CK Travels
things to do in stratford

Stratford in London; 20 Epic Things To Do + Photos (2024)

This post may contain affiliate links to tours and hotels. These help us earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Stratford in East London – not to be confused with Shakespeare’s birthplace in middle England (it has been done!), Stratford is a tad edgier and more authentic than most neighbourhoods on the usual London things to do lists.

Spurred on by the Olympic sized transformation in recent years (including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and London Stadium), you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.

From huge open green spaces to a burgeoning arts and culture scene, this is why Stratford in East London has the edge and deserves to be enjoyed by more than just the locals.

A very quick trip from central London, here is our guide to the top things to do in Stratford, London with photos:


Note: Stratford in east London is not to be confused with Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire! Here is our guide to the best things to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon 🙂  > 

Where to stay in Stratford, London

Moxy London Stratford
Super trendy hotel just a 5 minute walk away from Westfield shopping mall and a 3 minute walk from the train station. Facilities include an onsite cocktail bar, plus continental breakfast is available for a surcharge. Check out prices and availability for Moxy London Stratford

The Westbridge Hotel 
Beautiful 4-star hotel located within a Grade-II listed building that dates back to 18th century. The hotel is a 5 minute walk to Stratford Station and 10 minute walk toWestfield shopping mall. Facilities include gym, restaurant and a guest lounge. Check out prices and availability for Westbridge Hotel 

The Gantry London, Curio Collection By Hilton
Brand new fancy hotel in the East Village with chic rooftop bar and three restaurants and lounges. Some rooms have views of the Olympic Park. Check out prices and availability for The Gantry London, Curio Collection By Hilton

Hotel Holiday Inn Express London Stratford
Budget hotel chain located just a short walk from the Olympic Stadium and the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre. The Great Room Restaurant serves hearty cooked breakfasts and there is also an on-site bar. Check out prices and availability for Holiday Inn Express London Stratford

You might like – 25 + best immersive events and experiences in London >

Things to do in Stratford London

1. Stroll through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Undergoing an incredible transformation over the years (some would say of Olympic proportions!), this former barren and industrial wasteland was converted into a world class sporting venue.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford has subsequently been reborn again as one of London’s best parks to explore.

We’d say this is our top first thing to do in Stratford and one of the best free attractions in London.

If you are a first-time visitor. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a prime example of how regeneration and transformation can work across a huge 560 acre site, combining development with nature. With a marvellous mix of arts, London attractions and city style living, this is one of East London’s best places to explore.

Read more in our Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park guide >

Bikes you can hire inQueen Elizabeth Olympic Park

2. Check out the views or slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit

You can’t miss this – literally as it is huge and bright red! The iconic end endearing ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest metal sculpture, designed and built to coincide with the London Olympics by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, acting as a beacon for all the world to see.

ArcelorMittal Orbit Stratford London

Sitting 115 metres tall and offering incredible panoramic views of Olympic Park and London, you can also opt to walk down the 455 steps immersed in a collection of ‘London sounds’ (we have no clue! Episodes of Eastenders maybe?).

You can take take The ‘Slide’ down the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide with 12 loops (both cost extra). Or if you want a more adventurous descent down, you can abseil off the side – one of the highest abseils in the UK.

Viewing deck at ArcelorMittal Orbit Stratford
Viewing deck atArcelorMittal Orbit
View of the Aquatics Centre from ArcelorMittal Orbit Stratford
View of the Aquatics Centre from ArcelorMittal Orbit

You can purchase ArcelorMittal Orbit tickets for just the skyline views from the viewing deck (£12.50 adult, £6.50 children) – or a package that includes both skyline views and the slide (£17.75 adult, £11.75 children).

If you are a local you can also buy an ArcelorMittal Orbit annual membership on their official website for unlimited entry to the viewing deck (£19.50 adult, £9.50 children).

3. Stratford boat tours and swan pedalos

What is better than exploring London’s Stratford and the Olympic Park on foot? The answer is by swan – or a swan pedalo to be more accurate.

swan pedalos Stratford Olympic Park London

Although not as graceful and requiring more pedal power than the real thing, the swans hold around 4 adults and you can glide around the waters in the Olympic Park for a 30 minute ride.

Swan pedalos are available to hire on weekends and school holidays in the warmer months between April and October and cost £9 for adults and £5 per child as of 2024 (under 3 not allowed on swans).

