Not sure what to do in Shoreditch (AKA East London’s ultra-cool, alternative neighborhood)?
You and me both.
When I finally visited Shoreditch for myself, all I knew was that it had loads of street art and that it was straight up, Brooklyn level retro-chic.
WAY cooler than me because in all honesty, I’m not even really sure I know what that means.
Just imagine an uber-trendy place that is jam-packed with anarchist street art, artisanal eateries, vintage street markets, the smell of weed everywhere, and a bunch of hipster wannabes who are looking for a vegan cupcake to call their own.
Yup, it’s a pretty rad place for sure.
I mean, I might scoff a bit at all the hipsters trying to be way too cool for their own good, as they whip out their reusable straw and guzzle down their fair trade, organic, soy whipped latte for £6 a cup.
But in general:
Shoreditch is a uniquely wonderful place that is unlike anything else I’ve experienced in London.
A visit to Shoreditch is an absolute must for anyone planning a trip to London.
To help you make the most out of your visit, and possibly develop early onset arthritis from a ridiculous amount of walking, here is my ultra-nifty list of 10 amazingly fun things to do in Shoreditch!
WOOT WOOT! Yo DJ, pump this Shoreditch party!! Too much? Right, swiftly moving on.
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***Not sure where to stay in Shoreditch? Then check out The East London Hotel! This new, ultra-modern hotel is just a fifteen-minute walk from Shoreditch and offers guests luxurious rooms, with uber-modern amenities like a fully electronic check-in. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here since the staff was friendly, the price was reasonable, and the location was perfect for exploring all of London’s top attractions. Other fantastic hotel options in Shoreditch include the Z Hotel Shoreditch (moderate), the Ace Hotel (luxury), and Wombat’s City Hostel (budget).***
1. Grab a beigel from Beigel Bake
As a native New Yorker:
I’m an absolute snob about bagels (snob with a capital S).
Any bagel that is even slightly less than absolute carbohydrate perfection gets thrown in the garbage faster than I can
Yup, that’s how serious this New Yorker is about her bagels.
When I first read that everyone was going totally bananas over these bagels from Beigel Bake in Shoreditch, naturally, I was a bit skeptical (and by a bit I mean a lot).
New Yorkers practically INVENTED bagels so, in all seriousness, how good could these bagels really be?
After hoovering two Beigel Bake bagels in about thirty seconds flat, I had to swallow my pride, along with my food, and admit that yes, these bagels were freakin’ delicious.
While the salt beef bagel is the supposed star of the Beigel Bake menu, this chick right here is a vegetarian and ordered a plain old, bagel with cream cheese instead.
It was ridiculously delicious and I have ZERO regrets.
I stopped by around 5 pm and didn’t have to wait in line; something that is almost as unheard of as purchasing “just one thing” while you’re in Target (trust me, it’s impossible).
Try to avoid the line and visit during an off time (either in the afternoon or evening).
Remember to bring cash since they don’t accept credit cards. But, that makes sense since a bagel with cream cheese costs less than £2.
Beigel Bake is open 24 hours a day, so feel free to stop by and get your bagel
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I make things SUPER awkward when I pretend to be mildly hip.
2. Explore the Nomadic Community Garden
Imagine some uber-eclectic, hippie era wonderland that is a modern-day oasis for peace, love, and, duh, weed in London.
Now, whatever you’re imagining:
Amplify it by like 10,000 and you’ll have some idea of just how unique this place really is.
Kind of like Copenhagen’s Christiana only on a smaller scale.
Throw in some potted plants, picnic benches, abandoned cars, street art covered shacks, and homemade signs to get some idea of what the Nomadic Community Garden of
This garden also sits along the quaint, Alien Park in Shoreditch; making this the perfect place to sit back, relax, enjoy some food, and watch the people stroll by as the street artists scurry around in the background, creating their latest masterpieces.
So while there isn’t much to do here per
This communal garden is still a super cool place to walk around, take in the scenery, and enjoy the nearby walking path through the adjacent park (definitely one of the great FREE things to do in London).
3. Visit the Cereal Killer Cafe
I was probably drawn to the Cereal Killer Cafe because I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with all things Investigation Discovery (a TV channel dedicated entirely to murder and mayhem, for anyone not in the know).
Once I walked inside and saw napkin holders made of cassette tapes, walls lined with every type of cereal box imaginable, cozy children’s beds used for tableside seating, and wall art made out of VHS tapes, I knew I was home.
They even had Ace of Base blasting on the stereo. I mean, come on, what 90’s girl wouldn’t giggle with glee?
Yup, total 90’s, fangirl paradise.
Now excuse me while I grab my Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper and my wall pics of Leonardo DiCaprio to add to this 90’s era shrine.
Because remember Jack:
Never let go…of my uber fab 90’s slap bracelet! See, I knew it would come in handy one day!
