East London has been our favorite part of the city since we first discovered it thanks to one of our extremely cool friends. One of the greatest aspects of living so close to London is discovering and trying new things–something East London is all about. That being said, this guide is definitely not exhaustive as new places are opening all the time. But it’s a good place to start if you are looking for some ideas about how to spend a couple days in the coolest part of London.
SEE & DO
Columbia Road Flower Market | Only open on Sundays, this market is an amazing resource for plants and cut flowers. Even if I don’t plan on bringing anything home, it’s still fun to look. And all along the street where the market is held are little independent shops you can stop by if you want to get out of the shuffle of the market.
The Geffrye Museum | This is a free museum about domestic life in England that is almost never crowded and a nice place to escape the busy streets for a bit. I love visiting at Christmas, when each room is set up to reflect a different time period of holiday decor. But it’s also lovely in autumn when all the vines growing outside have changed color.
Brick Lane Market | One of our absolute favorite things to do in East London is vintage shopping on Brick Lane. Some of the vendors are overpriced, but the stuff is curated well and you can get some good deals. If vintage isn’t your thing, there’s also loads of food and a craft market around the corner.
Old Spitalfields Market | A close second to Brick Lane, everyday is a different market at Spitalfields. Check out their website (linked above) to see what they have going on!
Street Art Walking Tour | We’ve never been on an actual tour of the street art in Shoreditch, but I linked one above because I’ve heard really good things! Either way, it’s fun to walk around with an observant eye, looking out for all the art this area has to offer.
Junkyard Golf | An excellent night out mini golfing on Brick Lane. It’s not too expensive and super fun with a group. There are multiple bars inside and even a bar halfway through each course.
Before I go into this list, I should say that on most of our trips into East London, we don’t sit down for a meal at all. We usually just grab food from one of the vendors on Brick Lane or Spitalfields.
Lyle’s | British modern food in a light industrial space. For all our time spent in East London, this was probably the best meal we ever had. Quite expensive for dinner, so we opted for lunch instead and it was totally worth it.
The Culpeper | I can’t speak for the pub on the ground floor, but the first floor restaurant and rooftop are both amazing. It’s nearly impossible to get a table on the roof, but if you’re already dining in the restaurant ask them to let you know when something becomes available and you’ll be first in line. The bedrooms upstairs also seem beautiful and well priced–such a good location to base yourself!
Albion | A cafe and cute grocery perfectly situated for a coffee stop when exploring Shoreditch.
Dishoom | A must visit on any trip to London for some seriously good Indian food. If you want to eat here for dinner, my best tip is to book a table at their latest lunch slot–5:45–otherwise you’ll end up standing in line. Not the worst thing in the world when they are handing out free chai lattes, but still. Best thing on the menu is the black dal!
Soft Serve Society | Not only does this tiny ice cream shop have some quirky soft serve flavors like charcoal coconut, they also do freakshakes. If you’ve never heard of a freakshake before, check them out here!
Beigel Bake | Salt beef bagel. Do it. It’s kind of an East London tradition.
Lily Vanilli Bakery | The most beautiful selection of cakes and baked goods. And a good place to escape the insanity of the Columbia Road Flower Market. It is relatively quiet even though it’s always busy and you’ll probably have to wait for a table.
Fabrique Bakery | This is my absolute favorite bakery in London. Could be because I am a sucker for Scandinavian buns, but regardless, it’s delicious. In my opinion, the cardamom buns are best. Also it’s across the street from the Geffrye Museum, so it’s the perfect place to stop for a snack after.
The best part about East London is that it’s constantly changing and growing. It feels different every time you visit and I think that’s what kept us coming back so often. Well, that and the amazing food. My only advice is to have cash on hand because most places won’t accept cards and always check the hours if there is somewhere in particular you want to go.