What to do in Little Venice London: An Alternative London Guide

on November 8, 2017

What to do in Little Venice London is a good question, but the first question for most people is probably what IS Little Venice London? It took me years of living in England before I’d ever heard of Little Venice, and when I finally did I couldn’t believe that this unique area existed and me, a travel blogger, London lover, and frequenter of the city countless times, had never happened upon it! I suppose that is partly the magic of London: It is so vast and fascinating, that you can spend hours – a lifetime – exploring it and you’ll still happen upon new places to fall in love with.

When my parents and I booked our stay in London before my graduation, we made sure to do it in the Little Venice/Maida Vale area – it was a good location for us as it is close to Paddington station and ideal for both transport from the airport/trains to Plymouth, and… exploring Little Venice!

London's hidden gem Little Venice is rising on the tourist radar. If you're curious what to do in Little Venice London, then read on for my guide!

So what is Little Venice? Little Venice is a scenic and calm canal area near (slightly North of) Paddington, but not quite in the centre of London. It was named by the poet Robert Browning, as “Little Venice” was his pet name for the area that he lived in, overlooking the canals (most good things can be related back to poets ;P). Actual Little Venice is at the intersection of Grand Union and Regent’s canals, but any time spent exploring Little Venice should also be spent walking up each canal respectively, extending into the Maida Vale neighborhood (you can see my walking map at the bottom of this post!).

What to do in Little Venice London? Well, this was my first question when we decided to devote our day to the area. The tourist boards and websites tend to recommend Jason’s Trip which is a canal boat cruise from Little Venice to Camden Locks, which we didn’t go on because we wanted to spend more time actually in Little Venice. With the only real recommended advice on what to do in Little Venice London being, well, leave it, we decided to take the question into our own hands and answer it! So if you are wondering what to do in Little Venice London… here are some of my tips!

 

London's hidden gem Little Venice is rising on the tourist radar. If you're curious what to do in Little Venice London, then read on for my guide!

Enjoy a Bespoke 1930’s Cruise on “The Great Gatsby”

Strolling along the main intersection in Little Venice, we found this 1930s style punting boat named, in boxy navy letting, “The Great Gatsby.” Well, obviously I had to investigate what that was all about. It turns out that this punt actually is from the 1930s, and you can enjoy 90 minute breakfast and lunch cruises with Laurent Perrier champagne, as you gaze at the banks of the Thames or the smaller canals. Seems truly decadent and off piste, Daisy would surely be proud 😉 

You can book your Great Gatsby cruise here, starting from £36.

London's hidden gem Little Venice is rising on the tourist radar. If you're curious what to do in Little Venice London, then read on for my guide!

Ride in a Gondola

Little Venice may not be teeming with mustachio’d gondoliers the way “Big” Venice is, but if you’re lucky you’ll still happen across the one resident gondolier! There is a surprising lack of an internet presence for the gondola tours, I guess gondoliers like to maintain their mystery? But if you make your way to Little Venice, you’ll find the gondola moored at the main intersection of Regent’s and Grand Union canals.

London's hidden gem Little Venice is rising on the tourist radar. If you're curious what to do in Little Venice London, then read on for my guide!



Eat in a Houseboat

There are some good restaurants surrounding Little Venice, but can anything compare to eating in an actual boat? Nope. The Waterside Cafe is in a gorgeous purple longboat moored in the main intersection of Regent’s and Grand Union canals. There is seating indoors as well as al fresco right on the canal bank. It was a perfect and unassuming spot, which would be teeming with tourists if it were along the Thames, but tucked away in Little Venice it was quiet and felt like such a wonderful find.

Also – I have to mention that they had both gluten free bread and a few gluten free cake options, so really, how could I not recommend the Waterside Cafe?!

 

Sleep in a Houseboat

Okay, and while you’re at it eating in a houseboat, you should probably sleep in one too 😉 To sleep in a houseboat in London is truly my dream, and there is no better place to do so than Little Venice! We didn’t book far enough ahead of time to do so on this trip (and instead stayed in a gorgeous PlumGuide property in Maida Vale just a short walk away), but there are lots of options for next time! Here are my top picks for staying in a houseboat in Little Venice London:

 

London's hidden gem Little Venice is rising on the tourist radar. If you're curious what to do in Little Venice London, then read on for my guide!

Photo credit: The Plum Guide




Have a Wander Through Meanwhile Gardens

Meanwhile Gardens is a beautiful, sprawling community garden that seems out of place in the concrete jungle that is London! It’s about a 20 minute walk East along the canal from the main Little Venice intersection, but well worth the stroll and peering in at the houseboats along the way. The garden itself is wild around the edges, as all good community gardens should be. It even has a special section designated as the “Morocco Garden” which brought me back to our time in Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech.

Explore with Camera in Hand

Which brings me to the final, and most important, answer to what to do in Little Venice London… wander. We loved walking along the canal banks, peering into the longboats moored along the banks, admiring the tiny details: a black cat lazing on a sunny roof, a row of cherry tomatoes lined up along a boat windowsill, mosaic walls or street art fading into the lapping canal below. Just make sure you have your camera with you because not everyone will believe these photos came from London!

 

Little Venice is a gem… in fact, I might actually prefer it to “Big” Venice, at least in terms of being less crowded. If you’re headed to London – please pay it a visit! And sooner rather than later… don’t wait as long as I did to explore it.

I’m curious, especially to my London-loving readers, has anyone else been to Little Venice?

Sarah xx

Pin it for later…

London's hidden gem Little Venice is rising on the tourist radar. If you're curious what to do in Little Venice London, then read on for my guide!




