London's east side neighborhood of Shoreditch is often known as a hangout for the hipster, but the lively area has things to do for people of all ages and walks of life. Whether you want to explore the weekly Columbia Road Flower Market or shop at Old Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch is more than just a collection of cool restaurants and bars (although it has plenty of both). Here are 10 things not to miss when exploring Shoreditch.
Tour the Street Art
Shoreditch is filled with colorful street art, some of it by famed artists like Banksy and Stik. It's possible to search out the best pieces on your own, or you can opt for a guided tour with a company like Shoreditch Street Art Tours. Look for iconic pieces like the "Let's Adore And Endure Each Other" mural on Great Eastern Street, a Banksy on Rivington Street, and a set of angel wings outside Redemption Bar on Old Street. Brick Lane is another good spot to seek out works of art.
Enjoy a Gospel Brunch
Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster has made its way from Harlem to Shoreditch, where the cool Southern food spot now resides in The Curtain hotel. For the best experience, book into the restaurant's weekly Gospel Brunch, which is held every Sunday. It features live performances by East London's House Gospel Choir at 12:15 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3:30 p.m., so you can enjoy rousing music while you eat your fried chicken and waffles. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
Drink at the Queen of Hoxton
Everyone loves a good rooftop bar, and the Queen of Hoxton has you covered. The bar and club features a rooftop terrace, which is open even in the colder months, and there are events on daily, from karaoke to live DJs. Queen of Hoxton serves food and drink, and it's an excellent place for a gathering with friends after work or on the weekends. Arrive early in the summer when the rooftop area can get very crowded with sun-seeking Londoners.
Visit Columbia Road Flower Market
Every Sunday morning, Columbia Road is transformed into a vibrant flower market, with plants and flowers for sale by the hundreds. It's become a thing to do in the neighborhood, with food stalls and nearby restaurants making the market a weekend destination. It runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and be prepared for crowds, especially if you're trying to snag a table at one of the brunch spots in the area. Look for Cafe Columbia, Laxeiro, and The Marksman for something to eat, and don't miss Dandy Star, an adorable shop filled with gifts and clothes for kids and adults alike. To avoid the crowds, arrive before 10 a.m.
Tour Dennis Severs’ House
Dennis Severs' House is an unusual museum, perfect for fans of history. The building is an original Huguenot house, with ten rooms built as recreations of life in Spitalfields between 1724 and 1914. Many of the tours are done in silence (which means those aren't the best choice for kids), and you'll need to book a time online in advance. Visitors are asked not to wear stiletto heels or shoes with deeply ridged soles due to the historic floors. For something extra special, reserve a curator guided tour, which are held on select Saturday afternoons.
Eat at Hawksmoor Spitafields
British steakhouse Hawksmoor boasts several restaurants around London, and the location in Spitalfields is one of the best. Whether you're looking for a perfectly cooked ribeye or an indulgent surf 'n turf, Hawksmoor has you covered. The restaurant also serves up a great Sunday roast (book in advance to score a table) and offers lunch and dinner deals throughout the week. If you want something more casual, head to the downstairs bar, where you can snag a burger and a pint.
Dine at Boxpark
There are several Boxparks around London, but Shoreditch is home to the original. Built from shipping containers, Boxpark is like a pop-up mall, filled with restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. It's a great place to grab a quick (and cheap) bite to eat. Look for pizza at Voodoo Rays, ice cream at Soft Serve Society and famed savoy pies at Pieminister, and hang out in one of the communal dining areas on the second level of the park. Boxpark also hosts weekly events, including quizzes, DJs, and live music.
Explore Vietnamese Cuisine
Shoreditch is known for its collection of Vietnamese restaurants, most of which are situated on Kingsland Road. The area is sometimes known as the "Pho Mile," and you can't go wrong just walking into one of the many eateries. Look for Viet Hoa, Green Papaya Xi'Viet, LoongKee, and Sông Quê, which is one of the most popular picks for locals.
Embark on the Jack the Ripper Tour
London's original Jack the Ripper Tour launched back in 1982 and has been revealing the haunts of the iconic serial killer to visitors ever since. The tour explores the streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields with knowledgable guides who can tell you all about Jack the Ripper and his murders. It's best to book the tour in advance online. Note that the walking tours take place in the evening, so wear comfortable shoes, dress warmly and maybe bring a friend if you scare easily.
Shop at Old Spitalfields Market
Open seven days a week, Old Spitalfields Market is an ideal shopping destination when visiting London. The market features dozens of pop-up stalls, as well as upscale shops like Diptique, Jigsaw, and Rag & Bone. Check the market's website for upcoming events and special shopping days, and don't miss the antique market every Thursday. Spitalfields is also home to food stalls and restaurants, including Dumpling Shack, Bleeker Burger, and Donovan's Bakehouse. Nearby, check out St. John Bread & Wine and Ottolenghi Spitalfields for a memorable meal post-shopping.