When you’re searching for things to do in Shoreditch, the number one suggestion is generally to check out the street art.
And if the outside of the area’s buildings are worth a mention, imagine how much there is to do when you consider what’s inside them, too…
…like a 16,000sq ft house of crazy golf; an al fresco revival of Henry VIIIth’s favourite sport; a DJ-fuelled night market dedicated entirely to vegan street food; a time-warped house on a Dickensian street; a shopping hub set up in a shipping container village; a subterranean ping pong den; retro bowling; and a shop full of beautiful mops.
And so we humbly present: the best things to do in Shoreditch.
THINGS TO DO IN SHOREDITCH
Get Competitive, Tudor Style At London Shuffle Club
Shuffleboard was, until just a few years ago, the province of cruise-goers and Miami pensioners. But before that, it was a Tudor pastime so ridiculously popular and addictive that everyone stopped going to work, and they had to ban it for the good of the country. And that was before it involved freshly-fired pizzas and cocktails served out of an airstream caravan, like it does at this converted Shoreditch warehouse.
Details: 4 Ebor Street, E1 6AW | £25-42 for 1 hour | Book here
Get Competitive, ’50s Style At All Star Lanes
The Shoreditch branch of All Star Lanes has taken ten-pin bowling and finally made it cool, thanks to the addition of old-school retro styling; an American cocktail bar and diner; photo booths; private karaoke rooms; and non-sweaty shoes.
Details: 95 Brick Lane, E1 6QL | £9-12.50 | Book here
Stroll Through Time at the Museum of the Home
It’s a museum dedicated to domestic life, all housed within historic, Grade I listed almshouses. The main attraction here is their ‘Rooms Through Time’ exhibit, which takes you on a time-travelling journey with living rooms set up as they would have been in 1630, all the way up to the present day. For the first time, they’ve done the same with their gardens, too, and you’ll also find visiting exhibitions and installations in the ‘undercroft’…
Details: 136 Kingsland Road, E2 8EA | Free entry
Learning circus skills isn’t easy. It’s a fine line between being a tightrope walker and, well, the floor. But Hoxton’s National Centre for Circus Arts is ready to show you the ropes (and how to get on them), whether it’s for a one-off trapeze intensive, or regular evening classes for acrobatics, aerial silks, unicycling and more.
Details: National Centre for Circus Arts, Coronet Street,N1 6HD | £££ | Book here
Go For A Pint & A Game of Darts at Flight Club
What makes this high-tech darts bar one of the best things to do in Shoreditch? Well, it might have something to the steampunk-styled decor; self-scoring, computer-aided dart boards; interactive games (that somehow manage to level the playing field); pizzas; cocktails; anddddd their boozy slushies...
Details: 2A Worship Street, EC2A 2AH | £20+/hour | Book here
See Incredible Contemporary Art at the Whitechapel Gallery
A century-old art gallery that introduced London to the likes of Mark Rothko, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso. Breakfast in the beautiful Townsend restaurant, then take a stroll round their exhibition spaces.
Details: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX | Free entry
Host a UV-Lit Ping Pong Tournament at Bounce
Ironically, the last thing you’ll want to do when you arrive at Bounce Shoreditch… is bounce. Because this neon-soaked, basement ping pong bar is filled with excellent cocktails (delivered to your table), a pumping soundtrack, and an endless supply of ping pong balls thanks to the roaming caddies and their amazing ball-scooping contraptions.
Details: 239-241 Old Street, EC1V 9EY | £6pp+ | Book here
Soak Up Some East End Culture at Rich Mix
Rich Mix didn’t get its name by having a one-note entertainment programme. Every month is packed with events from film screenings and spoken word nights to gigs, club nights, exhibitions and more – with an emphasis on widening access to the arts, and giving local communities a voice.
Details: 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA | ££ | Book here
That is, spend an evening at Swingers: London’s preeminent crazy golf institution, which packs into its 16,000 square metres not one but two nine-hole golf courses; three restaurants; five bars; and a team of unstoppable golfing legends, aka you.
Details: 8 Brown’s Buildings, EC3A 8AL | £15 | Book here
Watch Arthouse Films In The Teeny Close-Up Cinema
Close-Up Cinema’s cosy 40 seater screening room is devoted to experimental, arthouse and genre-breaking films, boasting a film library with over 20,000 titles to explore, including some indie films that aren’t available anywhere else. They frequently host events with filmmakers and directors here, and the lounge bar up front is a lovely pitstop just off the bustle of Brick Lane.
Address: 97 Sclater Street, London E1 6HR | Book here
Tucked down a quiet Shoreditch side street is this gem of an art school, running courses, lectures and creative workshops in unusual artforms from across the globe. Learn the Japanese art of kintsugi (repairing broken pottery with gold-coloured paste); draw cosmic mandalas, or just brush up on a bit of Russo-Byzantine Icon painting.
