(Updated November 2022)
It’s been quite hard to get this list nailed to 12, as of course there are sooo many possibilities!
I’ve tried to include a mix of the obvious, and the more unique! A couple of bars, places to see, markets, tours! Hope you find my trying to find what to do in East London helpful.
Victoria Park or Vicky Park as it is known to locals had a significant refurbishment in 2011-12 and offers a super large and lovely green space for open air music events, runners, family makers and dog walkers alike. The lake and pagoda areas are stunning, I’m told the cafes are really lovely, and the beauty of the park certainly makes it easier when trying to jog around it after work!
2.Fontaines Cocktail Bar- Stoke Newington
This features on my 10 best London cocktail bar list: Fontaines is SUCH a beautiful, luxurious venue. I’d often go straight after work, wishing although it was a Thursday that I was dressed up like a 1940’s starlet to match the stunning decor there. Lovely drinks and occasionally a very cute little dog running about the place too. Check their website for other activities held downstairs here: including vintage movie nights and swing dancing.
3. Vida Bakery- Brick Lane
This super colourful and cute café has the best biggest slices of gluten free cakes: many of which are also dairy free (but contain soya in the main, apart from just one cupcake sadly. Now soya is an issue for me so I wont be able to return back in a hurry: sob!) I’ve met many a friend here for a cup of tea and large piece of cake for £5.00 after work, and it feels a little bit of tranquillity from the otherwise bustly Brick Lane. They also have an online shop during these lockdown days, and also continue to make awesome looking celebration cakes (I believe for these you can specify the type of milk you’d prefer them to use if required). It’s colourful and it’s a glorious little independent: go!
4. Whitechapel Women: Beyond the Jack the Ripper Tour- Aldgate
A few years ago I took one of the standard Jack the Ripper walks in the area. To be honest, more than anything of interest to me was the guides knowledge of the local streets which were one of the oldest and poorest parts of London. I enjoyed it, I can’t lie.
However, when I found out the charity “Beyond the Streets”, who work tackling the issues of sex working in this area, offer these alternative tours to focus more on the lives of the female victims than the predator himself, I jumped at the chance. It’s well worth it and offers a feminist perspective on these women and their lives. This is such a unique one if you’re considering something different for what to do in East London. Tickets are between £10-13.
5. Fox in a Box London: Dalston
Thanks to @lovepopupslondon, I’ve tried a few London escape room games now and so far, Fox in a Box has topped them all, reflected in some recent awards such as the “Travellers Choice 2021” award. The rooms themselves are really well made, there is an evident linear approach to progressing to the next level (but it’s still really hard!) and having completed Zodiac Killer and Prison Break here, I know how thrilling and full of suspense their games are! Escape room games are not necessarily always the cheapest: but its money well spent here, and the staff are lovely!! #supportlocal.
6. Trinity Buoy Lighthouse
Did you know that London had a lighthouse? Until visiting here, me neither!! Another thanks to @Lovepopupslondon for arranging this opportunity. One of the nicest things I did in London in 2019 was attend a jazz event at the lighthouse (not in the light house itself- but check out the sound bowls above as they are part of a 1,000 year Longplayer project being held here- you can listen via Live Stream on the site!). Their website shows the fabulous amount of music (particularly jazz) events that take place here, and the surrounding area, overlooking the 02 and the Thames, is just tranquil and lovely, and you don’t feel like you’re really in London at all!
Broadway Market offers much in all the standard options of jewellery, food, clothing, and many other goodies from independent businesses. Perhaps my favourite thing about the market is the amount of both gluten and dairy free offerings, as well as the fact yes it gets busy, but appears far less overwhelming than other London markets, as its just one straight row of stalls, so no possibility to get lost or think “Have I covered this bit?!”
The website also gives you a historical overview and insight into the area too- and refers to itself as a working Victorian street market.
8. Brick Lane Market
The mother of all East London markets! I love Brick Lane for how it feels on any day of the week, but especially the hubbub on any given Sunday when the “market” runs over separate different areas, nooks and crannies that will take you a couple of visits to be fully familiar with! My favourite aspect is the easy access to the glorious array of street foods available, as well as the streets such as Princelet Street which will take you over to Spitalfields Market and Liverpool Street, which to me is like the street where time stood still. Beautiful. This is a definite “what to do in East London” activity.
9.Colombia Road Flower Market
Just up the road from Brick Lane is the infamous Colombia Road: I recommend you get here for about 10am, as the crowds here by 12noon will literally impede your ability to walk, and think you’re in a rugby scrum, which gets a bit annoying! But says a lot: they attract big crowds, for their gorgeous and often very reasonably priced flowers, as well as all the lovely little tea and other shops which adorn the street.
Normally open on Sundays only, roughly 8am-3pm.
10.Roof East- Stratford
Feel good memories from Roof East Stratford last September 2019. This rooftop setting offer numerous eating spots, multiple bars, the deck chairs to lounge on as you see above, a crazy golf station and a cinema! I absolutely loved the vibe here- it was a Sunday but it wasn’t packed, we got a drink easily and sat to soak up the London sun. Bliss!
To add an entire suburb to this list sounds like it must be a big deal, and it is! Walthamstow is more than the pop band East 17 and a gritty looking high street. These are the reasons that you should take a half day to get yourself there:
–Gods Own Junkyard. A gorgeous shop/relic looking museum of all things neon! It won’t take you long to look around the signs, but there is a cafe there also and next to it several bars with plenty of outdoor seating area, in the area of Ravenswood Industrial Estate. It would captivate anyone young or old, and gives you all the cheerful feels for any time of year! (or pandemic).
–Walthamstow Village. My oh my, this is a must see…We’ve been in London 15 and 20 years respectively and were blown away. To get to “Gods Own Junkyard”, Citymapper took us through here, the quaint “Church Path” to the church itself and the “Ancient House”, past the 16th century almshouses and the cute cottage row. You will feel like you’ve stepped back in time!
Then there is Orford Road itself, also in the Village, which is full of little restaurants and bars, has a townhall, a pretty “square” where locals can sit and ponder… It’s also pedestrianised which is super helpful! And oldy worldy charm? Got that in spades!
12 Abba Voyage!
Currently running until May 2023, seeing the Abba Voyage experience with my mum, was incredible! It’s insane how they have done it and how real the computer generated images actually are! You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the arena, but from start to finish the whole thing was wonderful! I highly recommend for all ages! It’s also right next to Pudding Mill Lane DLR, or 5 minutes up the road from Stratford. Adding this to the “what to do in East London” guide is easy, as it’s amazing!
Hope you enjoyed this little list of what to do in East London, which is definitely one of my favourite parts of town!
Let us know in the comments which of these you’ve been to/done and also follow us over on Instagram @lovinglivinglondon for more sharing of London ideas