CK Travels

16 Things to do in Wapping, London – by a local (2023)

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A walk through Wapping is a wonderful way to spend a day in London, offering stunning views along the River Thames and oozing history in every nook and cranny. There are so many things to do in Wapping.

Despite all the new apartments and investment in the area (once one of London’s most notorious and dangerous areas, awash with pirates and the scourge of the sea), Wapping has a nice combination of coffee shops, Thames trails and new venues located alongside some of the oldest and most historic pubs in the whole of London.

Nestled between the gleaning towers of Canary Wharf and historical Tower Bridge backdrop, Wapping has a wide range of activities and things to do, from weekend markets to riverside walking trails.

Here is our guide to the best things to do in Wapping, London (2023):

Things to do in Wapping, London

1. The Prospect of Whitby

We start our ‘best things to do in Wapping’ guide with one of the oldest riverside pubs in London.

The oldest riverside pub setting in London dating back to the 1520s (500 years young!), the Prospect of Whitby is a traditional British pub with incredible views overlooking the River Thames.

The Prospect of Whitby Wapping London Copyright CK Travels

If possible, try to get a seat in the beer garden out the back of the main bar, as the views are better here than the outside section to the left of the main entrance. The Prospect of Whitby also featured in the closing scenes of the recent Netflix movie the Old Guard starring Charlize Theron.

Due to a fire, the current Prospect of Whitby pub building was actually rebuilt in the 19th century and acts as a nice resting spot if you are walking towards either the city or Canary Wharf.

Serving traditional British food fare like fish and chips, bangers and mash accompanied by a wide selection of draft beers and lagers on tap, this certainly is a welcoming ‘prospect’.

Address: Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall, London E1W 3SH

2. St Katharine Docks

A magnificent marina in the shadow of London’s iconic Tower Bridge, St Katharine’s Dock has numerous waterside restaurants and cafes, all with stunning glimpses of the superyachts assembled around the quay. This is the best way to feel part of the millionaire’s playground at only a fraction of the cost.

St Katharine Docks Wapping, London Copyright CK Travels

From the usual chain restaurants like Honest Burgers and Ping Pong dim sum through to unique oyster bars and the weird and wonderful medieval banquet (no, really!), St Katharine’s is a charming area to spend an afternoon or just walk around the docks and see another side of the capital.

Address: St Katharine Docks Marina, 50 St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1LA

3. Dickens Inn

This former 18th warehouse was never actually ever frequented by Charles Dickens himself, but this doesn’t stop The Dickens Inn in St Katharine’s Dock (Tower Hill) being one of the most popular pubs and Instagrammable places in London.

Dickens Inn Wapping London Copyright CK Travels

Indeed, in peak tourist season, it can be nigh on impossible to get a table outside and there could possibly be a queue outside the door.

It is however one of the prettiest pubs in London (and expensive!), with its cottage style exterior and rows of flowers and hanging baskets adorning the frame – it almost rivals The Churchill Arms in West London for its floral facade.

The views of Marble Quay and the River Thames from the upper levels of The Dickens Inn are pretty special (certain sections are dining only) so if you can bag yourself a coveted outdoor spot, stay for sunset and a gaze longingly at the multi-million pound yachts on display in the dock.

Address: The Dickens Inn, Marble Quay, St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1UH

4. Tobacco Dock

An exhibition and events centre that has played host to various expos and festivals, you know you’ve reached Tobacco Dock when you see the huge ships ‘docked’ out front (in reality, they are permanent features).

A grade I listed building opened in 1812 along Wapping Lane that originally acted as a goods yard and storage depot (mainly for tobacco – hence the name Tobacco Dock).

Tobacco Dock Wapping London Copyright CK Travels

It has seen many uses over the last couple of centuries including a shopping centre in the 1990s and the main filming location for OMD’s Messages pop video in the 1980s.

Now reborn as a bustling events space renowned for its beer festivals (just don’t fall in the nearby Hermitage Basin after!). Tobacco Dock is often closed during the week so best to check their website before you make a special visit.

