If you know anything about Whitechapel, it probably has something to do with Jack the Ripper, the world’s most infamous serial killer. And, let’s face it, poor Whitechapel as it’s not the nicest thing to be known for. But there’s so much more to E1 than just murderers, we promise you. So hop on the Overground, Elizabeth or the Hammersmith and City line (if you dare) and hop off at Whitechapel. Just don’t go hunting for an actual white chapel, because it no longer exists… Here’s a roundup of 10 of the best things to do in Whitechapel:
1. Gorge to your heart’s content at vibey Tayyabs
This beloved, family-owned Indian restaurant was founded all the way back in 1972 and has been rustling up some of the best, award-winning Punjabi food in London ever since. There’s no tikka masala or chicken korma here – instead you can sample the famous Tayyabs lamb chops, melt-in-the-mouth Karahi chicken curry and their to-die-for tarka dhal.
There’s no corkage charge at this BYOB Indian restaurant either, so you can have as much booze as you please – no wonder then that this legendary East End spot can get really rather raucous! Best line your stomach then…
📍You’ll find Tayyabs at 83-89 Fieldgate Street, London, E1 1JU.
2. Grab a pint or two and unearth the history of The Blind Beggar
The Blind Beggar is famed for its big old beer garden and its gangster shootings (it was here that Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell back in 1966). Though it doesn’t look like much from the outside, it’s a great spot to while away the hours, and the beer garden is an absolute corker. There’s tons of space, a giant buddha and a koi carp pond. Not what you’d expect from an East London pub right? But then not every pub in this neck of the woods has won awards for being the ‘best outdoor space in London’.
Plus, it dates back to 1654, and takes its name from the legend of Henry de Montfort who was billed ‘the blind beggar of Bethnal Green’. You can find out more about this boozer and its gangster history from none other than the actor Vas Blackwood, who starred in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Creep too. Find out more here.
📍You’ll find The Blind Beggar at 337 Whitechapel Road, E1 1BU.
3. See what art exhibitions are on at the Whitechapel Gallery
Aldgate East tube’s next door neighbour may look traditional from the outside, but step inside and you’ll be blown away by this hub for talent, where ‘history has always been the future’. The Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists, from modern masters Pablo Picasso and Mark Rothko, to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle and Sarah Lucas.
They also have really great cake in their café and if you’re a bit of a bookworm, their bookshop is a good’un too. Exhibitions tend to change every three or so months, so keep your eyes peeled for what’s on via their website here.
📍You’ll find the Whitechapel Gallery at 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX.
4. Watch a flick at the Genesis Cinema
Another one of the best things to do in Whitechapel is catching a movie at the Genesis Cinema – an independent spot that combines cheap tickets – just five quid on Mondays to Thursdays – with moreish snacks, great films and regular events like open-mic nights and even speed-dating!
Set right in the heart of the neighbourhood, this cinema puts its clear love of film right to the front and centre, and there’s a lovely bar, kitchen and café which offers tasty pies and creamy mash. Plus there’s also two luxury screens with sofas, blankets and even a bar! Winner, winner.
📍You’ll find the Genesis Cinema at 93-95 Mile End Road, Bethnal Green, London, E1 4UJ.
5. Make your break out of a horrifying escape room
For something a bit more out of the box in E1, you should make your way to AIM Escape just off Goodman’s Fields, which offers players a truly immersive escape room experience, right in the heart of London Town. ‘Patient Zero 2150‘ will see you tasked with saving the world from destruction (this one admittedly might be a tad scarier on the other side of a global pandemic…).
Meanwhile ‘Psychopath’s Den‘ pits you against an evil psychopath, so just hope you don’t become another one of his grisly victims! We understand this may all sound a bit too terrifying (no judgements here) but don’t worry, ‘Spy Heroes‘ will ensure everybody has a great time, living out their spy fantasies in an escape room complete with a laser maze.
