Whitechapel Road is one of the main streets in the Whitechapel area of Tower Hamlets.
Connecting Whitechapel High Street to the west with the Mile End Road to the east, it is one of the premier shopping areas and provides visitors with plenty of opportunities to pick up a bargain when out and about.
The location takes it name from a small chapel dedicated to St Mary that was destroyed during the second world war, and the area is steeped in history. Back in the 16th century, it was home to breweries, tanneries, foundries and slaughterhouses, while it was associated with Jack the Ripper during the late part of the 19th century.
But today it is a hugely ethnically diverse area, while its proximity to Brick Lane ensures people from all backgrounds are encouraged to visit and seek out some of the unique trinkets on offer.
Exploring East London
Property prices are relatively low by London standards – indeed, Whitechapel Road is the equal cheapest location on the Monopoly game board – but there have been continued efforts to gentrify the area in recent years. This has made it more appealing for both tourists and visitors alike.
So if you’re planning a visit to Whitechapel Road, what should you do?
Go on the Monopoly Pub Crawl
As already mentioned, Whitechapel Road features on the classic board game. But if you want to take this game one step further, why not organise a pub crawl taking in some of the finest streets on the board? It offers you a fun way of getting to see London and is a great activity for groups of people.
One of London’s most bustling shopping scenes, the blend of Asian, African and Middle Eastern influences means you can come across some top-quality clothing and homeware goods. Expect to see Nigerian fabrics, Turkish jewellery and vintage items on offer, while because most of it is on sale at market stalls, visitors can try to haggle over the price. This is part of the experience and tests your ability to come out on top against the traders.
Visit the Whitechapel Art Gallery
Britain’s first purpose-built arts gallery, the Whitechapel has a long-established reputation for showcasing the best up-and-coming artists. People such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo have all been shown at The Whitechapel Art Gallery before becoming international stars, demonstrating how the curators have their ears to the ground. According to the Independent, this “is the place to promote a new belief in the good of art”. The gallery plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape, as it offers a cafe/bar and bookshop alongside its numerous exhibitions.
Have a curry
If an authentically fiery Bangladeshi or Punjabi curry is what you are after, Whitechapel Road is the right place to be. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, with Tayyabs perhaps the most famous option. Opened in 1972, this spot is well known for having a queue of people outside waiting to get in – which is always a good sign. Clifton Brick Lane offers something a little different, as it serves traditional Bangladeshi dishes in an open kitchen setting for what is a lively ambience. But visitors should be able to get most tastes catered for.
Go to the market
The market stretches from Vallance Road to Cambridge Heath Road and sells every specialist Asian ingredient you can think of. There are a number of other products on sale, including fruit and veg, haberdashery essentials, cut-price toiletries, fabrics, phone cards, flowers and cheap fashion. Described by Time Out as a “non-stop, heaving, all-weather, cacophonous East End micro-economy”, anyone going to Whitechapel has to check it out and look for a few hidden gems.
Getting to Whitechapel Road
- By tube – The London Underground and London Overground has a stop in Whitechapel, which is just beside Whitechapel Road.
- By rail – The nearest National Rail station is Bethnal Green, which is 0.6 miles away and will take about 13 minutes to walk from. Head north on Tapp Street towards Three Colts Lane and then turn left on Three Colts Lane. Next, turn right on Dunbridge Street, turn left on Vallance Road and finally turn right on to Whitechapel Road.
- By bike – The Cycle Superhighway CS2 runs along Whitechapel Road.
- By bus – There are a number of local London Buses routes that service Whitechapel Road.