London is a city that can be explored in many ways; one of the most popular options is on foot. Though London’s public transit – the Underground and red double-decker buses – are great for covering longer distances, they often fly past the smaller details and secret gems that you can only discover when walking around.
That’s why I love setting out on long walks in London – I always discover something new. One such thing is the extensive canal system that crisscrosses the city, connecting the Thames and other ancient waterways into an elaborate transportation system all its own. London has many canals – though you’ll certainly not really see them from the Tube or buses!
If you love the idea of exploring London’s canals, there are many great canal walks in London. These are walking paths that follow the various canals in different parts of the city, and offer a great chance to both explore the city and experience a modicum of calm since the fastest moving vehicles are pedal-powered bikes and the occasional canal boat moving up or down the waterway.
Read on to discover all the best spots for canal walks in London, and my own ideal walking route along the best canal in the city. Lace-up your comfortable walking shoes, pick one of these paths, and explore London in an entirely new way.
Where to Take Canal Walks in London
Whether you’re a traveler wanting to enjoy a leisurely stroll down the city’s canals, or a local runner looking for new surroundings for your sessions, read on for the best canal walks in London.
Camden Lock is the perfect setting to enjoy a waterside stroll on a Sunday morning. The neighborhood is home to a picturesque three-mile circular route that follows Regent’s Canal into Regent’s Park.
Start your journey at Camden Road train station, following the waterside path down Regent’s Canal. Along the way, you’ll pass Camden Market. Make a pause to explore the quirky stalls, bargain vintage garments, or grab a coffee at one of the trendy cafés.
Get back on track and continue west of the canal. You’ll soon catch a glimpse of Regent’s Park. As one of London’s best parks, feel free to peep into Regent’s Park and its gorgeous grounds and gardens before returning to Camden Road train station.
Spanning over two miles, The Hackney Canal happens to be the loveliest of canal walks in London. This circular walk takes you along Hertford Union Canal, Regent’s Canal, and Victoria Park.
You’ll start the walk from Hackney Wick train station, just a few minutes from Hertford Union Canal. This waterway borders Victoria Park to the west, providing scenic views of picturesque moored boats and rows of towering trees on the towpath. Eventually, you’ll reach Old Ford, where the Hertford Union Canal meets Regent’s Canal.
On the walk down Regent’s Canal, you’ll pass Old Ford Lock, whose cottages and stables received Grade II status in 1990. You can walk through Victoria Park from Regent’s Canal to return to Hackney Wick train station or continue strolling down Regent’s Canal.
If you’d like to enjoy some solitude, you’ll love a walk or cycle between Limehouse Basin and Victoria Park. The towpath winds along Regent’s Canal and provides a peaceful refuge from London’s hustle and bustle.
The journey starts by Limehouse Station with a walk around Limehouse Basin and its marina. Make sure you face the East to get panoramic views of Canary Wharf in the background. Next, head north along Regent’s Canal. The Canal winds up past Mile End Park and Victoria Park before finally reaching the junction with the Hertford Union Canal. As with most canalside walks, there are multiple ways to finish the Limehouse Basin walk. You can finish your stroll exploring one of the parks or continue west to Islington if you’re feeling adventurous.
There’s no shortage of beautiful canal walks in London, but nothing compares to the walk between Little Venice and Camden along Regent’s Canal.
With its quirky waterside cafes and charming restaurants, Little Venice is an oasis amidst London’s chaos. This canal-side walk starts where the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent’s Canal.
From here, you just have to follow the Regent’s Canal northeast, passing Maida Hill Tunnel and Lisson Grove Tunnel. It’s an excellent opportunity to visit Abbey Road and replicate the Beatle’s famous Album Cover photo.
After a few photos, rejoin the canal route and continue past Regent’s Park. The walk ends in Camden Lock, where you can visit the famous Camden Market.
Mile End to Victoria Park
Short and sweet, the Mile End and Victoria Park walk is only 0.9 miles long. Yet, it’s full of lovely sights and fun activities.
You’ll have to cross the south side of Mile End Park to reach the towpath that leads to Victoria Park. From there, the journey is as direct as it gets. You just follow the Regent’s Canal, which runs alongside Mile End Park.
On your way to Victoria Park, you can take a little detour to Revolution Karting for some extra fun. Outdoor lovers can stop by Mile End Climbing Wall and enjoy a climbing session.