But aside from the 90’s era vibe and the quirky decor:
This cafe offers guests an assortment of cereal-related foods that include pop tarts served with ice cream, lattes made with cocoa pops milk, tater tots breaded with corn flakes, and even, good old fashioned bowls of cereal.
I ordered a super snazzy bowl of Unicorn Poop Cereal since well, all things unicorn make me eternally happy.
And, to make things even better:
They served my cereal with a deliciously sweet side of bubble gum milk.
I even went a little crazy and ordered a cappuccino made with cocoa pops milk because well, why not?
Definitely an insanely fun, one of a kind experience that was elevated to the next level when my check, along with a cereal milk bar, was served in a VHS tape case.
Sure, it was a little expensive and a bit over the top.
I had a ridiculous amount of fun and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Definitely one of the MANY fun things to do in Shoreditch.
4. Check out the animals at Spitalfields City Farm
How did I NOT know that East London had a fully functional, community-based farm and garden?
Crazy, but true!
Plus, Spitalfields City Farm has been around since 1978 and continues to educate visitors about important topics like animal welfare, sustainable farming, living a sustainable lifestyle, and the environmental importance of ecological biodiversity (FINALLY using that environmental science degree I have).
But, more than that:
This farm gives residents the opportunity to further connect with their community by creating something great that all of London can enjoy; a safe place where children and adults can learn about and connect to the natural world around them.
If you feel like getting down and dirty at the O.K. Corral, I mean the Spitalfields Community Farm, then stop by any day, except Monday, (between 10 am and 4 pm, from October through March, and between 10 am and 4:30 pm, from April through September), and enjoy this little oasis of greenery.
It’s totally free! Plus, not only will you get to explore enchanting gardens that are overflowing with evening primrose, musk mallow, bedstraw, yarrow, vervain, knapweed, and ox-eye daisy, but you’ll also get to see, and pet, some wicked cute animals too!
And really, who doesn’t like cute animals?
Because if you don’t like super cuddly, ultra-adorable animals then I don’t think we can be friends.
Especially here since this farm is home to some wicked awesome animals like geese, sheep, parrots, ducks, chickens, pigs, cats, ferrets, donkeys, goats, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
I dunno about you but I say, “Bring on the epic animal cuteness!”
That and watch out for the “presents” that our animal brethren leave behind.
Because let’s be real:
Some things should just not come home with you from the farm.
But all things considered, this is still one of the coolest things to do in Shoreditch.
5. Pet some kitties at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
Shocked that a cat cafe made it on this list of things to do in Shoreditch?
Yeah, me either.
I mean, cat cafes are all the rage these days so it’s no small wonder that the ultra-cool neighborhood of Shoreditch is home to none other than Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium.
And while I normally pride myself in being blissfully unaware of what all the cool kids are up to, sometimes you just gotta hop on the pop culture bandwagon and enjoy the ride.
At least as long as you’re doing so while sipping on a fair-trade, mocha, soy, double shot, extra whip latte, and petting ultra-adorable kitties that are lookin’ for lovin’ in all the right places.
The first rule of Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium? Always make a reservation since this cat cafe is incredibly popular among all the cat-loving citizens of London.
And while you can enjoy a standard, 90-minute cat petting sesh for £15, why not live a little and experience high tea among some free roaming, or hardcore napping, kitties?
For just £30 per person (come on guys, it’s for a good cause):
You can enjoy an assortment of sandwiches, teas, cakes, cookies, and scones that are, DUH, served with clotted cream and jam, among these fabulous felines for 90 glorious minutes, between 2:30 pm and 6:00 pm on weekdays and between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm on weekends.
Definitely one of the most unique afternoon teas in London, fo’ sure!
However just as an FYI:
Lady Dinah’s is closed on Wednesdays so no cat adoration then.
You can also try and visit on a Soothing Sunday when the cafe is filled to half capacity, providing you with extra space to enjoy these fantastic felines.
With 90-minute sessions priced at £20 per person:
You can savor all this extra kitty awesomeness, with the added bonus of having one, non-alcoholic drink included in the price of admission.
If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, then check out the cafe’s a la carte menu, which features a variety of sweets, as well as breakfast and lunch items, that are sure to satisfy almost every craving imaginable.
6. Check out some street art along Brick Lane
No trip to Shoreditch would be complete without seeing some street art.
Am I right?
Bloody hell, of
So seeing street art is an absolute must, even if it isn’t one of the most unique things to do in Shoreditch.
Check out the street art along Brick Lane, Redchurch Street, Rivington Street (this is where you’ll find Banksy’s designated graffiti wall), and along the various side streets that branch off of Brick Lane.
You’ll see some of Shoreditch’s most jaw-droppingly exquisite murals, pieces that are sometimes so large that they occupy the entire side of a building.
