East London or East End is what you call the eastern side of London with a population of 1.5 million residents. It is one of the most historic locations in London attracting about 30 million tourists every year. For several reasons, it has become a famous cultural hub loved by many.
From multicultural establishments to international cuisines and impressive art scenes, East London is a spot only for the hippest and trendiest hangouts.
Whether you are looking for a place to shop or relax, you don’t have to look far as it offers the most diverse things to do in East London.
Here are my top places in East London, so don’t forget to check this out before visiting.
Where Is East London
East London lies north of the River Thames in the outer east part of London. Essex and Middlesex, two historic counties, cover a large portion of its territory.
The seven boroughs included in the region are Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest.
If you are coming from Heathrow Airport (LHR), it is approximately 30 miles away. The only famous bridge crossing East London to South London is the Tower Bridge, which is located north of Tower Hamlets and south of Southwark.
Best Places to Live in East London
Take a stroll down Paradise Row and explore the numerous establishments that have taken over the old railway arches.
Families with children can appreciate the V&A Museum or have a relaxing picnic at Mile End Park or Bethnal Green Gardens.
As one of London’s booming financial hubs, Canary Wharf has a contemporary charm with its skyscrapers, elegant stores, and luxury apartments.
Envelop yourself with breathtaking scenery and the breeze of the surrounding rivers. Canada Square, Westferry Circus, and Cabot Square are some of the local attractions to look forward to.
If you still want the city life but at a more relaxed pace, Stratford is a small town located in the London Borough of Newham.
It is home to several landmarks and entertainment areas including ArcelorMittal orbit, Stratford’s Cultural Quarter, and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Getting around London from here is effortless thanks to its Jubilee and Central Lines, as well as the Overground trains.
Shoreditch is located in the London borough of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. It is one of the busiest and trendiest places in East London that has countless entertainment spots including the vibrant Shoreditch High Street, buzzing Brick Lane Market, bars and pubs, top rated brunch restaurants, and cool coffee shops. So if you are after the hustle and bustle atmosphere, this is the place to live.
Walthamstow is the ideal place for families with children because of its several top schools, beautiful Victorian houses, and vast parks.
It is full of recreational attractions suitable for all ages including cinemas, galleries, museums, street markets, and pubs.
If you are after a more relaxed atmosphere, Walthamstow is the best residential area to consider.
Top Things to Do in East London
Appreciate Art, Culture, and History
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 5 Thornton St, London E20 2AD
Phone: +44 333 800 8099
Opened in 2014, ArcelorMittal Orbit is the tallest twisted tunnel slide in the world with a height of 178 m.
Thrill-seekers will enjoy its more than 10 twists and turns and its 50 m straight slide at the end. If it’s the spectacular views you seek, this revolutionary red sculpture also has an observation tower where you can see up to 20 miles.
Along Aldgate, Spitalfields, and Whitechapel, London
Brick Lane is one of the most popular hangout spots known for its cool street art, Bengali shops, and vibrant markets.
It is located at the heart of East London at the intersection of Aldgate, Spitalfields, and Whitechapel. People come here to have the best curry, go on a street art tour, or buy something vintage.
Dennis Severs’ House
18 Folgate St, London E1 6BX
Phone: +44 20 7247 4013
Once you get off from Liverpool Street Station and Shoreditch High Street Station, head over to Dennis Severs’ House, a place to get a glimpse of London’s 18th and 19th-century aura.
Artist Dennis Severs bought the house in 1979 where he created a still-life portrayal of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from the 18th century. To get a full tour, book the Dennis Severs’ Tour for £70 per person.
Museum of the Home
136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA
Phone: +44 20 7739 9893
Museum of the Home is also known as Geffrye Museum before changing its name in 2021 to give better clarity on what the museum is all about.
More than 120,000 visitors come to the museum every year, taking advantage of its free entrance.
The museum is free and you can visit its galleries, exhibits, herb garden, reading room, drawing room, and many more.
291 Mare St, London E8 1EJ
Phone: +44 20 8985 2424
Opened in 1901, Hackney Empire is a local theater located on Mare Street Hackney Central and designed by English architect Frank Matcham.
The theater is considered one of the main venues for entertainment such as stand-up comedy, live music, and opera.
British newspaper The Guardian regards Hackney Empire as the most beautiful theater in London, so this place should not be missed from your East London visit.
Museum of London Docklands
1 Warehouse, West India Quay, No, Hertsmere Rd, London E14 4AL
Phone: +44 20 7001 9844
If you want another free place to visit, the Museum of London Docklands is another free-of-charge museum located in West India Quay.