You’re about to read about London’s most beloved and popular walk, the Regent’s Canal walk! The charming walk spans nine lovely miles, starting in Little Venice and finishing in Limehouse Basin, where it meets the Thames.
The Regent’s Canal walk is one of the best ways to explore the city as it winds through London’s best areas, passing by Regent’s Park, Camden Lock, and Islington. On average, the walk lasts about three hours. Don’t let the walk’s length deter you from doing it. You can easily manage the 9 miles with a good pair of shoes and a few stops along the way.
St. Katharine’s Docks
The world that exists along the St. Katharine’s Docks is worth exploring, no matter the weather or occasion. The best part of St. Katharine’s Docks canal walk is getting the best of both worlds: the busy city and a little escape at the docks.
You’ll find the picturesque docks on the north bank of the Thames, just around the corner from Tower Bridge. Today, St. Katharine’s Docks is central London’s only marina. You can expect to see tons of WWII restored boats and luxurious yachts, as well as the Queen’s royal rowbarge, Gloriana.
After your stroll, explore the waterside. There are many coffee shops and restaurants to visit and spend time with good company.
The Limehouse Cut
Get off the beaten path and explore the stretch from the Limehouse Cut to Olympic Park, one of the best London canal walks, to discover the hidden gems of East London.
You’ll kick off the walk at Limehouse Basin, home to a beautiful marina with vessels of all shapes and sizes. Next, take the Limehouse Cut, nothing less than London’s oldest canal, and follow the towpath up North toward the River Lea. Walk a few more steps, and you’ll find the Olympic Park, which is well worth exploring if you have the energy.
The journey takes around two hours and is full of delightful sights. The Limehouse Cut towpath passes under historic roads and railways and is a home to wildlife, including swans, ducks, and geese.
The Paddington Arm
Arguably one of London’s best-kept secrets, The Paddington Arm is a charming 13.6-mile walk. (I didn’t say it was a short walk!)
There are two ways to approach this walk in terms of the path you’ll follow. Let’s start with the most popular one. Start at Paddington Railway Station and find the Paddington Arm towpath. Then, turn left along the towpath to reach the Regents Canal Junction and Little Venice. Head onwards until you reach the Paddington Arm’s end at Bull’s Bridge, around 13 miles away. This route takes you through the heart of West London. The area is heaving with pubs, so you can do a bit of pub-hopping should you need liquid refreshment.
The second route is more off the beaten path. It starts the same way. The only difference is that you’ll turn right along the towpath to reach Paddington Basin. Continue walking south, and you’ll find plenty of waterfront eating and drinking options.
The Best Canal Walk in London: Regent’s Canal
While there are “established” canal walks in London, there’s always room for you to mix paths and create your route. I’ve come up with my self-guided canal walk in London, which takes you from Little Venice to the London Canal Museum; this isn’t one of the London museums I usually recommend, but if you love canal walking so much that you’ve read this whole post, it’s a must-visit for you!
This optimal London canal walk is a bit long, so don your comfiest shoes and set out early on a nice sunny day.
- Start: Little Venice – Your little adventure starts in Little Venice, whose quirky boats and trendy pubs charm whoever explores the area. Feel free to wander around as Little Venice is full of lovely hidden nooks. After exploring, head east on the Regent’s Canal towpath, parallel to Blomfield Road.
- Next: Round Regent’s Park – After many bridges, skinny alleys, and stairs, you’ll find yourself in Regent’s park. You can take a detour to climb up Primrose Hill or sit down on a bench and watch people go by before continuing the journey.
- Next: Camden Locks – Back on the canal path, you’ll soon notice Regent’s Park turns into Camden. This stretch of the canal is full of stunning architecture. You’ll pass the house that belonged to post-war British artist William Roberts and a row of modernist townhouses that Sir Nicholas Grimshaw built in 1988.
- Next: King’s Cross – Your next stop is King’s Cross. You’ll perceive how the atmosphere turns livelier as you walk this stretch. King’s Cross is one of London’s major rail hubs and has undergone an impressive redevelopment.
- End: London Canal Museum – You’ll finish the lovely stroll before the path turns into Islington. The London Canal Museum sits on Battlebridge Basin, a bridge away from the Regent’s Canal towpath.
There you have it: the best places for canal walks in London as well as my own recommended canal walking route to connect some of the best parts of London’s canal system. Have any questions about these canal walks or which ones to take during your London trip? Let me know in the comments, or join the conversation in my London Travel Tips Facebook community.