The home of London’s working class during Victorian times, the birthplace of Cockney Rhyming Slang, and the stomping ground of Jack the Ripper—the East End has long represented the grittier side of the capital. Today, it’s shed its rough image to become one of the city’s coolest, most diverse, and ever-evolving areas.
For many visitors, the East End offers not only a glimpse into the city’s past, but also a chance to experience the “real” London. Walking tours offer insight into East London history, from Victorian slums to 20th-century gangsters; a chance to sample delicious street food; or a look at the area’s famous street art.
Alternatively, brave an after-hours ghost tour to follow in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper; discover hip bars and live music in Shoreditch; enjoy Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine along London’s “Curry Mile,”; or bargain-hunt at renowned Spitalfields Market.
Things to Know Before You Go
- London’s East End is much bigger than it seems; don’t plan to see it all in one day, and consider taking a tour to help you get your bearings.
- The East End is generally no more dangerous than other areas of London; if you visit at night, stick to busy areas and take a taxi.
- Wheelchair-accessible stations include Shoreditch High Street Overground and Stratford Overground and Underground.
How to Get to There
The sprawling neighborhoods of the East End stretch north and east of the City of London, but there are no official boundaries to the district. Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, and Whitechapel lie just east of central London, with Dalston and Hackney to the north and Stratford farther east. All the main East End neighborhoods are linked by underground trains and buses to the West End. The closest airport is London City Airport.
When to Get There
There’s something to do in the East End every day of the week. Head there during the day to sightsee, visit after sundown to sample the nightlife, or join locals on market day (Sunday) to explore Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Market, or Columbia Road Flower Market.
Exploring Stratford in London’s East End
Another popular spot is Stratford, which underwent a makeover after the Olympic Games took over the city in 2012. The vast Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the main draw, with walking trails, boat cruises, public art displays, and the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower. Right next door is Westfield Stratford City shopping mall, one of the largest in the UK with more than 250 shops, a huge food court, movie theaters, a bowling alley, and a casino.