I love London and I have been there on short trips at least 30 times and I enjoy coming back both for shopping and sightseeing almost every year. I am looking for something new to explore on each of my trips and on my last one it was South East London with Docklands. It was my first time using the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), an automated light metro system opened in 1987 to serve the redeveloped Docklands area of East London. The system uses minimal staffing on trains and stations and it has no drivers on their trains. So here is my selection of things to do near some DLR stations for you to enjoy:
1) Visit St Bartholomew the Great, the oldest church in London
15 minutes on foot from Bank DLR station
One of the few remaining Norman churches in London St Bartholomew-the-Great began in the 12th century as the chancel of a monastery on this spot.
St Bartholomew the Great is the oldest church in London.There are very few historic sites in London where the early medieval period has been so beautifully preserved as St Bartholomew the Great. The interior with the flowing symmetry offers one of the most attractive historic sites in the city. Great St Bart’s has been used as a setting for quite a large number of films and television productions from Kevin Costner's Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, to Shakespeare in Love, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Snow White and Huntsman, to name just a few. If you remember the movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral, you might recognise this as the location of the fourth wedding! Lunchtime Concerts at St Bartholomew the Great are held on Thursdays at 1.05 pm. Admission to concerts is Free.
When visiting the area notice also St Bartholomew the Less, founded in 1123 as Chapel of the Holy Cross and moved to its present site inside the hospital gates in 1184. It was called the Less to distinguish it from its larger neighbour. St Bartholomew-the-Great. Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, byname Bart's or Saint Bart's, is also nearby and is the oldest hospital in London. It was founded in 1123 by the Augustinian monk Rahere.
2) Take look at Golden boy statue
15 minutes on foot from Bank DLR station
One of the most famous disasters in London’s history, the Great Fire of 1666 devastated the heart of England’s capital, destroying more than 13,000 houses and badly damaging landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Exchange. The story goes that the Great Fire of London stopped on the corner of Giltspur Street and Cock Lane. It is where The Golden Boy of Pye Corner monument is located. The figure is of oak and from the late 17th century. It bears the following inscription: This Boy is in Memory Put up for the late FIRE of LONDON Occasion’d by the Sin of Gluttony. The statue was originally built into the front of a public house called The Fortune of War which used to occupy this site but was demolished in 1910.
3) Walk the Leadenhall Market
5 minutes on foot from Bank DLR station
If you want a truly different experience when indulging in a bit of retail therapy then there is no better place than Leadenhall Market. It is one of London’s hidden gems, a restored Victorian market, beautifully decorated. Under the elegant Victorian roof, there are stalls selling flowers, cheese, meat and other fresh food. There are also shops, pubs and restaurants in the market building. The current wrought iron and glass building was designed in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones. Close to the Lloyd's of London building and the Bank of England, it's a popular place for city workers on lunch break so the best time to visit is early lunchtime as it gets very busy by 1 pm. It's open Monday to Friday from 11 am to 4 pm and is found in Whittington Avenue, off Gracechurch Street. Leadenhall is not only a scenic marketplace which makes for a lovely stroll around; it also sells some of the finest food in London. Public areas of the market building are generally open 24 hours a day. Core trading hours are 10am—5pm Monday to Friday. If you are looking to pick up some produce then fear not as the market still has a range of stalls selling flowers, cheese, meat and other fresh food. By the way, Diagon Alley scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were filmed in Leadenhall Market.
