An Excellent List of Things to Do in East London
Enjoy the most traditional part of London with our guide to its best local haunts and hidden gems.
With an impressive arts scene, some of the best restaurants in the city and a buzzing nightlife, East London is the place to go to mingle amongst London's cool crowd. From tucking into one of Brick Lane's acclaimed bagels to wandering around the sprawling grounds of Victoria Park, there are a million things to do in East London. Now, of course, you can't do them all in one trip...so that's why we here at Plum Guide have put together this list of our favourite things to do in East London.
Eat in Brick Lane
The eternally trendy street-of-the-East, Brick Lane is known for its eclectic shops, lively bars and vibrant art scene. No wonder, then, that it's one of the best places to stay in London for young adults. Feeling peckish? Brick Lane is home to a vast range of different cuisines and eateries: from quaint cafés to stylish restaurants, there’s food to satisfy all the senses in the East End. Sharing is Caring is just one of Plum Guide's hand-picked homes in the area.
If you're looking for something really traditional, Few dishes are more associated with East London than pie and mash: a meat pie served with mashed potatoes and a parsley fish sauce, known as ‘liquor’. This traditional working class dish has its roots in the 19th Century and is still popular across much of the East end to this day. Grab an authentic taste of the East end at EastEnders Pie ‘N’ Mash in Poplar, Robins Pie & Mash on Station Road and B.J.’s Pie & Mash London on Barking Road.
Fancy a Ruby? (That's curry in Cockney rhyming slang in case you didn't know.) Well, you've come to the right place. Brick Lane is now known as the curry capital of England: just take an evening stroll between Woodseer Street and Fashion Street and you’ll smell all the delicious scents of Indian cuisine. We love Cinnamon Brick Lane with its vibrant decor and an extensive menu. Bengal Village offers simple food with delicious vegetarian options and head to Tayyabs, just down the road at Whitechapel, for classic and contemporary Punjabi food.
And if you're looking for something a bit more grab-and-go, there's only one thing for it. Delicious, fresh and easy to customise, bagels are perfect as a quick bite to eat in between browsing shops, galleries and sights. Beigel Bake is possibly the most famous of its kind. This 24 hour bakery is located at 159 Brick Lane and serves an array of outstanding bagels (the salt beef and mustard is what dreams are made of). You'll also find cakes, donuts, bread and drinks there too. A few other great bagel options include Bagel on the Park and Beigel Shop.
Take A Stroll in Victoria Park
Enjoy a break from the clamour of city life by enjoying a stroll through one of the East End’s gorgeous parks. South Hackney is home to a natural haven in the heart of the bustling East End: Victoria Park stretches between the Tower Hamlets and has a rich history as being the primary green space for East-enders to enjoy a breath of fresh air. With its three lakes, wildlife enclosures, play park, tennis courts, bowling green, two cafés and an array of original Victorian architecture, the ‘People’s Park’ offers something for everyone to enjoy, whatever the weather.
Follow in the Footsteps of the Kray Twins
The East End’s notorious gangster brothers, Ronnie and Reggie Kray, have long intrigued the area’s visitors. Since Tom Hardy’s memorable depiction of the dangerous duo in the 2015 film Legend, visitors East of the river are eager for a glimpse into the city’s illustrious past. A number of places known to be favourite haunts of the twins are still open for business and make for an interesting snapshot into the East End of the ‘60s.
Some of the places known to have been visited by the Kray twins that are still standing today include E. Pellicci’s Cafe, located at 332 Bethnal Green Road, this classic family-run café is known to have been a favourite breakfast spot for the twins. The interior of the café is more or less unchanged since the 1960s, and the menu has a delicious array of traditional greasy spoon dishes as well as classic Italian food. Stay nearby in one of our homes in the neighbourhood like Small Town House. There's also The Blind Beggar, a thriving Victorian pub on 337 Whitechapel Rd, this venue is significant for the Krays. This pub was the scene of many violent crimes committed by the twins, including the shooting of George Cornell which landed Ronnie Kray in prison. The Blind Beggar is now thoroughly modern, has a beer garden and serves tasty craft ales. And last but certainly not least, one of the most intriguing attractions of East London is the Tower of London, where the Kray twins, among others, were once imprisoned. History buffs and culture enthusiasts will find its bloody history an interesting read, and the Tower is home to tours, festivals and ceremonies to entertain all the family.
Go Shopping in Shoreditch
You could easily spend the whole day wandering around Shoreditch; packed with vintage shops, art galleries and cutting-edge exhibitions, as well as the Sunday Market on Brick Lane. Situated in the heart of Shoreditch, head to Boxpark which boasts the title of the world’s first pop-up mall. Combining indulgent street food, creative arts, contemporary and retro fashion and trendy drinking spots, Boxpark is the place to go for a thoroughly modern, yet comfortable shopping experience. As well as vintage clobber and artsy stalls, Shoreditch is also home to dozens of quirky gift shops and boutiques, as well as high-end designer dens too for all you luxury lovers. (We know you're out there.) Head to Redchurch Street for a selection of artisanal grocers, interior design shops and unique clothing retailers, or stroll up Shoreditch High Street where there’s a vast array of British and international fashion outlets. Want to learn more about the area? Take a look at our essential guide to Shoreditch.
Spend the Evening at An Independent Cinema
In the era of digital downloads, 3D films and multiple screens, the independent cinema still reigns supreme in our eyes. The charm and sense of occasion associated with attending a screening at a unique, historical venue is keeping arthouses and indie cinemas open for business. The East End’s reputation as London’s trendy culture hub is evident in its vast array of independent cinemas. Some of our favourites include Genesis in Whitechapel, with luxurious seating and delicious food to enjoy while you watch. There's also Phoenix, a 1910 theatre full of charm and nostalgia or Arthouse in Crouch End, it's edgy, quirky and laid-back, making it the perfect place to watch a classic or enjoy a new blockbuster. So, forget watching Netflix from your Plum home like Northern Soul for the evening and get yourself over to one of the above instead.