**I am linking up with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This, and Marcella of What a Wonderful World for Wanderful Wednesday.

  • How gorgeous! I can’t believe I lived in London most of my life and had never even heard of Little Venice, let alone visited it and look how it’s such a pretty spot. I could just see myself on a lunch cruise with a glass of bubbly watching London pass me by! Glorious!

    • It’s crazy isn’t it? But that’s just London for ya! I was really shocked though that I’d never even just happened upon it before, but it’s just slightly north of Paddington whereas I guess I usually don’t walk that way!

  • Omgosh, I love this! From staying in a house boat, to have lunch on a house boat to riding on a house boat haha Pinned! #WanderfulWednesday

  • Lisa

    Wow, I loooove London and I’ve been there so many time s but I’ve never heard of Little Venice! The pictures look so beautiful! Definitely gotta go there on my next visit. #wanderfulwednesday

    • It’s so weird because it’s such a beautiful place, I’m not sure how it’s managed to stay so hidden!

  • I love the variety canals of London! I can’t wait to take a walk along them at Christmas!
    As for Little Venice, I went once and clearly went to the wrong place, as I didn’t see all of this! So, from a Londoner: thank you for sharing! And this makes me even more excited to be home soon!!

    • How exciting you’re coming home soon, I hope you get to do all your favorite things!! And explore Little Venice if you have time 😛

    • Marcella, can you recommend some central or easy-to-reach canals that will be Christmas-y? My parents are going to London on their honeymoon at the beginning of December. I’ve heard there’s going to be a freeze the week that they’re there, but I’m hoping they’re able to get out and see some sights anyway.

  • I haven’t visited Little Venice in London, but I’ve visited Venice canals in LA which is equally charming! I guess all neighborhoods that are build near canals are pretty! #wanderfulwednesday

    • Ooh I have been to LA before but we didn’t do that… anything named after Venice is pretty good in my books though lol

  • Addie Gray

    Ugh, I’m killing myself that I can’t see you pictures because of my terrible internet right now. The boat trip I took from Little Venice to the London Zoo was one of the best things I did while I was living in London – now I only wish I had spent more time actually IN Little Venice!

    • Ahhh noooo, well return another day, or at least watch my insta because I’ll probably post a few photos there too haha.

  • With so many London travel bloggers I follow, I would have expected to hear about this area before. But no! It is the first time I bump into it! Not sure why because it is gorgeous. This is a place I would visit. It is like you are in another country (not in England). #WanderfulWednesday

    • Maybe it is some unwritten rule to keep Little Venice a secret and I’ve broken it haha… in any case, I don’t think it’s going to be run over by tourists any time soon because it’s not right in the centre, but I definitely recommend a visit!

  • I would love to sleep on a houseboat one day!! I thought you could only do this in Amsterdam but London looks like a great alternative! I’ll put that on my big London bucket list!

  • I love Little Venice – so SO pretty. I always wander along imagining which of the houseboats I would choose for my own 🙂 I love how it looks different but beautiful in every season, too!

    • It’s gorgeous – I felt very at home in it, it’s definitely my kind of neighborhood! I really want to go back some time in Autumn to see all the leaves changing color 🙂

  • Kate Korte

    Great article! I wish I’d gone here in London.

  • Whaaat!! I just came back from London (my 4th trip, so I thought I “knew” it quite well) but I can honestly say this is a spot I’ve neeeever heard of. Usually when I see the term hidden gem, I’m like ‘Try me’, but this one is for real. Can’t wait to see it the next time I come… and your accommodations btw were the CUTEST ever. This all looks so charming and wonderful!

    • London is so tricky – it’s really unlike any other place I’ve been to in that no matter how much time you spend in London there’s STILL some place you’ve never heard of. I hope you get a chance to visit Little Venice on trip #5!!

  • Little Venice has always been one of my favourite parts of London! It’s so cute and if you actually move beyond Camden it’s not that crowded. I loved the shots of the houseboat 🙂 makes me want to go for a stroll on the canal.

  • FullSuitcase

    I heard about this beautiful area several times, yet we never seem to have enough time to actually visit it when in London. Maybe one day! It looks like it’s a perfect mix of Amsterdam, Venice, and London in one.

    • Exactly!! I think I first heard about it almost a year ago, but for some reason it’s taken me this long to actually visit Little Venice – I’ll be back sooner next time! And you’re totally right – well, I’m on my way to Amsterdam for the first ever time now so I can only hope it’s similar to Little Venice!

  • I’ve only been there once but it was raining so I wasn’t able to explore much of it. Looked lovely though. 🙂

  • Michelle Chumbley

    I didn’t know about this area. Thanks for sharing! It would be so fun to sleep in one of those house boats. We’ll definitely be checking this out next time we’re in London!

  • I lived in London my entire existence and never heard of this place?! The gondola is calling my name, thanks so much for your in-depth post, I will be swinging (or swimming by) here soon!

  • That is interesting! I never think of the little neighborhoods and lesser known parts of London. I’ve never been, so I always just imagine the busy city places that are shown in films.

  • Yasmin Ali

    omg had I known, I would have come here when I went to london! I ended up going to Venice, Italy for the canals instead lolol

  • This is such a cool part of London -looks like a great place to get away from the busy city! Los Angeles has a “Little Venice” too, where the neighborhood is built with houses along canals. But I don’t think it has houseboat rentals!

  • I can’t believe I haven’t explored this area yet… it’s going on my ABSOLUTELY MUST for summer 🙂

  • There’s always something new to look forward to before starting the day on this blog! I appreciate the article and i really impressed by this cute Venice

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