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Hanging out in Hackney Wick is a happy way to spend an afternoon in vibrant East London. Once an enclave of industry with no real appeal, Hackney Wick now has a hipster vibe (but in a good way).
Canalside culture, awesome apartment spaces, plenty of waterfront bars and restaurants combined with some of London’s best street art should make Hackney Wick high on your London hit-list.
Here is our guide to the top things to do in Hackney Wick and its highlights:
Table of Contents
14 things to do in Hackney Wick:
1. Hackney Wick street art
Lots of studio space to rent around here at affordable prices encourages an abundance of street art – from big-ass murals to more urban graffiti, it is hard not to be snap happy when walking around the back streets of Hackney Wick. Even all the apartment buildings that are currently being constructed have hoardings that are artworked by local artists.
A particular shout out to the legendary ‘Shithouse to Penthouse’ artwork, the former Lord Napier pub, now derelict with every external square inch covered in artwork or fly-posters.
2. Howling Hops Brewery and Tank Bar
‘Tank’ you very much for this brewery – one of our favourite London taprooms. Although there are quite a few East London brewery taprooms now, this was the first UK brewpub to sell beer to punters straight from the huge tanks, proudly on display on the bar – we’d recommend their house IPA (6.9%) and Howling Pils.
The set-up at Howling Hops in Hackney Wick is fantastic – not only only is there a huge array of beers (the price is dictated by the strength of your beer), but the staff are very knowledgeable and friendly and the taproom itself is welcoming.
With such a diverse mix of drinkers – from business lunches to book groups, Howling Hops Tank Bar has a homely vibe (plus a beer garden outside in the summer months).
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3. Hackney Wick canal walks
Half of the fun getting to Hackney Wick is actually getting here – if you aren’t arriving by the London Overground, you’ll likely be arriving via one of the many canal towpaths in the area.
Home to hundreds of houseboats and barges, there is very much a canalside community here in Hackney Wick with several canal boat based businesses including a barbers, bakery and lots of floating bars (the most prominent is Barge East – see further below for more info).
Most locals use the canal paths for jogging, cycling and walking – you’ll also see lots of dogs being walked along the tow-path (and the occasional cat– no joke!). It can get incredibly busy in the summer months but this is easily one of the best free things to do in Hackney Wick.
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4. CRATE Brewery & Pizzeria
Housed in a former print works that produced everything from porn to counterfeit notes (so we are told – if those walls could talk!), Crate opened in 2012 just in time for the London Olympics.
Whilst the interior of Craft Brewery at Hackney Wick is minimal in style (used reclaimed materials from the original printworks), the beer selection is epic and the in-house pizzeria does a roaring trade. Hackney Wicked or what?
What raises ‘the bar’ here (pun intended) is Crate’s amazing canalside location with a beer garden looking directly onto the water. Nothing beats sitting down here with a pint (or several – their best beverages are their single-hop IPAs) and a pizza watching the world go by, as joggers, cyclists and barges stream on by the other side.
During the summer months, CRATE in Hackney Wick open up their barge bar called Alfred le Roy – which serves cocktails while moored and can also be booked for two-hour booze cruises.
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5. Here East
Originally a cultural campus that came about in conjunction with the 2012 London Olympic games, this is home to many businesses and tech companies. But for us, it is all about the food and drink options at Here East, with several bars and restaurants overlooking the canal, offering alfresco dining and boozing.
Our personal favourite has to be Breakfast Club – although it is a chain, each of their outlets has a sense of character and the staff are always friendly.
Plus, did we mention the food? This is hearty (dirty, in a good way!) fare in a retro setting – we had a Mexican Benedict (a spicy twist on a breakfast favourite and fried chicken and waffles). We’d also say the portions are huge so best to arrive on an empty stomach or after a long canalside walk.
A shout out too to Randy’s Wings (American style wing’s with an awesome array of sauces), plus Four Quarters, an old school bar bedecked with a bounty of retro video games and a wide array of craft beers on tap.
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6. Barge East
An honorable mention to Barge East – as you’d expect from the name, this is literally a massive moored barge that has an awesome alfresco deck with unspoilt views of the canal and twinkling fairy lights at sunset.
Opened in 2018, the barge itself is over 100 years old and has been lovingly restored, offering various local brews (coffee and beer!) and spirits. You can dine onboard either in the intimate and rustic lower deck, or outdoors on the awesome covered deck.
During the week they offer a 4-course set dinner menu using seasonal British ingredients with dishes such as barbecued cuttlefish, spiced aubergine and seared pork neck. On Saturdays you can enjoy a 2 or 3 course bottomless brunch, whilst on Sundays you can order a traditional roast dinner.
The restaurant also spills out onto the banks of the canal with an alfresco beer garden serving a range of drinks, plus a burger street food menu.
