. Everything from traditional Georgian homes to warehouse conversions are available here, and if you keep your eyes peeled you may spot a celebrity resident or two, including the much-loved TV host Graham Norton, who is rumoured to live in the area.
Renting in Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf’s large number of high-rise apartments mean there are plenty of options for both long and short-term rentals. Surprisingly, affordably priced rentals can be found too, making the area more accessible than many other parts of Prime Central London. If you work nearby, one significant advantage of living here is that you forego London’s pricy travel costs, not to mention an improvement to your quality of life – as you can avoid public transport and simply take a leisurely walk or cycle to work.
Who lives here?
Canary Wharf’s stunning riverside views, high-end amenities and excellent transport links make the district a highly attractive prospect for couples and professionals wanting to be within walking distance of work. Being in easy reach of City Airport means the area is also popular with frequent flyers. As it becomes more established as a popular residential area, Canary Wharf is also increasingly favoured by young professional families and first-time buyers seeking a modern riverside lifestyle.
Canary Wharf is built on the site of the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs, which was once the world’s busiest shipping port. From the 1950s onwards, with the advent of container ships which were too large to sail to London, the maritime industry began declining and the docks eventually closed in the 1980s, leaving behind a desolate wasteland and closing the chapter on the area’s industrial past.
The Canary Wharf of today – which has grown exponentially and arguably become the capital’s most prominent financial district, rivalled only by the City of London – began when the former chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston came up with the idea to convert Canary Wharf into a back office. Construction began in the late 1980s and by 1990, the 244m, pyramid-topped skyscraper at One Canada Square – now synonymous with the Canary Wharf and London skyline alike – was born. This tower was Britain’s tallest building until the Shard was built near London Bridge in 2010.
Drinking and dining
There’s a common misconception that once the working week is over, Canary Wharf turns into a ghost town, devoid of the hustle-bustle of its many busy workers. The reality is that with a range of fine-dining restaurants, street food markets and everything in between – many of which sit on the waterfront and have spectacular views – Canary Wharf remains a buzzy and desirable place to be all week long.
Boisdale of Canary Wharf is famous for its traditional British cooking and extensive choice of whiskies, as well as having an oyster bar and cigar menu, while The Ivy in the Park serves modern British menus in an art-filled space with a garden terrace and orangery.
On the fourth floor of Canada Place, The Plateau makes the most of the area’s enviable views, offering contemporary French cuisine which is best enjoyed on outdoor terraces in summer. Gaucho is a popular Argentinian steakhouse, while Roka is the place to go for sushi and contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine.
Good options for drinks include the popular local pub The Gun, The Sipping Room cocktail bar and Gordon Ramsay’s gastropub The Narrow in nearby Limehouse.
World food lovers will enjoy exploring Kerb on the Quay: open every Thursday, this street food market includes fare from across the globe, and with everything from Asian dumplings to salt beef sandwiches on offer, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
When you need a caffeine fix, Ole & Steen is a place to grab coffee and a pastry, or head over to The Breakfast Club for deliciously languorous weekend brunches.
With covered shopping malls at Cabot Place, Canada Square and Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf has become a popular shopping destination in its own right. Over 100 mid to top range brands have stores in the area, including Paul Smith, Karen Millen, LK Bennett, Maje and Jo Malone, in addition to supermarkets such as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, meaning you’ll find everything you need in the immediate locale.
There are some fantastic London markets nearby too, with the Billingsgate Fish Market and Chrisp Street market just up the road in Poplar. If you’re heading to Billingsgate for fresh fish, you’ll need to be up with the lark, as it’s famous throughout London and tends to finish by 9:30am.
Arts and culture
Top of the list of places to visit is the Museum of London Docklands which delves into Canary Wharf’s intriguing maritime past. There are exhibitions, displays and events for schools and families, or why not get together with friends for a spooky Docks After Dark ‘ghost walk’: you’ll gain access to areas not usually open to the public and be guided through the most haunted spots in the 200-year-old building.