Tobacco Dock is also known for its annual London Christmas events and Christmas ice skating rink.

Address: Tobacco Dock, Tobacco Quay, Wapping Lane, London, E1W 2SF

5. Skylight Bar

Tobacco Dock’s newest drinking area is Skylight Bar, an alfresco rooftop beer garden located on the 4th floor atop their unused car park. 

This is the perfect spot in Wapping for a sunset drink, and expect to find day beds and garden booths, delicious street food, and three bars serving beer, wine, spirits and cocktails.

Starlight Bar at Tobacco Dock also has croquet lawns also have croquet lawns, Pétanque courts, large screens for big live events, an indoor cinema and Live DJ’s on Saturday’s, whilst during the winter months it is home to igloos and a rooftop ice rink! The bar is open Thursday to Sundays – check out their website for more details and to book a table.

Address: Starlight Bar, Tobacco Dock, London E1W 2SF

6. Wapping Docklands Market 

London’s newest Saturday market opened in April 2021 on a quayside, and is a super little market with a host of artisan food stalls and independent crafts.

We first visited Wapping Docklands Market on their second week of opening and were blown away by the set-up, from the live jazz-band to the waterside coffee van (and the cheese stall looked particularly delicious).

Wapping Docklands Market  Copyright CK Travels

We’ve been back to Wapping Docklands market several times since and it always impresses with new food stalls each time. Whilst the number of stalls isn’t…ahem…Wapping, sorry WHOPPING… the quality of the street food stalls is bar none, and the set-up is sublime.

Head over to the London Docks by Wapping Wall every Saturday 10am – 4pm, just a short walk from the Prospect of Whitby pub.

We rate Wapping Docklands Market as one of the best Saturday markets and best London street food markets.

Address: Wapping Docklands Market, Brussels Wharf, Glamis Road, London E1W 3TD

Wapping Docklands Market  Copyright CK Travels

7. Wilton’s Music Hall

A grade II listed music hall and one of London’s best known live music venues, Wilton’s Music Hall is like stepping back in time, a glorious throwback to the ballroom dances of yesteryear.

Originally built in the 1820s, the hall fell into a state of disrepair over the years but was brought back to live at the start of this century. We’ve visited on a few occasions both to visit some of the events (we once went to a jumble sale in the main dance hall) as well as having drinks in the main bar. Highly recommended.

Address: Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB

Wilton's Music Hall Copyright CK Travels

Wapping Pubs

As well as The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping’s likely most popular pub, there are several other historic bars and riverside drinking spots worth a pint or two:

8. The Town of Ramsgate

Oozing maritime history and decked out like a vessel itself, The Town of Ramsgate has a small but ample riverside beer garden overlooking the River Thames.

There has been an inn of some form or another here since the 14th century and became known as the Town of Ramsgate from 1811. Keep an eye out for the Wapping Old Steps next door.

If you visit the pub on a low tide, you’ll see the stake to which mutinous pirates were tied to, resulting in their drowning as the Thames tide rose. Talk about a hangover with history.

Address: 62 Wapping High Street, London E1W 2PN

9. The Turk’s Head

A gastropub along Wapping’s Green Lane, this traditional tavern is famous for its French bistro and ornate tiled exterior, with a nice beer-garden overlooking the nearby Wapping Gardens and St John’s church yard.

It is also said to be the inn where the condemned prisoners were given their last drink, on their way to the nearby Execution Dock (make it a large one!).

Address: The Turk’s Head, 1 Green Bank, London E1W 2PA

The Turk’s Head pub Wapping London Copyright CK Travels

10. Captain Kidd

Named after a notorious pirate from the 17th century, William Kidd (we Kidd you not – sorry), this traditional British boozer has a large beer garden overlooking the River Thames and nearby Rotherhithe.

A sun spot in the afternoon, the darkened interior is like stepping back in time and is a perfect pub to whilst away an afternoon.

