Posted on 07/01/2024 | 7th January, 2024
If you’re not from London, it’s likely that your knowledge of east London areas only reaches as far as the Shard and trendy Shoreditch. However, there is so much to be enjoyed in this area of town.
Undoubtedly, east London is the hipster capital of the country.
It is bursting with quirky coffee shops, heaps of street art, and enough microbreweries to last a lifetime. There are podcast studios on every street corner, and vegan, gluten-free, artisanal cafes line each road. But that’s why we love it.
Don’t expect discounted prices at this trendy side of town. You might be out of the glitz and glamour of Belgravia, but you will undoubtedly pay for the privilege of drinking your pint from a plastic cup beside a rather suspect-looking body of water.
All jokes aside, east London is my favourite area of the big smoke. There is so much happening, especially in the summer, the area bursts into life. Now, every east Londoner has their very own version of where the borders for each area of east London lay.
For simplicity, I have broken this article down into ten east London areas:
Shoreditch and Spitalfields – The Heart of East London
Shoreditch and Spitalfields, the king and queen of east London.
To put it politely, this area had a slightly chequered past. However, the place is now packed with co-working cafes, pop-up events venues, and enough avocado toast to keep any millennial happy. Many companies are choosing to base themselves in this area of London, ranging from tech giants to independent boutiques. Everyone is drawn in by the charm of the area.
Shoreditch is one of my favourite areas in the whole of east London. It’s constantly evolving, and every visit allows me to explore a new layer of the neighbourhood I didn’t previously know existed.
Of course, this area is packed with incredible drink venues. Whether you’re looking for a mesmerizing rooftop bar, exquisite cocktails, or a frolic in a ball pit (yes, you read that right!), Shoreditch is the place to be.
The shopping is not to be missed. The vintage markets in this area of the city are unbeatable. There are plenty of gems to be found in Spitalfields market, but perhaps the best-known spot for thrift shopping is along Brick Lane with its famous underground vintage market.
If you’re looking for a free way to spend a weekend, then head to Shoreditch and check out the incredible street art. If you’re looking to snap some amazing Instagram shots, I would recommend getting here early. Shoreditch doesn’t really come to life until lunchtime, so you’ll probably be safe any time before 11 am.
Canary Wharf and the Docklands
Canary Wharf is packed with sleek, shiny skyscrapers and is best known for being the capital’s financial hub. Many of the world’s most profitable banks house their headquarters here, which is packed with luxury hotels and plush restaurants.
Canary Wharf might not have the grunge of Shoreditch, but it has a sparklingly clean, modern feel that is hard to come by in the overpacked capital city.
Besides marvelling at the magnificent buildings, there’s plenty to do in this area of east London. For example, the Crossrail Roof Gardens offers space to wander amongst exotic plants (pretty rare in London). The Gardens are free to visit and open until sunset every day.
No trip to Canary Wharf would be complete without a spot of shopping in the incredible malls. Beware, though – even as someone who lived locally – this place is a maze! It is essentially a web of smaller malls that offer plenty of shops but a whole load of getting lost!
There aren’t many independent food offerings in the area, with chain restaurants ruling the roost here. The Big Easy is perhaps the most famous offering in the area, with their bottomless brunches having an excellent reputation across the city.
Wapping and Limehouse
Like most of East London, Wapping and Limehouse have undergone tremendous gentrification over the past twenty years and are now extremely popular with young professionals.
Wapping is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city, stretching the distance between Tower Bridge and Limehouse Basin. The cobbled streets are lined with former warehouses converted into trendy apartments, giving the whole place an industrial vibe.
Aside from the stunning architecture, Wapping is perhaps best known for its many popular watering holes.
In fact, Wapping is home to one of London’s oldest pubs, The Prospect of Whitby. A great place to grab a drink with a waterfront view. However, head to Tobacco Dock if you prefer something a little more lively. This huge events space regularly hosts music concerts, beer festivals and club nights.
Read the full guide: The Best Pubs in Wapping
Stratford – Shopping and Sport in East London
Most people will be familiar with Stratford due to the incredible London 2012 Olympic games.
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is one of the most popular parks in London and a must-visit on your visit to Stratford. It is home to the Olympic Stadium (home of West Ham), the Aquatics Centre and the Olympic Velodrome. In addition, there are endless walking trails and picnic spots, offering a much-needed dose of greenery in east London.
One of the most iconic scenes in Stratford is the ArcelorMittal Orbit. This structure is 114 meters tall and offers an incredible viewing platform with beautiful views over the iconic London skyline.
The best part? Visitors have two unique ways to get their feet back on the ground. Option one: abseil down the structure. Option two: take the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide.
Hackney Wick (Best Areas in East London)
Just next door to Stratford is on of the most Hipster areas in East London: Hackney Wick.
Warehouses converted into breweries, art galleries, and street food galore. I adore Hackney Wick; it is a great place to meet up with friends and enjoy a drink. There is so much incredible street art here, with enough murals to challenge its equally trendy neighbour, Shoreditch.