Click here to find out more about Stratford’s swan pedalos >

swan pedalos Stratford Olympic Park London

There are also Stratford boat tours that last 3 hours that sail up and down the River Lea and Stort and take in iconic sights from the London 2012 Olympic games.

As at 2024, Stratford boat tours run on selected weekends and cost £19 per person (£8 for children). Click here to find out more and to book.

Both the swan pedalos and boat tours depart from a small pontoon just adjacent to the London Aquatics Centre.

YOU MIGHT LIKE: things to do near Liverpool Street Station >

4. Here East

Go East! OK, so whilst this might be more Hackney Wick, this is still just on the edge of Olympic Park. Here East is a cultural campus that is home to lots of tech companies, colleges and broadcasters (e.g. BT Sport).

More importantly for you and us, it also has several rather good restaurants and bars / boozers, all with alfresco dining areas overlooking the Lee canal.

Our current favourites include Breakfast Club (particularly their Mexican Benedict breakfast dish), Randy’s Wings (American style chicken wings), Gotto Trattoria (a traditional Italian trattoria) and ice-cold craft beers whilst playing Pacman or Streetfighter II in retro arcade Four Quarters.

Read more about the local area in our guide to Hackney Wick >

Randy’s Wings Bar at Here East

5. Roof East, Stratford 

East London’s newest rooftop bar sitting atop Stratford Shopping Centre and multi-story carpark (not to be confused with Westfield Stratford City), this wining and dining experience is reminiscent of Franks Cafe, also atop a carpark in Peckham.

This is a seasonal rooftop garden that is usually open from late April until autumn.

Roof East, Stratford rooftop bar

With views of east London and the city, this is a sublime space to soak up the sunshine (and sauvignon blanc) and one of the summer things to do in Stratford, London. 

During the summer months, Roof East also have a rooftop cinema and eclectic events schedule – its incredible panoramic views of London make Stratford’s best rooftop bar a perfect choice for a dazzling first date in London.

Roof East, Stratford Carpark karaoke
Roof East, Stratford archery at Arrows

You might like – East London’s best neighbourhoods to explore >

6. Stratford London Stadium tour

Host to the main Olympic activity as part of the London 2012 games, the former Olympic Stadium in Stratford has now been repurposed (and renamed to the London Stadium) to become a state-of-the-art events and sports arenas as well as West Ham United’s football ground for home fixtures.

Stratford London Stadium tour
West Ham gift shop

Arguably the best way to enjoy Stratford’s London Stadium in east London is either to visit on a match day when the ‘Hammers’ (West Ham’s nickname) are playing.

The UK Premier League season usually runs August to the following May each year – or join one of the West Ham stadium / London Stadium tours (£22 per person as at 2024). A club shop also sells West Ham merchandise and is open all year round.

Check out the latest London Stadium events / tickets here with London Fever >

YOU MIGHT LIKE: Sports tours in London – the best stadium tours & museums >

7. East Village

Move over New York, East London / Stratford has its very own ‘East Village’.

The East Village in Stratford is a sleek new housing estate complex that continues to extend and transform  the former Olympic site, with many apartments and condos still being built at the time of writing.

East Village Stratford London

For now, it is a wonderful place to walk around tree-lined thoroughfares, peruse the alfresco art installations, plus enjoy the dining and drinks on offer at the various bars and restaurants in the East Village. 

Stratford’s East Village has a nice cosmopolitan vibe and it feels quite vibrant and verdant, popular with families. The free outdoor BBQs also seem to be a hit in the summer (get there early or be prepared to queue to sizzle your steak)!

You might like: Things to do in Bethnal Green, London

8. The Big Easy, Stratford

London’s best BBQ chain, The Big Easy, with Big Easy outlets already in Chelsea, Canary Wharf and Covent Garden now has a Big Easy restaurant in Stratford at the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre, located where Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant used to be.

Big Easy, Stratford. Copyright CK Travels

Boasting home-cooked BBQ dishes and numerous special offers like daily happy hours and all you can eat shrimp sessions, The Big Easy is also renowned for its use of lobster. The Big Easy Stratford set-up inside looks lovely, with dining over two floors and a huge open plan bar.

Lobster at The Big Easy, Stratford, London
Half lobsters with fries, salad, and slushie cocktails

We recently visited The Big Easy Stratford for their £10 Express lunch offer (12 to 3pm Monday to Friday) which includes a main course and soft drink. The Big Easy Express Menu for £10 is still one of the cheapest London lunch deals you can find in 2024!

