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6 ways to get to Canary Wharf

canary wharf transport links showing plane landing at london city airport canary wharf background

How to get to Canary Wharf

London City Airport < 20 minutes

6 Canary Wharf transport links

When Canary Wharf began its development in the 1980s, the Isle of Dogs was renowned for being very inaccessible, especially via public transport!

Fortunately a lot has changed over the last 40 years! There have been major improvements in transport links to Canary Wharf, and an almost complete overhaul of the public transport system in this part of London.

The 277 bus was the only form of public transport in the 1980s. It could take as little as 15 minutes or three times as long to get to my Saturday jobs in Poplar because of the way the bridge system played havoc on the roads.

Jane Martinson – The Guardian

Canary Wharf‘s transport links have gone from being virtually none existent — somewhere only really accessible by car — to having some of the most diverse public transport options in London! The Canary Wharf Group estimate that 95% of workers now arrive via public transport.

With London having an expanded congestion charge zones, heavy traffic, a variety of traffic cameras mean sometimes its best to avoid driving to Canary Wharf.

This article looks at all the public transport links to Canary Wharf.

1. On a boat — Thames Clippers

Canary Wharf Pier

Canary Wharf is served well by the Thames Clipper network in combination with UBER — sometimes known as the River Bus, or the UBER Boat. Two stations serve the peninsula:

  • Canary Wharf pier – at the northwestern tip of the peninsula
  • Masthouse Terrace pier – towards the southern point of the Isle of Dogs,

With Canary Wharf towards the western end of the route map, the service can be only taken eastbound a short way until Woolwich. However journeys westbound run through the entirety of central London, past Battersea Power Station, and onwards until Putney on weekdays.

Thames clippers timetable can be found here, but on weekdays they run as frequently as every 7 minutes in peak hours.

While not directly operated by TFL, Thames Clipper payments are exactly the same. You can use physical tickets, or an Oyster card or contactless payment to tap in and out. With a recent partnership with UBER, you can pay and view timetables via the UBER app.

Great for – Avoiding the Tube and taking a leisurely route into central London via Waterloo on a weekend.

2. On a driverless train — DLR

DLR Station arches at Canary Wharf

For a comprehensive look at using the DLR in Canary Wharf check out our guide to Canary Wharf’s DLR station

How the DLR to Canary Wharf has improved

The Docklands Light Railway was first opened to address the inaccessibility of the docklands area in 1987.

It only had two routes, linking from east to west between Stratford and Tower Gateway, and north-south from Canary Wharf to Island Gardens at the southernmost tip of the Isle of Dogs. In total there were 15 stops on the network and only single carriage trains running.

After several track extensions and multiple improvements in the following 30+ years the DLR now runs all the way between Bank at the heart of the City of London, to Stratford International. The latter becoming another area of major redevelopment with Westfields Stratford shopping centre and the London Olympic park.

The north-south route has also benefited from upgrades. The DLR now continues past Island Gardens under the Thames, and you can take the DLR southbound via Greenwich all the way to Lewisham.

As of 2021, trains are up to 3 carriages long and there are 3 times the number of total stops (45). It is now the busiest Light Railway in the U.K with 400,000 journeys made every weekday!

Great for – A fast and frequent way to access the City of London, with journeys to Bank running every 5 minutes.

3. On the Tube — Jubilee Line

canary wharf tube station
The main entrance to Canary Wharf tube station

On the Jubilee line, Canary Wharf station has always been well connected for getting to london bridge (6 minutes) and Green park (13 minutes).

Canary Wharf is currently located in Zone 2, although it is up for review!

Central London is both quick, but also affordable, so it’s no surprise transport data shows the Jubilee line is the most popular way people get to Canary Wharf. Up to date timetables alongside pricing can be found on the TFL website.

Late night connections improved significantly in late 2016 when the Night Tube was introduced. The Jubilee line was the third line to be upgraded to running throughout the night, shortly following the Central and Victoria lines.

Canary Wharf now benefits from 24 hour tube services on Fridays and Saturdays:

  • Canary Wharf has one of the most frequent night tube services of the entire night tube network
  • 6 trains per hour run between 1am and 5am
  • This ensures there are services every 10 minutes between the first tube Friday morning until the last service Sunday evening!

Great for – Enjoying a night out without worrying about the last train home!

4. By Plane — London City Airport

london city airport canary wharf
BA Cityfler landing at London City Airport

Ok, so this doesn’t take you exactly to canary wharf itself, but if you are arriving from abroad, London City Airport is less than 20 minutes away on public transport.

How to get to Canary Wharf from London City Airport (<20 mins)

The DLR railway towards Canning Town takes 7 minutes. From here, one change onto the Jubilee line enables you to take the tube to Canary Wharf station, at two stops (4 minutes).

London City airport opened at the end of 1987, and has since undergone several major redevelopments:

  • The runway has been lengthened
  • Transport links were improved with the addition of a DLR station in 2005
  • Popularity and available destinations have steadily increased

The airport has expanded from transporting 230,000 passengers a year in 1990, to over 5 million in 2019. London City Airport currently serves 45 destinations.

Great for – A weekend getaway without the train journey time, or the hassle, of Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

5. On Foot – Greenwich Foot Tunnel

greenwich foot tunnel canary wharf background
Southern Entrance to Greenwich foot tunnel

While the Isle of Dogs peninsula may be cut off from Greenwich by the Thames, there is a foot tunnel linking the Cutty Sark at Greenwich to the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs at Island Gardens. The historic foot tunnel was originally built back in 1902!

It was commissioned by the London county council of the time, as residents and shipyard workers needed a reliable way to access the dockyards, without relying on the ferry — previously the only way to cross the Thames for several miles.

Completely refurbished in 2012, with new lifts at either end and upgraded lighting and CCTV, the Greenwich foot tunnel now has an estimated 1.2 million people pass through it each year.

Great for – Taking a leisurely stroll back through the tunnel from Greenwich having explored the observatory, Royal Park, and Greenwich’s traditional weekend market.

6. By London Bus – TFL

bus stop photo canary wharf
Canada Square bus stop Canary Wharf

While there has been huge development at Canary Wharf in recent years — and the introduction of the first solar powered bus stop in the UK — some things stay exactly the same!

The 277 bus, once referenced as “the only way to access the isle of dogs in the 1980s” is still running in 2020 — albeit with an extended route and more frequent timetable.

There are 6 London bus routes in total that transit the Isle of Dogs. Of these Canary Wharf benefits from both the 277 and the N550 running throughout the night, so is accessible 24 hours a day.

Up to date information on timetables and fares can be found on the Transport for London journey planner, but here is the latest Canary Wharf bus route map.

Great For – Late night weekday journeys into and out of central London. Especially while the night tube only runs on Fridays and Saturdays

Summary — Future transport connections

canary wharf crossrail station
Canary wharf Crossrail station

There are currently an abundance of Canary Wharf transport options.

However, transport options are only set to improve in the coming years, with extensions to the DLR continuing to be evaluated.

Alongside this, there is the opening of another rail station entirely, Crossrail Place. The Crossrail station opened to restaurants and leisure facilities in 2015, but the expected date for trains to begin running has been pushed back until 2022.

Crossrail will provide an even faster east west connection across the city. It is aimed to be able to travel as far west as Heathrow Airport in 39 minutes from Canary Wharf. This completely new line will massively improve train connections to Canary Wharf, and alleviate pressure on the often crowded Jubilee line station.

Over the last 30+ years, the development of transport connections to Canary Wharf has been staggering, and this looks set to continue.