Many of the narrowboats have been converted into bars and restaurants, offering a unique place to grab a bite to eat. The Barge East is a firm favourite and has locals and tourists alike flocking to enjoy their great food and drink in the sunshine.
A lot of the venues here are pop-ups, so try not to get too attached, as you might find they have disappeared on your next visit!
Hackney Wick is centred around winding canals, which means that it is the perfect base for exploring east London on foot. Continue up the canal further into north London, or head west and explore the beautiful Victoria Park.
Victoria Park and Victoria Village
For the best part of three years, I lived just a short walk from Victoria Park, and it quickly became one of my favourite places in the whole of London. Victoria Park has the most communal, welcoming feel of all east London areas.
This area is best explored on a Sunday (preferably in the sunshine) when the whole of east London appears to flock to the area for a wholesome morning. Expect to see runners, cyclists, skateboarders, rollerskaters and dog walkers enjoying the green space and fresh air.
Each Sunday afternoon, there is also a food market in Victoria Park, which offers a great variety of reasonably priced foods (this is London, after all!). If you would prefer somewhere to sit down, there are plenty of coffee shops and cafes in Victoria Village.
Dalston and Haggerston
Dalston and Haggerston are just west of the perhaps better-known Hackney. This is the east London area to visit if you love a good drink.
You’ve got all the traditional east London pubs and a range of quirky cocktail bars. Viva! Is a Mexican / Latin American tapas and cocktail bar; Brilliant Corners is a Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar; and Three Sheets is an excellent option for devouring great cocktails with friends.
Fear not, though; there is more to Dalston and Haggerston than a boozy night out. Rio cinema is one of the few independent art deco cinemas in London (and occasionally also shows a mainstream movie). Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is an excellent slice of tranquillity in the chaos of the city, and Ridley Road Market is a great option for shopping full of fresh fruits, veggies, textiles and clothing.
Stoke Newington and Finsbury Park
Stoke Newington and Finsbury Park are just north of Dalston, as mentioned above. This area of east London is great if you’re looking for something slightly off the beaten track, giving more of an authentic east London experience.
This area has an excellent independent food scene; you will seriously never struggle to find a good meal. Like most of London, there is also a huge coffee scene around Stoke Newington, so you’re never far from a great oat milk latte and almond croissant.
Aside from the excellent eateries, there is also Clissold Park, which even has a small herd of fallow deer!
The City of London
The City is perhaps the area of east London that welcomes the most tourists. Major attractions such as Tower Bridge, The Gherkin and the Walkie-Talkie building are in this area, so it’s no surprise that people flock from around the globe to enjoy this area of the city.
Many financial companies are based in the City of London, so if you visit on a weekday, expect to see swarms of workers marching the streets in slick suits. There are many fantastic traditional pubs around the city of London, best enjoyed in the early evening when the atmosphere is buzzing.
If it’s your first time visiting this area, I would recommend visiting St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, two of the most iconic pieces of architecture in the capital.
Greenwich – South East London Hotspot
Greenwich is one of my favourite areas in the whole of the capital. It’s popular with locals and tourists, with a great range of places to eat and drink, including a blend of well-known chains and independent spots.
There is an excellent nightlife scene in Greenwich, with a range of venues offering frequent music and comedy nights.
Greenwich Park is one of the best parks in London, boasting over 183 acres and offering one of the best viewpoints in London. For that reason, this green space is packed, whether rain or shine.
This area is best known for being the home of Greenwich Meantime, and as such, no visit to Greenwich is complete without exploring its incredible museums.
So, if you’re looking for the best East London areas, then Greenwich should be at the top of your list!
Read the full guide: 13 Amazing Things to do in Greenwich
Areas of East London – Frequently Asked Questions
Is East London Safe?
Yes, east London is safe. But with any big, busy city comes a level of crime. So it is essential that you act sensibly and take the necessary precautions, staying aware of your surroundings.
Where Are the Best Places to Live in East London?
As you have seen, there is a massive variety in east London. For someone who loves nightlife and parties, I would recommend Spitalfields or Shoreditch. For a similar vibe but a little quieter, Limehouse or Wapping would be ideal. Stratford is an excellent option for a slightly more affordable and well-connected option.
How to Get Around in East London?
As with all of London, the tube network is the easiest way to travel. The bus network is also effective, reliable and inexpensive. Using Santander Cycles or Lime Bikes is also an entertaining way to explore the city.
Where Are the Best Parks in East London?
There are so many amazing parks in east London, with my favourite being Victoria Park. If you get the opportunity, visit on a Sunday between 10 am – 4 pm when the food market is bustling. Stratford is also an amazing spot to
What Are the Best Things to Do in East London?
East London is an amazing, diverse place with lots to do. Explore the street art in Shoreditch, enjoy a pint in a proper London pub, visit the incredible Victoria Park, and explore the incredible food scene.