The best things to do in Shoreditch, London

Shoreditch London

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Shoreditch is an area of East London, covered with colourful street art, which is known for attracting the capital’s trendy hipster crowd.

The neighbourhood is a hub for the creative industries, start-ups and co-working spaces where young entrepreneurs and freelancers spend their days working and nights mingling in the area’s multitude of cool restaurants, chic bars and vibrant nightclubs.

I’m ashamed to say that even after growing up in north London then moving to the south-west after university, it wasn’t until my early 20s that I first really gave Shoreditch the chance it deserved.

Several years later and Shoreditch is now one of my absolute favourite parts of the city. You can find me here most weekdays hanging out in an independent coffee shop or coworking space, and most weekends hunting out street art (for the ‘gram) and enjoying fun bottomless brunches with friends.

 

How to get to Shoreditch

Shoreditch is a neighbourhood which sits nestled between several different London underground and overground stations. Those within a short walking distance are;

  • Shoreditch High Street – London Overground
  • Old Street – Northern Line and National Rail
  • Liverpool Street – National Rail, Circle, Central, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Line
  • Aldgate East – District and Hammersmith & City Line

 

 

The best things to do in Shoreditch, London

Wondering what to do in Shoreditch? Don’t worry, this post has got everything you need to know…

Explore Shoreditch’s Street Art

Exploring the area’s world-famous street art scene is without a doubt one of the most popular things to do in Shoreditch with both tourists and locals.

You can hardly turn a corner in Shoreditch without stumbling across a brightly adorned alleyway or stunning mural taking up the entire wall of a 4 story building. Plus the artwork is changing and adapting constantly, so no matter how many times you return there’s bound to be something new to discover.

The best way to find street art in Shoreditch is to either wander around and allow yourself to get lost down side streets and alleys or jump on an organised Shoreditch street art tour where a knowledgable local guide will take you around the best spots and teach you about many of the most famous pieces and artists.

You could also try a Shoreditch street art tour combined with a fun spray-paint workshop.

 

 

Visit Boxpark Shoreditch

 

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Located in a collection of converted shipping containers next to Shoreditch High Street station, Boxpark was the world’s first pop-up shopping mall when it opened back in 2011 and is a one-stop-shop for some of London’s coolest independent retailers, street food vendors and bars.

At floor level, you’ll find a row of small units containing an ever-changing selection of independent shops, ranging from fashion and beauty to quirky knick-knacks and homeware, as well as a number of local street food traders and cafes.

Then head to the roof where you’ll find even more delicious international street food and several bars on a large covered terrace, with plenty of communal seating and a regular program of fun events.

Open daily from 11am to 10pm, Boxpark is one of the best places to go in Shoreditch during the day and for a fun evening out.

 

 

Experience the best of Brick Lane

Street sign for Brick Lane in Shoreditch

A visit to London’s Shoreditch isn’t complete without exploring the many wonders of Brick Lane…

 

Eat at one of London’s top curry houses

Probably the one thing Brick Lane is most famous for is being home to many of the capital’s best curry houses. In fact, the street is often referred to as London’s curry mile.

The prominence of curry houses on Brick Lane, and around wider Shoreditch, comes from the fact that the area was a hub for the Bangladesh community when they migrated to the UK during the 1960s.

For lovers of Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani food, you’ll be spoilt for choice at the many great restaurants on Brick Lane.

A few curry houses on Brick Lane worth trying include;

 

Try the city’s best beigel from Beigel Bake

 

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Another of Brick Lane’s most famous culinary delights can be found at Beigel Bake.

First opened in 1974, Beigel Bake serves delicious traditional Jewish beigels to take away, with their signature dish – and an absolute must-try – being their salt beef beigel with mustard and pickles. The bakery has been awarded the title of best beigels in London for years.

Beigel Bake is also open 24 hours a day, making it one of the most popular places in Shoreditch for a delicious post-night-out snack.

 

Get your chocolate fix at Dark Sugars

When you’re done with the savory, head to Dark Sugars for dessert.

Bringing the culture of West African cocoa production to Brick Lane, Dark Sugars Shop is a chocaholic’s dream, with a variety of gourmet chocolates, truffles and desserts, while the Dark Sugars Cocoa House serves some of the most luxurious and indulgent hot chocolates in all of London.

 

Go vintage shopping

In keeping with the notoriously trendy and hipster residents of Shoreditch, Brick Lane and its surrounding streets are full of amazing vintage stores where you can go hunting for second-hand designer bargains and unique one-of-a-kind pieces.

