Skip to Content

A Beginner’s Guide to East London

Guys and girls, I give you the COOLEST TRAVEL VIDEO EVER! I’m serious. It’s not very often that a travel video captures the essence of a neighborhood while still showing off all that stereotypical sightseeing stuff.

But this one from Hotel Club does it well and it does it right. A super-cool trip-hop soundtrack, a guy traveling through crowds on a skateboard, cool colors and a simple style. It’s oh-so-pretty. I’m tempted to board a plane and make the move to East London myself. Anyways, watch the video. Get inspired. And then go visit East London already. Also: check out my beginner’s guide to my favorite London borough below.

A Beginner’s Guide to East London

Sightseeing travel tips & top things to do & see

To be honest, it took me years to finally visit East London. I’d been to Brick Lane before, but I never really ventured far enough away from the London Underground to fully appreciate all that East London has to offer. Below is my shortlist of many of the tourist sightseeing things you really should make a special trip out east for:

Aladin Brick Lane
Curry at Aladin Brick Lane restaurant

Curry at Brick Lane

Listen, I know it’s cliché. Londoners love to claim Brick Lane is touristic. And it is. But that’s what makes it fun. Haggling for the price of your dinner, BYOB, crowded restaurants and the spiciest foods you’ve ever had. Go for a curry at one of the many Indian and Pakistani restaurants on Brick Lane.

And as a bonus, on Sundays there’s a pretty awesome flea/food/fashion market along Brick Lane. It’s probably the best place to be in London on a Sunday.

Shopping at Shoreditch High Street

Shoreditch High Street is probably the place to be in East London. Again, thanks to the success of the London Overground tube, this part of East London can feel pretty touristic, but step into some of the shops along the High Street and you won’t be sorry.

And for the super-trendy, the über-hip ACE Hotel (just check out these photos!) is located right in the thick of things. Along the High Street, you’ve got everything from food trucks to pop-up shops. The BOXPARK shopping center is pretty much the epitome of gentrification in the area. They’ve got quality coffee houses, big-name brands and a really cool blog.

Regent's Canal

Stroll along Regent’s Canal

The Regent’s Canal flows near some of East London’s best places: the Broadway Market and Victoria Park. Each Saturday at the Broadway Market you’ll find cool vintage deals, street food and a healthy spattering of knick-knacks and old books. And during the summer Victoria Park is the place to be seen (and do some top-quality people-watching).

Pho on Kingsland Road

Up north of gentrified Shoreditch you’ll find down-to-earth Dalston. Kingsland Road is pretty special. The high street is lined with countless Vietnamese restaurants. I’m 90% sure that East London covers just about every type of diverse cuisine and culture.

Visit the Old Truman Brewery

Once a brewery, now the Old Truman Brewery is home to handfuls of indie shops and art spaces. On Sundays, the old brewery hosts the Sunday (Up)Market with over 140 stalls selling fashion, accessories, arts, crafts and music. Take a stroll through the area and then head over to the Pride of Spitalfields pub for some traditional London brews.

Brick Lane on Sunday
Sunday market on Brick Lane

Vintage Shopping at Beyond Retro

This massive warehouse near Brick Lane is packed floor to ceiling with vintage clothing and accessories (and shoes!). Rumor has it that the Beyond Retro shop on Cheshire Street has had its fair share of celebrity shoppers as well. There’s no shortage of vintage clothing stores in East London, but Beyond Retro is one of the biggest.

The Columbia Road Flower Market

Has there ever been such a pretty street market before? I don’t think so. The Columbia Road Flower Market each Sunday transforms the quiet, peaceful street into a cacophony of flower-sellers, scents and street buskers.

Columbia Road Flower Market
Sundays at the Columbia Road Flower Market are crowded but the sights & sounds are worth it!

* * *

Looking for more about East London? Try my mini-guide on My Gay Travel Guide or my previous blog about Shoreditch, Hackney & Dalston.

  1. Jen says:

    You have covered all of my favourite things about East London Adam. I miss my curries and haggling on Brick Lane. In fact I miss London in general.

