London’s Shoreditch area in the east end of the city is quirky, cool, and off-the-beaten-London-path. It’s crazy that so many visitors to the city miss visiting this area, because there’s so much to experience that’s local and full of character. I’m going to tell you the coolest things to do in Shoreditch, so you can experience it like a local.
How to get to Shoreditch:
There are a few tube stations that are within walking distance of Shoreditch.
Shoreditch High Street (Overground)
Old Street Station (Northern line)
Liverpool Street Station (Multiple lines)
Aldgate East (District and Hammersmith & City lines)
There are also many buses that go through the area. Use Citymapper app to figure out the best route to Shoreditch from your hotel.
Here are nine cool and unique things to do while you’re exploring.
1.Shop for quirky and unique items
Shoreditch is the land of the odd and eclectic, and that shows in the boutiques and pop up shops all around the area. If you’re looking for a unique piece of clothing, homeware or something else to take home from London, this is the area to find it.
Brick Lane Vintage Shopping
Brick Lane and its nearby streets are home to tons of vintage shops. You could probably spend a few hours here, digging through the racks and racks of funky items from way back when. Some shops repurpose and repair old items too, giving them new life. Try Rokit Vintage to start, and then wander around and find the other shops in the area.
Head to Cheshire Street once you’ve conquered Brick Lane for more.
One of Shoreditch’s most famous structures, BoxPark is made of shipping containers and is home to pop up shops where you can get food, drinks and more. Many up-and-coming fashion designers have pop up shops here, plus you’ll find cool homeware stores and more…it just depends on the week, as there always seems to be something new.
2. Get a beigel
For a cheap, classic east end eat, grab a beigel. The classic combo to try is the salt beef beigel– cut to order, topped with mustard and a pickle, and plopped onto a freshly-baked beigel. Two shops (very close to each other) make it, but my preference is Beigel Bake, with the white and blue sign.
Both shops are open 24 hours, so when you’re done bar hopping, this is where you can get your drunk food before heading home at 3am.
3. Check out the world famous street art
One of the most popular things to do in Shoreditch, for both locals and visitors, is to check out its street art. You can find it everywhere around Shoreditch if you just wander and keep your eyes open. World-famous street artists like Banksy and Nathan Bowen have left their marks here, as well as many up-and-coming artists. New art appears every day, and is often around corners and down alleyways that most people walk right by without noticing.
I recommend doing a Shoreditch tour to see street art, as the guides are always in the know about the newest pieces, and can tell you about the artist, what each piece means, and where to find the most interesting ones. I always recommend booking Eating Europe’s East End Food Tour, which is primarily a food tour, but mixes in history of the area, and you will also be shown some of the most famous pieces of street art in the area. The tour guides are proper locals and are really knowledgable and nice.
4. Explore Shoreditch’s markets
There are quite a few markets around Shoreditch and in surrounding areas, with a main focus usually being on food.
Dinerama is probably my favourite out of the list for a few reasons. It’s fairly weather-proof and has so many great food and drink options. It’s a weekend spot, as it’s only open Thursday through Sunday, but in the late evenings there’s usually a DJ or some kind of live music playing till the wee hours of the night. Don’t be surprised if you end up dancing.
Vendors can change around but here are my recommendations at the moment: vegans and non-vegans alike love Club Mexicana– try all three types of tacos and the guac. Yum Bun has insanely good Taiwanese steamed buns. At the big bar, try the Frosé (frozen rosé wine) or the Tequila Colada slushie.
Old Spitalfields Market
As mentioned in my 3-Day London Itinerary, this market is another weather-resistant one, but with more vendors selling clothing, accessories, and gifts. The only fish and chip shop I recommend in the guide has a stand in here, and if you like cheese, stop by Androuet for a cheese board selection and some wine.
Brick Lane Market
Popping up on Brick Lane on Sundays, Brick Lane Market has a huge variety of things, including antiques, used bikes, “bric-a-brac”, and food. Expect to snag stuff at a bargain.
5. Go rooftop hopping
Shoreditch has its fair share of gorgeous rooftops for eating, drinking, and even swimming, and most are open to the public.
If you’re a guest at The Curtain hotel, you’ll have free access to one of the most gorgeous rooftop pools in the city.
Queen of Hoxton
Boundary has one of London’s most beautiful rooftop restaurants. It’s heated so it’s open most of the year. Book ahead!
Ok so this is more Finsbury Square than Shoreditch, but on the 10th floor of the Montcalm Royal Hotel is Aviary, a posh restaurant with an incredible (and huge) outdoor terrace. Grab a drink and watch the sun setting over the London skyline.
For hotel recommendations for this area, read my guide to Where to Stay in London for a Local Experience.
6. Have a big night out
Shoreditch is one of my favourite areas to have a big night out in. There are tons of great bars and a few clubs so you’ll never get bored. Some of my suggestions…
Wanna make some new friends? Play some ping pong games at Bounce and unless you’re super competitive (aka NOT FUN) then you’ll have a great conversation starter with your opponents.
The Magic Roundabout
Literally in the middle of a roundabout above Old Street underground station is The Magic Roundabout. Expect eats, beats and booze.
XOYO is a popular club that hosts some pretty good up and coming DJs in.
Barrio is a Mexican-themed bar with affordable drinks and lively music. Get there for happy hour for even better prices.
For mega-meat lovers, Tramshed is a great option, although there’s a pretty good veggie menu available too. The main event in the dining room is the cock and bull– a piece by Damien Hirst.
Andina serves up gorgeous Peruvian food, and is very vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. Try the ceviche (obviously). Breakfast and brunch here are really good too, don’t knock it till you try it. Oh, and down a Pisco Sour.
The Athenian is a stall in BoxPark making delicious, fast Greek food. Expect to be stuffed afterwards.
8. Go for a movie
If the weather isn’t so good while you’re in Shoreditch then book a ticket for one of the neighbourhood’s unique cinema experiences. Head to Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop for a rooftop cinema experience (ok the weather has to be decent for that), or if you need to be indoors then check out Electric Cinema, where boring, regular cinema seats are traded in for plush armchairs and there’s a fully licensed deli-bar so you aren’t stuck with soda and over-buttered popcorn.
9. Get some east end culture
In case everything above wasn’t enough, there are a few notable museums and galleries in the area to check out. The Geffrye Museum is free, so go see how our homes have changed over the last 400 years. You can also peruse the Brick Lane Gallery or Victoria Miro’s gallery to fill your art void.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed planning your first three days in London, my 3-Day London Itinerary will help. Come back after your visit and let me know what you ended up doing, and better yet, what else you discovered in the area.