We tried the bacon cheeseburger with coleslaw and fries (delicious and juicy), along with the BBQ platter (huge as – incredible value for a lunchtime special).

Big Easy lunch deal, Stratford. Copyright CK Travels
BBQ meat platter included in the weekday£10 Express lunch deal

London Travel Planning Facebook 2024 Group by CK Travels
Need help with your London travel itinerary or have any questions about your upcoming trip? Join our brand new online community! Click here to join our London Travel Planning and Tips Facebook group

9. Haugen (closed)

2024 – Please note that Haugen has recently closed down

We’re fond of fondue and rave about raclette so Haugen, a Swiss style restaurant in Stratford with its epic East London rooftop bar is a welcome addition to Endeavour Square, on the outskirts of the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre.

Haugen Stratford -  Swiss & German restaurant with fondue brunch

An alpine inspired restaurant with ample outdoor seating areas as well as strikingly styled interiors, the first thing you notice about Haugen as you approach is how unusual the architecture is, a curious concoction of curves and contours (try saying that after several gluhweins!).

Haugen rooftop bar Stratford -  Swiss & German restaurant with fondue brunch

Main a la carte dishes start from around £15 and on the weekends they serve a weekend brunch menu.

Haugen’s rooftop bar also hosts live music and DJs Thursdays to Sundays in the summer months, so perfect for a Swiss, summer sundown session!

Haugen rooftop bar Stratford -  Swiss & German restaurant with fondue brunch

You might like – The best street food markets and food halls in London >

10. ABBA Voyage at the ABBA Arena

Gimme, gimme, gimme another ticket to see ABBA Voyage! Opening to rave reviews and daily sell-out performances (twice a day at the weekends), ABBA Voyage in Stratford is quite like nothing else we’ve ever done in London before. 

If you told us a ‘virtual’ performance by ABBA could have been so uplifting, emotive and such a fun night out, we wouldn’t have believed you – but this truly delivers and we urge to go and see it with your own eyes.

ABBA Arena Stratford

The ABBA Voyage execution is excellent; from the 360 degree lighting displays and live band that merge seamlessly with the holographic ABBA to the huge dance floor at the front (you can buy seated tickets or standing / dancing tickets).

ABBA Voyage belts out all the well known ABBA songs such as Dancing Queen and Winner Takes it All with some songs introduced by the virtual ABBA members – again it sounds like it shouldn’t work but it truly does. 

Inside ABBA Arena

If you missed out seeing ABBA live when they were in their heyday, then this is your opportunity to see ABBA in 2024 – tickets are selling fast. Ticket prices range from £21 upwards but most of the ‘cheaper’ tickets are sold out months in advance – ‘Money, money, money’ indeed.

ABBA Voyage tickets are now on sale with ABBA Voyage performances currently scheduled until January 2025.

Click to find out more and book tickets here >

ABBA Arena before the gig started (photography is prohibited during the show)

TIP: The closest accommodation in Stratford to ABBA Voyage is Snoozebox Olympic Park – literally a 5 second stroll from the ABBA arena. It also offers a bar if you want to go for a drink before the performance. The concept is based around shipping containers and whilst the rooms are not the most luxurious, they are so close you can hear the drums Fernando….

You might like – Things to do in Walthamstow, London >

11. East Bank at Stratford Waterfront

The soon to be launched East Bank cultural quarter is currently under construction (there is a lot of building work at present including a new V&A museum) and promises to be a powerhouse for learning, creativity and innovation for east London, including new visitor centres and academic institutions from such luminaries as the BBC, Sadler’s Wells and the Smithsonian Institute.

For now, also check out the Knowledge Hub in Kings Cross or the various theatres and museums near South Bank.

YOU MIGHT LIKE: things to do in Canary Wharf & Docklands, London >

12. Theatre Royal Stratford East

“All the world’s a stage…and Stratford is no exception”, so said Shakespeare (or something like that). This award winning theatre has been around since the 1880s, although it has had a few close calls including a big fire in the 1920s and surviving possible demolition in the 1970s. It was also due to have replaced by a shopping centre until it became Grade II listed.

Theatre Royal Stratford East

Hosting all types of plays, performances and events, it is famous for showing the world premiere of Five Guys Named Moe in the early 1990s, which has toured the world ever since.

YOU MIGHT LIKE: The best pubs and breweries in Leytonstone and Leyton >

13. Stratford East Picturehouse

This four screen cinema is housed in a modern Art Deco style complex and shows a mix of mainstream, independent, arthouse and foreign films. Stratford East Picturehouse also has an onsite cafe and large bar with balcony / outside seating.

