Use this guide to help you plan the best things to do in East London, one of the trendiest and coolest places to hang out in the city including some of the best food, street art, and shopping in the city.
This area was famous for being the slums and stomping grounds for famous serial killer Jack the Ripper, but today you would hardly recognize that history even existed here as its been heavily gentrified and a haven for the cool kids and hipsters.
We highly recommend getting to know the London East End during your trip from exploring the cool neighborhoods, exploring the East London attractions like the street art and amazing eateries to checking out any of the incredible tours through the East End of London.
Don’t miss out on our other great guides to London including a 3-day itinerary for London and the best things to do in Notting Hill.
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What to do in East London
One of the best areas to explore and things to do in East London is exploring the artsy and creative Shoreditch neighborhood. From the world-famous eateries along Brick Lane, rooftop bars, vintage boutiques, to being home to some of the works from the most famous street artists around the world from Space Invader to Banksy you can easily spend a whole afternoon in this area of London’s East End.
We recommend walking down Brick Lane, which is also mentioned below for other things to do in East London, to exploring the famous street art on display at the Old Truman Brewery.
Many of the greatest things to do around Shoreditch will be mentioned again throughout this post on the best things to do in East London.
This is what to do in East London if you’re a foodie! Stroll down the famous Brick Lane which runs from Swanfield Street to Bethnal Green with the highest density of curry houses and the Bangladeshi community.
Did you know that the British National dish is Chicken Tikka Masala? We were shocked to learn this as we would have guessed it would be fish and chips or some other famous British dish. Having this dish as the national dish is a great example of how Britain adapts external and international influences.
Along Brick Lane, you’ll spot one curry house after another each claiming to be the best. However, Aladin’s has won the Brick Lane Curry Awards and is said to be one of the best. However, no matter where you choose to have curry on Brick Lane it will be hard to get a bad bowl in this area of London’s East End.
One more foodie experience and thing to do in East London is not to miss is the Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. This 24-hour bakery almost always has a line for their world-famous Jewish style bagel with salt beef, mustard, and a pickle.
This sounded a bit scary to us but we tried it and were impressed! It’s worth the line, you can’t miss this stop on Brick Lane or the East End of London.
Another one of the best things to do in East London is check out Boxpark Shoreditch. This shopping mall is made of refitted shipping containers that have been converted into cutesy artsy and independently-run boutiques.
This is the perfect place to go shopping or find some fun gifts in London’s East End. Besides having tons of cool shops there are also a number of restaurants and eateries here that are just as cool and trendy as the shopping!
Old Spitalfields Market
Another one of the best East London attractions is the historic Old Spitalfields Market that has been around for over 350 years. Back when the East End London was considered a rural area this was the gathering place for a food market under the rule of King Charles I. During the Commonwealth, Spitalfields closed but reopened by Charles II in 1682 where its seen significant change since.
Now in one of the most trendiest neighborhoods and a top pick for what to do in East London, you can find different gifts, souvenirs, and craft goods to purchase from the vendors, restaurants, and hip restaurants and drink spots in this historic complex.
While exploring the East End of London you don’t want to miss a visit to the Old Spitalfields Market for their daily Trade Market, seasonal Art Markets, and weekly Saturday markets.
Wilkes & Princelet Streets
Another great area to explore and walk through during your tour of the best things to do in East London is through the historic Wilkes Street and Princelet Street.
The two streets are lined with 18th-century Georgian homes that look straight out of a movie set. It looks this way because this popular section of London East End homes have been used as a filming location for many movies and even one of their homes has been used for filming movies such as the Dutch Girl, Conjuring 2, The Woman in Black and more.
These homes and neighborhood was also a famous area for immigrants and French Protestants who came to London seeking refuge from religious persecution by the Catholic regime in France. They were known as the Huguenots who lived and worked in the neighborhood and were famous for their silk weaving studios.
Whether you’re a history buff or just someone who likes to seek attractive historic streets, this is one of the best East London attractions and areas to explore.
Still considered a part of Shoreditch, this East London attraction is a popular green space near plenty of restaurants, shops, and tons more street art by famous artists.
Hoxton Square has seen many changes over the years and what was once considered a deprived area of the East End of London has now evolved into a gentrified hipster neighborhood.
This is a great meeting and hanging out place for exploring the best things to do in East London.
If you’re a lover of arts, cool sculptures, and great parks then this is what to do in East London. Visit ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford in the East End of London.
This nearly 376 foot outdoor sculpture has become one of the most popular East London attractions. Designed by one of the most villainous artists in the art world, Anish Kapor who is known for creating and keeping the highly toxic and radioactive VantaBlack ‘blackest black’ material to himself by law. This has sparked debate and retaliation in the art world.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit or Orbit Tower is the largest piece of public art in Britain and you can climb it and view all of Olympic Park from two observation platforms!
Easily one of the best things to do in East London is search out all the incredible street art in the area. Notably, Shoreditch is known for its incredible art scene with several pieces of work from some of the most famous names in the street art world including Banksy.
The London East End has become famous for its street art scene and is notably an East London attraction itself.
