I recently had to visit Shoreditch for work, and even though I have been there many times, I had never really “visited” Shoreditch. I had a whole day to explore so I found myself googling the top things to do in Shoreditch. I was pleasantly surprised!
A Brief History of Shoreditch
Constantly touted as London’s coolest neighbourhood, Shoreditch is a trendy and vibrant area located in the East End of London, a melting pot of creativity, culture, and unique character. It’s a hub known for its innovative spirit and artistic allure, bounded by Bethnal Green to the north, the City to the south, and Hackney to the east.
Historically, Shoreditch was a working-class area outside the city walls of London. By the late 20th century, it underwent significant regeneration and emerged as a leading entertainment district, attracting artists, designers, tech start-ups, and a variety of creative industries. Now, it’s renowned for its rich, colourful street art, unique boutiques, and an eclectic mix of food stalls and restaurants that provide flavours from all over the world.
Shoreditch’s cultural significance lies in its transformation from a downtrodden area to one of the city’s most influential centres of modern culture. It has managed to maintain a distinctive cultural identity, often seen as edgy and artsy, with its graffiti-covered streets and old brick warehouses converted into contemporary art galleries or trendy lofts.
The neighbourhood is a testament to the enduring spirit of London, blending the past’s grit and grime with the present’s creativity and urban chic. Shoreditch is not just a location but a state of mind, embodying the forward-thinking, innovative, and spirited vibe that makes London so unique. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a foodie, a history buff, or just a curious lazy traveller, Shoreditch is a fascinating destination to explore and enjoy!
What Makes Shoreditch a Must-visit Area?
One of my favourite reasons for visiting Shoreditch is the abundance of street art. Renowned Street artists from around the globe have adorned its walls with their creativity, making a stroll through the neighbourhood akin to walking through an open-air gallery.
Whilst you’re taking in all the street art, there are plenty of independent boutiques and Shoreditch vintage shops on Brick Lane and designer shops at Spitalfields Market. If you are not one for shopping (like me), there is a variety of museums, markets and galleries including the Museum of the Home and Spitalfield Market.
If you love visiting London for the architecture, Shoreditch doesn’t disappoint. It beautifully merges the old and the new, with contemporary high-rises standing next to historic Victorian buildings. This architectural blend gives the area a unique charm.
Finally, Shoreditch is a foodie’s paradise. With a host of innovative restaurants, pop-up eateries, and international food markets like Brick Lane Market, it offers a gastronomic adventure that caters to a diverse range of tastes. Once you’ve had something to eat, Shoreditch has a buzzing nightlife. From cocktail bars and traditional pubs to music venues and clubs playing host to world-famous DJs, there’s a spot for every type of night owl.
15 Things to Do in Shoreditch
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local Londoner looking for a fresh perspective on this colourful corner of the city, this guide will provide an overview of places to go in Shoreditch. It is a wonderfully unique and dynamic area to explore!
1. Shoreditch Street Art Sights
Shoreditch is a neighbourhood renowned for its incredible street art culture, making it one of London’s top artistic hotspots. This dynamic East London area has long been a magnet for artists from around the globe who’ve used its buildings and alleyways as a canvas.
You could spend hours walking around the streets of Shoreditch with every corner, wall and building evolving almost daily. Some of the most prominent artists who’ve made a mark on Shoreditch street art scene include Banksy, Stik, Invader, Roa and Ben Eine.
The best places to see Shoreditch street art include Brick Lane, Hanbury Street, New Inn Yard, Rivington Street, Great Eastern Street and Redchurch Street. However, wherever you roam in Shoreditch, you will come across street art so this list isn’t exhaustive.
When to Visit
The best time of day to view Shoreditch street art is during daylight hours when the art is most visible. Mornings can be particularly good as the streets are often quieter, making it easier to get uninterrupted views of the artworks.
Weekdays can be less crowded than weekends, but the area always has a lively atmosphere. If you visit on a Sunday, you can also experience the bustling Brick Lane Market.
If you want something a little more structured than just aimlessly walking around, consider taking a guided walking tour. These are often led by local street artists or experts who can provide fascinating insights into the artworks, the artists, and the history of the area.
2. Explore the Markets
Shoreditch is famous for its bustling market scene, providing locals and visitors with a vibrant array of goods ranging from vintage fashion to international foods and unique antiques and is one of the best things to do in Shoreditch. Each market has its own distinct flavour and character, but all share a common thread of excitement, diversity, and community spirit.