Don’t miss Hunky Dory Vintage, Rokit Vintage, ATIKA, Beyond Retro or Onimos – to name just a few!.

Plus, from Thursday to Sunday each week you’ll also find the huge Brick Lane Vintage Market taking place inside the Old Truman Brewery, with a ton of fantastic clothes and accessories from the 1920s onwards.

 

Visit the Old Truman Brewery Markets

The Old Truman Brewery was once the largest brewery in the world back in the mid-1800s, but today the huge space on Brick Lane is instead used by a number of independent shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, pop-up events and weekly markets.

As well as the Brick Lane Vintage Market from Thursday to Sunday each week, you’ll also find a whole host of other great markets taking place in the historic brewery space.

On weekends, you’ll be able to find all sorts of handmade accessories and crafts at the Backyard Market, while Sunday brings both the Sunday Upmarket – with plenty of street food, artisanal produce and independent brands – and the Brick Lane Street Market – with fresh produce, antiques and homeware.

On weekdays, stop by Ely’s Yard Street Food Market to grab a tasty lunch from some of the city’s most popular street food traders.

 

 

Spend Sunday morning at Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Combine your Sunday morning stroll around the Old Truman Brewery Markets with a trip to Columbia Road on the edge of Shoreditch.

Each Sunday between 8am and 3pm, Columbia Road is transformed into the capital’s biggest flower market; a colourful oasis filled with exotic plants, floral scents and the sound of bargaining traders.

Even if you’re not out to buy any plants yourself, the market is still a great free place to visit in London for its beautiful flowers (bring your camera!) and vibrant atmosphere.

 

 

Stop by Spitalfields Market

While there’s some contestation over whether Spitalfields Markets can be classified as Shoreditch or not, being just a short walk away from many of the other attractions in this post I’m going to include it anyway.

East London’s large Spitalfields Market is comprised of two main areas; Old Spitalfields Market, a quirky covered market with plenty of fashion and food traders housed inside one of the best surviving Victorian Market Halls in the capital, and Spitalfield’s Traders Market, which homes a range of independent traders selling unique, artisan and hand-crafted goods.

One of London’s must-visit markets, Spitalfields also hosts regular special events including foodie festivals, themed pop-ups, dance classes and plenty more so keep your eye on the busy schedule.

 

 

Grab a drink at one of Shoreditch’s unusual bars

Shoreditch London Bar neon sign

No list of things to do in Shoreditch would be complete without the mention of a bar or ten.

Shoreditch is the nightlife hub of East London and is particularly popular with the city’s young hipster crowd, with loads of cool and quirky bars and clubs that offer more than just a fancy cocktail menu.

These are some of the best bars in Shoreditch for those looking for something a little different…

 

Junkyard Golf Club

Head to Junkyard Golf Club in Shoreditch for indoor crazy golf with a twist.

Junkyard offers four rather unusual, twisted, sometimes sinister and (most famously) pun-packed 9-hole crazy golf courses – Bozo’s dark circus, Dirk’s acid house of horrors, Gary’s scrapyard and Pablo’s tropical jungle. Think UV paint-splattered walls, life-sized figurines, elaborate courses and loud music.

Plus there are several bars strategically positioned throughout the courses selling beer, wine, cocktails and junk food that you can take around with you as you play.

Junkyard is a fun place to get competitive with a group of friends or even a unique date idea.

 

BallieBallerson Ball-Pit Bar

 

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Another cool bar in Shoreditch for those looking to release their inner child is BallieBallerson.

BallieBallerson is the world’s first adult ball pit bar with over one million balls in several giant ball pits, combined with a sweet-shop inspired cocktail list to take you back in time to the parties of your childhood… except now with the addition of booze.

Book a table for some fun evening drinks or spend your weekend at one of Ballie’s famous bottomless brunches with unlimited pizzas, pornstar martinis, prosecco and ball pit fun.

What first began as a small pop-up basement bar in north London has quickly expanded to become one of the most popular spots in the entire city and one of the best things to do in Shoreditch.

 

Bounce Ping Pong Bar

Bounce Ping Pong Bar Shoreditch London

Close to Old Street station you’ll find the Shoreditch branch of Bounce Ping Pong Bar.

The large underground bar has 17 ping pong tables available to hire – both traditional tables and Bounce’s futuristic Wonderball tables which feature interactive games using state of the art projection mapping. You can also book a session with a ‘games guru‘ who is there to organise unique group games for special events such as birthdays or work dos.

