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London’s East End, formerly known as “that part beyond the Tower”, is a vibrant area, comprised of a number of boroughs. With an area full of artists and hipsters, the home of the cockney dialect and a history that dates back to medieval times, East London holds many places that are ‘off the beaten track’ and perfect for backpackers to discover.

Hang out in Hackney for the day and enjoy an up-and-coming neighbourhood. Check out eclectic shops, great streetscapes and stop by the Wilton Way Café for great coffee and music to relax after your walk.

Want to run away with the circus? Check out an experience day at Circus Space where participants can get a taste for various circus arts including trapeze, tightwire, juggling and acrobatics.

Getting a drink in London can get a little expensive, but that’s where Happiness Forgets comes in. A little hard to find, this basement bar is located at Hoxton Square and offers a dark, cozy atmosphere and reasonably priced high end cocktails from 5 pm to 11 pm every night.

The house at 19 Princelet Street has a long and often interesting history. It has been a family home, a workshop for weavers and a synagogue. In 1969 a man disappeared completely from the third floor. Due to it’s age and condition, access is very limited, so be sure to check ahead to see when public visits are possible.

Wilton's Mahagony Bar
Wilton’s Mahagony Bar is great for a drink and if you’re lucky enough, you can enjoy some live music.

If you enjoy theatre and music, you need to visit Wilton’s Music Hall. It’s one of the oldest surviving grand music halls in the world and it opens its stage to artists of all sorts. You can also just enjoy the atmosphere with food or drink at the newly renovated Mahogany Bar, the oldest section of Wilton’s, built in 1725.

Hidden throughout London are images of the 8-bit video game monsters Space Invaders. Created by a French artist, some can be found in East London. There are more scattered around London, Hong Kong and Paris.

Graffiti in East London (Lost Souls)
If you’re into street art, East London is the place to be.

Take a walk around and check out the graffiti and street art. You can see one of the last Banksy pieces in East London, along with many other talented artists. There are many organised tours or you can try a self-guided tour.

If you prefer a more macabre tour, you can try out a Jack the Ripper self-guided tour. Visit the places where the murders took place and imagine London’s East End in 1888.

Get back to nature in the city with a walk over the green bridge, which connects Bow Common to Mile End Park. Continue on to Victoria Park in the north or walk the Regent Canal along the west side of the park.

Finally, take some time to visit the free Museum of London Docklands, to learn some of the history of the area from Roman and Viking use of the area to more modern times. You can also shop at Canary Wharf, the modern shopping, food and entertainment district build on the old West India Dock site.

East London

Touring around London, you will likely find yourself checking out all that East London has to offer. It is a popular location for all ages, but especially for anyone in their 20s. This is an area of the city built around the interests and needs of early 20s individuals. You have the shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and activities that appeal to youth in a way that you cannot find elsewhere. In East London, two of the most popular stops are Brick Lane and Shoreditch. Both offer some exceptional dining, shopping, and sightseeing, giving visitors a memorable experience that opens their minds up to all types of new things.

Brick Lane

Brick Lane was once a rundown area of London. It is covered in slums and known for its proximity to the Jack the Ripper killings. It recently began to bounce back, however, and see an improvement. Brick Lane is on the rise. The crowds flock to this part of the city to have fun and shop in the numerous vintage stores. Mostly full of pubs and shops. This area is a great place to hang out with friends or to stock up on items that you need. You can check out Blitz, Rokit, and East Gallery, as a few options for shopping and galleries. For food and drink, head over to Cinnamon, The Brickhouse, Big Chill or visit the Brick Lane Food Market on Sundays. Plenty more places are around Brick Lane, too. They brighten and liven up the streets. Even during the day, the streets are alive with musicians, entertainers, and creativity. It brings these streets to life at all times of the day and night.

Shoreditch

Shoreditch has even more to offer. This location is a trendy place for younger individuals to grab a bite to eat, go shopping, go partying, and live life. You have everything from Golden Heart. A tavern that will capture your heart from the moment that you walk in, to Cereal Killer Café, a café where you can enjoy cereals from across the globe. Whether you want to party or you want to sit for a quiet meal, there is always something right up your alley.

The huge variety of locations means that it is near impossible to list everything here. You can go have fun in places like Queen of Hoxton or you can go find food stalls and view the beautiful architecture and street art around the city. You can even check out the lively individuals that take to the streets in these locations.

As a native English speaker, I was confident arriving in London that even though I’d never been there, I’d be able to figure out the train system. I was right, it is very straightforward and also has a smart phone app to help you figure out which trains to take where! The new wombat’s hostel in London is located very close to public transport making it super easy to find.

After getting off the tube at Tower Hill station, I noticed the magnificent medieval building right in front of me. What a great first impression. It was the Tower of London, a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. Upon arrival at wombat’s (about 10 minutes by foot from the station), I instantly felt at home. They have such an inviting lobby, with chairs and cushions, outlets everywhere, a luggage room, and smiling staff.

At reception I was given a booklet with a map of London and an incredibly helpful list of recommendations for sights, shopping, eating and drinking around town. After settling in, however, I headed down to have a drink at the womBar in the basement. WOW. This is by FAR the coolest hostel bar I have ever been to! The brick archways and unique decor give the bar a very cool, kitschy feel that I really enjoyed. The kitchen is also connected and is huge and fully stocked with cookware. I had my first pint of proper English Ale and started chatting with the other travelers, who were also having a great time.

As for the location, not only is wombat’s London close to a tube station, but it is also in the East part of London, which has a really cool bar scene. It’s outside of the Financial District, so in my opinion, more compatible with backpackers’ style. The bars here also stay open later than most, which is a bonus! This is also where all the Jack the Ripper tours start, because the East is where the murders took place.

There are several other free walking tours (with expected tip at the end) and countless tours that cost around 10 pounds. I highly recommend the Free Jack the Ripper tour as well as the Free Royal Tour which meets at The Churchill statue in Parliament Square.

If you are looking to see, eat, or drink something specific, the wombat’s staff are the best people to ask and have never steered me wrong. I have no doubt this new womBaby will become one of the most popular hostels in London in no time!w