Not often considered top of the ‘must-see’ list of travelers, London’s East End could be considered one of London’s best-kept secrets. Mostly known for the enticing aromas that lure you to Brick Lane’s famed curry houses, the East End of London is a wealth of independent businesses, quaint cafes and a colorful cacophony of story-telling street art for you to discover.
Not Just a Daytrip
There is enough going on in London’s East End that you could easily spend a long weekend break here and with a network of interesting streets to explore, you might find yourself heading back sooner than you think. Luckily, there are plenty of travel links to the East End, whether you make your way over from the center on foot or use the public buses and underground trains, it won’t be a boring journey as there is plenty of sights on the way.
The stations are also an opportunity to learn something new, there’s an interesting fact about every single one! For instance, Whitechapel is the only tube line where the Overground line is below the Underground and Aldgate was built on top of a plague burial pit. Which could be the influence behind this station being named one of London’s most haunted.
One of the best ways to enjoy the area is to embark on a walking tour, there are plenty of different options available to cater to your interests. Take a food tour that’ll delight your taste buds and lead you off the beaten track to local favorites and classics from the East End where you’ll dine like a local and maybe even find a new favorite dish!
If the darker side of history is of interest, you can learn more about the criminal underworld that the area was once notorious for, on an East End Gangster Walking Tour. Or visit the existing locations where the Jack the Ripper victims met their demise on a Jack the Ripper walking tour.
Walking tours are an excellent way to learn more about the area without the hassle of traffic or transport. Take it easy by creating your own walking tour itinerary or learn from the experts with a guided tour in the East End.
Boutique Cafés and Historic Public Houses Galore
Save packing a picnic and instead treat yourself to lunch with a difference in one of the many independent East End eateries. Sink your teeth into a sought-after corned beef bagel at Beigel Bake, take tea with a feline friend in Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium or try a luxury hot chocolate from the decadent Dark Sugars chocolate shop on Brick Lane. That’s not all, home to one of the UK’s first cereal cafés, the Cereal Killer Café is a treat not to be missed and serves up colorful, nostalgic cereal from morning to night.
Another aspect of the East End to enjoy is the historic pubs that line the streets. Many have lasted the test of time and were established during Victorian London when the streets were dimly lit by gas lamps and workhouses were the norm. A few of the pubs, including the Ten Bells and the White Hart Pub are closely linked to the Ripper and his victims, having been the preferred drinking spots for Martha Tabram, Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly and possibly the last place they saw before heading off into the night to meet their fate.
The Tourist Favorites
Of course, the East End isn’t all food and murder! There are plenty of traveler favorites to visit from the colorful Columbia Road Flower Market, held on Sundays from 8 am to 3 pm to the iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit. The structure, one of Anish Kapoor’s prize-winning designs, features a viewing platform at 80m with incredible panoramic views and don’t miss the chance to slide down the world’s longest tunnel slide at a twisting and turning 178m in length!
Other favorites include:
- Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
- Whitechapel Gallery
- Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities
- Museum of London Docklands
The next time you are taking a trip to London, treat yourself to an hour or two in the East End and discover something new. Or if you were looking for inspiration for your next London break, make sure the East End is somewhere you try! There’s something for everyone here and plenty of green spaces for the kids to let loose too.