Shoreditch in London’s East End is best described as hipster meets London chic. This vibrant destination is home to the famous Columbia Street Flower Market, Brick Lane, and is the vintage capital of the city. From funky street art to eclectic bars and restaurants, Shoreditch has more to offer than you might think.
It’s said that Shoreditch earned its name from the water that ran across the area’s marshland, originally known as Soersditch, or Sewer’s Ditch. Some prefer a more romantic version though and like to believe that it was named after Jane Shore, a mistress of Edward IV. Allegedly, she was buried in a ditch in the area, but we know this can’t be true because the dates just don’t match up.
Whatever you choose to believe, Shoreditch has really built itself up over the years from being one of the oldest slums of London to now being a creative hub of the East End. You’ll find nothing lacking in Shoreditch, with plenty to eat, see and do through every step of your day.
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This guide will take you through all the best things to do in Shoreditch after dark and during daylight hours. You’ll discover some of the coolest and most fun things to do in London’s East End and will be ready to visit time and again.
1. Hunt for Street Art
Street art and graffiti has really skyrocketed in the last couple of years and London’s East End is really embracing this as a part of their identity, particularly Shoreditch. It’s now is a hotspot for famous street art by the likes of Banksy, El Mac, Stik, Space Invader, Jimmy C, Dscreet and Phlegm.
The street art and graffiti is scattered throughout Brick Lane, Shoreditch, Fashion Street, Bateman’s Row and Spitalfields. So there’s a lot of ground to cover to find the artist or particular pieces you’re looking for.
An excellent way to see all this brilliant street art is to go on one of the many street art walking tours. I chose Strawberry Tours when I did this earlier in 2017 as it’s run as a free tour, but there are also paid options such as Street Art London for roughly £12 to £15.
2. Wander Through Brick Lane
Brick Lane is one of East London’s best-known spots for buzzing markets, eclectic vintage shops, and funky street art. There really is something for everyone on Brick Lane, as you walk through the tantalizing smells of food and soak up the vibrant energy.
And although this area was once associated with the likes of Jack the Ripper and his infamous murder locations, Brick Lane is know considered an ethnic, artistic hub that millions of people explore all year long.
3. Go Vintage Shopping
Brick Lane Vintage Market
If you’re looking for vintage, you definitely must check out the Brick Lane Vintage Market. Vintage specialists come from all over the UK and Europe to take part in this funky market, with clothes dating back to the 1920s and then every decade up to the 90s.
Whatever vintage wares you’re hunting for, you’re sure to find, from glam fur coats, vintage bridal wear, feather capes, menswear and distinctive accessories. There’s a lot of exciting finds to discover at the Brick Lane Vintage Market!
Hunky Dory Vintage
Hunky Dory Vintage is a small place with a refined style, proclaiming themselves to have “20th-century frocks and manly modes.” But despite their size, there’s plenty of vintage finds from faux fur jackets, double-breasted coats and pinstriped blazers.
Here After started as a market stall as a market stall and then expanded to a standalone stop at the top of Brick Lane in 2017. Anna Farnham, the founder, travels the world for her designer finds. Here you’ll see pieces from the 1970s to 1990s, such as patchwork jackets and florescent orange Moschino jeans.
Rokit actually has four stores across the city and is a London classic, with its Brick Lane location stretching across three shopfronts. It’s not the cheapest of the vintage shops, but it does have all things quintessentially vintage. Find Dr Martens from years past, 70s suede jackets, 80s windbreakers, and 90s dungarees.
Beyond Retro also has other shops in Soho and Dalston, as well as its Cheshire Street store. This location is more of a warehouse and takes some time to get through. But you’ll come across peacoats from the 1940s and 1950s, psychedelic prints from the 70s, and 90s sportswear from Nike and Champion.
Serotonin Village will give you that hit of vintage you need with rare designer pieces. With the likes of Dior, Burberry, Versace and John Paul Gaultier, it’s no wonder their price point is a bit higher, but eccentric to say the least.
Nordic Poetry has a vibe to it, that’s for sure. Starting with the bar that sits at the centre of the store, fanning out to the men’s and women’s pieces from the 1970’s to the 90s, a visit to this shop is a unique experience.
4. Enjoy a Latin-Inspired Brunch at Andina
All the shopping and street art hunting will leave you hungry and there’s no shortage of restaurants and street food around Shoreditch. One spot, in particular, I’ve enjoyed is brunch at Andina.
Andina is inspired by traditional, family-run Andean eateries, with Peruvian classics such as ceviche made with tiger’s milk. They even import the best native ingredients from Peru, alongside locally sourced seasonal produce. Everything on the menu is designed to share and there are plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available too.
Andina is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with special brunches on the weekends. With an upbeat soundtrack always playing and the Pisco always flowing, you’ll be sure to enjoy a meal here.
5. Pick Up Some Arts and Crafts
Right in the heart of Brick Lane, you’ll find the Backyard Market. I absolutely love arts and crafts, and the Backyard Market is where I’ve picked up some pieces that are now sitting in my house. This is a great place for treasures and trinkets from around the globe for the artsy and crafty types.
6. Take a Tour of the 1800s
Shoreditch is a great area for viewing houses and buildings from the 1800s. One of the most famous Instagram locations is a pink house on Winsley Street, with other notable locations at Princelet Street and Fournier Street. You could do a bit of a photoshoot while you stroll down these streets and admire all the history they have to offer.
7. Cuddle Up in a Cat Cafe
If you’ve never popped into a cat cafe, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is a regal first choice. Cat cafes have really gained popularity in recent years, offering up cat cuddles from rescued kittens, while having tea and cakes.