The venue also has a bar serving drinks and pizzas to enjoy while you play, while on weekends you can book Bounce’s bottomless brunch for 90 minutes of unlimited prosecco, pizza and ping pong.

 

Flight Club Shoreditch

 

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Flight Club Shoreditch is much like Bounce above but rather than ping pong tables, the bar has numerous dartboards available for hire in its vibrant English fairground themed venue.

Book a private booth or table with your own private dartboard – with a super modern electronic scoreboard – and enjoy an evening of drinks, pub grub and some traditional British pub fun with friends.

 

All-Star Lanes Bowling Alley

If bowling is more your thing, head for a night out at All-Star Lanes on Brick Lane.

The large Retro-American-themed space features a bar and restaurant, as well as several bowling alleys and karaoke rooms which are available to hire.

Start with dinner and drinks at your private table, then take on your friends with a couple of games of bowling, and finally end the night singing your heart out to your favourite hits. There’s so much to do at All-Star Lanes that you’ll easily be able to fill an entire night out without having to go anywhere else.

 

Alcatraz Prison Bar

Alcotraz Bar, London

Last but certainly not least we have Alcotraz, also located on Brick Lane.

Named after the notorious US maximum-security prison Alcatraz, which housed difficult and dangerous felons during the mid-1900s, Alcotraz (get the pun!?) is London’s first prison-themed cocktail bar.

At this fully immersive bar, you’ll need to change into an orange jumpsuit and smuggle your liquor past the guards (yes it is BYOB) into your cell where you’ll spend your evening sipping on contraband cocktails from tin cans while avoiding the watchful eye of the rather intimidating warden making his rounds.

 

 

Or enjoy drinks with a view at a rooftop bar

Because there’s nothing quite like enjoying a cocktail with views over the city on a warm summer’s day…

 

Queen of Hoxton

 

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Multi-level bar The Queen of Hoxton is home to the most popular rooftop bar in Shoreditch, with its large, funky outdoor space, fantastic views over East London and regular daytime and evening parties.

During the summer months, the Queen of Hoxton also plays host to Shoreditch’s coolest rooftop cinema – Rooftop Film Club.

 

Boundary

Boundary is another pretty rooftop restaurant and bar in Shoreditch, with a heated glass Orangery and outdoor terrace for enjoying spectacular views all year round.

 

 

Attend London’s coolest immersive dining experience

Dinner Time Story

Located upstairs at TT Liquor in Shoreditch, Dinner Time Story: Le Petit Chef is a multisensory-guided culinary experience and one of the city’s coolest and most unique immersive dining events.

The evening features a 6-course feast with perfectly paired drinks which takes you on a culinary journey down the famous Silk Road, guided by a 4-inch French Chef projected onto your plate using cutting-edge 3D visual technology.

You’ll get to experience not only the flavours of each destination but also the sights, sounds and smells as Le Petit Chef’s story unfolds gradually on your table.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending many immersive and interactive dining events in London, but to this day, Dinner Time Story is still my favourite and certainly the most unique.

 

 

Visit the Geffrye Museum of the Home

Believe it or not, Shoreditch isn’t just colourful street art, cool bars and vintage shops.

One of the best things to do in Shoreditch for culture and history lovers is a visit to the Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye Museum), a unique London museum that explores the British home and home life from 1600 to the present day with a series of period room displays and exhibitions.

Take a step back in time and explore the living rooms and gardens of middle-class English families over the last 400 years.

 

 

Where to eat in Shoreditch

Throughout this post I’ve already mentioned many of the best restaurants and street food venues in Shoreditch, and I could write an entire post alone about all of the amazing places to eat in this cool East London nieghbourhood (I might soon), but for now, here’s a quick rundown of a few more of my favourites;

  • Indian – Dishoom
  • Italian – Gloria, Homeslice, Pizza East, Pizza Pilgrims
  • Steak – Hawksmoor
  • Sunday Roast – Blacklock
  • Burgers – Haché, Burger & Beyond, Dirty Bones
  • Fried Chicken – Absurd Bird, Clutch, Bird, Dirty Bones

 

 

Where to stay in Shoreditch

Dictionary Hostel in Shoreditch London

With its many cool restaurants and bars, convenient transport links and slightly lower prices than other areas of central London, Shoreditch makes a great place to base yourself on a visit to London.

Here are a few of the best hotels in Shoreditch depending on your budget;

 

 

 


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Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the south west. She has a masters degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works as a freelance travel writer, digital marketer and VA, splitting her life between London and travelling the world.

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