Stratford East Picturehouse

You might like – 40+ best things to do in Greenwich, London >

14. Westfield shopping centre

Shopping – you either love it (Caroline) or hate it (Neil) but there is no denying that this is an impressive London shopping mall, one of Europe’s largest shopping centres (over 250 outlets).

Plus if retail therapy isn’t for you, Westfield Stratford City, also has oodles of outdoor bars and restaurants as well as a cinema and several themed food courts so this might be a suitable place for respite after a day of exploring the nearby parks.

Westfield Stratford City Food Court
Malaysian restaurant in Westfield Stratford City’s World Food Court
Restaurants on Endeavour Square near Westfield Stratford City,

15. Stratford Aquatics Centre

Time to take a plunge in an Olympic Swimming pool. As home to all the swimming events at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the London Aquatics Centre has since been opened up to members of the public with two 50 metre indoor swimming pools and a 25 metre diving pool available for all to use.

Things to do in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London - built for the Stratford 2012 London Olympic games and Olympic Stadium

During the London Olympic games, the swimming pool had a capacity for over 17,000 spectators (plus a lot of swimmers!) but now, you’ll likely see less than 100 people if you take a swim on a weekday and no schools are visiting.

You might like – London’s best go-karting tracks and circuits with prices >

16. The King Eddie pub

Tourist books may refer to this example of pub perfection as the King Edward VII bar but locals know it affectionately as the King Eddie. A traditional British boozer serving pub grub and all manner of beers and lagers on tap, it is also a grade II listed pub, originally built in the 18th century (and originally called The King of Prussia until the outbreak of WWI).

You might like – The best riverside pubs in London (or go large along the Bermondsey Beer Mile) >

17. Hackney Marshes

Popular with the locals as both a place for sporting activities or a casual stroll, Hackney Marshes is one of the largest common plots of land in London and holds a Green Flag award, identifying it as a good green space to explore with over almost 340 acres of protected land, running along the environs of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Away from the football pitches, our preferred Hackney Marshes walk starts at the Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve, a haven for wildlife and takes in the track that runs alongside the old river Lea through a wooded forest path before finally coming out at the very start of Olympic Park.

You might like – A walking guide to London’s South Bank, on the River Thames >

18. The Greenway

Covering just over 4.3 miles between Beckton and Fish Island via Olympic Park, this is a flat, path and cycle way that boasts historic buildings such as the Abbey Mills Pump House (a Victorian architectural jewel gem).

What sets this apart is that some of the city views are spectacular, including overlooking the Docklands area and Canary Wharf (one option is to get off the Greenway at the halfway point and finish in Docklands. Randomly, it is said that part of this route was Gandhi’s daily meditation walk, when he visited London in the 1930s.

Cycling routes in London - the best scenic rides

Along with a few curious arty objects along the way and graffiti galore, it should also be noted there is some crime on the Greenway and is best avoided at night. Quite a few cyclists have been robbed along the Greenway in the dark winter months so it is best to visit during the daytime.

Read more about London’s best cycling routes >

19. Stratford Shopping Centre

Whilst not as slick or glossy as neighbouring Westfield Stratford City, Stratford Shopping Centre is the area’s original mall and is your best bet in Stratford for buying bargains galore and cheap street food.

With budget chain stores like Poundland, Shoe Zone, Card Factory and The Works all under one roof, Stratford Shopping Centre has lots to discover at low prices. Stratford Shopping Centre also recently opened a new food court plus fast food chains like Wendy’s and Burger King at either ends of the building.

2024 Update – please note the future of Market Village within the London Stratford Centre seems uncertain as it temporarily closed in early 2024. Fingers crossed it will reopen.

You might like – London’s best shopping malls and shopping districts >

20. Popeye’s Restaurant

Finally, a clucking good addition to this ‘things to do in Stratford, London’ list. US chicken restaurant chain Popeyes has opened its first UK store in Westfield Stratford Shopping Centre, in the downstairs food court.

Originally hailing from New Orleans in Louisiana, USA, this American fried chicken colossus has hatched in Stratford – grab their fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits for damn fine time whilst shopping in Stratford.

Other London and Essex blog posts you might like

Did you enjoy our Things to do in Stratford London blog post? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it on social media.

You can follow CK Travels on: 

Things to do in Stratford, London – add to Pinterest

You Might Also Like...

No Comments

    Leave a Reply