As you research your London trip, it’s easy to get overwhelmed: in addition to all the iconic sights and attractions of Central London, there are neighborhoods across the Greater London area that are well worth a visit. Do you head west, to the posh neighborhood? North for some vintage shopping and canal rides? Or east for the hipster’s haven of great food and funky boutiques? Even narrowing it down to a specific neighborhood is hard!
Shoreditch is one of those neighborhoods you’ll probably hear about though – whether that’s researching on Google or asking friends or family who’ve been to London before. It’s one of East London’s most famous areas, home to street art, Spitalfields Market, and superb ethnic food… among much, much more! There are some awesome things to do in Shoreditch, well worth the journey on the bus or Overground to get there.
During my time living in and visiting London, I have, of course, spent time in Shoreditch, and thought it might be helpful to create a list of the top things to do in the area. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but will cover the most essential things I think travelers should try to experience – and probably at least a few you’ve never heard of.
Ready to plan the Shoredtich portion of your London itinerary? Grab your re-usable bag and slip on a comfy pair of shoes; let’s get out there and explore the best that Shoreditch has to offer.
Check out the Blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Shoreditch is to spend some wholesome hours browsing the displays at Columbia Road Flower Market. Open every Sunday, whatever the weather, from 8am to 3pm, this market has been a weekly occurrence in this delightful area of London for over 40 years.
You will find stalls packed with flowers, plants, bulbs, and herbs that create an amazing scene of color and glorious floral scents. If you want to avoid the busier times, a good tip is to get there to visit the stalls before 9am. That said, if you are a bit of a bargain hunter, it’s good to arrive later – when the stallholders are starting to think about packing up, they tend to slash the price of the stock they have left.
Visit the Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffyre Museum)
Situated within an 18th-century former almshouse (accommodation for the homeless created by charities), the Museum of the Home is a unique and fascinating attraction.
This museum explores and celebrates domestic interiors and how we have inhabited them through the ages. Visitors can look forward to programmed events, detailed exhibitions, and installations revealing stories of homes as they have evolved through the years. The museum features a ( rather pricey) café and a gift shop with an extensive range that includes bespoke homewares, books, jewelry, toys, ceramics, fashion, and unique accessories.
Access to this thought-provoking attraction is free, and it is open from 10am to 5pm, from Tuesday through Sunday.
Take a Shoreditch Street Art Tour
Shoreditch is, without question, one of the hippest neighborhoods in the UK’s capital. Over the past three decades, this London suburb has broken stereotypes surrounding graffiti, and today, the street art that adorns the buildings and walls is not only celebrated but also rather valuable.
The famous and elusive street art boss Banksy has even left his mark here on a couple of occasions. So, at least one street art tour should definitely be on your Shoreditch things-to-do itinerary. Joining a tour means you get to see all the most influential, impressive, and extraordinary pieces, which you may not find without the inside information of the tour guides.
Shop & Try Spitalfields Market
Another of the great things to do in Shoreditch is to spend the day browsing and shopping at Spitalfields. This fabulous market brings together some of London’s best restaurants, fashion shops, boutiques, and market stalls and is filled with bright colors, glorious scents, and delectable street food to try.
Spitalfields Market oozes real East London character, combining historical convention with modern twists. Spending some leisurely hours here is an absolute must for passionate fashionistas and foodies looking for some wholesome culture. If you plan your visit for the weekend, you may be treated to a live music or art exhibition too.
Browse the Stalls at Brick Lane Market
Market traders have been selling their goods and produce from Brick Lane Market since the 17th Century. Today, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Shoreditch. An absolute treat for the senses, this bustling market is a vibrant melting pot of nationalities, cultures, and traditions. Technically, it is made up of a number of different markets that all stretch the length of Brick Lane. The markets are open every day of the week, although Sundays are when they really come to life. An eclectic variety of street vendors showcase everything from antiques, clothes, jewelry, street food, and much more.
Shop the Shelves at Libreria
Photos courtesy of Libreria via Instagram
Libreria is a unique bookshop located just off Brick Lane and has to be one of the most appealing of the Shoreditch attractions.
The concept at Libreria is to encourage guests and patrons to disconnect from our chaotic, digital world, even just for a short while. Mobile phone use is strictly forbidden, which is a shame for your social media pages as the aesthetic in this gorgeous shop is snap-worthy for sure. Books are piled from floor to ceiling on the high wooden bookcases, and you will find purposely created reading alcoves and cozy sofa-style seating where you can lose yourself in your chosen book for hours.
The shop does not categorize the books in a conventional style, so be sure to look out for some unusual and quite hilarious section titles.
Take a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour
One of the most popular Shoreditch activities to get involved with is a Jack the Ripper walking tour. The haunting background to this activity is the stuff of nightmares. Way back in 1888, a series of horrific murders took place in the East End of London.
The murderer was never found, although the culprit is believed to have sent a letter to the offices of a London newspaper, in which they took responsibility for the heinous crimes. This letter is said to have been signed “Jack the Ripper”, hence the name. These walking tours lead you down the murky streets that were the scenes of the murders, and your guide will share all the gory details with you along the way. This is one of the popular Shoreditch attractions that is not for the faint of heart!
Enjoy Live Music at Village Underground
The ultimate thing to do in Shoreditch for music lovers is to attend an event at Village Underground. This is a turn-of-the-century warehouse that has been fully renovated to become the prime live music location that it is today.
A visit here will reward you with cutting-edge culture, the very best nights of clubbing, and live music. The curated artist schedule showcases the best in new and emerging talent alongside world-class musicians.
Relax & Purr at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
Photos courtesy of Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium via Instagram
Love or hate the concept, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is a very popular cafe where you can dine with some real-life feline friends. An absolute must-do for cat lovers, the menu here is made up of classic British drinks, snacks, and light bites; the cream tea is a favorite with many (human) visitors.
Food and drink prep is all kept completely separate from the animals. The cats here are all rescues, each being fostered by the cafe and available for adoption to the very best homes.
Try a Curry on Brick Lane
In the mid-20th century, many Bangladeshis put down roots and made Brick Lane and its surroundings their long-term home. With them, they brought their unrivaled knowledge of herbs and spices and their world-class curry recipes, which has led to Brick Lane being one of the most popular places to get an authentic curry in the whole of London. Your biggest problem will be choosing which of the outstanding curry houses to visit first.
Play & Drink at Ballie Ballerson
Photos courtesy of Ballie Ballerson
The final item on my list of the best things to do in Shoreditch is to head down to Ballie Ballerson for fun and cocktails! This eccentric adult-only attraction is essentially a giant ball pit and features over a million balls that you can let loose with while enjoying the best mix of R&B, disco, and house music.
The cocktail list here is extensive, and the bottomless brunch is an absolute favorite if that timing works better in your London itinerary.
Have any questions about these top things to do in Shoreditch, or have you heard of other great activities you’re curious about? Let me know in the comments below!