Details: 19–22 Charlotte Road, EC2A 3SG | £££+ | Book here
“You either see it, or you don’t”. Such is the motto of the late artist Dennis Severs’ house; a time-warped, genuinely immersive art installation set inside an 18th century Huguenot house. Buying up the dilapidated building in the 70s, Severs slowly set about restoring each room to its former glory. The result is a kind of walk-in painting for you to explore, where half-written letters and abandoned breakfasts give the sense that the inhabitants have only just left the room…
Details: 18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX | £15+ | Book here
Cosy Up On The Culpeper’s Rooftop, Rain or Shine
The Culpeper is a beautifully bohemian pub in Spitalfields, named after the 17th century botanist, herbalist, physician and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper. And you can follow in his footsteps with a little stargazing in their urban rooftop garden, cocktail in hand.
Details: 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP | More info
Yep, TT Liquor’s setting is already pretty distinctive. But just to make sure they really stand out, they also have regular programme of things to do like tasting nights; a retro-styled cinema screening films with themed cocktails; and a workshop space for (extremely boozy) cocktail masterclasses. Oh, and a pop-up restaurant serving Greek-Australian fusion.
Details: 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA | ££ | Book here
DEBUT made their debut back in 2015, bringing their spellbinding live concerts to unusual spaces dotted around London. And now they’ve something of a permanent residency at the Shoreditch Treehouse, a tucked-away attic space that’s festooned with fairy-lights and greenery. It’s all designed to be far more casual and comfortable than a typical concert, so you’ll be invited to pull up a cushion, bring your own booze, and mingle with the musicians in the bar afterwards.
Details: Unit 5, 34 Charlotte Rd, London EC2A 3PB | Book here
Hackney’s Broadway Market may steal the limelight from neighbouring Shoreditch, but there’s plenty of stall browsing to enjoy here, too. There’s the regular weekly markets in Brick Lane and Spitalfields, flogging vintage wares and handmade goods; the famous Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday; and frequent pop ups inside Shoreditch landmark The Old Truman Brewery. Here’s what you can expect…
Columbia Road once struggled to find traders to fill the huge market hall that stood here in the 19th century (all that remains today are a set of iron gates and lion statues). Nowadays however it’s one of the most famous markets in Shoreditch, with row upon row of third-generation traders lining the pavements with kaleidoscopic bouquets. Turn up early and you’ll have the pick of the bunch, or head down there later in the afternoon for the chance to snag yourself a bargain as they try to shift stock. Just be aware that Columbia Road’s gone from ‘hidden gem’ to ‘really, really popular’ in the last few years, so it’s quite an intense experience. If you need respite, take a break at The Marksman pub, or visit Columbia Road on a weekday to pop into the independent boutiques along the street when it’s much quieter.
Details: Every Sunday, 8am-3pm | Columbia Road, E2 7RG
London’s unrivalled curry quarter comes into its own on Sundays, when musicians pitch up on street corners and stalls spill out onto the streets hawking vintage clothes, antiques and bric-a-brac. Grab a something from Beigel Bake for sustenance, and prepare to spend a day bargain-hunting. Read our Brick Lane Guide here.
Details: Every Sunday | Brick Lane, E1 6QR
Spitalfields Market was first established here in 1638, built up as a covered market in 1887, and redeveloped again in 2017. Now it’s a mish-mash of elegant Victorian market architecture, sleek office buildings, and Grade II-listed terraced houses. Under its roof you can find semi-permanent street food stalls from the likes of The Duck Truck and Dumpling Shack; a pop-up vintage and antique market every Thursday; over forty shops, boutiques and stalls to explore; and regular events, from outdoor screenings to swing dancing and flower arranging.
Details: Old Spitalfields Market, E1 6EW | Free entry
Brick Lane’s former hophouse is now home to an ever-changing roster of markets, pop ups and events. Highlights include Vegan Nights, a buzzing night market filled with all-vegan food stalls; the Sunday UpMarket, a food and flea market that’s home to around 200 traders; aaand The Backyard Market, a weekend gathering of emerging designers.
Details: Something on daily, check here for details | 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QR
Way off the tourist track, Hoxton Street’s market has been going nearly as long as Spitalfields, and is a real locals’ spot – street food rubs shoulders with fresh fruit and veg stalls, plant shops, handmade wares, household essentials and second-hand furniture.
Details: Saturdays 9am-4pm | Hoxton Street, N1 6SH
SHOPPING IN SHOREDITCH
Shoreditch is the home of the lifestyle store – elegant, achingly cool collections of items spanning homeware, clothing, accessories and books in one neat, minimalist setting. Redchurch Street has become the unofficial hub, home to a stretch of independent clothing stores; while Shoreditch High Street hosts a number of bigger, genre-spanning shops. Here are the highlights…
Labour & Wait’s beautifully sleek, green subway-tiled exterior hides an eclectic treasure trove of simply designed household goods inside. Starkly functional buckets and scrubbing brushes rub shoulders with elegant crockery, vintage stationery pieces and handmade leather satchels. If you’ve never fallen in love with a dishcloth before, this is where to do it.