Brick Lane Vintage Market
Known for its eclectic vibe, Brick Lane Market is a medley of stalls selling vintage clothing, antiques, bric-a-brac, and a global selection of street food. The market is at its most lively on Sundays, but you can find traders and food stalls throughout the week.
The market also hosts numerous food stalls offering a range of global cuisines, from authentic Bangladeshi food to bagels and vegan treats.
Housed in a beautifully restored Victorian market hall, Spitalfields Market offers a mixture of contemporary and vintage fashion, artwork, and an array of food stalls. Open seven days a week, the market has themed days, with Antiques Market on Thursdays and the Style Market on Fridays and weekends.
Located in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, Sunday Upmarket features over 200 stalls selling everything from fashion and accessories to home decor, music, and a plethora of international food. It’s a great place to find one-of-a-kind items and support independent designers and makers and is open every Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.
A pop-up mall made from refitted shipping containers, Boxpark offers a modern twist on the traditional market. It brings together a variety of independent and global fashion and lifestyle stores and cafes. From bao buns to vegan cafes, Boxpark is open every day from 11 am to 11 pm and can be found just off Shoreditch High Street.
Housed in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, Backyard Market is an artisanal market where you will find a huge and varied selection of fashion, beauty, homeware, art and lifestyle products. Less than one minute’s walk away from Brick Lane Vintage Market and the Upmarket, you’ll find some of London’s best food halls, one of the seven Truman Markets.
3. Go to Columbia Road Flower Market
Every Sunday, Columbia Road transforms into an oasis of foliage and flowers. Everything from bedding plants to 10-foot banana trees are up for grabs. The air is intense with the scent of flowers and the chant of the Barrow boys, “Everthin’ a fiver.”
Located just off Hackney Road, this street of old Victorian shops is open on Sundays from 8 am to 3 pm, selling buckets of flowers, houseplants, herbs, shrubs and bulbs. Once you have bought your flowers, head down the back streets to find plenty of cafes, independent restaurants, delis, vintage stalls and art galleries.
4. Shoreditch High Street
One of the oldest streets in London, Shoreditch High Street is continuously changing. With recent redevelopments in the area, it is unrecognisable even from a decade ago, with Boxpark being one of the biggest changes.
Shoreditch High Street is the gateway to the area, with streets such as Chance Street and Holywell Lane leading from it with its amazing street art. If you find yourself in Shoreditch for a short time, head straight to Shoreditch High Street and wander down the back lanes, taking in the graffiti, cafes, culture and architecture.
5. Brick Lane
No trip to Shoreditch would be complete without visiting Brick Lane. Famous for its curry houses and situated in the heart of East London’s Shoreditch, it is an iconic street renowned for its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant atmosphere. It has a huge range of eclectic shops, restaurants, bars, and street markets.
Often associated with the city’s Bangladeshi community, Brick Lane is a hub of delicious South Asian cuisine, with countless restaurants and food stalls offering an array of curries and other traditional dishes.
On Sundays, the street transforms into the bustling Brick Lane Market, where vendors sell a variety of items, from vintage clothing and antiques to fresh produce and international street food.
Brick Lane is also a significant location for London’s art scene, known for its colourful street art and is home to several art galleries and the iconic Old Truman Brewery, a creative arts and business centre.
6. Browse Books at Libreria
Located just off Brick Lane, Libreria is unique in the fact that they don’t shelve their books according to genres, instead opting for broad themes like “Wanderlust” or “The City”. Open Tuesday to Sunday until 6 pm, the bookshop was designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, to help feed creativity and cocoon you away from the bustling life of Shoreditch.
7. A Gig in Village Underground
Village Underground is a unique, multi-functional creative hub located in Shoreditch, East London. The space is primarily known as a venue for music events, but it also hosts a wide variety of other activities such as theatre performances, exhibitions, residencies, and live art shows.
The centrepiece of Village Underground is its main performance space, a renovated warehouse that can host up to 1,000 people. The acoustics and versatile layout make it ideal for a wide range of performances, and it has hosted countless bands, DJs, and artists from around the world.
Above the main space, you’ll find a group of recycled Jubilee line train carriages and shipping containers. These have been transformed into creative workspaces that are rented out to artists, writers, designers, and small businesses.
8. A Night Out
I arrived in Shoreditch at 2 pm on a Wednesday and, although the streets were busy, Shoreditch really does come alive after 5 pm when most people finish work for the day. The diverse range of pubs filled up quickly with people enjoying a classic pint of ale or a cocktail.
