Set just across the way from the Olympic Park – more on that later – and bordered by the Lea Navigation and Hertford Union Canals, Hackney Wick is an incredibly fashionable spot which has plenty of craft breweries, bars, nightclubs and artist studios dotted about. It’s so fashionable in fact that it was recently ‘crowned the coolest place to live in London’ – so you can see why it’s been featured as a filming location for TV and film behemoths like Bridgerton and James Bond. So, with all that said and done, here’s a rundown of ten of the best things to do in Hackney Wick:
1. Discover the area’s eclectic street art
Anyone going for even the briefest of wanders around Hackney Wick will be very aware of the area’s eclectic art scene – and no wonder. Once a thriving industrial hub, it’s now the epicentre for a large number of artists, musicians and other creatives, some of whom have decorated the area’s network of streets and walls with some intricate street art and graffiti.
While the whole of E9 is decked out in various different murals, we’d recommend heading to Bream Street, Fish Island and Smeed Road in particular, which all have an ever-changing tapestry of exquisite artworks.
2. Grab a pint in the historic Lord Napier Star
Speaking of graffiti, you really can’t miss popping in to the historic Lord Napier Star, which opened once again back in 2021 after a 26-year hiatus. It’s covered – and we mean covered – in graffiti and is a cracking spot to while away a few hours when the sun’s shining.
There’s a fantastic rooftop terrace which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area, and they’ve got regular DJs, fine food and cocktails – not to mention pub quizzes to boot too. Plus, it’s dog-friendly, and who doesn’t love a pooch hey?
📍25 White Post Lane, London, E9 5ER.
3. While away the hours at Barge East
Barge East is the epitome of romantic waterside dining, with dreamy fairy lights, delicious food, and a scenic, maritime atmosphere right by the River Lee. Moored at Sweetwater in Hackney Wick, the nearly 120-year-old Dutch barge has been transformed into one of London’s finest outdoor bars and kitchens, serving a seasonal British menu, and drinks throughout the year.
Due to its popularity, Barge East has added an entire garden area to accommodate more guests, and is a perfect date spot both during the day and and night. They’ve also got regular street food pop-ups here, as well as pottery painting workshops too.
📍River Lee, Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Lane, E9 5EN.
4. Party the night away at the Colour Factory
Set within a space formerly known as Mick’s Garage, the Colour Factory is a nightclub, live music venue, street food court and multi-functional events space right by that aforementioned canal. It’s known for its cultural diversity and advocates for highlighting predominantly female, non-binary, and queer artists throughout its shows.
There are a range of different gigs and low-key events throughout the week (including wrestling!), but the weekends are when you can really let your hair down. DJs spin the decks until 4am, and there’s everything here from club nights by Pxssy Palace to trance and techno raves.
📍8 Queen’s Yard, London, E9 5EN.
5. Kayak down to Crate Brewery
Located in the effortlessly-edgy Queen’s Yard just a hop, skip and a jump from the OG station and the Lord Napier Star, CRATE was the first brewery to pop up in the area, and it has been attracting punters in their droves ever since. The entire venue has a delightfully shabby-chic feel to it, with recycled railway sleepers and ladders making up the bar and rusty bed springs transformed into the light fixtures.
Their beer ain’t bad either – they serve up a mean lager, session IPA, stout and pale ale – and their pizzas are some of the best you’ll find in East London. If you fancy something a bit different, why not kayak five kilometres down London’s oldest canal from Limehouse to Crate with Secret Adventures? Along the way, you’ll paddle past warehouses and beautiful scenery and might spot some birdlife too.
📍Unit 7 Queen’s Yard, London, E9 5EN.
6. Channel your inner warrior and go axe throwing
As Skeeters themselves state, ‘nothing smashes through social awkwardness like throwing an axe at a chunky target and with drinks and food’, so what better date venue than this one, hey?! Under the supervision of an expert instructor, you’ll easily be able to hone your skills and will hopefully by the end of the session score yourself a few bullseyes!
You can either opt for your own private lane or you can share with others, so if you’re looking to get social, then this is a good one to choose. They’ve even got club sessions and league nights on Tuesday nights – so you can challenge other punters to a healthy competition – and are named after the legendary George E. ‘Skeeter’ Vaughn – who once threw a knife a whopping 87 feet. See if your throw is half as good!
📍Hamlet Industrial Estate, 96 White Post Lane, London, E9 5EN.
7. Shop for some vintage threads
Renovating your look is the perfect opportunity to dive back into the past, finding forgotten gems and retro garms that can revitalise your wardrobe. And luckily for you dear reader, Hackney Wick has got itself a real humdinger in the shape of the East End Vintage Clothing Store.
You’ll find lots of vintage denim shirts for £15 and jackets for £25, and they also have a whole host of party dresses and suits here too. It’s all set within a converted warehouse – so it’s not exactly the best looking spot it has to be said – but with prices this good, who cares right?! In fact you can even fill a bag of vintage goodies for just a tenner! Why not have a rummage and see what goodies you can find.
📍11B Chapman Road, London, E9 5DW.
8. Take a stroll around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Made famous during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and named after her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Olympic Park offers bucketloads of green space for you to get lost in and be at one with nature.
As well as nature trails and wildlife-rich wetlands, you’ll also be able to explore some of the sporting venues found here such as the Lee Valley VeloPark and the beast that is the London Stadium. Heck you can even go pedaloing here, and don’t forget Abba Voyage either… ‘Voulez-vous’.
📍Stratford, London, E20 2ST.
9. Slide down the world’s longest tunnel slide
Now this one’s for the adrenaline junkies among you and is actually in Olympic Park too. Certainly one of the best things to do in Hackney Wick, the Orbit Slide – which was designed by acclaimed artist Carsten Höller – is the longest and tallest tunnel slide in the entire world and stands at a mighty 178-metres-tall thank you very much.
12 twists and turns add some additional drama to your descent, and some of the 40-second-long chute itself is actually in complete darkness – so this is not one for the faint of heart! So put some ‘wheeeee!’ in your weekend and pop along!
📍5 Thornton Street, Olympic Park, E20 2AD.
10. Tuck into some tasty Indian food
Rounding off this list of the best things to do in Hackney Wick is a visit to Tamila – a cool-as-a-cucumber spot which specialises in tasty South Indian street food. It’s based in Hackney Bridge – a multi-purpose events space which is located right by the canal.
Dig into authentic rotis, delicious dosas and creamy curries served in banana leaves – all best washed down with an ice cold bottle of Cobra. If you’re not feeling like Indian grub, then they’ve also got Italian connoisseurs Made in Puglia, FILIGRILLZ and Wrap’n’Rolla too.
📍Units 1-28, Echo Building, East Bay Lane, London, E15 2SJ.
So there you have it – a roundup of ten of the best things to do in Hackney Wick. From tucking into pizza and beer at Crate Brewery to boogying on down at a warehouse-style club, there’s something for everyone in this neck of the woods. Better get yourself out East then!