It was established in 2003 and was originally an old warehouse. Learning about the history of its port, seeing historical artifacts, and participating in museum events are some of the interesting activities to do here.
V&A Museum of Childhood
Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA
Phone: +44 20 8983 5200
Founded in 1872, the V&A Museum of Childhood is a museum catered to young people under its parent organization, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Tickets are again free, making the museum an ideal destination for children and families. It has interactive galleries where children can use all their senses to imagine, create, experiment, and be challenged.
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History
Victoria Buildings, 11 Mare St, London E8 4RP
Phone: +44 20 8533 5297
Museum and cocktail bar all in one place? You read that right because it is something you will find at The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History.
It is a small museum holding a unique and out-of-this-world collection including Fiji mermaids, skulls, mythical creatures, and two-headed lambs, among other things.
If you are looking for an unusual bar to have a drink, visit their Absinthe Parlour and Cocktail Bar and have a taste of traditional and modern absinthe, spirits, cocktails, beers, and wine.
Wilton’s Music Hall
1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB
Phone: +44 20 7702 2789
Wilton’s Music Hall is a long-existing grand theater and music hall open since 1859.
The theater hosts more than 300 performances all year round, so there’s always something to watch when you visit any time of the year.
Whether you are interested in opera, dance, or magic, this is one of the best places to watch these performances while appreciating its historic design.
77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX
Phone: +44 20 7522 7888
Established in 1901, Whitechapel Gallery is a public art gallery with free beautiful exhibitions, events, and astonishing art shows.
It also has a bookshop selling rare posters, gifts, and books. When you are done admiring art, the gallery has a British dining room called Townsend, a restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and a few chill drinks.
Discover Places to Eat and Chill
60-62 Commercial St, London E1 6LT
Phone: +44 20 3965 3482
Andina is a Peruvian restaurant and picanteria located just approximately 4 minutes away from the Old Spitalfields Market.
They also offer vegan and vegetarian options for those who like it healthy and meat-free.
41 Kingsland High St. London E8 2JS
Phone: +44 7930 936237
Draughts Hackney is a cool board game café with more than 800 games available to play and have fun.
It is a great place to grab some food and have a beer or wine while playing your favorite board games.
Their menu includes a wide variety of food options including tacos, nachos, burgers, sweets, and small dishes.
332 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AG
Phone: +44 20 7739 4873
Established in 1900 in Bethnal Green, E Pellicci is a family-owned neighborhood café serving classic English Breakfast.
If you are coming over for breakfast, try their classic English set with toast, sausage, egg, bacon, mushroom, and beans, or the classic veggie set with the veggie version of meat.
Since the owner has Italian roots, you can expect to find homemade pasta options including lasagne, cannelloni, penne pellicci, bolognese, Napoli, and pesto.
150 Hoxton St, London N1 6SH
Phone: +44 20 7729 7718
F. Cooke is the oldest eel and pie house in East London that was established in 1862. Their pies are all freshly handmade while incorporating locally sourced potatoes.
For only £4.25, you can get one pie and one mash, but you can also opt for one pie only for £2.75 and one mash for £1.50.
177 Morning Lane, E9 6LH
Phone: +44 7769 196972
Nest is a produce-based restaurant located in Hackney of East London offering a seasonal selection of dishes.
To minimize wasting meat, the restaurant uses only one meat each time, so expect limited meat dishes and a rotating menu. Plus, they have a good selection of drinks such as wines and ciders.
385 Geffrye St, London E2 8HZ
Phone: +44 20 7033 0268
Just a minute’s walk from the Museum of the Home, you will find Fabrique Bakery, a stone oven Swedish bakery originally from Stockholm.
The artisan bakery offers quality pastries including rye, Levain roll, baguette, walnut roll, and toast, to name a few.
Breakfast sandwiches are also available for orders such as their yummy cheesy breakfast sandwich, classic ham and cheese, and gruyere and kale.
Sager + Wilde Wine Bar
193 Hackney Road, London E2 8JL
Phone: +44 20 8127 7330
Sager + Wilde Wine Bar is a cozy rustic bar with an extensive wine list. Whether you are looking for French, Italian, or Australian wine, they have it all for every preference.
Wine is best paired with food, so don’t forget to try the perfect combination with their selection of snacks such as sourdough with butter, Nocerella olives, and salted Marcona almonds.
Shop Til You Drop
2-10 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6GY
Phone: +44 20 7186 8800
BOXPARK Shoreditch launched in 2011 and became a pioneer in shipping container pop-up shopping malls.
