Stratford has quickly built a reputation for itself as being one of the most exciting cultural spots in East London. Set on the canals of the River Lea, and only a short tube ride away from central London, Stratford is a great place to visit on your London trip and even stay for a couple of nights. With a wide variety of things to do for families or even solo travellers, this part of London is an exciting mix of dining options, artsy galleries, incredible shopping outlets, and entertaining activities.
If you happen to be in Stratford for even a short while, you’ll certainly want to make sure you experience everything the area has to offer. To help make your trip to Stratford all the more enjoyable, take a look at our list of 20 interesting things to do in Stratford. It’s bound to give you the inspiration you need to ensure you make the most of your time in the city of London.
Take a walk around the Olympic park
Stratford really made a name for itself during the London Olympic games, especially after the exciting Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was built. The park is still considered to be one of the next parks in the city of London and is an incredibly impressive venue that sports enthusiasts will especially enjoy. You can explore the park on foot as you walk past the canals and take in the world-class sporting facilities dotted around the area. This is certainly not something to be missed during your time in Stratford.
Ultimate shopping at Westfield
Sometimes you just need a break to do some retail therapy and there are few better places to do so than at the massive Westfield shopping centre in Stratford. The shopping mall is the ideal place to splurge with lots of space to walk around allowing you to enjoy your shopping experience without being overwhelmed by huge crowds and cramped walkways. Plus, there are ample shops for you to choose from stocking everything from high-end fashion items to trendy tech.
Explore the River Lea on a swan pedalo
One of the best activities to do on a nice day in the Olympic Park is to take to the waters of the River Lea on your very own swan pedalo. Whether you’re after a romantic cruise for two or want to get the kids out and about, it’s a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. This activity is best to do in the summer months when in Stratford, as it can get quite cold on the water when the weather is on the more chilly end of the spectrum.
You’ll be equipped with life jackets and, of course, your swan pedalo before you leave, after which you can spend an hour or two exploring the park from the water.
Culinary delights at Here East
It’s no secret that the London artisan food scene is one of the best in the world. Delving further into the multicultural flair that makes London so special, Here East offers patrons an array of food and craft drinks for you to enjoy. Stop over for brunch, lunch, or early dinner for an unforgettable food experience. The toughest part is having to decide which culinary creation to settle on when it comes to choosing what to order. Here East is located closer to Hackney Wick, which is another part of London boasting an eclectic mix of arts and culture.
Tour the London Stadium
You don’t have to be a world-class footballer to set foot in the iconic London stadium. The incredible facility is open to anyone who wants to go behind the scenes at one of the most famous stadiums in the world. You’ll even get to check out the changerooms where so many sporting legends have hung up their match shirts as they get ready to take to the field. This is the perfect activity to do if you have the same passion for football that most London locals live by. The tour will take you through everything from stadium operations, to its amazing design and architecture, and much more.
Have a fondue in style at Haugen
Melted cheese, fresh bread, and views that are to die for - what’s not to love? If you like the idea of sipping on a crisp glass of white wine while indulging in a freshly prepared cheese fondue of raclette, then Haugen is the place for you. Spend an afternoon or an evening chatting with friends and family while you share in what is considered to be one of the best gastronomical concepts to come from Switzerland. This is a great spot for an outing with that special someone or to enjoy with a larger group.
See what’s on at the Yard Theatre
The Yard Theatre is famed for hosting some of the best up-and-coming talents in the theatrical arts. Those making a name for themselves at the likes of the Fringe festival often come to the Yard to showcase some of their latest works. You can expect anything from comedy shows, one-man masterpieces, and musical acts when you book tickets to one of the many performances on stage at the Yard Theatre in Stratford. It’s also a great place to get ahead of the cultural scene before these names hit the big stages.
Go to the pictures at the Stratford East Picturehouse
Go to the movies like they did in the old days when you take a trip to the Stratford East Picturehouse. The stunning establishment is designed with traditional art-deco interiors that give patrons the sophisticated feeling of going to the cinema like they did in the good old days. The Stratford East Picturehouse is a more intimate cinema experience, comprising four screening rooms. They show a wide range of films from all over the world and across various genres. It’s the ideal activity to do when the weather is not quite playing ball or for a date night out on the town.
Enjoy nature at the Hackney Marshes
Although Stratford is located on the outskirts of the bustling city of London, it’s also home to one of the best green spaces in the country. The Hackney Marshes have been awarded with a green flag for their efforts in natural conservation. Any twitchers out there will love the walking trails the site has to offer, and you can also observe wildlife and birdlife from the bird hide. The Hackney Marshes are also home to several local football pitches where you’ll inevitably catch a local team having a kickaround. This is a great place to go if you want to take some time out of the busy city life.
