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Area guide: East London

We've selected all the juiciest information on the hipster capital of Europe and set it out as an easy-to-read guide. Expect recommendations on travel, shopping, food and drink and the main sights!

The famous Shoreditch roof carriages

Neighbourhoods include

Shoreditch, Old Street, Hoxton, Bethnal Green, Dalston, Brick Lane, Hackney.

Getting there

Main stations include Liverpool Street Station, Whitechapel and Stratford. The whole area is well-served by London Overground services and local buses. Try Citymapper for the best routes around.

Vibe Bar on Brick Lane

Main sights

Columbia Road Flower Market. Early morning flower market every Sunday. Not just for the florists - come along, drink coffee and enjoy the ambiance. Every Sunday from 8am on Columbia Road, E2 7RN

Whitechapel Art Gallery. East London’s most important gallery. Free entry to see world class art and fascinating local collections showing the history of the area. Open 6 days a week 11am-6pm. Closed Monday. Open till 9pm Thursday. 77-82 Whitechapel High St,  E1 7QX

Spitalfields Market. Bustling market at the heart of the Brick Lane area. Great for food&drink and clothes. Open every day from 11am-7pm (times may vary according to stall). 56 Brushfield St, E1 6AG

Brick Lane. Highest concentration of curry restaurants in the world outside of India. Great for cheap eats, but also known for the many vintage clothes shops and bars towards the northern end. Curry houses open until at least 11pm. Clothing shops have various opening times. Brick Lane, E1 6RL

 

Roa's crane on Hanbury Street

Reasons it’s famous

Originally the poorest, hardest-working area in London, the East End is the traditional home of the Cockney and the hipster. With low property prices in the 90s and 2000s, young creative types moved in to the area and brought with them a cool joie-de-vivre, as well as increases in the price of rent and coffee. The area is a thriving mix of old and new, full of characterful shops and intriguing street art. Some may say that parts of Shoreditch have lost their soul due to commercialisation but there’s plenty more which is still full of life on the cutting edge of London’s cultural scene.

What to do there

Eat, drink, shop, look and listen. The area is full of pubs, bars and restaurants for the gastronomically-inclined. There are many dozens of galleries, music venues and second-hand clothing shops. Also, cycle! There are loads of bike shops and bike-only routes, so hop on a Santander cycle and ride away.

The Golden Heart on Commercial Street

Eat

For snacking:

Beigel Bake. Famous 24hr beigel shop catering to late night clubbers, early morning builders and everything in between. Try the salt beef and mustard. 159 Brick Ln, E1 6SB. See more cheap eats here.

Meat eaters:

Tayyabs. Previously thought to be the best curry house in London. The competition has hotted up, but Tayyabs remains a great place to sample the local specialities. Enjoy the excellent lamb chops, but don’t expect to get to know your waiter - they’re too busy for small talk! 83-89 Fieldgate St, E1 1JU

Vegetarians:

The Hive of Vyner Street. Great canal-side veggie bistro with organic wine and cool company. Best for a late lunch on a sunny day as you laud it over the joggers trekking up the towpath. 286-290 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9DA. See more veggie and vegan food here.

XOYO in full livery

Drink

Pub: Old Victorian boozer The Golden Heart just opposite Spitalfields Market, famous for the great names of the British art world who used to frequent it. Good beer and a cool crowd. 110 Commercial St, London E1 6LZ

Bar: The Book Club. Cocktails, nibbles, good music and a ping-pong table. Hard to go wrong with this one (though there are hundreds of others to choose from). 100-106 Leonard St, EC2A 4RH

Dance

XOYO. With talented resident DJs, good value drinks and an awesome club sound-and-light set up, XOYO is a very reliable great night out. 32-37 Cowper St, EC2A 4AP. More to choose from here.

Local knowledge

Although the central areas around Spitalfields and Shoreditch attract the most tourists, there is plenty more to see further out. Check out Broadway Market for fish&chips and bookshops, Hackney Wick for canal-side pizza and Wapping for lovely pubs overlooking the Thames.

The Prospect of Whitby, a popular Thameside pub in Wapping

They say

“I don't know what London's coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.” (Noel Coward)

We say

Walk and cycle everywhere! There’s so much more to see when you immerse yourself in the crowd.

Do

Get talking to shop owners, street artists and other locals to hear their stories and recommendations for the neighbourhood. People around here tend to be very friendly and warm to tourists.

Don’t

Spend all your money on a fancy tote bag and then look on enviously as your friends eat beigels and sip craft beer.

Have fun, kids!