Now, although Whitechapel has had quite a dark spell in history, it’s now one of the most up-and-coming areas in London. With some pretty fun and easily some of the best things to do in Whitechapel dotted all across the neighbourhood, it’s a great place to explore for a few hours when in London.
You see, once upon a time, this area of London terrorised by ‘Jack the Ripper’ and the cruelty inflicted upon its most famous resident, the ‘Elephant Man’. Thankfully, it’s murky past has long since gone and we’ve got a heap of yummy restaurants, art galleries and lots of history to explore in my old stomping ground.
Now, to give a little context into Whitechapel, it was long a working-class area of London, with a sizeable Jewish community and Commonwealth residents that have all called this area home. Plus, let’s not forget the overflow of hipsters (from Shoreditch) that now call this area of London home. 🙂
Like many other London neighbourhoods, Whitechapel has become a pretty exciting melting pot to explore and there’s now an ever-growing list of the best things to do in Whitechapel when you visit. This all makes for a few hard choices when it comes to whittling down your favourites.
And you know what, this is why I wanted to share a few great spots that I love.
Take a look at some of the best things to do in Whitechapel when you visit.
1.) Join a ‘Jack the Ripper’ tour
Let’s put this right out there… these are the kind of tours that totally suit you if you’re into that dark tourism or more macabre history of London.
Step back in time and experience one of the original Jack the Ripper Tours that happen most evenings in Whitechapel. Join forces with a Victorian police force and members of the Victorian London to try and solve one of the most infamous serial killer cases in London’s history. Though, if I’m honest, there’s a fat chance you’ll get any luck in catching the perpetrator now!
Top tip: Book online, as certain dates fill up fast, especially around weekends and holiday periods.
Oh, and don’t take grapes from strangers… that’s how the ripper seduced its victims!
2.) Gorge on the best curries
Okay, so Whitechapel and the nearby Brick Lane are well-known for housing some of the best curry houses in London.
For instance, places like Tayyabs was founded some 40 years ago in the very area it still occupies on Fieldgate Street.
Conjuring up some of the yummiest Punjabi cuisines, it’s a haven for anyone that’s worked up an appetite after exploring. Tayyabs is also reasonably priced and is all about the dishes (rather than the setting). Here, you’ll grab a main meal and drinks for under £20.
Now, one of their signature dishes is the Dhal Gosht, made with lentils, lamb, chilli, garlic and masala. Yum! It really is one of the best things to do in Whitechapel if you love a good curry.
Also, don’t forget Brick Lane which is filled with an array of Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani and Bengali food that’ll leave your taste buds buzzing. Plus, if you fancy a snack, grab some Bonda (spicy potatoes filled snacks) that are served by many of the vendors and restaurants on Brick Lane.
Top tip: Visit early in the evening, giving you lots of time to choose the food and place that’s right for you.
3.) Explore the Whitechapel Gallery
Reopened in 2009, The Whitechapel Gallery is one of London’s most prized and intimate art galleries. Though much smaller than the Tate Modern or National Gallery, it hosts some pretty pioneering art from around the world and is easily up there as one of the best things to do in Whitechapel.
In the early 20th century this gallery posted some of the more fringe artists who have now become known throughout the world. The gallery even housed some of Picasso’s work back in 1938. Over the years, the gallery has built its name and reputation of being one of the most forward-thinking galleries in the world and it’s easy to see why when you step inside.
Top tip: The gallery is completely free so it’s perfect for anyone wanting to experience some of London’s best art.
4.) See the East London Mosque
Another one of the best things to do in Whitechapel has to be seeing (or visiting) the East London mosque. East London mosque is integral to the makeup of Whitechapel and is a reminder of how beautifully diverse this area is. Each day, you can hear the call to prayer and it’s something that is so beautiful to hear. I used to live close by and loved it.
Top tip: Check out their website to find particular open days where you can tour the mosque and learn more about its history within Whitechapel.
5.) See the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Although closed, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is easily one of the best things to do in Whitechapel and one of London’s secret haunts.
Plus, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is the world’s most famous bell producer, which can’t be sniffed at. With over 500 years of history, this little Foundry actually crafted Big Ben (yup, the very same on in Westminster) and the Liberty Bell, a famous symbol of United States independence, too.
6.) Visit the Truman Brewery
Over the last 10 years or so, the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane has been transformed with an eclectic mix of vintage stores, microbreweries and delicious wine pop-ups that’ll keep you deliciously merry all evening! Take a wander through it’s many unique stalls and eat, drink and explore everything in sight!
It’s the perfect place to explore on a lazy weekend trip and easily up there as one of the best things to do in Whitechapel.
Top tip: Visit first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon (before or after the crowds).
7.) Eat at the tastiest spots
There’s a whole heap of yummy restaurants in Whitechapel that go way beyond what lots of people expect of this up-and-coming area of London.
Once here, head over to Treves & Hyde for some tasty terrines of duck and beef. That being said, for some of the best pizza in the area, stop off at Pizza Union (Aldgate). If it’s a tasty brunch you’re after, hop into Grounded that make some of the tastiest poached eggs and salmon in East London.
The restaurants in this area are so diverse and they’re easily one of the best things to do in Whitechapel if you’ve worked up that appetite.
8.) Spitalfields Market
If it’s a vintage market you’re after, filled with; crafts, antiques and everything else under the sun, then pop over to Spitalfields Market. Now, yeah, I hear you… it’s not technically Whitechapel but it’s an easy walk and a great place to stop when you’re this side of London.
Take a wander around all the stalls, look for some goodies but don’t be surprised if you can’t find any bargains. It’s much more ‘fashionable’ than ‘flea’ market.
9.) V&A Museum of Childhood
Technically perched within Bethnal Green, I still easily count the V&A Museum of Childhood as one of the best things to do in Whitechapel as it’s right on the fringe of the neighbourhood.
Once inside, take a wander around the huge exhibitions ranging from dolls, historic furniture and lots of cute Victorian handmade toys. It’s a pretty relaxing and chilled out museum that’s quite a bit different from the likes of the British Museum or the Natural History Museum.