Views and a ride down the ArcelorMittal Orbit
When you pay a visit to the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide, you’ll get to take in the views of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the London skyline as you climb 153 metres up the iconic sculpture-looking slide. The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the tallest metal sculpture in the United Kingdom, and guests can test their nerves as they head back to the ground on the integrated slide which has many fun twists and turns. If you're travelling to Stratford with kids, this is a great activity for them to enjoy, but it's a whole lot of fun for adults too.
Stories come to life at the Discover Children’s Story Centre
Make storytime come to life when you take the little ones to the Discover Children’s Story Centre. The centre is laid over two floors with two main story-themed play areas. Kids can enjoy everything from slides and climbing frames. There are also immersive exhibitions that will bring bedtime stories to life as well as storytelling that takes place at the centre on a daily basis. Even adults will feel like a kid again as they experience the magic of children’s stories through the eyes of their little ones. You can also let the kids have the time of their lives while you have a relaxing coffee and a bite to eat at the onsite cafe and restaurant.
Try for a strike at All-Star Lanes
If you’re in town with a group of friends, then this activity is certainly one you can add to your to-do list. All-Star Lanes at Westfield is a great way to practise your bowling skills while having a laugh with a few of your nearest and dearest. The bowling alley has a fully stocked bar and some great food on offer. Simply book a lane for you and your crowd to enjoy a few hours of competitive fun.
Open-air movies at Roof East
What could be better than catching a classic movie under the stars at a venue that overlooks the Stratford and East London Skyline? Roof East is a great venue to do just that and is an ideal thing to do in Stratford, especially on those warmer summer evenings. Roof East also has several bar and food options available for you to enjoy during the day while chatting and soaking up the sun.
Summertime at the London Aquatics Centre
Fancy a dip to cool off after a morning of exploring? Why not pay a visit to the London Aquatics Centre? Although swimming and lounging poolside may sound like an activity to do during Summer only, it’s open all year round with indoor pool facilities. The Aquatics Centre was the home of the Olympic swimming and diving events but has subsequently opened up to the public to enjoy. Whether you want to get your workout in by swimming a couple of laps in the 50-metre pool or looking for something to do with the family for an hour or two, this is a great option.
Dining on an old Dutch barge
If you have a taste for unique dining experiences then this is definitely a restaurant you need to check out during your visit to Stratford. The Barge East restaurant is on a Dutch Barge that is 120 years old. What also makes this restaurant extra special is their sustainable approach to cooking, as they serve dishes created from ingredients sourced from their very own gardens located next to the floating dining space. During summer, guests can also enjoy the gardens while sipping on delicious cocktails and getting some sun.
Have a Pint with King Eddie
Affectionately known as the King Eddie Pub, the King Edward VII bar is the ideal place for you to experience dining like a local in Stratford. This very popular English pub is a shining example of what traditional English pub culture is like. You can enjoy some incredible food and a wide array of beers on tap, just as the locals like it. The building itself is also a grade II listed building, so the architecture closely resembles what it would have looked like when it was initially built in the 18th century.
Watch a Show at The Theatre Royal
This is one of the gems of Stratford, especially if you consider yourself to be something of a theatre enthusiast. The Theatre Royal has been the launching pad for premiering plays like Five Guys Named Moe. Often the theatre will host up-and-coming playwrights and musical writers to showcase their work. Much of the time, these shows get snatched up by larger theatre districts, some even touring on West End and Broadway. If you have a flair for all things show business, then you have to try to catch a show at the Theatre Royal in Stratford East.
Take a stroll along the Stratford Waterfront on the East Bank
There’s nothing quite like a relaxing afternoon stroll along the water’s edge to take a break from all the exploring you’re bound to do when visiting Stratford. The East Bank hosts Stratford’s Waterfront which is set to be just as culturally engaging as it is a relaxing meandre. The area has been built up to showcase new artists and is also under construction to be the new home of several artistic academic institutions.
Catch ABBA before it ends
Although the show won’t be around forever, the ABBA Voyage Tour is well worth the visit for anyone who considers themselves to be an ABBA fan. The hyper-realistic holograms of the artists depict the band as we all know them in their heyday. Tickets will get you access to the concert venue, where you’ll be entertained by the classics everyone knows as if the band were really on stage! Even if you’re not a particular fan of the popular band, it’s worth the trip just to experience the latest developments in entertainment technology and the future of live performances.
Enjoy More food at the Big Easy
Having worked up an appetite walking around Stratford, you’ll want to know where you can enjoy a hearty meal before you set off on your next adventure. The Big Easy is located in the Westfield shopping centre with an eclectic interior decor of neon lights and comfortable furnishings. The restaurant specialises in using lobster in many of its dishes, and is renowned for their barbeque style of cooking. The Big Easy is certainly for those who have an appetite for homestyle food.
If you’re looking to book any of the activities in Stratford listed in this article, or anywhere in London or across the UK, make sure to use LovetoVisit for a simplified booking process as well as exclusive discounts and bundles.