Some of our favorites include the Space Invader and Banksy pieces at the old Truman Brewery, the famous Stik work on Brick Lane and around the area, Ben Eine’s colorful murals on Ebor Street, and the Sacred Crane on Hanbury Street to name a few.
Roman Ruins at the London Wall
This is what to do in East London if you’re a history buff and want to see some of the oldest architecture in the city. Stretching from Wormwood Street and St. Martin’s Le Grand is where the old London Wall Roman ruins dating back to the 2nd or 3rd centuries remain.
You can do the entire Roman Ruins walk in London stretching through parts of the East End of London.
Columbia Road Flower Market
The Columbia Road Flower Market is what to do in East London if you love plants and flowers and happen to be visiting on a Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm.
This mega flower market is where you can find the most colorful assortment of flowers being sold by tons of vendors. This is also a great thing to do in East London if you just love shopping in general because there are more and more shops selling other goods other than flowers and plants. You can find everything from crafts to baked goods for sale these days.
If you’re visiting on the weekend be sure to plan around this East London attraction so you don’t miss it!
The Old Truman Brewery
Another staple and famous East London attractions is the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. As mentioned before in our list of things to do in East London, this is where you can find some of the best and noteworthy street artists in the game including Space Invader and Banksy works.
This old brewery has now become a hangout spot and a venue for various events throughout the year from exhibitions to festivals. There are also a few permanent places to hang out here the rest of the time of the year where you can grab a beer, coffee, or a bite to eat too.
St Katharine Docks
Located both in Central London and the East End London is St Katherine’s Docks. While area is more of a residential spot that’s seen a lot of renovation recently rather than a thing to do in East London, it’s still a cool area to walk around in.
We stayed here and loved walking along the canals in the morning with our coffee spotting the different water birds. There are also some impressive boats in the docks that are worth walking around and be sure to check out the royal barge Gloriana which is docked here.
We were introduced to this area in London’s East End by attending a conference at the Tobacco Docks, which is a stunning venue as well. This is a great East London attraction to check out before or after exploring Tower Bridge and the Tower of London since its just steps away and there’s a great vantage point of the bridge from here!
Tours in London East End
Eating Europe Food Tour
One of our favorite things to do in East London was the 4-hour food tour eating our way through London’s East End. This is a great way to get to know the area and see all there is and what to do in East London while sampling some of the best food and learning about the history in the area.
The tour comes with 7 different tastings while passing through some of the most notable works of street art and eateries in the area mentioned in this guide.
We are no stranger to food tours, they are our favorite way to eat our way around and learn about the history of an area.
Find out more information on the East End Food Tour here.
Jack the Ripper Tour
Another one of the most notable East London attractions are the Jack the Ripper tours. This is the notoriously famous area where Jack the Ripper would find his victims in the late 1800s.
The London East End was famous for being slums at the time and where prostitutes would frequent, also exactly who Jack the Ripper targeted for his murders.
During a two hour tour you can walk the chilling path that Jack the Ripper frequented when he found his victims and stories about one of the most famous serial killers of all time.
Book your Jack the Ripper tour here.
Street Art Tour through London’s East End
You don’t want to miss out on some of the best street art in London, explore the famous street art and artists of London’s East End on this 2.5 hour guided walking tour.
No need to try and hunt out the street art yourself, one of the best things to do in East London.
This street art tour will take you through Brick Lane, Spitalfields Market, around Shoreditch and more.
Book your East End London street art tour here.
Where to stay in London East End
Here are some of the top picks for where to stay while exploring all the best things to do in East London and one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city.
$ Brick Lane Hotel
This no-fuss hotel is in a prime location in the heart of London’s East End on Brick Lane just steps away from the best things to do in East London. This is a great option for budget travelers who are looking for a basic room for an affordable price in a prime location.
Plus, you have an authentic East London experience right here staying above one of the famous curry houses on Brick Lane.
Book Now on Booking.com | Compare Prices for Later on Expedia
$$ East London Hotel
Another great option for lodging in London’s East End is the East London Hotel located right next to Bethnal Green and the Tower of London. These contemporary rooms are comfortable and some of the best you can find at this rate in the city.
Besides, it’s a great location!
Book Now on Booking.com | See Prices on Hotels.com
$$$ Moxy London Stratford
Another great option and an elevated hotel experience in London’s East End is at the Moxy London in Stratford. This is a hip hotel that fits perfectly among all the cool things to do in East London.
This entire hotel more feels like a cool, chic club than a hotel. The rooms are contemporary and there’s a hip bar and lounge in the hotel so going out doesn’t mean you have to go so far to have a good time.
Book Now on Booking.com | Compare Prices for Later on Agoda.com | See Prices on Hotels.com
$$$$ The Hoxton Shoreditch
Spend your time exploring what to do in East London in style by staying at one of the most luxe hotels in the East End of London. This upscale and chic hotel has gorgeously designed rooms that make you feel like you’re living in a Wes Anderson film set.
Don’t miss out on the cool lobby bar and hangout either while staying here.
Book Now on Booking.com | Compare Prices for Later on Agoda.com | See Prices on Hotels.com
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