If you really want to get the most out of your street art experience in Shoreditch, then definitely sign up for an awesome, 2.5 hour street art tour with a local expert.
Not only will you get to learn about the artists who created these pieces, but you’ll also understand the meaning behind a variety of murals that you never would have been able to find on your own.
I didn’t have enough time to do a street art tour during my last trip to London, but it’s definitely on my bucket list for next time.
7. Find some old world charm along Wilkes Street
I’m sorry but I had NO clue that many of the houses throughout Shoreditch were quaint AF.
NO JOKE! Why did I not get this memo?
Okay, to be fair, these houses aren’t Notting Hill level pretty, but they do have this old-world, Victorian Era charm that makes you want to take about a zillion photos, as you impulsively drain your camera’s battery while photographing a single street.
TRAVEL FAIL for sure.
Personally, my favorite street to photograph is Wilkes Street.
Princelet Street is pretty dang adorable too. So those are two great places to start your photographic journey.
There are about a billion ultra-fab streets throughout Shoreditch.
Do your own exploring and let me know if you find any other uber-cute streets throughout this neighborhood.
8. Stop and smell the flowers at the Columbia Road Flower Market (only open Sundays)
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Not gonna lie:
When I first considered visiting the Columbia Road flower market, I was not super stoked.
Sure, flowers look and smell nice, but since you can’t really eat them, they’re of limited appeal to me.
But this place is exceptionally amazing since it’s kind of like a flower market on steroids.
Everywhere you turn you are mesmerized by vibrant colors, enchanted by decadent smells entwined with the breeze, and amazed by exotic flowers that you never knew existed.
I was tempted to buy ALL the flowers and I don’t even like flowers! THAT’s how amazing this place is.
So, stroll on over between 8 am and 3 pm every Sunday:
And you’ll find bucketfuls of amazing flowers that beautifully line a charmingly narrow street in East London (vendors also sell a variety of other plants as well).
And while I was just browsing:
If you’re looking to purchase some flowers, definitely compare prices and don’t be afraid to haggle.
Just remember that:
This market is quite popular, so be prepared for large crowds, especially around midday (get here when the market opens to avoid the hordes of flower lovers).
Once you’ve shopped until you can shop no more:
Grab some sustenance at Jones Dairy Cafe (great organic, local produce) or stroll on over to Treacle and devour some delicious, traditional British pastries.
***Want to save money on your flowers? Visit the market towards the end of the day (between 2 pm and 3 pm) and you’ll receive huge discounts as vendors try and get rid of their remaining flowers.***
Nestled along the roundabout on Old Street:
Shoreditch Grind is that unicorn of virtual coffee shop perfection that I could never seem to find, until now.
I knew this coffee purveyor was my long lost, highly caffeinated spirit animal as soon as I cast eyes on the sign, “Sex, coffee, and rock and roll”.
That’s when I knew that THESE were my long lost, coffee lovin’ people from across the pond.
But it gets better!
Part coffee shop, part bar, part recording studio, part restaurant, this place is infinitely cooler than I can ever hope to be.
They serve the ever trendy, ultra-fab, smashed avocado toast. The stuff that all the hipster kids crave. Need I say more (If you’re not a fan of avocado, they also serve hummus, cheeseburgers, chicken wings, fried chicken sandwiches, a variety of breakfast items, and more)?
They even have crazy long hours and are open for some ridiculous amount of time like 18 hours per day.
You can basically go and get your coffee fix at almost any time of day (Literally, they’re open until 11 pm on the weekdays and until 1
They really do know just how serious my coffee addiction is!
They literally roast their own coffee beans right around the corner. Legit, how cool is that??
If you’re looking for something a bit stronger than coffee, then you’ve come to the right place since I’ve also heard that they serve some wicked awesome cocktails too.
Whether you’re looking to quietly sit a latte or wanna rock the night away with the cocktail of your choice, then this is the epically awesome place for you.
10. Eat Copious Amounts of Indian food
I am absolutely OBSESSED with Indian food. I’m sorry but Palak Panner and garlic Naan are my total jam.
Whenever I’m in London, I make it my mission to find, and devour, some of the best Indian food that this epic city has to offer.
Which is part of the reason why I came to Shoreditch in the first place.
Throughout London, Brick Lane is affectionately known as curry mile.
Therefore, you obviously need to try at least SOME Indian food while you’re in Shoreditch.
Whenever you have no idea what to do in Shoreditch, eating is always a good idea.
Food, glorious food (picture me twirling in a circle and voraciously eating my feelings)!
And while there are about 10,000 curry houses to choose from:
My personal faves include Brick Lane Brasserie (a combo of Indian and Bangladeshi food), City Spice, Meraz Cafe, Gunpowder, etc.
