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How to spend 48 hours in east London on staycation

Whether you’re enjoying a weekend away in London, or you live in the capital and want to explore some more, east London has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the trendiest cities to visit.

From the vintage stores of Brick Lane to gorgeous Greenwich Park, you’ll never be bored in east London. From Friday evening straight after work, through to a Sunday evening train home, we’ve got you covered for the best east London spots to eat, drink, visit, and dance at – without getting lost in too many of the tourist traps.

Friday

7pm: Tired from a week at work and perhaps a long train ride, you’ll want to dump your bags and have a fairly quiet evening. The Castle Cinema in Hackney is an independent, crowdfunded cinema with a beautiful curved ceiling, ornate decoration, and comfy seats. Any film at this cinema is worth a watch, but keep an eye out for Cine Real screenings for movies played on 16mm film on a projector for a magic, vintage feel.

www.cine-real.com / First Floor, 64 – 66 Brooksby’s Walk, London, E9 6DA

on a summers afternoon , looking southwest with the city skyline 4 miles in the distance (4K footage is available)

Overnight: Stay at Mama Shelter London in Shoreditch.

Right by Columbia Road flower market, Mama Shelter London is a cool, quirky hotel with chic decorations, its own garden bar, karaoke rooms, and drag bingo events. At least if the weather is awful, this hotel will ensure you have a great time without ever having to leave.

437 Hackney Road, London, E2 8PP

Saturday

9am: It’s a little bit of a walk (or a 15-minute ride on the London Overground) from where you’re staying in Shoreditch, but if you’re looking for a fantastic start to the day Bake Street London in Clapton is right across from Rectory Road station and is full of delicious treats from pastries to burgers to sweet treats… crème brulee cookie anyone?

58 Evering Road, Lower Clapton, N16 7SR

How to spend 48 hours in east London on staycation
Pedestrian walking past graffiti wall on construction hoarding in Great Eastern Street East London. (photo by Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)

11am: Go on an alternative street art tour of east London. Shoreditch is packed with street art, some of which has stayed up for years and become a landmark in itself. A walking tour is a fantastic way to get to know the area and learn all sorts of facts from a trained tour guide – and it’s far more interactive than just visiting a gallery. As a bonus, you’ll be able to get street food from London’s famous Brick Lane after the tour finishes.

Tours start at 11am and 2pm. Click here for tickets: www.alternativeldn.co.uk/london-street-art-tour/

Alternative London, 19 Hessel Street, London, E1 2LR

3pm: Visit Tower Bridge… okay, this list wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t have something traditionally touristy in it. See the tower from a relaxing walk by the Thames, or visit the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels and the site where Queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned.

Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 2UP

How to spend 48 hours in east London on staycation

7pm: Hit up BOXPARK in Shoreditch for something to eat and drink. BOXPARK has loads to offer in terms of independent clothing stores, food, drink, and events, so it’ll be easy to spend an entire evening here. With all the street food you could imagine to choose from, as well as music, art, and quiz nights to enjoy, BOXPARK is a great place to visit if you’re with friends and want to try a little bit of everything.

2 – 10 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GY

10pm: You can walk to cocktail bar Queen of Hoxton from BOXPARK, and spend the whole evening soaking up the atmosphere. Spread over three floors, including a rooftop bar, Queen of Hoxton regularly hosts live bands, karaoke nights, and DJs. If you’re comfortable with clubbing, the venue stays open until 2am for a full night of fun, however if Covid-19 has you feeling more cautious, the rooftop bar is open-air, and usually less crowded than the floors below.

1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX

How to spend 48 hours in east London on staycation
Boxpark, Shoreditch, London, UK

Sunday

10am: Maybe you’re a little hungover from the night before and can only be cured by a fry-up. If so, Brew for Two in Hackney has your back; in a small space crammed with plants and flowers, with an intimate garden dining space, the cafe serves up full English breakfasts (and veggie breakfasts) along with granola, pancakes, and anything else you need to recover.

101 Morning Lane, London, E9 6ND

12pm: Hang out at leafy Hackney Downs (you can even visit a cute mural, with mosaics of local dogs, named the Hounds of Hackney Downs), before heading back to the high street to eat at Temple of Hackney. Serving vegan “chicken”, chips, and other treats on a reasonable budget, Temple of Hackney will fill the belly of even ardent meat eaters, and prove that vegan food doesn’t just mean salad and soya.

5 Morning Lane, London, E9 6ND

Do you want 2Chill?

How to spend 48 hours in east London on staycation

2pm: Browse at Bohemia Place Markets. The sights, smells, and noises of Bohemia Places Markets is bound to perk you up if you’re feeling less than fresh, with jewellery, clothing, and plenty of food stalls to choose from if you’re still feeling peckish. The market has themed events, including vegan days, vintage clothing events, and stalls supporting Black-owned local businesses.

Bohemia Place, London, E8 1DU

5pm: Take the Emirates Air Line to Banh Mi Leo in Greenwich. Getting a cable car over London may sound strange, but it’s one of the most fun ways to take in the sights of the city at sunset, all for the cost of £4 (single) if you tap in using contactless. Bahn Mi Leo serves up a variety of authentic Vietnamese sandwiches, as well as rice and noodle bowls, for a delicious dinner in the heart of Greenwich without breaking the bank.

19 Lovibond Lane, London, SE10 9FY

How to spend 48 hours in east London on staycation
Thames cable car seen through The Crystal building at Royal Victoria Dock in London at sunset

7pm: If you’re travelling home via Liverpool Street station, head to Simmons while you wait. It’s a chain bar, but it’s happy hour until 9pm on Sunday, and with a G&T on offer for £2.50 and a glass of wine for £3, it might offset some of your more splurge-worthy purchases over the weekend.

21 Widegate Street, London, E1 7HP


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