It was Bangladeshi and Jewish immigrants who put East London’s Brick Lane on the map with affordable, authentic bagel shops and curry houses that still draw late-night crowds to the area. But these days it’s also a creative hub, with edgy galleries, cool cafés and vintage-clothing stores. All in all, a great place to see London’s vibrant youth and arts cultures come alive.
Brick Lane by nature is a mish-mash mixture of cultures, languages, foods and activities. And around each turn in the Lane is a piece of artwork, sometimes hastily thrown up, other times painstakingly created, on a broken or crumbling wall.
London has some of the greatest graffiti (hello Banksy) in the world. There are actual graffiti tours that are easily navigated throughout the city. By following the path of graffiti, one often sees a side of the city not mentioned in the guide books. Although it is becoming hip to take a graffiti tour especially the Banksy tour.
One of London's most famous streets, Brick Lane is known for more than its curry houses. Take a stroll down the street and you just might spot an artist painting a new street art mural or others painting graffiti on the street or just off it.
Brick Lane on a Sunday is a great place for people-watching around the market stalls. When you’re hungry, step into one of several food halls full of stalls representing dozens of countries My husband tried Burmese dishes while I filled up on Venezuelan goodies, and neither of us could fit in the crepes or waffles around the corner. When it rains it gets crowded – so it’s usually crowded – but the food was worth the inconvenience.
Food tours are perfect for those who are passionate about trying local food or seek alternate ways of exploring a city. They are the easiest way to fall in love with London if you’re a tourist.
London offers a number of food tours which provide delicious samples of typical English food peppered with nuggets of historical and cultural information. Eating London Food Tours offer a food tour of the dynamic East End, Mind The Gap tours offer gourmet food tours while Walk Eat Talk Eat offer area-based food tours. Pick one that tickles your fancy. Most tours last for four to five hours and prices of all meals are usually included in the cost of the tour.
The chaos and cosmopolitanism of Brick Lane is a far cry from the historical ambience of The City of Westminster. Brick Lane offers a peek into contemporary British society. It has been home to French weavers, Jews, and Bangladeshi immigrants over the centuries. Today it is one of London's most artsy areas. Bricklane and its neighbouring Spitalfields are immersed in history and have a lot to offer. Spend your day absorbing the radical street art on offer, sampling traditional Bangladeshi curries, or shopping at the independent boutiques and vintage stores in the area.
Do not forget to sample the legendary salt-beef bagels at Beigel Bake, one of London's last tradition Jewish bakeries.
You’ll hear plenty of whispers around London that tend to follow these lines, “Sure, but have you been to Brick Lane? You can’t say you’ve been to this city without spending some time in East London.” Those whispers, as confident as they may be, are right – you really should set aside an afternoon for Brick Lane.
Don’t feel like these sly recommendations are in-the-know secrets: Many people have since picked up on the Brick Lane grapevine. Nevertheless, who cares? With as many vintage shops, Indian restaurants, quirky bars, and artisan stalls as there are on Brick Lane, it doesn’t matter who knew about it first. Enjoy sifting through 1950s dresses in a tiny shop, swapping one-liners with a fellow bibliophile over collectible books, or trying on pairs of sunnies that cost just a few pounds. Be sure to have a pint or a plate before you leave, even if that means sitting on the sidewalk as you eat. The mesmerizing graffiti and endless people watching are worth it.