Shoreditch: Walking Guide around Edgy Neighborhood Full of Street Arts

Christian Ostmo | July 9, 2020

When you think in street arts around London, surely Shoreditch is the first name that would come out, this edgy neighborhood is famous for its incredible artistic expressions that ranges from massive mural covering the complete side of a building to small portraits in a narrow street, creating a special vibe in the neighborhood and creating countless places to snap some instaworthy shots.

With this guide I’ll provide you useful information about this neighborhood that it’s getting more and more popular among the visitors of city of London. Despite that the most relevant feature of Shoreditch is without any doubt, the creative expressions not only on the streets but in the plenty of galleries and museums, this neighborhood has many great restaurants and coffee shops where to have a great time, so I will give you great spots to visit in the area and of course where you can get the most edgy photo sessions.

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How to get to Shoreditch?

Getting this neighborhood is relatively easy using the public transportation available. The underground lines that will take you there are: Northern, Metropolitan, London Overground, being the nearest tube stations: Shoreditch High Street, Old Street and Liverpool Street. If you prefer using the bus services, there are many of routes that serve this area and will get you there from different part of London, the routes are: 8, 35, 47, 135, 205, 388, N8 and N205.

History Behind Shoreditch

The earliest mention of the Shoreditch that we have register was in the 13th century, when the area was a medieval parish without significant development. It was not until sixteenth century when the construction of houses began, and the area started to growth. There is some mystery behind the origin of its name, some historians said it comes from water that flow across the marshland receiving the word ‘shore’ that means sewer or common drain. Other version that already have been denied, says it received the name from a mistress of Edward IV, named Jane Shore who died in a ditch near the area. And the more likely theory says the name is associated to Soerdich family were part of the closed circle of King Edward III.

The relation of Shoreditch with the arts and entertainment dated centuries ago, it was here where the first theater of London was built in the latest 1700’s. The area was frequented for Elizabethan artists, actors and performers, included William Shakespeare who debuted many of his plays in the theaters of Shoreditch.

Shoredith as many other parts in London has suffered a drastically transformation over the years, after the war it was largely destroyed due to the blitz, leading in an important reconstruction in 1950’s. But before the 1980’s the area was just a boring jungle of buildings and stores, nothing like what we know today. During the decade of eighties, the area was a refugee for alternative artists that used the walls as stencils for their artwork, as the culture of tagging were developing, Shoreditch become an urban hub for artistical, cultural and architectural expressions.

With the gentrification of the area, Shoreditch has turned more living area than an entertainment centre as the previous years, however, still conserve part of its edginess and still is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in London.

What Can I do there?

Shoreditch is considered an entertainment hub housing plenty of full of life night clubs, energetic bars and well-know restaurants, that have attracted an interesting mixture of people that populates the area, including fashionistas, designers and hipsters seeking to absorb the artistic vibes and media class workers, tech geeks and businesspeople who work in the many big companies that have settled their headquarters in the area.

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The artistic expression is one of the most distinguishing features in Shoreditch, having the buildings walls as canvas for talented graffiti artists to displays their creativity have converted the neighborhood in a colorful urban gallery. Nevertheless, the creativity has found its way from the streets to more private exhibitions in the plenty of art galleries located in almost every corner. You can immerse yourself in the world of the arts and be the spectator of amazing iconic pieces of great variety of artists, both well-known and emerging ones.

Despite the neighborhood has that everchanging nature, it still conserve some important signs of its history, and you can visit to revive the earlies years of Shoreditch, it’s the case of the The Geffrye Museum that shows the history of the English houses and furniture over the years, the St. Leonard’s Church, this ancient building was the center of the area, known as the actors church because it was built next to the famous The Theatre and frequented by Elizabethan actors.

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If you are planning a weekend visit, you need to include the markets in your itinerary, this area is popular for housing markets for all the audiences and tastes. One of the most popular should be Brick Lane Market offering a wide selection of items, that can include antiques, electronics, bric-a-brac among many other things. The Columbia Road Flower Market that not only let you buy some colorful floristry, also offer an incredible full sensorial experience, letting you enjoy the smell and the beautiful view of this florid heaven.