Address: The Captain Kidd 108 Wapping High Street, London E1W 2NE

11. Bread Street Kitchen on The River  – Gordon Ramsay

This pub and restaurant was formerly known as The Narrow and rebranded in 2023 as the ‘Bread Street Kitchen on the River by Gordon Ramsay@ (quite the mouthful – a bit like Gordon really)

This bar/restaurant is located in a Grade II-listed building and has amazing panoramic views of the Thames. Stop by for a drink or artisan British cuisine with rustic Mediterranean accents. Bread Street – because Gordon really needs the dough no doubt.

Address: Bread Street Kitchen on The River  – Gordon Ramsay, 44 Narrow Street, E14 8DP

The Narrow - Gordon Ramsay pub Wapping London Copyright CK Travels

12. Shadwell Basin

Primarily used as an outdoor pursuits and sporting activity centre (check out the canoe polo game we witnessed last time we visited in the accompanying picture), Shadwell Basin is a disused dock with some nice cityscape views of the downtown area and a pleasant place to walk around.

Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre organises courses and clubs for kayaking, dragonboat racing, windsurfing, canoeing, sailing and rowing, as well as climbing and high ropes.

Address: Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre, 3-4 Shadwell Pierhead, Glamis Road, London E1W 3TD

Shadwell Basin watersports Wapping London Copyright CK Travels

13. Wapping Hermitage Basin / The Wapping Knot

The best way to explore the back streets of Wapping is to go along the Hermitage Basin (kind of like canals in Wapping).

Start in the Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden, and walk towards the famous Wapping Knot sculpture by Wendy Ann Taylor, which was installed in the late 1990s as a nod to the area’s maritime history (it is also a great photo opportunity to frame The Shard by London Bridge in the middle of the knot).

Copyright CK Travels

The main passageway here was opened in 1821 to give smaller boats a second route to the main Wapping docks.

From here, you can walk all the way along the Hermitage Basin to Tobacco Docks and then also continue to Wapping Woods (more of a common than an actual forest) – you’ll also see lots of wildlife along here, particularly swans, ducks and coots.

Like walks along the River Thames. Try our Southbank London walk guide >

Copyright CK Travels

14. Wapping beaches / walkways at low tide

During low tides, there are plenty of areas along the banks of the Thames in Wapping that become accessible for walks, although they are quite pebbly so best for dog-walking or a pleasant stroll next to the water rather than sunbathing or setting up shop for the day.

Copyright CK Travels

You’ll also often see people digging away looking for artefacts (‘mudlarkers’) as many incredible historical finds had been both along the banks of the Thames in Wapping (although any significant finds are meant to be reported to the relevant authorities).

One of the best ways to access the shore in Wapping is down the passageway, next to the Prospect of Whitby pub.

15. Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden

One of London’s best parks and a hidden gem, the riverside setting for this park takes in glorious views of the River Thames including Tower Bridge and the Shard and is popular with picnickers and sunbathers in the summer months.

Originally conceived as a memorial park to commemorate the East end victims killed in WWII, there are several sculptures and exhibits to be found in the Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden including a dove installation overlooking the River Thames.

Peaceful and serene, this is a pleasant spot to spend an afternoon and can be a welcome respite if nearby St Katharine’s Dock is too busy.

Address: Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden, Wapping High Street, St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1UJ

16. Wapping St John’s Church Yard

Our final item on our ‘things to do in Wapping’ list. Whilst exploring Wapping High Street, make sure to do a little diversion via St John’s Churchyard (once Wapping’s oldest church built in the 1750s) and see the ornate figurines on the outside of the former church.

Now mainly repurposed as housing, only the shell and tower of St John’s survived bombing during the war.

Address: St John’s Church, Wapping High Street, London E1W 2PL

Wapping St John’s Church Yard

Other things to do near Wapping

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  • Reply
    Kathe Barnett
    August 18, 2022 at 12:22 am

    Thank you for your blog. I will be coming from US (California) for a two-day job at the Champagne Route. Looking for things to do –it will be a whirlwind 5-day trip and I appreciate your comments.

    • Reply
      CK Travels
      August 18, 2022 at 7:37 am

      No worries at all, hope you have a fantastic trip to London and let us know if you need anymore tips!

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