Enjoy a sunny day with these pubs, cafés and restaurants by London’s canals.
Although the Thames has its fair share of waterside dining spots, there tons of pretty places to eat and drink on London’s alternative waterways. We followed Regents Canal from Paddington in the west to Limehouse in the east (with a quick detour along the Grand Union Canal in Little Venice) to find the best towpath pubs and cafés – and also found you a few great locations on the Lee River Navigation in east London.
1) Pocket Park, Paddington
Is it a bar? OK, no. But let’s start with this peaceful floating park in Paddington basin – you can always grab some tinnies from the Tesco next door, eh?
2) Kupp, Paddington
Stop off at Kupp for light Scandinavian bites and a tipple. 5 Merchant Square, W2 1AS.
3) London Shell Co, Paddington
This brilliant barge-based restaurant offers fine seafood based dining, sometimes moored up in Paddington Basin, and sometimes while you chug along the canal itself.
Tip: you can also hire your own GoBoat in Paddington Central.
4) Darcie and May Green, Paddington
These two boats, designed by legendary pop artist Peter Blake, offer healthy cooking from Beany Green chain, and also a wicked bottomless brunch. More information here.
5) Sheldon Square
A gathering of chain restaurants along the canalside including Beany Green, Smith Bar & Grill, and Zizzi.
6) The Waterside Café, Little Venice
A floating café on the Little Venice junction serves up tea, cake and the like. It’s just off Warwick Crescent.
Now for a quick detour…
We’ll mostly be following the Regents Canal east, but first, you can wander up Grand Union Canal for a couple more choice spots.
7) Summerhouse, Little Venice
A super seafood restaurant that couldn’t be any closer to the water if it tried. Mains about £20. 60 Blomfield Rd, London W9 2PA.
8) The Waterway, Little Venice
All-day dining with plenty of dishes from the grill. 54 Formosa Street, W9 2JU.
Now pull a U and rejoin Regents Canal, heading east towards Camden, and you’ll find…
9) Café Laville
This peachy Italian café sits directly OVER the canal, allowing you to wave at boaters travelling beneath, and enjoy views down one of the most picturesque spots in Little Venice. 453 Edgware Rd, W2 1TH.
10) Feng Shang Princess, Camden
This striking, floating Chinese restaurant on the edge of Regents Park has mixed reviews on TripAdvisor… but on the other hand, just look at it! Southern Star Cumberland Basin, Prince Albert Rd NW1 7SS.
11) KERB, Camden Lock
You’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice at this 34-trader street food market, situated on the banks of Camden Lock. (It gets pretty busy, so you might have to engage in some vertical eating.) We’d go for the halloumi fries.
12) Ice Wharf, Camden Lock
Alternatively, pop over a pretty pedestrian bridge for a pint at one of London’s most pleasingly-situated Wetherspoons. Ah, good old ‘spoons.
13) Constitution Pub, Camden Lock
A classic Camden boozer with graffiti on the walls, raucous live music in the cellar, and yes, a waterside beer garden. 42 St Pancras Way, NW1 0QT.
14) The Lighterman, King’s Cross
Just past Granary Square, the modern Lighterman offers food and drink by Regents Canal, all day, every day. 3 Granary Square, Kings Cross, N1C 4BH.
15) Rotunda, Kings Cross
The astroturf might be fake, but the canalside views certainly aren’t. Enjoy seasonal British cooking, or just a few pints, on their lovely terrace. 90 York Way, N1 9AG.
16) Canal No. 5, Angel
The punniest canalside café in our list, Canal No. 5 delivers tasty, healthy plates and great coffee on a handful of lockside chairs and tables.
17) The Narrowboat, Angel
I’m not sure it can really be ‘the one and only pub situated directly on Regent’s Canal in Islington’, but it’s undoubtedly very pretty on a sunny day, serving up quality pub food all day, along with pints a’plenty. 119 St. Peter’s Street, N1 8Pz.
18) The Commissary, Angel
This bar and kitchen in Hoxton offers lunch, dinner and all-day refreshments, which can all be enjoyed on a big, decked waterside terrace (although sometimes you’re right next to a barge. So it goes.) 49-50 Eagle Wharf Rd, Hoxton, N1 7ED.
19) Towpath Café, Islington
This very compact but excellent café delivers exemplary seasonal cooking during the warmer months of the year. The menu constantly changes: dishes on a recent variation included Napoli sausage ragu, roast squash and chickpea, braised cavalo nero, purple broccoli, anchovy and soft boiled eggs. 42 De Beauvoir Cres, N1 5SB.
20) Barge House, Islington
Just along from the Towpath Café (and also much larger), the Barge House maximises its canalside virtues with floor-to-ceiling windows. The House’s most famous dish is its weekends-only ‘Breakfast in Bread’ – a hollowed-out sourdough loaf packed with Full English goodness. Book in here. 46a De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5RY.
21) Arepa & Co, Haggerston
Just along the way, Arepa & Co specialises in Venezuelan cooking. Ingredients like shredded beef, avocado, and black beans will mean any burrito fan should feel right at home with this menu; but cornbread, plantains and cassava add a new twist. They all come together in SERIOUS sarnies called arepas. 58a de Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5SB.
22) Waterhouse, Haggerston
This canalside restaurant is actually operated by a charity, offering disadvantaged youths in the borough an opportunity to master some culinary arts. And they’re obviously getting some crackerjack tuition, as the food on offer is generally pretty swell. 10 Orsman Rd, Shoreditch, N1 5QJ.
23) Proud East, Haggerston
Part of the Proud family of venues, head here for all-day drinks, decent dining and a few rounds of pool. DJs provide the tunes on the canalside terrace in the summer months. 2-10 Hertford Rd, London N1 5ET.
24) Ombra, Cambridge Heath
There are Venetian-inspired dishes and drinks at Ombra – and, we’re told, fizzy wine on tap. 1 Vyner St, E2 9DG.
25) The Palm Tree, Mile End
Rumours of the Palm Tree’s death have been greatly exaggerated; this singular East End pub (lots of character; highly prone to alienating customers) remains very much open for business. 127 Grove Road, E3 5BH.
26) Kilikya, Mile End
The penultimate stop on our epic Regents Canal walk, this Turkish restaurant faces onto the canal and Mile End park beyond. 44A Palmers Rd, Mile End, London E2 0TA.
27) The Narrow, Limehouse
Finally, The Narrow sits where Regents Canal (well, Limehouse Marina) meets the Thames, making it our only canalside AND riverside pub. Panoramic views and fine pub food (from Gordon Ramsay’s team) await. 44 Narrow St, E14 8DP.
28) Crate Brewery, Hackney
Take a table by the water with the beer boffins at CRATE Brewery. You can also catch the Alfred Le Roy barge here, and take a booze cruise up the River Lee Navigation.
29) Number 90 Bar & Restaurant, Hackney
A fun, fuss-free east London bar with a full food menu, roasts on the weekend and, you guessed it, a canalside terrace. 90 Wallis Rd, E9 5LN.
30) The Princess of Wales, Clapton
One of Hackney’s best pubs, the Princess of the people offers all-week dining, brunches, and Sunday roasts. 146 Lea Bridge Road, E5 9RB.