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Where to Eat in Shoreditch?

Shoreditch is famous for having an endless list of trendy restaurants, where people can enjoy one of the highest rated cuisine in London. The options ranges from creative motorcycles themed restaurants, where you can even get a haircut to independent restaurant offering the best home-cooked roast dinner you can get in the city. Shoreditch has been invaded by eateries looking for the wide selection of delicious cuisine offered around there. The most popular restaurant in the area I can mention are: Andina Shoreditch (Redchurch St), Popolo Shoreditch (Rivington St), Lyle's (Shoreditch High St), Iron Bloom (Great Eastern St), The Jones Family Project (Great Eastern St), among others.

Additionally, if you’re looking for places that satiate your craving for tantalizing dishes also you can enjoy of a beautiful decoration and pleasing exterior or interior design, that make them perfect place for your photo sessions. Some of the favorite restaurants in the area among the Instagrammers are:

-Dirty Bones Shoreditch (Club Road)
-Ceviche (Old Street)
-Tramshed (Rivington St)
-Dinerama (Great Eastern St)

If you prefer spending all your time wandering among the vibrant streets of Shoreditch, you can grab some snacks in the many supermarkets and stores spread along the neighborhood and continue with your exploration. Of course, the big chains have some branches in the area such as: Tesco Express (Shoreditch High St), Co-op Food (Old Street), Sainsbury’s Local (City Rd) and The Grocery (Kingsland Rd).

Fancy a Coffee?

While you’re walking along these trendy streets you can stop in the coffee shops to satisfy your sweet tooth and give you the boost, you’ll need to continue your journey along this lively neighborhood. Some of the most famous are: Origin Coffee Roasters (Charlotte Rd), Franze & Evans (Redchurch St), Dolcezza Bonhill (Bonhill St). There are two cafeterias that stand out among the other: Shoreditch Grind located at Old Street with its edgy black façade with cinema inspired sign and Sevengrams UK Ltd at Shoreditch High St.

Best Walk Tours Along Shoreditch

Shoreditch famous for its trendiness and being the center of creativity expressions, has so many things to offers to tourists and locals alike, starting from its wide variety of entertainments centers like clubs, restaurants, museums and of course galleries, the options are limitless. Even a walk around the streets can be an unique experience with the impressive artworks on the buildings and walls. This time I come up with a guided walk tour, so you cannot miss anything about this neighborhood.

Walk Tour Hunting Street Arts.

The arts and creativity are synonyms of Shoreditch, when you visit this neighborhood, you’ll immerse yourself in a very vibrant and unique atmosphere, hard to replicate in any other part of the city. Walking along the streets is a one-of-a-kind experience, where you can discover a giant portrait covering a building façade or a hidden corner with a colorful flower arrangement painting. As the streets art is always changing, it’s part of its essence, be replaced for new ways of arts, I recommend you enjoy every spots in this route and take as many snaps as you can with these spectacular backgrounds, probably when you return, they won’t be there. The walk will take you around 2.5 hours covering the distance of 1.5 miles.

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This walk starts at Old Street Underground, when you exit the station take the left and walk down to reach City Road, continue your walk until you get Leonard St and then veer left at Tabernacle St, this area of Shoreditch you don’t find the typical street paintings instead you’ll see a great building with kind of old-fashioned architecture usually with dark colors and brick texture. Around here you can take nice shots taking advantage that the streets are tranquil with no busy traffic.

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Continue your walk along the street that will leading you until Old Street again, at this point you’ll start seeing the characteristic graffiti reference in this area, you’ll find plenty restaurants and coffee shops around here. There you’ll see the iconic building totally cover with a colorful patron made of dot, lines and squares that stands out from the rest. As you continue your walk the street become Great Eastern Street, a massive road with random spots of artwork expressions, keep your eyes open and be aware on the surrounding streets where you can find much more graffities.