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7. Pearl Hackney Wick
Pearl in Hackney Wick is the jewel in the crown (see what we did there?!) of the local dining scene here, popular with the brunch and lunch set.
The outdoor area catches the morning light and sits below the huge Hackney Wick sign (how Hollywood!). Located in a former industrial warehouse, Pearl’s interiors are a veritable mix of vintage stylings acting as a nice accompaniment to their cocktails – definitely a polished Pearl.
8. Beer Merchant’s Tap, Hackney Wick
The Beer Merchant’s Tap has a great selection of beers on tap and their chilled fridges were well stocked, lining most walls and also handily grouped into sections (we were very happy to see a dedicated dark beer section).
As well as sitting inside, there is a huge outdoor beer patio with ample picnic and boozing space.
9. All My Friends
Some ‘friendly’ advice – get a brew with a view at All My Friends, a new Hackney Wick bar from the brains behind Tottenham super club The Cause. All My Friends is a much more laid-back affair, with an incredible terrace overlooking Hackney Wick and nearby Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. For our money, this has one of the best terrace / bars views in Hackney Wick, London.
Upstairs, you’ll find a well lit bar area with an industrial feel with a terrace out front and at the rear, plus a DJ booth in the centre of the room. Pizza is available to order from local Tottenham taproom legends True Craft and Japanese okonomiyaki from Sho Foo Doh.
Beers on tap included local favourites like Mammoth Beer (who recently opened a taproom in Leytonstone) and Two Tribes.
10. Old Street Brewery
East London favourite Old Street Brewery has a brilliant Bethnal Green location and as of this year, they’ve now also opened a second outpost with an outdoor beer garden in Hackney Wick.
Old Street Brewery is easy to find as they’ve done an incredible paint job on the outside of the building meaning you won’t miss it from White Post Lane (it is also right next door to Howling Hops). Grab a pint of Infinite Bliss or a half of hazy Hypotenjuice IPA.
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11. Hackney Bridge Kitchens at Hackney Bridge
In the shadow of Olympic Park and next door to HereEast, Hackney Bridge is the latest hip hang-out in the area, nestled on the banks of the canal and home to various coffee shops, independent studios and an array of artisan goodness.
You’ll also find Hackney Bridge Kitchens – a street food court home to a variety of mouth watering street food stalls. Traders include:
WRAP N ROLLA (toasted wraps)
BOVINE BURGER (meaty burgers
RAINBO (Japanese soul food)
FILIGRILLZ (Filipino flame-grilled meats)
MADE IN PUGLIA (Neapolitan pizza)
TAMILA (South Indian street food)
Plus craft beers and cocktails at Hangar Bar, and an events schedule showing live sports and craft workshops.
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12. Lord Napier Star pub
The Lord Napier Star has finally returned to the Wick! Located in the iconic, local building recently known as ‘Shithouse to Penthouse’, the Lord Napier Star has been lovingly restored and reopened after years of neglect. It is now a hip and hoppy hang-out, with two floors of beautiful bar space and a stunning rooftop garden overlooking East London.
The Lord Napier Star is a nice neighbourhood spot with the added bonus that the kitchen is currently run by KraPow, one of London’s top and most tasty Thai street food vendors.
We visited early one Saturday afternoon and it was great to see such a vibrant and busy new pub rise like a phoenix after years of closure.
There is a good range of local and more mainstream craft beers on tap or in bottles including local East London favourite Five Points Brewery.
13. Moo Canoes
We like to mooove mooove it when in Hackney Wick – so an udderly unique way to explore Hackney Wick by water is on a Moo Canoe.
These bovine boats can be easily spotted as they literally look like cow canoes. Moo Canoes in Hackney Wick can be rented from the Milk Float, right next door to Barge East (easy to have a pint of milk or beer after – just don’t drink and canoe!)
Each Moo Canoe is suitable for 2 to 3 people plus dogs are welcome. Moo Canoes in Hackney Wick cost £36 for the first hour and £14 per additional hour, as at 2023.
14. Grow canalside bar
Another hip, Hackney Wick pub billed as a community cafe with a canalside terrace, Grow is a fun place that is all about its outside setting, boasting a multi-level garden with views and local brews.
We last visited one Sunday afternoon and tried Grow’s Sunday Roast (delicious) as a guy performed with his drums on the floating stage barge outside – talk about beer and bongos!
Food (and beer) prices at Grow at very reasonable for the area and there are also several indoor areas if the weather is inclement.
Busy as, Grow also hosts regular open mic sessions, live entertainment and has an environmental and sustainable ethos. If you are still feeling peckish as you leave Grow, there is a local bakery located in Grow Studios just as you leave the bar.
15. Skeeters Axe Throwing – White Post Lane
Channel your inner lumberjack. Possibly not recommended after visiting one of the nearby Hackney Wick breweries, Skeeters Axe Throwing is a unique concept to hit the capital.