There are a ridiculous number of other amazing Indian restaurants along Brick Lane but sadly, I haven’t had time to try them all.
Without even a moment’s hesitation, my absolute all time fave is Dishoom Shoreditch.
Like many of us:
I had heard all the rumors about how insanely delicious the food here was and wanted to see if the food really lived up to all the hype.
I am here to tell you that the food at Dishoom absolutely lives up to all the hype, and then some.
I ordered a delicious chai latte that was the perfect combination of sweet, milky tea and rich, earthy spices; an expertly spiced drink that was flavorful but not overpoweringly so.
I then enjoyed an order of the Paneer Tikka, a flavorful mix of grilled Paneer Cheese and vegetables that were all smothered in a deliciously spicy rub that was packed with flavor.
It was the best Paneer Tikka that I have ever had. The spice rub was so flavorful that you didn’t even miss the fact that this dish wasn’t slathered in cream or deep fried in a vat of oil.
And last but not least?
The naan! No Indian meal is complete without an order of naan!
I tried the garlic naan, which was cooked to perfection. The bread was thin, soft, and slightly crispy but without being too greasy.
A perfectly delicious meal that wasn’t too expensive either.
You can also try some classic fan favorites like lamb raan (spiced, grilled leg which comes out burger-style on a sourdough bun), the house black daal, pau bhaji, and the breakfast bacon naan.
But no matter what you order:
I can guarantee that you won’t find anything bad on the menu at Dishoom.
11. Check out the club vibe and ultra-cool vintage clothing at the Brick Lane Vintage Market
I’ll be the first one to admit that generally speaking, I hate shopping. Actually, loathe would probably be more accurate.
Especially when it comes to vintage stores.
It’s not that I don’t love the look and price of these epic, old-school threads.
It’s just that inevitably, they never seem to fit right and always leave me walking away, feeling like a total elephant.
The good news, for shopping adverse humans like me, is that this Vintage Market has way more to offer than just shopping.
First of all:
As you descend into this cavernous basement of shopping bliss, you’ll be razzle-dazzled by the ultra funky decor and the vibrant, pulsating tunes; house music that sucks you into a shopping vortex where you feel like you’re rocking out in a club, not browsing through a vintage clothing store.
All you need is a disco ball, strobe lights, some hot pants, and a pair of Elton John era sunglasses and you’ll be good to go.
Now, as you cross the threshold of vintage awesomeness:
You’ll be delighted by an eclectic assortment of clothes that make shopping way more exciting than in any “normal” department store.
You can let your inner freak flag fly free as you try on over-the-top sunglasses and take shameless selfies in all of the vintage shop mirrors.
Just don’t tell the owners that I told you to do this. It’ll be our little secret.
Not only are there at least thirty, ultra-rad vendors for you to choose from, but there’s also an old school photo booth where you can snap some selfies and pay homage to your epic trip to London.
12. Do some shopping at Spitalfields Market
You’re probably over the whole, “market thing” since there are like 10,000 other markets on this list of fun things to do in Shoreditch.
In reality, this market is the oldest, biggest, and most famous on this list.
A trip to Shoreditch wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Spitalfields Market.
Started WAY back in ye olde 1638:
This market is one of the oldest in London and really does have it all since there are over 40 food stalls and over 50 retail shops that sell almost anything you can dream up.
Boredom isn’t something you’re gonna need to worry about with awesome shops like Alex Vintage Jewelry, Maya’s Crown, and Kashif London literally around every corner.
And if you do get bored:
You can always eat your feelings like me since that’s clearly a healthy thing to do.
No one will blame you for eating a feeling or two since this market is jam-packed with epic eateries like Sud Italia, The Butchery, Yum Bun, and more.
My faves are the doughnuts and cannolis but that’s because I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas.
However, there is one downside.
Because this market is ultra-popular, it is PACKED during the weekend.
Try and avoid the crowds by visiting during a weekday since this market is open seven days a week (they even have a special antique market on Thursdays).
13. Explore Boxpark
This isn’t some new age park where you give up all your earthly possessions and begin a new life in your tiny house, AKA cardboard box.
We call this ultra-minimalism.
Kidding! Boxpark is actually a GIANT pop up
Super neat right? Accordingly:
Boxpark has become a wonderfully quirky shopping experience where you can explore iconic fashion, art, food, and drink retailers that effortlessly brings creativity back to the streets of London.
Walk through the ground level and you’ll find an assortment of unique retail stores, coffee shops, and restaurants like Soft Swerve Society,
If you see a queue down the street that is right next to the public transport station, then you know that you’re in the right place.
Meander on up to the top floor and you’ll find a variety of vivacious bars and late-night, foodie hot spots that will delight even the pickiest eaters.
Just one of the many uber cool things to do in Shoreditch!