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Cross the street and veer left onto New Inn Yard, the next destination in the street art hunt. Here you’ll find some murals from different artists including very famous and long running ones that will make you appreciate them as the pieces of arts that they are, in case you still have any doubts. To continue your journey immersing in colorful streets, duck into King John Ct on the right side, this narrow street has plenty of spots that you’ll enjoy, at the end you’ll be into Holywell Lane another tiny street were great artists has displayed their creativity and embellishing those concrete walls.

At the end of this road cross Shoreditch High St walk the half block and turn right at Redchurch Street you’ll pass some restaurants very popular in the area, and see the beautiful jungle inspired mural, take a look at the surroundings tiny streets such as Ebor Street, Chance St that has one of the brightest wall, creating a perfect setting for your photo shots. Another street with famous artworks is Whitby Street located just next to Chance Street, it’s tiny so you don’t skip it.

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At this point you’ll be eager for more edgy creations, and you’ll find them in one of the most iconic streets in Shoreditch, it gathers all the styles, all kind of artist, and it’s renewed so quickly that every visit is like a first time. I’m talking about Brick Lane, that also house the well-known street market. To get there get into Sclater Street you’ll find some great works around, when you reach the end of the street you can walk up if you like to visit an art gallery, it’s located at the corner with Bethnal Green Road, if not turn right along the Brick Lane and be amazed how the colors invade almost everything in the area.

As you make your way along the street, keep your eyes open and when you see a narrow path on the right side of the street, duck into it and you’ll be in you way of Allen Gardens, a small green area with stunning murals all around. Then turn around your feet to return to Brick Lane, this stretch can get packed when the market is opens, so have that in mind when you’ll walk around here. Feel free to relax in one of the many restaurants and coffee shops as you find your way to your next destination.

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Are you thirsty for more? The streets that intersects Brick Lane, they are also great sources of incredible spots with amazing creative displays, it is the case of Hanbury Street and Fashion Street. However, Shoreditch is not only street arts, there are stunning buildings with lovely architecture that worth to check out. Veer right to Princelet Street to enjoy these structures, some of them have deteriorated facades that will give an edgier vibe to your shots. Continue your walk down on Wilkes St that will lead you to Fournier St, another narrow street with spectacular setting for your Insta-worthy snaps.

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When you reach Brick Lane again, walk the last stretch and turn right at Fashion Street and be amazed with the spectacular pieces of recognized artists, you’ll be getting Commercial St, a large road with great selection of shops, restaurants and convenient stores. When you see the structure of the Old Spitalfields Market, cross the street to find Brushfield St. At this point you can add some shopping therapy to your journey, this covered market is an important part of the history being in the area for more than 300 years. There are plenty of stalls and shops offering a wide collection of items including antiques, clothes, furniture, food among many other things.

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You can finish you walk here, crossing Bishopsgate Street and walk down until you get Liverpool St that will guide you to Liverpool Street tube station. If not continue your walk along Bishopsgate Street, where you can see spectacular mixture of huge modern buildings with antiques constructions, in this area you’ll be impressed with the massive crystal structures at both side of the road. To reach the last stop of this walk and give you the last glimpse of colorful urban arts, turn right at Folgate St and keep going until you get Elder St, a tiny cobbled street with lovely facades. Then take the curve on Quacker Street that leading you to Wheeler Street, be aware you may find some good pieces around there. This street ends at Shoreditch High Street Underground, in the arches you enjoy your last creative displays of this visit.

And remember, the street arts are temporary, which for one hand make you sad for loosing stunning pieces for the other, you must think that there is always a master pieces being born anytime. All of this make this neighborhood so dynamic and worth to visit more than one.

To make your walking tour easier, I’ll give you the link to access the route through Google Maps, and you don’t miss any spot.

First Walk:
Christian Ostmo
Christian is a Content Writer and Photographer at Pic ur Photo and recent transplant from Oregon. You can follow his day-to-day exploits on Instagram @christianostmo.