Most visitors to London miss Whitechapel, an area of East London located near Spitalfields Market and Bethnal Green. There's a lot of history in the streets (especially when it comes to Jack the Ripper), and today the neighborhood is home to one of the city's best art galleries. Whether you're looking to eat some local Indian cuisine, shop for discount jackets, or learn more about Victorian London at the Jack the Ripper Museum, Whitechapel has something for everyone.
Since it first opened in 1901, the Whitechapel Gallery has hosted numerous iconic artists, including Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, and David Hockney; today, it features art retrospectives and rotating exhibitions of contemporary artists from around the world. Located on Whitechapel High Street, special events such as gallery talks and film screenings are held here frequently. Townsend, the gallery's restaurant and wine bar, is also worth a visit while in the area. Entry is free, and it's open every day except Mondays.
Hidden in a former tailor's stockroom, Discount Suit Company is one of East London's coolest cocktail bars. With an intimate, low-key vibe that's perfect for date night or an evening out with friends, the bar offers a modern list of cocktails and small bites. It's recommended that you reserve a table if you're arriving in a large group; bookings are available Sunday through Wednesday. To find the bar, look for an unassuming black door at street level and go down the stairs.
Spitalfields City Farm opened in 1978 on a wasteland site and is now home to several barnyard animals and an expansive garden. The community space is free to enter, and is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. every day but Monday. Visitors can attend workshops and special events, including goat races and farm-to-table meals. Stop by on Tuesday or Thursday to purchase fresh vegetables.
Tayyabs is a beloved, family-run Punjabi restaurant that's been around since 1972. Their inexpensive menu features memorable dishes like tandoori chicken and karahi tarka dhal—but don't skimp on the fire-grilled lamb chops, which are worth the trip to Whitechapel alone. Make a reservation online ahead of your visit. Guests are welcome to bring their own drinks as the restaurant is BYOB.
Shop Petticoat Lane Market
Petticoat Lane Market is comprised of two adjacent markets, Wentworth Street Market and Middlesex Street Market, both of which sell all types of fashionable clothing items. You'll find tons of bargains on shoes and accessories like handbags, while leather jackets are a speciality and can be found towards the Aldgate end of the street. The smaller market on Wentworth Street is open from Monday to Friday, while Middlesex Street Market is much bigger and opens at 9 a.m. on Sundays.
Responsible for crafting Big Ben and the Liberty Bell, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is behind some of the most famous bells in the world. While you can no longer take tours of the factory (which dates back 500 years), visitors can stop by the store and browse handbells, clock bells, chimes and—if you have the space—tower bells.
Eat Curry on Brick Lane
Known for its many Indian restaurants, Brick Lane is one of London's most iconic streets—and there's nothing more satisfying than stopping by for a late-night curry after hopping between the area's many bars and music venues. There's some debate on where visitors will find the best curry, but some of the best spots include Cinnamon, Sheba, and Aladin. (Really, though, you can't go wrong by walking into any of the eateries on a Friday night.)
Browse Whitechapel Market
Whitechapel Market is known for its selection of hard-to-find food times (including Asian fruits, vegetables, and spices), though it's many vendors also hock jewelry and random knick-knacks. It's one of those local markets that it isn't usually overrun, so visitors can get a good taste of the neighborhood by strolling through or grabbing lunch from one of the stalls. It opens at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Visitors to the area can learn about one of the world's most infamous serial killers at the Jack the Ripper Museum, which opened in 2015. The museum traces the history of East London during the Victorian era and details the story of Jack the Ripper from the perspective of six of his female victims. Explore the rooms of the museum to undercover life in 1888 and attempt to solve the murders using clues and evidence. Opt to add a guided walk to your ticket, which takes place daily at 3 p.m. and includes several key sites from the murderer's life. Tickets are available to purchase in advance online, or you can just show up on the day.
Ornate desserts are centerfold at Urban Chocolatier Whitechapel, a sweet shop in the heart of Whitechapel. They serve everything from freakshakes to sundaes, cakes, and waffles covered in chocolate sauce—and it's all extremely Instagram worthy. The store also sells chocolate and other treats to take home, which makes it a great option if you're looking for a tasty souvenir.