When you’re looking 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 mentioning, 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 house that’s really an immersive piece of art; 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.
Jump to: THINGS TO DO | DIY STREET ART TOUR | MARKETS | SHOPPING
THINGS TO DO
Get Competitive, Tudor Style
Shuffleboarding: it was, until recently, the province of cruise-goers and Miami pensioners. But before that, it was a Tudor pastime so insanely popular, that everyone stopped going to work, and they had to ban it. And that was before it involved freshly-fired pizzas and cocktails served out of an airstream…
Details: 4 Ebor Street, E1 6AW | Open Thursday-Sunday | ££
Get Competitive, ’50s Style
All Star Lanes have 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 | Open daily | ££
Explore A Shipping Container Village
Thankfully it’s not just full of anchors. In fact, 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… the usual. Keep an eye out for the frozen treats at Soft Serve Society; beautiful, affordable jewellery at Astrid & Miyu; and top-quality stationary at The Journal Shop. MORE DETAILS
Details: 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY | Open daily | ££
Stroll Through Time at the Museum of the Home
It’s a newly refurbished 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 | Open Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm (last entry 4pm) | Free entry, but book ahead
Run Away To The Circus
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. MORE DETAILS
Details: National Centre for Circus Arts, Coronet Street,N1 6HD | Regular courses available | £££
Go For A Pint & A Game of Darts
…at Flight’s Club’s super high-tech darts bar, with cool, steampunk-styled decor; self-scoring, computer-aided dart boards; interactive games (that somehow manage to level the playing field); pizzas; cocktails; and boozy slushies...
Details: 2A Worship Street, EC2A 2AH | Open daily | £££
See Incredible Contemporary Art at the Whitechapel Gallery
A century-old 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: Open Tues-Sun 11am-6pm (9pm Thursdays) | 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX
Host A Tournament In A Subterranean, UV-Lit Ping Pong Den
Ironically, the last thing you’ll want to do when you arrive at Bounce… 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 newfangled ball-scooping contraptions.
Details: 239-241 Old Street, EC1V 9EY | Open Wednesday-Saturday | £
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 | Open daily | ££
That is, spend an evening at Swingers: London’s preeminent crazy golfing 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 | Open Tuesday-Sunday | ££
Try Not To Get Creeped Out In A Masonic Temple
The Andaz hotel on Liverpool Street has all the amenities you’d expect of a five star hotel – restaurant, gym, bar, ancient masonic lodge, etc. The Grecian Temple – a century-old, clandestine chamber filled with 12 types of Italian marble and mysterious symbols – is completely untouched, and now plays host to regular events in the hotel, from dinner parties to horror film screenings.
Details: Andaz London, 40 Liverpool Street, EC2M 7QN | Ticketed events only
Watch Arthouse Films In A Teeny 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 | For exact screenings and/or to book tickets, visit their website here.
Try Your Hand At Ancient Crafts
Tucked down a quiet side street is this gem of an art school, running courses, lectures and 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. VIEW DETAILS
Details: 19–22 Charlotte Road, EC2A 3SG | Regular classes | £££+
Walk Through A House That’s Stuck In Time
“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 | Temporarily closed – watch this space | ££
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 the regular workshops and events taking place here, from cocktail-making with herbs grown in their urban garden; to botanic sketching and stargazing on the rooftop.
Details: 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP | Open daily, check here for events | ££
Go For Cocktails in an Old Police Station
Yep, TT Liquor’s setting is already pretty distinctive. But just to make sure they really stand out, they also have regular tasting nights; a retro-styled cinema screening films with themed cocktails; and a workshop space for (extremely boozy) molecular cocktail masterclasses.
Details: 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA | Temporarily closed – watch this space | ££
Hang Out In A Rooftop Wigwam
Home to an ever-changing themed rooftop bar, The Queen of Hoxton is Shoreditch’s local. Downstairs is a pub that plays host to the likes of Reggaeoke and Drag Bingo towards the end of the week, while their suntrap rooftop proffers street food, cocktails, and panoramic views. Oh, and in winter, an enormous wigwam.
Details: 1-5 Curtain Road, EC2A 3JX | Rooftop open Thursday-Sunday, indoor bar reopens 16th September | ££
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 it may have lost its subversive streak, Shoreditch remains London’s most unusual, constantly evolving, free art gallery.
Take an afternoon to explore the streets, and keep an eye out for…
Banksy – dip into Canvas, the live music club 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.
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 Flower Market
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, it’s one of the area’s busiest streets, when the Sunday flower market gets into full flow and sellers line the pavements with kaleidoscopic bouquets. Head down there later in the afternoon, and you’ll have less choice but more elbow room – and there’s some prize bargains to be won as they try to shift stock. Browse the bouquets, buy yourself a 10-foot banana tree, and take a load off at one of the independent cafés lining the street. READ MORE
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
Old Spitalfields Market
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 Rainbo; 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. READ MORE
Details: Open daily, M-F 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 9am-5pm | Old Spitalfields Market, E1 6EW
The Old Truman Brewery
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 that’s a little off the Brick Lane beaten track.
Details: Something on daily, check here for details | 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QR
Hoxton Street Market
Off the more touristy track around Brick Lane, 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: Street food M-F 7.30am-3pm, flea market Sat 10am-4pm | Hoxton Street, N1 6SH
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
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: Open Weds-Sun 11am-6pm | 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 disenchanted’.
Details: Open Thurs-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-6pm | 65 Hanbury Street, E1 5JP
Part café, part kitchen, part greengrocer’s – Leila’s is the beating heart of Shoreditch’s 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: Open Tues-Sat | 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: Open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-7pm | 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: Open Tues-Sun 11am-7pm | 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: Open Weds-Sat 11am-5pm (closed for lunch 1-1.45pm) | 9 Chance Street, E2 7JB
The interiors of this humble Georgian abode are like a million-pound show-home, packed with everything from design-led cat furniture (because that’s a thing) to extravagant Fornasetti cabinets printed with 18th century engravings – one of which retails at £25,000. Happily, at the more affordable end of the scale, there’s jewellery, cushions and candles to browse.
Details: By appointment | The Clerk’s House, 118 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JN
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: Open Mon-Sat 11am-6.30pm, Sunday 12-6pm | 21 Club Row, London E2 7EY
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: Open Tues-Sat 11am-7pm | 69 Rivington Street, EC2A 3AY
Main image: Flight Club
Looking for more Shoreditch pointers? Find it all in your Ultimate Shoreditch Guide