4) Admire the views of London from Sky garden
5 minutes on foot from Bank DLR station
Sky garden is the capital’s highest public garden. It is located on the top of the building officially known as 20 Fenchurch Street. The distinctive shape of the building, which is larger at the top than at the bottom, has led to the nickname ‘Walkie Talkie.’ To your knowledge, Walkie Talkie has been voted the most hated building in Britain in 2015.From the top of the 38-story building, you can enjoy stunning 360-degree views across London. You will need to book free tickets ahead. No surprise tickets sell out quickly. Tickets go live on Mondays. The free-visitor walk-in spaces are reserved between 10.00am- 11.30am and 14.00pm-16.30pm Monday-Friday.Sky Garden is spreading across three floors, offering gorgeous views of London. Some think the word ‘garden’ is somewhat generous when used to describe this part of the building. However, the plants and trees that are on display here are lovely and give a somewhat surreal feeling while standing so high up above the ground. A restaurant and a cafe are also located on the top floor, so you can enjoy a drink and some food with a spectacular background. Obviously, it costs a bit to drink and dine at the venue.By the way, the Sky Garden at Fenchurch 20 ranks #22 of Things to Do in London on TripAdvisor.
5) Visit Museum of London Docklands
5 minutes from West India Quay DLR station
The Museum of London Docklands isn’t on the usual tourist path but it’s well worth visiting. It is located in the old Georgian warehouses built 200 years ago to store sugar, coffee and rum. You will find it on the north wharf of West India Docks. The museum focuses on the history of London’s river, port and people and starts its story during Roman times. As you walk through its three floors of history, the journey follows a chronological narrative of London's river, port and people from the arrival of the Romans to the construction of Canary Wharf through to the most recent redevelopment of the Docklands. Its many galleries feature fun hands-on displays mostly targeted to children. Thousands of objects and pictures trace the area's history. The museum features 12 galleries, with such exhibits as “Docklands at War”, “Warehouse of the World” and “London Sugar & Slavery”. It also includes a series of life sized, walkthrough replicas of how the docks used to look, feel and smell. The Museum of London Docklands is free!
6) Discover Emirates Airline cable car
5 minutes from Royal Victoria DLR station
The Emirates Air Line is a cable car crossing the River Thames in Greenwich, and the 1 kilometre long journey gives passengers spectacular views of London from a height of up to 90m (295ft). Opened in June 2012, this ten-minute gondola ride (also known as the Thames cable car) will show you a different London. You will travel between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. You will enjoy the incredible views of the Thames Barrier, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the impressive Olympic Park. At the end of the ride, the cable car touches down south of the River Thames in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.You don’t need to queue for tickets, as you can use your London Oyster card. London Oyster Card users also get a discount on their Emirates Air Line flight, using just £3.50 of their Oyster credit compared to the £4.50 cash fare. All cabins are wheelchair accessible.
7) Visit O2 entertainment venue
5 minutes from the Emirates Cable car Greenwich Peninsula station
Formerly known as the Millennium Dome and constructed as a celebration of the year 2000 now the O2 is the world’s most popular music and entertainment venue. It is home to many of world-class experiences and attractions, all in an iconic setting. Today, the massive dome-shaped structure incorporates a music club indigO2, the world's busiest concert hall, the O2 Arena, 11 movie screens, exhibition space called the O2 bubble, cafés and restaurants, as well as excellent views of Greenwich and both banks of the Thames. The best views are from the Up at The O2 attraction, a thrilling 190 metres (624 foot) walkway stretching across the building's roof and with a spectacular viewing platform halfway along.By the way Up at the O2 is #19 of 1,763 things to do in London according to TripAdvisor.
Where to stay when visiting South East London?
I would suggest London Marriott Hotel West India Quay, especially if you are traveling at the weekend when its value for money is one of the best in London. This contemporary five-star hotel is located in a stunning landmark development in London's Canary Wharf. Its proximity to the O2 and Greenwich makes it a perfect spot for visiting this side of London. It’s also quite close to central London so you can enjoy both. The hotel has 301 rooms arranged over 8 floors. Impeccably designed and ideally situated, the hotel provides a perfect setting for leisure travel.Have you been to South East London? Share your impressions in the comments section!
Author: Anita Sāne
About the author
Anita is a part-time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman from Latvia, traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner planning and executing her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her also on Instagram and Pinterest.