Shoreditch has a thriving nightlife scene with some of the best pubs including:
- The Crown and Shuttle
- The Three Crowns
- The Edge
- The Princess of Shoreditch
- The Red Lion
- The Old Blue Last
- The Buxton
- Queen of Hoxton
- The Bricklayer’s Arms
- The Fox
9. Museum of the Home
Museum of the Home is a unique cultural institution located in Shoreditch, East London. It is housed in 18th-century almshouses that were originally built with a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye, a former Lord Mayor of London.
The museum explores the concept of home and how it has evolved over the past 400 years. This is illustrated through a series of period rooms and gardens that span from the 17th century to the present day. Each room is furnished and decorated to reflect the tastes and styles of the times, providing a window into the domestic lives of the English middle classes over the centuries.
In addition to the period rooms, the museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions, events, and activities related to the themes of home and domestic life. It also has a well-stocked library of books and other materials related to furniture, interior design, and home life.
With plenty of exhibitions, events and installations throughout the year, check out the Museum of the Home website for more details.
9. Spitalfields City Farm
Spitalfields City Farm is a community-based (and community-loved) urban farm located on Buxton Street next to Allen Gardens. Despite being in the midst of a bustling city, the farm offers a tranquil retreat where visitors can connect with nature and animals.
Founded in the late 1970s on a former railway goods depot, the farm occupies about 1.3 acres and houses a variety of animals, including goats, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, and geese. They also host a number of rare breed animals.
But it’s not only about animals; Spitalfields City Farm is known for its flourishing gardens. The farm’s green spaces produce a range of organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs, demonstrating what can be achieved in an urban environment. Their gardens are also home to several bee hives, contributing to local biodiversity.
It is open 10 am to 4.30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
10. Ballie Ballerson
Fancy visiting a ball pit cocktail bar? Yep! That’s a ball pit for adults with cocktails thrown in. With over a million balls, giant ball pits and nostalgic cocktails, all to the background of RnB, disco and house beats, is there a better night to be had?
You can either pre-book tickets, reserve a booth, book a bottomless brunch or just walk in off the street. For those that love a sing-along session, there is also a private karaoke room, with probably a stray ball or two.
11. Find a Bit of Culture and Creativity
Fancy live music, theatre, dance, talks and exhibitions all under one space? Rich Mix is a community lead charity with a three-screen independent cinema, Cinema Bar, Art centre and spaces for gallery exhibitions. Throughout the year it hosts film festivals, live music events and workshops. Check out their website to find out what’s on!
Is there really any point going to Shoreditch if you don’t experience its huge wealth of pop-up cafes, street food markets, restaurants, pub grub and coffee shops? Shoreditch is well known for its vibrant food scene, offering an array of culinary delights to suit all tastes. However, you must grab a salted beef Beigel whilst you’re in Brick Lane!
Here are a few restaurants and cafes you might want to check out:
Popolo – 26 Rivington Street
A small independent restaurant in the heart of Shoreditch specialising in British and Italian produce. With a selection of seafood, handcrafted pasta and low-intervention wines, you can see why this restaurant is popular with locals. You can either sit at the kitchen bar and watch the chef’s work, or book a table upstairs.
Gloria – 54 – 56 Great Eastern Street
This Italian Trattoria on Great Eastern Street has a strong reputation for its vibrant decor, friendly service, and delicious, generously portioned Italian dishes. Gloria’s design is reminiscent of a vintage Italian trattoria, with its lush, retro interiors, and vibrant Capri-style decor. The two-floor restaurant is packed with plants, kitschy knick-knacks, vintage prints, and plush upholstery, creating a warm, inviting, and distinctly Italian atmosphere.
The menu boasts a wide array of Italian dishes, from Neapolitan pizzas and homemade pasta to sumptuous tiramisu for dessert. Standouts include their famous 10-Level Lasagna and the incredibly indulgent carbonara served in a wheel of Pecorino.
Lyle’s – 56 Shoreditch High Street
Michelin-starred Lyle’s has gained a reputation for its British cuisine that focuses on simplicity, seasonality, and locally sourced ingredients. The decor of Lyle’s is minimalist and chic, featuring an open, airy dining room with exposed brick, large windows, and simple furnishings. The restaurant offers a relaxed yet sophisticated dining experience.
Lyle’s is known for its ever-changing daily set menu, showcasing the best of British produce. The restaurant’s dedication to high-quality, seasonal food has garnered wide acclaim.