If you’re a cat person, you’ll love Dinah’s, which is the UK’s longest-running cat cafe. This is not your average cat cafe, which is why it’s become a kind of local legend. At Dinah’s, you’ll be immersed in a basement forest, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. They even have souvenirs, and no, they aren’t cats!
8. Bury Yourself in a Book
For all the book lovers who are also fans of vintage, check out Brick Lane Bookshop. This is an independent bookshop in Tower Hamlets, established in 1978 with fiction, non-fiction, London books, poetry, children’s classics, philosophy, graphic novels and more.
A great place for local history with a fun stock of cards as well, Brick Lane Bookshop is a good addition to your day in Shoreditch.
9. Stop and Smell the Roses
The famous Columbia Road Flower Market in London has been going for decades and is the best place to go for a Sunday morning stroll, where you’ll find an array of plants, shrubs, bulbs and freshly cut flowers available at affordable prices.
The flower market was originally a Saturday trading fair, but because of the rising requirements of the local Jewish community, the market had to eventually move to Sundays. But this worked out for the traders of Covent Garden and Spitalfields as they could then sell any leftover stock from Saturday’s trading.
The French immigrants of London’s East End had a love for fresh cut flowers and songbirds and you’ll find the Birdcage tavern at the end of the market named after them. The market then suffered through World War II, but experienced a new renaissance in the 1960’s with the growing popularity of gardening programmes.
Today you can visit the Columbia Street Flower market on Sundays from 8am-2pm, with traders setting up their stalls as early as 4am. Show up early for the best selection or arrive fashionably late for the best deals. You’ll find many of the traders at the market are 2nd and 3rd generation for their families. It’s very much a community market.
10. Have Drinks in a Converted Police Station
TT Liquor is an extremely unique establishment. They offer up a whole range of experiences, from cocktail making classes to tastings, supper clubs and classic film nights.
In Shoreditch, they also have an incredible rooftop terrace with panoramic views over East London you don’t want to miss. And let’s not forget the intimate cellar cocktail bar and the specialist liquor store, selling only the finest of liquors and beverages. You for sure want to stop for a drink and more at TT Liquor.
11. Play Tokyo Bingo
If you want to take a break from London and escape to another country, then head to Hijingo. Hijingo is a bingo experience inspired by the Japanese capital, but with absolutely divine food as well. On the menu you’ll find hoisin duck croquettes, truffle spring rolls, and pork belly skewers, as well as a cocktail selection straight out of Japan.
For a foreign night out, with neon lights and bingo dabbers, head on over to Hijingo.
12. Check Out an Event at the Truman Brewery
The Truman Brewery is East London’s revolutionary arts and media quarter. For over 20 years, the Truman Brewery has been regenerating its ten acres of derelict and vacant buildings into amazing, useful office, retail and event spaces. This has made it a destination in its own right, with an array of independent shops, galleries, markets, bars and restaurants.
13. Discover One of London’s Secret Bars
Head to The Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane and announce “I’m here to see the Mayor”. You’ll then step into the Smeg fridge into a quirky, candlelit speakeasy with a great selection of cocktails. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is a special place for a drink, or brunch and a drink.
14. Get Comfortable at the Museum of the Home
The Museum of the Home was previously known as the Geffrye Museum and is an interesting museum to visit in London, where you’ll explore the concept of the home from 1600 to the present day.
With premium installations and home galleries, you’ll experience room and gardens through time, that have all been recently renovated for your pleasure. The Museum of Home is free to visit and is open Tuesday through Sunday for a glimpse into the past.
15. Be a Baller at Ballie Ballerson
If you’re looking for something completely out of the ordinary and probably out of your comfort zone, take a pit stop at Ballie Ballerson. Release your inhibitions and your inner child in an adult ball pit, after you’ve loosened yourself up with a couple of drinks.
Prices start at just £5 a session during the week or pay £15 on Saturday evenings. The amount of laughs you’ll have and Instagram worthy pictures you’ll get are worth the price of admission alone.
16. Hang Out in a Rooftop Wigwam
The Queen of Hoxton has everything you need for a night out. It’s a pub, club, and fringe theatre over two fun floors, with DJ’s playing it up. The rooftop is where you’ll want to head though because you can’t miss out on seeing the enormous wigwam set up during the winter months.
17. Indulge in a Beigal Like No Other
Beigal Bake is a 24/7 bagel shop that is a completely affordable indulgence. The line is always long, but it moves fast for the hungry visitors waiting on their epic portions of salt beef, smoked salmon, cream cheese and pretty much any other topping imaginable. Or just treat yourself to some heavenly beigel bites. Whatever you choose, you can’t lose at Beigal Bake!
18. Stop by the Nomadic Community Gardens
Shoreditch is a vibrant, upbeat are, so if you fancy something a little more peaceful during your visit, stop by the Brick Lane Nomadic Community Gardens. This private area is open to the public daily and you’ll even find street art, a cafe, and a library amid the vegetable plots.
Directions can be tricky. From Brick Lane, go through to Allen Gardens, take a left through the underpass and you’ll see the gardens. Or alternatively, cross the footbridge from Cheshire Street and you’ll see a door opposite the bottom steps to the gardens.
Well, that’s our list of the top 18 interesting things to do in Shoreditch. As you can tell by now, there’s a lot to explore in London’s best East End neighborhood and I hope this guide has helped you plan your next visit! Whether you’re in London on holiday or you’re a resident here, visiting Brick Lane’s many markets and shops are a must.
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.