📍You’ll find AIM Escape Rooms at Goodman’s Fields, 8 Canter Way, London, E1 8PS.
6. Delight yourself with delectable doughnuts from Rinkoff’s
Now if you’re looking for a sweet treat when you’re in this neck of the woods then you best make your way to Rinkoff’s – a great little spot which specialises in ‘cronuts’ – a mixture of a croissant and doughnut which is quite frankly absolutely bloody delicious.
The flavours at this bakery include custard, salted caramel and chocolate fudge, and the croissant pastry is ‘fried like a donut to give extra height and a layered effect’. Trust us – you’ll want to try one of these ones! I mean, just look at the picture above…
📍You’ll find Rinkoff’s Bakery at Rinkoff Bakery at 224 Jubilee Street, London, E1 3BS and at 79 Vallance Road, London, E1 5BS.
7. Take in the views from the roof of The Culpeper
In a heaving scene of sky-high bars and skyline views, one building-topping venue is taking a different approach to their offerings. The Culpeper pub on Commercial Street is a complete gem offering quirky cocktails, incredible views of London, and a rooftop garden that provides ingredients for the kitchen and bar. Back in 2021, it was even ranked as ‘Europe’s Best Rooftop Bar‘ by Big 7 Travel.
Approximately 500 square feet is taken up by the garden, where you’ll be able to see ingredients bloom before they make their way onto your plate, or into your drink. It should be noted that it’s closed up here during the Winter months, but that just means you’ll have to head down to the restaurant, pub or even boutique hotel downstairs!
📍You’ll find The Culpeper at 40 Commercial Street, London, E1 6TB.
8. Go vintage shopping down Brick Lane
So Brick Lane technically isn’t Whitechapel, but it starts (or finishes?) here so we figured that we could add it to the list. It’s a hipster haven full of vintage shops, eclectic street art and 24-hour bagels. It’s also a famously good place to go for a curry, although we’re still a bit wary of that claim as everywhere is allegedly ‘the best’ and there’s always a really eager guy stood outside begging you to come in…
📍You’ll find the start of Brick Lane at 1 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 6TY.
9. Hurl an axe and try and hit a bullseye at Axeperience
Their tagline is ‘challenge your inner viking’, so this one really ain’t for the faint of heart! Billed as having the most five-star reviews of ‘any axe throwing joint in the entire UK’, this fun spot is certainly popular, and for good reason. You’ll learn from industry-leading inspectors who will show you exactly how to throw your axe in a ‘two-in-one’ format, and you’ll also get an hour’s worth of slinging axes – and hopefully getting bullseyes!
Each lane can cater for up to eight different people, so this is a great spot to come with some mates or colleagues, and there are a range of soft drinks, bar snacks and non-alcoholic beers for sale at the bar. After all, alcohol and sharp blades don’t really mix, let’s be honest…
📍You’ll find Axeperience Axe Throwing on the Basement Floor of 48-51 Minories, London, EC3N 1JJ.
10. Follow in the footsteps of the world’s most infamous serial killers
Ok, so we couldn’t round off this list of the best things to do in Whitechapel without mentioning this one. Let’s be honest. Jack the Ripper is perhaps the most infamous serial killer of all time – and he (or she!) was famously never caught, so the jury’s out on who they actually were…
Whitechapel was the area of London where five innocent women were brutally murdered, and there are a whole host of walking tours you can join if you’re looking to find out more about the history of the area, the women who were sadly killed and who the phantom cloaked figure might actually be. You’ll also get the chance to hear about the salacious side of Victorian life and learn the facts about slums and inner city poverty in the 1880s. There’s even a tour that combines all that with fish and chips! Sounds like a winner to us… get your tickets for that here.
So there you have it – a roundup of the best things to do in Whitechapel. From discovering what’s on at the Whitechapel Gallery to hurling an axe at a target, there’s plenty to do here whatever you’re looking for. Best get yourself to E1 then and find out for yourself!