Dray Walk – Just off Brick Lane
Tucked in between the old Truman Brewery buildings just off Brick Lane is a little alleyway with an al fresco terrace filled with bars, restaurants and music. Here you will find Only Jerkin’, Café 1001 and the Brick Lane Taproom.
Every weekend there are many guest DJs to accompany you whilst you eat and impromptu events including artwork, pop-up shops and markets.
Grab a Bagel
Often found with a queue outside its doors, Beigel Bake on Brick Lane was the original and first Beigel bakery to open in 1855. You can’t visit Brick Lane without trying out a salted beef bagel!
Situated in the old bike sheds of what was once an old Victorian school, Rochelle canteen has long catered for a thriving community of artists and creative industries in and around Shoreditch.
Their cooking revolves around British and European food and the menu is small but rotated daily. Just save some room for pudding!
Opened by David Carter, Smokestak started as a food stall on the London street food scene before opening its brick-and-mortar location in Shoreditch. The restaurant’s interior design is industrial and rustic, featuring exposed brick, dark wood, and metal details, creating a warm, cosy atmosphere.
The menu at Smokestak is centred around meat smoked over kiln-dried English oak in a custom-built, US-imported smoker. Their offerings often include dishes like brisket buns, pork ribs, and smoked monkfish, as well as a selection of innovative sides and desserts. Their bar also serves up a range of craft beers, cocktails, and wines.
13. Visit Dennis Severs Museum
Dennis Severs’ House, located in the Spitalfields area near Shoreditch, London, is a unique museum and art installation that offers a sensory trip into the past.
The museum is set in a preserved 18th-century Huguenot silk weaver’s house and was curated by the late Dennis Severs. Rather than a traditional museum, Dennis Severs’ House is an immersive “still-life drama” as Severs called it, where visitors explore the house in silence, observing the rooms which are set up to look as though their occupants have just stepped out.
Each of the ten rooms across the five floors is meticulously arranged to recreate snapshots of life in the home from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Visitors experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the past as if they’ve stepped into a time capsule. From half-eaten bread on the kitchen table to lit candles and the sound of horse-drawn carriages in the distance, the attention to detail is astonishing.
This unique approach provides an intimate look at history and gives visitors a vivid sense of the living conditions, personal lives, and social context of the home’s imagined former residents. It’s a testament to Severs’ creativity and desire to connect us more viscerally to the past.
15. Visit the Art Galleries
You’ve visited Shoreditch street art and wondered at the colour, diversity and absurdity of it all, why not pay a visit to Shoreditch’s many art galleries? Shoreditch is known as a vibrant hub for contemporary art and is home to several noteworthy art galleries, including:
- Pure Evil Gallery: Run by the street artist known as Pure Evil, this gallery showcases street art and hosts regular exhibitions and events.
- Kate MacGarry Gallery: This contemporary art gallery represents emerging and established artists, hosting a regular programme of exhibitions.
- Jealous Gallery: Known for their contemporary, often provocative works, Jealous is a gallery and print studio that showcases up-and-coming artists as well as established names.
- Iniva: The Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva) is a pioneering, visual arts organization that focuses on exploring key issues in society and politics. Their mission is to radically transform the visual arts landscape by foregrounding artists, curators, researchers, and writers of global minority heritage. Iniva’s dynamic programme includes exhibitions, research, education projects, and events that challenge conventional notions of diversity and difference. They aim to provide a platform for artists and practitioners who often remain underrepresented in the mainstream art world, working with a broad range of visual practices from performance to film to installation.
Sometimes I think the best way to see London is to go off the beaten track and down the back streets, and Shoreditch leads the way!
Here you can get a real sense of what Shoreditch would have been like before modernisation and gentrification, with many homes still intact and street lamps from the Victorian times. I probably spend more time wandering down back alleys and across housing estates to get a real feel of a place and you end up coming across some real gems that wouldn’t exist in a travel blog.
You don’t need an itinerary, keep an eye on the time or spend any money, it is one of my favourite things to do in Shoreditch.
There are plenty of places to go in Shoreditch, it is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a unique blend of the traditional and contemporary in the heart of London.
From its colourful and thought-provoking street art, bustling markets, Shoreditch High Street and delectable dining spots, to the charm of its indie shops, iconic landmarks like the Museum of the Home, and the urban oasis that is Spitalfields City Farm – there truly is something for everyone.