The Civic District lies at the very heart of Singapore and is well-known for its key government buildings, museums, protected parks and memorial spaces. Although home to many must-see attractions, any visit to the Civic District wouldn’t be complete without taking at least a glance at the world famous Raffles Hotel.
Comprised of only a few square miles, the Civic District is packed full of some of the most fascinating museums, important historical buildings and best attractions in central Singapore. The area, easily accessible from City Hall MRT, is walking distance from the Bugis area in the north, the Singapore River to the South and Marina Bay is just a short stroll away.
Find out more with our selection of the best attractions in the Civic District of Singapore.
What are the best things to do in Civic District?
Raffles Hotel, Singapore’s most famous hotel, consisted of only a few bungalows when it first opened in 1887. Today, it stands proud as a Singaporean icon, with over 100 luxurious suites, 65 boutique shops, as well as a whole host of world-class restaurants and bars across its grounds.
The pick of the bunch includes the Long Bar – the place to come for the best Singapore Sling in town. The Raffles Museum also boasts various exhibits with items dating back to the colonisation period of Singapore. Spending a night or 2 in this famous Singapore landmark, or even just a visit to the bar or museum will grant you bragging rights.
Location: 1 Beach Road, Singapore
Open: Raffles Museum daily from 10am to 7pm, Shopping Arcade daily from 10.30am to 7.30pm
Phone: +65 6337 1886
The National Museum Singapore
The National Museum Singapore is both the oldest museum in Singapore (dating back some 120 years) and also the largest, with more than 18,000 sq m of floor space. There are 2 main sections inside: the Living Galleries and History Gallery. The Living Galleries consists of fashion, film, food and photography as well as Chinese Opera, whilst the History sections contain a whole host of artefacts documenting the rich and fascinating past of Singapore.
Even if you’re not a history buff, the building itself is worth a look on its own merit; the classic neoclassical style structure features a mix of modern designs and touches – truly an architectural marvel. You can find the museum just behind Fort Canning Park on Stamford Road.
Location: 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 7pm
Phone: +65 6332 3659
St Andrews Cathedral
Head up the elevator from City Hall MRT and this gleaming white, stunning cathedral is almost impossible to miss. St Andrew’s Cathedral is the biggest and first Anglican Church in Singapore, designed by Colonel Ronald McPherson. The current structure was rebuilt in 1856 after the original was damaged beyond repair by lightning strikes.
You’re free to walk inside through the arched entrance, exploring the huge main chapel as well as a visitor’s centre for various souvenirs and artefacts. The surrounding park area is also a great, free place to come and chill out too, with many locals using this space as an area for a picnic and some cold drinks, particularly on the weekends.
Location: 11 St Andrew’s Rd, Singapore 178959, Singapore
Open: Tours: Monday–Wednesday and Fridays at 10.30am and 3pm, Thursdays at 3pm
Phone: +65 6337 6104
Fort Canning Park
If you fancy an immediate escape from the city environment, head to Fort Canning Park to find a tranquil slice of greenery right in the centre of Singapore. Walking distance from both City Hall and Clarke Quay MRT Stations, one minute you’re surrounded by gleaming modern offices and sprawling malls, and the next you’re transported into what seems like a different world.
Lush trees and vegetation are in rich supply at this unexpected spot, which is particularly popular for joggers, dog walkers, or just anybody fancying a break from the sprawling metropolis that is Singapore. Fort Canning Park is a place of great historical importance too; the hill was once home to the country’s Malay rulers in the 14th century and also housed a military base during the Second World War.
Location: 70 River Valley Road, Singapore 179037, Singapore
Central Fire Station & Civil Defence Heritage Gallery
This stunning colonial-style fire station doubles up as a fascinating museum, housing a good range of interesting exhibits and galleries. With its traditional red and white exterior, the large building is difficult to miss, really standing out amongst the rest of the area’s modern malls and office blocks.
Inside, the equally impressive Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is free to have a look around, whilst learning about the fascinating history of this important Singapore landmark. A great activity for kids too – especially as they get to hold some of the fire station’s equipment, sit in a truck and even don a fireman’s helmet! Find Singapore’s Central Fire Station by walking either from Clarke Quay or City Hall MRT stations.
Location: 62 Hill Street, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 5pm
Phone: +65 6332 3178
Asian Civilisations Museum
The Asian Civilisations Museum is a gorgeous colonial British-style building, walking distance from Clarke Quay, Raffles Place or City Hall MRT stations, and is home to some of Singapore’s finest collections and exhibitions showcasing the region’s long and diverse history. A good 2 or 3 hours should be set aside to explore the plethora of galleries and displays, each providing something fascinating even if you don’t consider yourself to be a history-buff.
Right the way down to the discovery of the island state, to its well-documented colonialisation and cultural diversification, all the way up to the present day; the Asian Civilisations Museum traces it all with over 14,000 square metres of floor space and 1,300 artefacts from across all corners of Asia.
Location: 1 Empress Pl, Singapore 179555, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 7pm (Fridays until 9pm)
Phone: +65 6332 7798
Chijmes is up there with some of the most famous landmarks in Singapore and is instantly recognisable with its bright white, classic gothic exterior. Pronounced ‘chimes’, this once convent school and religious chapel now serve as a multi-purpose ‘lifestyle’ venue: this means rows of fine-dining restaurants, boutique shops and bars.
The main chapel (aka Chijmes Hall) can also be privately hired for events, weddings and occasionally stages a live show or performance. The surrounding grounds are great to explore at your own leisure too.
Location: 30 Victoria Street, Singapore 187996, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11am to 10pm
Phone: +65 6337 7810
This 16-storey building of books between City Hall and Bugis MRT Stations replaced the former National Library of Singapore at Stamford Street, which closed in 2004. The current building has a Central Public Library with a collection of over 200,000 books which can all be rented out – if you sign up as a member.
There’s also a reference only section (Lee Kong Reference Library), which is a great place to come to study with their Wi-Fi access and large meeting spaces as well as use their large collection of on and offline information resources.
Location: 100 Victoria St, Singapore 188064, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 9pm
Phone: +65 6332 3255
Singapore Art Museum
Singapore Art Museum is located a few blocks northeast of City Hall MRT Station on Bras Basah Road and is a great place to see over 8,000 pieces of Singaporean and Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. With over 10,000sqm, this museum offers around 15 fully climate-controlled galleries that are each as captivating as the next.
Although the galleries are subject to constant change, a visit to the Singapore Art Museum, no matter what time of year, is sure to offer an excellent range of interesting exhibitions and programs. You can also find the Museum Shop by Banyan Tree at the same site.
Location: 8 Queen St, Singapore 189555, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from 9am to 6pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)
Phone: +65 6589 9580
Supreme Court & City Hall
The Supreme Court building, built in 1939, was one of the last colonial buildings to be constructed in the civic district area. Its handsome Corinthian columns boast murals by Italian artist Cavaliere Rodolfo Nolli.
You can pick up a “Guide to the Supreme Court”, as well as watch a multimedia presentation on the Singapore judiciary system and view the Supreme Court Open House and Exhibition. An impressive flight of steps leads up to the City Hall. This is where the Japanese officially surrendered, at the end of World War II.
Location: 3 Saint Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178958, Singapore
Open: Daily from 9am to 6pm