Once the beating heart of London's maritime trade, the Docklands' network of riverways and storehouses has given way to to a pocket of gleaming skyscrapers. Today it's peppered with charming pubs and eateries like Japanese sensation Roka, whose show-stopping sushi platters will fuel you to till sunset. Come twilight, the landscape springs to life when the city's suited and booted spill from their polished towers and into the area's best watering holes. Stop by Rum & Sugar for a rum-soaked cocktail or a pint at The Gun, a Grade II listed pub overlooking the O2.
Set on Greenwich’s northernmost tip, the world-famous dome plays host to the world’s most coveted musicians. For those with kids in tow, book a lane at the O2’s all-American Hollywood Bowl or tickets to Cineworld, home to the UK’s first 270-degree viewing experience. History buffs will fall hard and fast for the Cutty Sark – the fastest ship of its time and the world’s only surviving extreme clipper. If all that gets stomachs rumbling, Goddard’s will do more than satisfy with their traditional handmade pies and mash, served since 1890.
The Sipping Room16 Hertsmere Road, West India Quay, E14 4AX
This riverside restaurant is all about larger-than-life dining, boasting cosy, wonderland igloos in winter and a leafy gin-themed garden come summer. Inside, timber beams and cast-iron columns reflect its former incarnation as a warehouse. The menu of British favourites is outdone only by a superlative cocktail menu of fragrant, botanical blends and a lengthy wine list.
Up at the O2The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX
Bond fans, unite – if you ever marvelled at Daniel Craig’s mind-boggling stunt sliding down the side of the O2, this one’s for you. A treat for over-9s, this 90-minute climb will take you up, over and down the exterior canvas of the O2, where you’ll enjoy sprawling views of the surrounding Docklands. Harness up, and book a slot at dusk for a sunset to remember.
BokanFloors 37-39, 40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP
A favourite among London’s high-rise diners, this 37th-floor bolthole surprises with artisanal feasts. Among the bevy of tempting options is the unctuous burrata foam with marjoram crumble, topped with spankingly fresh diver-caught scallops. Once appetites are sated, sink into a Scandi-chic armchair with a cocktail inspired by the docks’ industrious history.
BoisdaleUpper Level 1, Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, E14 4QT
This Canary Wharf institution is known for its star-studded events and sensational jazz and blues calendar, of which celebrity musician Jools Holland is patron. The restaurant touts a whisky bar, an oyster grill and a cigar library, plus a dazzling line-up of musical talent. Upcoming shows include 70s superstar Lulu and Westlife’s own Brian McFadden.
Hubbub bar and kitchen269 Westferry Road, Isle of Dogs, E14 3RS
Housed in a converted Victorian chapel, hole-in-the-wall Hubbub uses meat from quality local butchers, and has a charming beer garden that brims with happy locals. For a breakfast – or brunch – of champions, order the late-riser breakfast burger, topped with bacon, eggs and a hearty Scottish beef patty, available till 4pm.
Mudchute park and farmMudchute Park and Farm, Pier Street, Isle of Dogs, E14 3HP
This urban oasis is home to a menagerie of friendly farmyard creatures, from llamas and alpacas to geese, guinea pigs and goats. Budding equestrians should book in for a riding lesson at Mudchute stables, while keen farmers can learn how to keep chickens or even spin wool. Stop by The Kitchen for home-baked cakes, sausages with buttery mash and hearty paninis packed with fresh veg.
Old meets new in the Docklands: there’s everything from warehouses-turned-restaurants to factories converted into community space
- Henry VIII kept his hunting pack in the Isle of Dogs, said to give the area its name
- Look out for the 28-foot ‘traffic-light tree’ made up of 75 signals in Canary Wharf
- The Cutty Sark has travelled the equivalent of two and half voyages to the moon and back
- Pack a wetsuit: open-water swimmers can let loose on the Thames at London Royal Docks
- Billingsgate Fish Market has a pet seal called Sammy, who feasts on scraps every morning