While each London neighborhood has its own unique charm, Shoreditch has emerged as an eclectic creative hub in London with incredible food, great shopping, and art on every corner (literally). For visitors and locals alike, Shoreditch is a breath of fresh air, a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of Central London and a great place to spend the weekend. I spent a weekend photographing my favorite Shoreditch spots so you’ll know exactly what to do, from Brick Lane to Banksy, and beyond.
Grab a Coffee
For the caffeine fiends, ditch the Starbucks and dive into one of the neighborhood’s many local coffee shops. Climpson and Sons at Spitalfields is perfect for a cup on the go, while Paper & Cup is ideal for curling up with a book and a latte on a rainy day. While popular spots include, The Attendant, Ozone, Watch House and Friends of Ours, searching for hidden cafes in this neighborhood can quickly become a hobby (and a rewarding one at that).
Get Lost in Brick Lane
The unique eclectic atmosphere of Brick Lane stems from the long and rich history of the communities and cultures that have called it home. The area was a hub for textiles, weaving and the clothing industry in the 17th century. In the years following it became home to Irish and Jewish immigrants and in the late 20th century, a new community of Bangladeshi immigrants. From warm salt beef bagels to the best curry in London, the cultural past and present is celebrated (in the most delicious way) on Brick Lane. Wander off the beaten path and explore the streets off of Brick Lane to see how the buildings both old and new serve as a timeline for this storied area.
Take a Street Art Tour
Shoreditch may be one of the only places in London you can stare at a brick wall for hours without prompting concern from fellow pedestrians. From big names like Banksy to up and coming local artists, Shoreditch is known around the world as an open canvas for street art. While it can be overwhelming (and neck cramp inducing) to decipher the multilayered medley of art on every street, taking a tour with Shoreditch Street Art Tours is a great way to learn about local artists and the significance of the established street art scene here.
Go Vintage Shopping
Calling all style guru’s and sustainable shoppers, Shoreditch is like Disney World for lovers of vintage clothing. If you’re unsure where to start, The Brick Lane Vintage Market is a large winding maze of everything from worn in leather jackets to upcycled polos and painted Burberry trench coats. Other popular spots include Beyond Retro, Rokit, Atika and Serotonin Vintage. Cheshire street, just off of Brick Lane is another vintage hot spot, lined with local favorites and recent additions. Pop up markets often appear on the weekends so if you’re the kind of person to approach vintage shopping as a competitive sport, it’s best to do some research before you go.
Enjoy Lunch at Spitalfields Market
While you can find an incredible meal on literally every street in Shoreditch (a theory I’m tempted to test…), Old Spitalfields Market is a one stop shop for amazing flavors from around the world. From Turkish gozleme to vegan ethiopian to Bao buns, you can find something for everyone here, making it a perfect lunch spot for when you’re in a group that just can’t agree on a cuisine (we’ve all been there). Alongside the food stalls there are shopping stalls featuring local vendors with recurring weekly events like an Antique Market on Thursdays and a Vinyl Market on Friday.
Explore the Columbia Road Flower Market
Every Sunday from 8AM to 3PM, crowds flock to Columbia Road where market traders line the streets selling flowers, house plants and shrubs. Be prepared for chaos and big crowds mellowed only by the calming fragrance emanating from the sea of beautiful flowers. For a strategic approach, go around 2PM when things are winding down, the streets aren’t as packed and some vendors will give you great deals to get rid of what stock they have left. The shops and restaurants on and around Columbia Road are quaint and definitely worth exploring, if your arms aren’t too tired from carrying all those flowers you bought.
Find a Good Curry
We’re circling back to one of the best Shoreditch activities; eating. The neighborhood is famous for its acclaimed and innovative culinary scene, but a good curry is a cherished Shoreditch staple and has become synonymous with Brick Lane. For a classic experience, Brick Lane institutions like Cinnamon and The Monsoon are great opinions, depending on the restaurant and time of day, some witty negotiating with the (very vocal) restaurant hosts on the street can reveal offers like discounts on your meal or a free bottle of wine. If you’re looking for curry with an upscale twist, restaurants like Gunpowder and Dishoom are your go-to.
Grab a Drink
After a long day exploring, eating and shopping, treat yourself to a drink at one of Shoreditch’s many bars. While you could probably write an entire book on where to drink in Shoreditch (if someone would like to sponsor this creative endeavour … you know where to find me) everyone has their favorites and even after years of exploring I find myself regularly stumbling upon new incredible spots. For a cocktail, Nightjar, Found and Callooh Callay are speakeasy style bars with creative concoctions and a cool atmosphere to match. If you love rooftop bars as much as I do, Boundary is an upscale spot with good views while The Queen of Hoxton features a rooftop with a changing theme every season. Other honorable mentions go to, Bull in a China Shop, Happiness Forgets, Ninety-One, Old Street Records and for beer lovers (and Rick Astley fans) Mikkeller.
If you’re planning to visit London as a tourist or if you’re a local just looking to explore a new part of London, Shoreditch offers a plethora of activities and places to explore. After a couple of days spent eating curry, posting one too many street art photos on Instagram and buying those new houseplants you tried to tell yourself you didn’t need, you can sip your artisan coffee on the way home with the unrivaled satisfaction of a weekend well spent.