Our guide to the best things to do in Singapore Civic District includes some of the city's most fascinating museums and important historical buildings. Located at the very heart of Singapore, the area is well-known for its key government buildings, museums, protected parks and memorial spaces. A visit to the district wouldn’t be complete without taking at least a glance at the world-famous Raffles Hotel.

    Comprised of only a few square miles, Singapore Civic District is easily accessible from City Hall MRT. It’s within walking distance from the Bugis area in the north, the Singapore River to the south, and Marina Bay. Find out more with our selection of the best attractions in the Civic District of Singapore.  

    What are the best things to do in Singapore 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.

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    Location: 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673

    Open: Raffles Museum: daily from 10 am to 7 pm. Shopping arcade: daily from 10.30 am to 7.30 pm


    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.

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    Location: 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897, Singapore

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +65 6332 3659


    St Andrews Cathedral

    • History

    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 10.30 am and 3 pm, Thursdays at 3 pm

    Phone: +65 6337 6104


    photo by Someformofhuman. (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Head to Fort Canning Park to find a tranquil slice of greenery right in the centre of Singapore. It's within 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 WWII.

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    Location: 70 River Valley Road, Singapore 179037, Singapore


    Central Fire Station & Civil Defence Heritage Gallery

    • History

    The Central Fire Station & Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is a stunning colonial-style fire station that 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 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +65 6332 3178


    photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    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.

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    Location: 1 Empress Pl, Singapore 179555, Singapore

    Open: Friday from 10 am to 9 pm, Saturday–Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +65 6332 7798

    • History

    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.

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    Location: 30 Victoria Street, Singapore 187996, Singapore

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +65 6337 7810


    photo by edwin.11 (CC BY 2.0) modified


    National Library

    Singapore's National Library is a 16-storey building of books between City Hall and Bugis MRT Stations. It replaced the former National Library of Singapore at Stamford Road, 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 Chian 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 online and offline information resources.

    Location: 100 Victoria St, Singapore 188064, Singapore

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +65 6332 3255


    photo by Nlannuzel (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Singapore Art Museum

    The 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 9 am to 6 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)

    Phone: +65 6589 9580


    photo by ProjectManhattan. (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    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 9 am to 6 pm

    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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