If big-ticket culture is more your scene, you’ll be delighted to discover the 02 Arena – one of London’s main venues which hosts major international music concerts and sporting events – is just a short hop over the river, while Tower Bridge, with its spectacular views and awe-inspiring history, lies just to the west of the district.
Film fans will be pleased to note the presence of a Everyman cinema at Crossrail Place for arthouse, independent and international films.
The Space on Westferry Road is a popular local arts centre with a vibrant programme of theatre and dance, or why not enjoy a scenic stroll along the Thames to discover a number of inspiring public art installations.
Transport and airports
Located in Zone 2, Canary Wharf truly is one of the best-connected areas in London.
The Docklands Light Railway (or DLR) and Jubilee Line go straight to the heart of the City and West End in 10 to 15 minutes, with stations at Canary Wharf, West India Quay, Heron Quay, Crossharbour, Mudchute and Island Gardens.
Fancy a more novel commute? Travel to the office in style on a Thames Clipper ferry: departing regularly from Canary Wharf pier, trips to London Bridge take just 10 minutes or reach Westminster in half an hour.
The district also has a well-connected set of bus routes linking Liverpool Street, Shoreditch, Charing Cross and beyond, while international travel couldn’t be more convenient, with London City airport just two miles away. Easily reachable by DLR or a 10-minute cab ride, City Airport offers flights to many major European destinations as well New York, while Heathrow Airport, London’s largest, is accessible in under an hour.
Schools and hospitals
River House Montessori is a popular independent co-ed in Millharbour taking children aged 3-16. For younger children, Bygrove and Manorfield primaries are situated in nearby Tower Hamlets, and there’s also the Stephen Hawking School in Limehouse which specialises in teaching children with learning difficulties.
The nearest NHS hospital with an emergency department is The Royal London in Whitechapel, a 10-minute drive away. Meanwhile, private medical care is available in Canary Wharf itself via Nuffield Health’s Wharf Medical Centre.
Green and outdoor spaces
Whilst Canary Wharf isn’t normally known for its green spaces, there are a surprising number of hidden gems to be found. The best of which is undoubtedly Mudchute Park and Farm, comprising of 32 acres of glorious countryside and a working farm with over 100 animals, stables, a children’s nursery and a range of educational activities. If city farms are your thing, there’s another one just over the river at Surrey Docks.
Crossrail Roof Gardens, the development above the station, is a stylish spot that’s not only home to some tasty food and drink options, but a great place to wander round and soak up the exotic planting. Jubilee Park is a picturesque tree-filled space adjacent to Canary Wharf tube station with landscaped lawns and water features, while Millwall Park is a popular picnic spot for couples and families.
Just east of the district, Bow Creek Ecology Park is a tranquil urban oasis with quietly humming wildlife that’s particularly lovely to visit in summer, while many residents are attracted to Canary Wharf for its wide horizons and the stunning open-space views provided by the river.
Sports and leisure
There’s plenty on offer for fitness fanatics in Canary Wharf: located in the heart of Canada Square, Third Space bills itself as Europe’s largest luxury health club, with state-of-the-art training facilities and more than 300 classes per week.
The Tiller Leisure Centre also has a pool, large gym and a wide range of classes, while Virgin Active’s Canary Riverside Club has exceptional views over the river.
And if those riverside views have you itching to get out on the water, head to Docklands Sailing & Watersports Centre for a taste of the coast in the city and try your hand at canoeing, sailing, powerboating and more.
During November to February, skate round the 1,200-metre ice rink in Canada Square Park, or, for a simpler way to keep fit all year long, many Canary Wharf residents relish a simple morning run along the banks of the river.
Considering moving to Canary Wharf?
With exceptional transport links and everything required for a luxurious London lifestyle packed into one attractive riverside destination, Canary Wharf ticks all the right boxes. Our team of property search specialists can help source your ideal Canary Wharf home – whether you’re buying, renting, relocating staff, seeking an incredible investment property or a stylish London pied-à-terre. Contact us today to find out how we can help.