  2. This is my London. Thanks for the memories. Only it’s not always been so cool. And the gentrification has taken away some of the character. But you can say that about many places in the capital.

    • Adam says:

      Good points there. Gentrification is a tricky thing and a bit of a loaded word, but usually the more interesting places in a city are the ones with the most unique history.

  3. Dmitriy says:

    I think it’s a great article and gives a very good overview of East London. My personal favourite places for going out in East London are The Joiners Arms and Dalston Superstore. I’ve just launched a website about Gay life in London called which gives descriptions of all bars, clubs, restaurants and saunas in the capital. I hope it will be useful for the travellers like yourself. Let me know what you think.

    • Adam says:

      Dalston Superstore – I know it and love it! Will definitely check out your site – seems perfect for me :)

  4. Sam says:

    Ah yes, good old Shoreditch. Zab and I spent some time there on our latest visit to our home city and couldn’t believe just how cool it was. I know it had been cool before when we lived in London full time, but like this?! Maybe it was the lack of hipster hangouts in South America that brought it into sharp contrast, but it was almost too much to handle.

    • Adam says:

      Haha I know what you mean that sometimes it can be a bit too much. Berlin’s Kreuzberg district is a bit like Shoreditch, and I can only handle that on occasion as well.

  5. Franca says:

    I miss East London and the city in general, I adore Brick Lane and having a curry there is a must as you suggested! :)

  6. A lovely part of London that shouldn’t be missed. East area has its own specialties and one of them is delicious food. I love the eastern food and if your taste is so you should try.

  7. Ayngelina says:

    I always say I hate London but maybe I’ve just been in the wrong neighborhoods?

    • Alex says:

      I used to say the same (mmmkay let’s be honest sometimes I still do). But many of my closest friends have ended up there and so I go. On my last trip I ventured to Camden and Shoreditch and London’s stock really went up. Check them out!

  8. Stephanie says:

    ah, brick lane! went there this summer (as a total London tourist, it was my first time!) + i immediately texted my friend and went: “it looks like an Urban Outfitters exploded over an entire neighborhood!” however, i totally loved the vintage shopping + got some great stuff!

    hoping to make it to the columbia road flower market as i’ve heard its the most glooorious street market around; so sad that i missed it on my first trip; i’ll have to loop around again when i’m in europe in the fall!

    • Adam says:

      OMG I love your description. The vintage shopping along Brick Lane is really some of the best in the world!

  9. We agree that the skate video is one of the coolest videos ever.
    Great soundtrack. We have only been to London for a few days but thought it was a great city with so many awesome neighbourhoods to explore.

  10. I’ve only been to London once. For four days. And I stayed on a boat. Maybe I should’ve explored a bit more? :)

  11. I’ve been in London once and didn’t really like it… but this looks like a lot of fun!

    Will go back and try this out!

  12. Hammad Tariq says:

    I lived in East London for at least 2 years and although I know Bricklane area, I never knew all the other such as Columbia road flower market. Seems like i will have to visit East London again but this time as a tourist!

    • Adam says:

      Wow Hammad – East London is definitely a vibrant area and there are so many things to see and do… I don’t think you could possibly experience everything in East London even in 2 years.

  13. Erica says:

    I love London… SO MUCH. It probably explains why I’ve been there 4 times and Shaun 5. These are some of my favorite things in the world.

  14. Brigid says:

    I could seriously go a brick lane curry right now lol! Never realised how many great things their were to do in East London. When I head back am most definitely going to go for Pho on Kingsland Road and the flower market. Oh how I miss London town :)

    • Adam says:

      Yep – East London has some of the best diversity in London with so many different cool things to do. I’m never bored there!

  15. […] so difficult to imagine London without this Asian influence (not only China and Vietnam, but even India) just as it would be to imagine Berlin without its Turkish influences. If you want to see just a […]

  16. […] my previous visits. Normally I try to stay away from the city center and usually opt for the more hipster-friendly areas. This time, though, because I knew I’d be trying to find some cheap tickets for a West End […]

Comments are closed.