Not too far from where I live, there's a beautiful little area featuring a tight maze of water canals. It is better known as "Little Venice" and resemblances just what the name suggests!
Last Sunday, my husband and I drove there early morning and enjoyed a lovely stroll along it's riverside banks and soothing, calm waters. Living in West London for many years already, I cannot believe I just recently discovered this hidden gem tucked away in a snug corner of this sprawling city and only ten minutes from where I live.
Just minutes away from Paddington Station and Warwick Avenue, Little Venice is a gorgeous hot spot and forms one part of Regent's Canal which runs all the way to Docklands in East London.
We began our walk starting from Maida Avenue which sits overlooking the canal itself. We were quite fortunate with the weather too. It was not an "extraordinarily" sunny day but good enough to take some decent photos and take in the sights.
Little Venice is considered a scenic getaway mainly due to it's picturesque and intertwining canal routes. Add to that the impressively varied themed boat cruises travelling between Little Venice and Camden Lock that we saw. If you were to follow the main canal all the way to it's finish, it would eventually lead into the River Thames. You'd be amazed by how many people live in moored canal houseboats anchored along the long, stretching banks.
As we continued our short walk up Maida Avenue, we came across a little café called Café Laville that straddles the canal in a glass-fronted building overlooking the canal. What a great location to provide a fantastic view of Little Venice!
We noticed how many eager tourists gathered inside this cafe to capture some sneaky snaps of the many passing barges which themselves carried a bunch of enthusiastic tourists. A lot of fun for an observer like myself to see and absorb the relaxing, chilled out ambient vibes! :)
Time was pressing on and both of us could have done with some tasty breakfast so we almost instantly decided to eat there too.
The café restaurant was very bright due to it's expansive glass roof and walls made to maximise on these view. Oversized ceiling lights hung in various shapes, along with a few nice paintings near the entrance wall. it was quite contemporary in style, yet very inviting at the same time.
The waiter was friendly and luckily seated us directly under the retractable roof! I could literally see the water right under my feet and felt like I was hovering atop the Canal itself. How cool is that, right?
Café Laville offers a good selection of Italian and Mediterranean dishes. I opted for Smoke Salmon Eggs Benedict, a good portion size by anyone's standards I'm sure. And very reasonably priced especially for London, might I add. My husband went for his favourite Red Velvet Cake. Also a personal favourite of mine too. :)
It was such a pleasant experience! Gazing upon the serene waters, listening to the lapping of the subtle waves along the riverbanks and just watching the canal barges appear and disappear right from underneath the restaurant. What a peaceful and wistful way to watch the world go by.
After indulging those lovely refreshments, we bid goodbye to the friendly staff and proceeded with our walk exploring Little Venice. The weather has actually become much better which was a huge, unexpected bonus.
Little Venice is home to hundreds of attractive and colourful canal barges. In fact, quite a convenient base from which to explore the rest of the capital via it's aquatic avenues.
Each of these boats features it's own unique character set and provides for some stunning photography. Colourful logos, spacious customised decking area and even some gardening sections on the roof. Everything just looked the part which makes Little Venice as captivating and alluring as she is.
I wondered about the numerous residents living there and who would forego a traditional normal house for these awesome water-based houses. Of course, I realise that house prices are at ridiculous all-time highs, but they must surely also have a very strong connection with nature and freedom that drives them too. I can imagine there is something very special about returning to this peaceful and quiet abode after a hard day in the city. A surreal, but liberating feeling, I'm sure.
The intricately mapped canal systems of London seem to have been constructed with a great deal of practicality in mind. Almost every boat has a metered supply of electricity which powers the internal appliances contained within the boat.
As we passed by more pretty boathouses, ponds and crossed over a small bridge, we came across another café which was an actual restaurant barge on the canal with seating areas inside and outs. How exciting! Though since we just ate, perhaps next time around, lol. This is a place you are almost guaranteed to want to return to. I mean, I sure am! :)
To maximise on the experience, I recommend taking one of the taxi boats up to Camden Lock, which is a 50 minute passage ride passing landmarks such as Regent’s Park and London Zoo. It sounds like a fantastic idea as we all know how buzzing life in Camden Market can get. So very lively and lots of merry fun!
There are also quite a few options available via the assortment of cruise companies along a certain section of the canal , including Jason’s Trip, Jenny Wren Canal Cruises and the London Waterbus. All journey's begin under the bridge we had previously crossed. I think it is worth mentioning that they only accept credit cards (no cash). Which is the exact opposite to how many other establishments conduct their business in London, lol!
However, for today we chose to simply continue our stroll down the canal and keep the cruise on hold for something to look forward to at a later date.
Little Venice is a great little day out. The ideal location for visiting in the warm spring/summer months or cool evening meanders alongside tree-lined canals ways, featuring beautiful and eccentrically painted houseboats.
Although in some ways I have to say if visitors expect to see exceptional view as the Venice in Italy, they might be disappointed. I feel the name “Little Venice” is rather a humble homage than a direct like-for-like comparison. Therefore, take this wonderful place for what is it. A stones throw to get away from the busy traffic and fast paced London to the gentle and peaceful serenity of it's waterways.
So prepare yourself with a good camera, some delicious sandwiches and you'll be in store for a delightful treat. An inexpensive explore around those parts of London that not even seasoned Londoners know too well, lol.
小威尼斯处于 摄政运河和Grand Union 运河的交汇点，一直运行到东伦敦的Docklands。它距离Paddington 火车站和Warwick Avenue也就只有几分钟的路程，很容易找。 我们从Maida Avenue出发，天公还算作美，虽然没有灿烂的阳光，但起码天晴。
这家餐馆主要供应意大利和地中海菜。我点了 熏三文鱼班尼迪蛋 （Smoke Salmon Eggs Benedict），分量挺足的，而且在伦敦来说，价格也不算贵。先生选了他最喜欢的红丝绒蛋糕 （Red Velvet Cake），也是我最爱，呵呵。
几家比较受欢迎的游轮公司包括Jason's Trip，Jenny Wren Canal Cruises和伦敦水上巴士。所有旅程的起点就在我们刚刚穿过的桥下。我认为值得一提的是，他们只接受信用卡（无现金），与伦敦其他旅游业刚好相反。