Last Updated on 5th September 2023 by Sophie Nadeau
If you’re planning on spending some time in London’s East end during your London trip, then you’ve come to the right place. Home to street art, countless delicious food vendors, and plenty of vibrant markets, here’s your guide on how to spend the perfect one day in East London itinerary.
Is one day enough time in East London?
To be honest, whether or not one day is enough time in the area is entirely dependant on what you want to get out of your visit. If you just want to see the highlights, then one day is sufficient.
However, if you want to discover hidden gems, go a little off the beaten path, and dive deeper into the district, then you’ll want to set aside two or three days. If you’re looking for more London inspiration, be sure to check out our suggestions on how to spend 3 days in London and the best hidden gems of London.
Suggested one day in East London
Columbia Road Flower Market
Now, this is one activity that you’ll only be able to do on a Sunday, but if you love fresh flowers as much as I do, then you’ll want to head to Columbia Road Flower Market. The weekly market is not just about fresh cut flowers as dried ones and houseplants are for sale too.
When you’re visiting Columbia Road Flower Market, you’ll want to arrive either really early or really late. Arriving earlier will guarantee fewer crowds but getting there just as the sale is wrapping up means that you’ll get the best deals as vendors try and sell out their wares before the end of the market!
Grab breakfast at Café Route
Once you’ve finished at the flower market, head to Route Broadway Market. There are plenty of different cafés and coffee shops in the area, but this is a personal favourite of mine thanks to its Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-inspired dishes and plethora of vegetarian options.
Wander around Broadway Market
After eating breakfast, head directly out the door to discover Broadway Market. This delightful street is well-known for its street market which dates back to Victorian times. Today, the market takes place every Saturday where around 120 stalls sell their wares.
The street itself is open every day of the year and has a number of cafés, eateries, and boutiques. There are three bookshops on the road; The Broadway Bookshop (an independent shop which sells pretty much every genre), Artwords Bookshop (full of art and coffee table books), and Donlon Books (which places an emphasis art, photography, cultural theory, independent publications and zines).
Stroll along Regent’s Canal
From Broadway Market, it’s just a short walk to reach an entranceway to the Regent’s Canal. To be honest, one of my personal favourite activities in east London is to stroll along Regent’s Canal.
Now, this canal actually stretches for 8.6 miles, though you can walk as much or as little as you like due to the presence of plenty of paths leading off to the above streets every few hundred metres or so. If you head east from Broadway Market, then you’ll head towards Victoria Park
You can then stroll around Victoria Park, which is the largest park in Tower Hamlets and also happens to be one of the more visited green spaces in London thanks to a staggering 9 million visitors a year.
There are several areas to discover, including a weekly Sunday market, a V&A play area, a large lake where you can rent small rowboats during the warmer months of the year and a two story Pagoda. From Victoria Park, you can then make your way to Spitalfields.
Christ Church Spitalfields
Head back from the canal towards Spitalfields Market. While in the area, keep an eye out for Christ Church Spitalfields. This church is one of the most illustrious buildings in the area and was constructed between 1714 and 1729.
Eat lunch at Spitalfields
To be honest it can be a little overwhelming to decide exactly what food to buy once you get inside Spitalfieds. There’s something for everyone from fruit smoothies to noodles to toasted sandwich wraps.
We tend to try something different every time and I particularly love the spicy aubergine noodles at Fen Noodles and the vegetarian Bao box at Yum Bun. Before your visit, you should note that most of the food in the market can be on the pricier side of things.
Spitalfields doesn’t only function as a covered food market but also as an indoor market where you can buy everything from jewellery to greetings cards to clothing items at the many stalls inside.
There are also physical shops, including high street retailers such as The Ordinary and & Other Stories. If you’re looking for a particularly unique souvenir or gift from your trip, then you can head into Inspitalfields.
Discover Street Art
One of the things that East London is best-known for is street art and so you would do well to allow yourself an hour or two to wander around Shoreditch and its surrounding area to go in search of interesting pieces.
To be honest, one of the greatest joys of a visit to east London is simply to stroll around and allow the area to reveal itself to you. After all, this is how you can discover the best street art and the more hidden gems of the area.
Though there is pretty much some street art to be found on every corner, I personally recommend visiting the following streets to discover the biggest concentration of art:
- New Inn Yard
- King John Court
- Gunthorpe Street
- Princelet Street
- Hanbury Street
- Buxton Street
- Quaker Street
- Sclater Street
- Shoreditch High Street
- Whitby Street
- Chance Street
If you’re the kind of person who prefers discovering a destination together with a local guide, then there are a few guided tours in the area. For example, this is a street art and gratfiti walking tour. Alternatively, if you prefer to discover an area on two wheels, then you can book this street art bike tour.
Go vintage shopping in Brick Lane
Brick Lane is the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community and is well-known for its many curry houses. The street is also home to many thrift and vintage shops, as well as artists’ ateliers. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the many shops in the area.
Brick Lane’s charm lies in its ability to blend the old with the new. Vintage boutiques and edgy street art share space with historic buildings, creating a unique atmosphere that appeals to both the traditional and the contemporary.
The area is a hotbed of creativity, fostering emerging artists, musicians, and designers who draw inspiration from its eclectic surroundings.
If you’re a literary lover, then one shop that you certainly won’t want to miss is brick lane bookshop. established in 1978. This independent shop stocks books of every genre.
Have a drink at The Rooftop
End your time in the East End by heading to The Rooftop, which can be found at 100 Shoreditch High Street. This delightful bar offers stunning views onto the surrounding area and you can buy soft drinks as well as cocktails, wine, and beers.
There are small plates on offer too. The indoor area is beautifully designed, but if it’s a sunny day then I highly recommend heading to the outdoor rooftop bar where you can sip on your drink while overlooking the streets of London.
As you might imagine from such a busy and bustling area, there are a number of dinner options in the area. One of my favourite places for a casual dinner is Taco Collective, where you can get tacos and take them next door to Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes to enjoy in the bar with a drink.
One of the more refined options in the area is Campania, which is a cosy Italian-inspired restaurant. The best part about this eatery is its romantic ambiance, including candlelit tables and brick work walls.
Just note that the food can be a little on the spicy side (which is tasty but is more Italian-inspired than authentic Italian). If you want to go to a casual pub garden, then you can check out the Strongroom Bar for casual snacks and beers.
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