They have over 50 independent fashion and lifestyle brands to discover. Moreover, the venue is also a great place to eat, drink, and have fun with their entertainment programs.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 07977 224 660
Established in 1896, Columbia Road Flower Market is a street food market and one of the oldest flower markets open only on Sundays from 8 am to 2 pm.
From bread and cheeses to bedding plants and shrubs, it is your go-to shop for gardening needs and food. Their traders are locals from the community, including Rainforest Relics, A.E Harnett & Sons, and JD Succulents & Cacti Ltd.
Old Spitalfields Market
16 Commercial St, London E1 6EW
Phone: +44 20 7375 2963
Old Spitalfields Market is a famous covered historic market established in 1976. Open seven days a week, it is home to 42 local food and drink shops and 59 diverse stores. Plus, watch any of their 145 hosted events every year.
The Truman Brewery
91 Brick Ln, London E1 6QR
Phone: +44 20 7770 6100
The Truman Brewery used to be a brewing warehouse of one of the largest brewers in the world known as Truman’s Brewery.
Today, the brewery buildings of Truman’s Brewery serve as an art and media venue for independent shops and stalls, events, and exhibitions.
They also host several markets and fairs such as Design & Craft Fair for diverse craft businesses and Near Mint Records where different music meets.
Have Fun at Recreational Attractions
Spitalfields City Farm
Buxton St, London E1 5AR
Phone: +44 20 7247 8762
Spitalfields City Farm is a city farm home to several rescued animals and beautiful gardens. It is free to visit the farm and you can buy gifts and gardening supplies from their Farm Shop. Plus, you can also have a cup of locally sourced tea or coffee from the Tea Hut.
Grove Rd, London E3 5TB
Phone: +44 20 8985 5699
Opened in 1845, Victoria Park is the largest and the oldest park in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets at approximately 86 hectares.
More than nine million visitors come to the park annually to enjoy its many facilities such as cafes, skatepark, and hosted events.
The park is on the list of the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and is popular for its ornamental gardens.
WWT London Wetland Centre
Queen Elizabeth Walk, London SW13 9WT
Phone: +44 20 8409 4400
Established in 1946, WWT London Wetland Centre is your escape from London’s hustle and bustle. It is a wetland reserve where you can immerse yourself in nature and discover the wildlife that awaits.
With a space of more than 40 hectares, it is home to many wild birds including the black-necked swan, Demoiselle crane, and Coscoroba swan.
How to Get to East London
The cheapest and easiest way to reach East London is either by bus, train, or subway. East London has several popular areas such as Canary Wharf, Victoria Park, and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, so the drop-off station going to East London depends on where you are going. A subway ticket typically costs around $2 to $3 and a bus ticket is about $2.
For example, if you are headed to East London Stratford, you can opt to ride the bus, train, and DLR. Listed below are some available bus and train lines that stop near Stratford stations.
- Drop off station: Stratford Centre (K)
Bus Line: 25, 276, 425, or 69
- Drop off station: The Grove (G)
Bus Line: N8 or 257
- Drop off station: Stratford Broadway (M)
Bus Line: 104, 238, 241, 262, or 473
- Drop off station: Stratford Broadway (L)
Bus Line: 276
- Drop off station: Stratford
Train Line: Dockland Light Railway (DLR), Elizabeth, Greater Anglia, or Hainault
- Drop off station: Stratford International
Train Line: Southeastern
Is East London Safe to Visit
Generally, East London is one of the safest places to visit for tourists and one of the nicest areas to live for residents.
However, some people recommend taking extra caution in some dangerous boroughs with the highest crime rates. According to data on crime rates, Newham is the second most dangerous borough in London with a crime rate of 1,411 out of 100,000, of which theft and vehicle crimes are the most frequent offenses.
Following Newham is Tower Hamlets with a crime rate of 4,572 out of 100,000, and Hackney with a crime rate of 4,140 out of 100,000.
If you want peace of mind, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, and Havering are considered the safest boroughs to visit in East London. Barking and Dagenham ranks 37th, Havering ranks 35th, and Redbridge ranks 44th as the safest areas in London.
Plan Your Trip Well
Ready to see what East London has in store for you? Plan ahead and don’t forget to tick off every place in this article. London is the largest city in the United Kingdom, so I recommend heading to its eastern side first going from borough to borough for easy travel.
Get to know its historic locations and see how it beautifully blends with the modern era. Whether you are coming from the north, south, or center of London, it is easy to reach East London with the convenient public transportations available including buses and trains.
It is an all-in-one spot for all kinds of activities best for groups, couples, families, and solo travelers.
Do you have any good recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below. If you liked this complete East London guide, don’t forget to share it with people who may be interested in traveling here too. Happy safe travels!