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Ice-skating, cheese fondue and riverside dining: it's the best bits of Canary Wharf

By Time Out London contributor

It’s not all stocks and shares: the Wharf packs in a lot of fun stuff too.

What’s the vibe? Besuited bankers burning £50 notes in front of homeless people?

There’s no two ways about it: Canary Wharf is an annex of the City and it’s set up pretty much by and for those who work in finance. But it’s also a lot less stuffy than the Square Mile, and it boasts one of London’s best outdoor skating rinks, Ice Rink Canary Wharf (Canada Square Park). Whose restaurant serves fondue. Already sold? Yeah, me too.

Hannah Webb

Any shopping to be done, or am I better off heading to Oxford Street?

With the well-stocked shopping malls of the Wharf, you need never brave the West End’s tourist-jammed madness again. Every high street store you could want is here. Plus you can buy your fish from the same place as the best restaurants, Billingsgate Fish Market (Trafalgar Way). Just don’t expect it all trussed up, Waitrose-style; it’s sold packaged for trade, so you’ll need to get stuck in and do some prep work. Also, wear old clothes as you will stink after visiting this place. You have been warned.

What about Crossrail? Isn’t that coming too?

Yes, the Crossrail station arrived in May and brought with it yet another shopping mall, Crossrail Place, the jewel of which is an outpost of popular ‘brinner’ providers The Breakfast Club. Perfect if you fancy pancakes at night. Which you do, obviously. 

I really fancy a drink now.

Canary Wharf does love a drink (or ten). For a quiet post-work pint, try trad-pub The Henry Addington (Mackenzie Walk). Those wanting somewhere more lively will enjoy Doctor Klugers, the secret bar in The Breakfast Club – there’s DJs on Thursday (the big City night out) and Friday, and a two-for-one happy hour from 4pm to 7pm every day. Roka (Park Pavilion) has an excellent bar, and the Sochu Lounge stocks Japanese-themed drinks to complement its good – if expensive – food. 

I could use some food now, actually.

Grab a killer full-English at Krüger (Cabot Place), alongside every builder working locally. Do lunch at Obicà (West Wintergarden) for buffalo mozzarella so fresh even the most hard-to-please Italian will approve. And dinner should be at 
The Gun (Coldharbour), still the local gastropub gem – excellent food, a great private room for parties and a fantastic river view.

And if I just do one thing?

Check out the Museum of London Docklands (West India Quay). Its London, Sugar & Slavery gallery offers a much-needed counterpoint to the area’s current gloss with some sobering facts about the Docklands’ imperial past. 

By Manu Ekanayake, who’s still getting the smell of the fish market out of his clothes. 

Fancy a change of scene? Take a look at the best bits of Acton.

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