If you like off the beaten path places and you’ve already seen the main sights with Big Ben and Tower Bridge, try travelling more east to visit different London’s neighbourhood. Dive into the chaotic mix of great food places, pop-up designer shops, hidden cafes and colourful street art in the Brick Lane in London’s East End.
I’ve been to London several times, exploring city hidden corners. However, with every visit I learn how little I know about the UK’s capital and how much there is still to discover.
East End hustle and bustle
This time, following my love for the street art, my boyfriend took me to the place, that I haven’t heard of before – Brick Lane in the East End of London. It used to be a poor slum area in the past, with a high crime rate, however now it’s booming with quirky boutiques, chic cafes, trendy art galleries and famous food places. What I loved the most about it was the creative and ever-changing street art hidden around every corner.
Brick Lane has for years been a home for international Irish and Jewish migrants. Nowadays, the Bangladesh population is the majority, which results in many curry houses (over 50!) and multiple Asian shops in the area. During the weekend the street is very busy with locals, tourists, food sellers, and music artists, bustling with sounds, colours and flavours.
Get lost in the markets
The Brick Lane is the best to be visited on Sunday, when all the markets are open.
If you like street food, stroll through the numerous stalls on the market, where you can find authentic cuisine from all over the world including Japanese, Indian, South American and Lithuanian. The food is delicious, so don’t worry if you spend ages to decide what to have (like me, ha). Outside the main market, there’s Ely’s Yard, with benches and beer gardens, where you can enjoy your lunch out in the sun. The Yard is also a home to American street food trucks, just in case if the choice of dishes inside the market was not enough for you ;).
After lunch, go and have coffee in one of the stylish cafes. Some of them look like lounges from someone’s house, with books, pictures on the walls and souvenirs from travels. You can enjoy a great coffee and home-made cakes, while feeling like visiting a friend, and not a public venue.
Interesting place to visit is also Cereal Killer Cafe, serving all types of cereals, which will bring your childhood dreams back. For chocolate lovers, try Dark Sugars shop and the cafe, with stunning wooden interior and mouth-watering dark chocolate truffles.
If you are a party animal, come in the evening for a cocktail in one of the trendy bars and a party in the popular clubs.
Art that you can’t miss
If you want to see more colours on the city streets, East End and Brick Lane will not disappoint you. There are many little art shops and galleries dotted around, really worth visiting. However, the art that you won’t be able to miss, even if you want to, is the one on the street. Huge murals, small paintings, stickers or sculptures cover big parts of the buildings in the Brick Lane and side streets.
Luckily, street art is celebrated here rather than immediately destroyed. This results in the artists from all over the world coming to Brick Lane to paint. The buildings walls create the canvas for the new, frequently changing creations, with the fresh paintings appearing in place of the old ones.
Among many others, in the East End, you can see some of the remaining work of Banksy, anonymous graffiti artist from Bristol. Unfortunately, many of his pieces already disappeared or faded away from other places in London. His Designated graffiti area can be viewed in the Cargo nightclub beer garden, protected behind the sheet of plastic against the black wall. There is also another one, located at the corner of the Cargo’s courtyard – His Masters Voice. If you are interested in the street art culture, viewing the work of one of the most famous British street artist is a must.
While walking along Brick Lane, you can’t miss the walls covered in the street art. However, the easiest way to see the most of it, is to start you journey in Aldgate East underground station (it also has this pretty old-fashioned Underground logo shown below), and make your way up north, exploring the side streets as you go. Almost every corner has some great art hidden around, so keep your eyes peeled for it.
How to get to Brick Lane
The address is Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest underground stations are Aldgate East and Liverpool Street. Closest overground is Shoreditch High Street. There are also several buses stopping in the area.
What do you think about street art? Would you like to see it in the Brick Lane? Have you visited this part of London before? Let me know in the comments.