Having opened in 2020, Skeeters have continually added to their offering and is popular with both the weekend crowds as well as office parties or team-building (well, you probably would have to trust a colleague with an axe).
Housed on the Hamlet Industrial Estate, you can also grab food and drink from the neighbouring alfresco patio, or just hop over the road to Howling Hops. Axe throwing sessions start from as little as £10pp if you are willing to risk arriving without a booking.
16. Number 90 Bar and Restaurant
The burgers at Number 90 Bar and Restaurant are probably the best burgers and pub type grub we’ve had in Hackney Wick. Combine this with a canalside terrace and oodles of offers like 2 for 1 cocktails on a Wednesday or 2 for 1 burgers on Thursday nights and you can see why this is one of the areas most popular joints.
The interior feels like a Manhattan style loft set-up with a massive bar and various nooks and crannies to explore (the toilets are located upstairs, so you also get a cool birds eye view from the balcony).
The exterior of Number 90 Bar and Restaurant is adorned with street art synonymous with Hackney Wick and these are some of the most impressive murals in the neighbourhood. In-keeping with the arty affair, you’ll find the Number 90 Gallery inside, a small collection of local artists and exhibitions that change regularly.
Advance booking is recommended, especially if you want an outdoor table in the summer months.
17. Hackney Wick Sign
A little bit of Hollywood comes to Hackney Wick – how Hackney Wick-ed.
Affectionately referred to as ‘Holliwick’, the legendary ‘Hackney Wick Sign has been around for over a decade, designed and conceived by artist Laura May Lewis who refers to it as more ironic than iconic.
Originally unveiled at a Hackney Wick arts festival in 2009, the Hackney Wick Hollywood sign is here to stay …for now although the artist’s original intentions were to allow the sign to decay over time, akin to the original Hollywood Hill signs.
18. The Lot
2023 UPDATE: The Lot is permanently closed
Hackney Wick mainstay HWK have opened a new outdoor courtyard for 2021, entitled ‘The Lot’, after trialling the concept in previous years.
Promising live music and DJ sets from up and coming artists, the open air terrace also has covering for half the area making a good venue for all weathers – craft beer is on tap and an outdoor BBQ restaurant makes for a promising summer’s evening in the Wick.
19. Maker’s Market at White Post Lane
2023 UPDATE: Maker’s Market at White Post Lane is temporarily closed
Just across the road from Hackney Wick station, this East London Maker’s Market has several stalls and tables that change frequently, promising unique gifts from independent crafters and sellers.
Whilst not as big as some other markets, it is a nice addition to Hackney Wick, London and makes a welcome change from just the breweries. That said, on the day we visited, there was also a rather welcoming outdoor bar at the entrance with a variety of East London lagers on tap – beer and browsing, now that is the way to spend a sunny day.
20. Colour Factory
Although a view of an industrial carpark might not be the most enticing in Hackney Wick, the Colour Factory is an impressive indoor music and events venue, often bursting at the seams on a Saturday night (very popular and one of the ‘original’ Wick venues).
At the moment, an outdoor beer garden with food available from a variety of nearby food trucks is a superb way to whilst away an afternoon at the Colour Factory, before you walk across the carpark to one of several venues, like Howling Hops Tank Bar, Craft Brewery or Old Street Brewery. In fact, this must be the hippest London car-park since the Levels in Peckham!
Things to do near Hackney Wick, London
Whilst in the area, you can also visit the former London Olympic Park which is one of the best free things to do in London. It is home to the iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit, the UK’s tallest sculpture (bright red so you can’t miss it), and now a helter-skelter for all the family to enjoy.
The panoramic views at the apex are enjoyable but nothing special to some of the viewing platforms you can find in central London. Read more in our Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London guide >
If retail is more your thing, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK, Westfield Stratford can be found here (250 stores and counting, with a bounty of bars and restaurants to choose from). Check out our guide to Stratford London >
There is also a whole heap of enjoyable walks in this area too along the River Lea and in nearby Hackney Marshes. A little further away, you’ll find Victoria Park, one of London’s largest and most beautiful parks, complete with a boating lake, Chinese pagoda and pubs literally in the park.
We’d also recommend the Sunday food and farmer’s market in Victoria Park – one of our favourite alfresco food markets in London and a lot less busy than the likes of Borough Market or Spitalfields Market.
Check out our guide to Victoria Park Village and park >
Unless you are walking there, Hackney Wick, London is best reached by getting the TFL London Overground to Hackney Wick Station. Like much of the area, the Hackney Wick station has been modernised and transformed over recent years, redesigned by an award-winning architecture company in 2018, and featuring a rather cool underpass which has a hexagon glass wall.
As you exit Hackney Wick station, you’ll also glimpse all the awesome street art that the Wick has become renowned for.
Is Hackney Wick cool? Yep, in a word, we think so and there are so many things to do in Hackney Wicked; a cool canalside hub with heaps going on.
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