Details: 85 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
A beautiful independent bookshop just off Brick Lane, with interiors designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano. The layout is specifically designed to get you out of a reading rut and introduce you to new titles and authors, with books arranged by topics like ‘wanderlust’ and ‘enchantment for the disenchanted’.
Details: 65 Hanbury Street, E1 5JP
Part café, part kitchen, part greengrocer’s – Leila’s is the beating heart of the Shoreditch backstreets, housed in a shop that was selling fruit and veg to locals 100 years ago. Stop by for a cup of tea and to scoop up some London-made cheese and bread, and seasonal veg direct from the farms.
Details: 15-17 Calvert Avenue, E2 7JP
Parisian clothing label APC keeps things pared back and typically French in their second London home, with Breton tops, clean-cut shirts and their cult jeans dangling from simple wooden rails. Plus, there’s a sofa, so your companion won’t be put out when you inevitably try on the entire collection.
Details: 15 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
Aida’s exposed brick walls, Scandi minimalism and in-store coffee shop mark it out as an instant Shoreditch classic. There’s a little bit of everything here, from independent clothing labels for men and women, to a well curated homeware section, running the gamut from macrame plant hangers to hand-poured candles, minimalist crockery and coffee table books.
Details: 133 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE
A futuristic, utilitarian, concrete kingdom, with triple-storeyed rails filled with textured, unconventionally-cut clothes and relaxed tailoring from independents like Atelier Baba and Osaka-based label Andrew Driftwood.
Details: 9 Chance Street, E2 7JB
The Shoreditch outpost of the avant-garde fashion boutique is home to a curated range of unisex clothing; regular pop ups from up-and-coming designers; events; art installations, and more.
Details: 21 Club Row, London E2 7EY
Shoreditch’s Boxpark has gone from strength to strength since opening in 2011, hosting all your typical attractions – independent boutiques, food stalls, intravenous drip bars… Keep an eye out for the frozen treats at Soft Serve Society; beautiful, affordable jewellery at Astrid & Miyu; and top-quality stationery at The Journal Shop.
Details: 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY | ££
Neon-lit Artwords is a bookshop full of the sort of niche coffee table books you’ll enjoy artfully leaving half-open around your house to impress visitors. Maybe you really will finish Graham Harman’s theories on “Object-Oriented Ontology,” or Klaus Schwab’s take on the Fourth Industrial Revolution… but either way, they look very, very beautiful.
Details: 69 Rivington Street, EC2A 3AY
SHOREDITCH STREET ART
Shoreditch street art.
It’s one of the area’s biggest draws.
See, it’s easy to forget that the rest of London isn’t anywhere near as colourful. But Shoreditch’s wealth of wide, uninterrupted wall spaces; semi-permanent hoardings surrounding new developments and long-ingrained creative culture means that the area has essentially become one giant canvas for street artists.
And this isn’t just graffiti, this is recognised art. There was a time when artists were finding their work had been torn down and sold for thousands across the globe. Corporate giants have even started drafting in artists to brighten up their offices. The result is that street art isn’t just allowed, it’s positively encouraged here, with artist collectives regularly commissioned to spruce up buildings – hell, you can even pay to join workshops and create some of your own. And while the area may have lost its subversive streak, it remains London’s most unusual, constantly evolving, free art gallery, making exploring the streets one of the best things to do in Shoreditch.
Ditch the walking tours and take your own stroll around Shoreditch’s backstreets. Keep an eye out for:
Banksy – dip into The Viaduct, the bar propping up the railway arches on Rivington Street, and you’ll be able to spot a (probably priceless) Banksy on the back wall of their beer garden.
Steve Powers is the American artist behind Great Eastern Street’s iconic “Let’s Adore and Endure Each Other,” part of a series that has seen quotes from love letters painted across walls in London, New York and Philadelphia (and fairly notable in this case for being underneath two tube carriages perched on top of a building). Powers has been working since the 80s, when he went by the tag ESPO (Exterior Surface Painting Outreach). He was particularly fond of working in daylight, so whenever anyone challenged him, he’d just tell them he was cleaning up on behalf of ESPO, and send them happily on their way.
Stik started creating art on the streets when he was homeless, as it was the “safest place to keep [it]”. Today you can see his stylised stick figures decorating the walls of both Elton John and Princelet Street – one of which may prove more easily accessible than the other.
Ben Eine is known for his graphic typography, shooting to fame when street art aficionado David Cameron gifted one of his prints to Obama. We’re blessed with a veritable tome of his writing in Shoreditch – spot it down Brick Lane, Middlesex Street and Ebor Street.
Gregos Art, a Parisian artist, joins the strangely growing tradition of sculptors sticking bits of their face on London walls with his full-face casts. Keep an eye out for them around Shoreditch High Street station and Fashion Street.
The Global Street Art collective have revamped an entire building on New Inn Broadway, a little street round the corner from the former site of the Curtain Theatre, where Romeo and Juliet was first performed. In homage to its star-crossed neighbours, the entire facade has been given over to a portrait of the lovers, alongside quotes, and an abundance of flowers.
Feeling peckish? Peruse our guide to the best restaurants in Shoreditch