Few places in London have engendered so many myths as the East End (a catch-all title which covers just about everywhere east of the City). Its name is synonymous with slums, sweatshops and crime, as epitomized by figures such as Jack the Ripper and the Kray Twins, but also with the rags-to-riches success stories of a whole generations of Jews who were born in these cholera-ridden quarters and then moved to wealthier pastures.

As the area is not an obvious place for sightseeing, and certainly no beauty spot – despite all the fanfare around the 2012 Olympic Village – most visitors to the East End come for its famous Sunday markets: cheap clothes on Petticoat Lane (Middlesex Street), clothes and crafts in trendy Spitalfields, hip vintage gear around Brick Lane and flowers on Columbia Road. As for the East End Docklands, including the vast and awesome Canary Wharf redevelopment, most of it can be gawped at from the overhead light railway.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

London features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
8 things you didn't know you could do in London

8 things you didn't know you could do in London

You've stood at the railings of Buckingham Palace, squinting to see if you can glimpse an elderly woman through the windows. You've taken a selfie with a Beefea…

12 Sep 2017 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
Alternative London: off the tourist trail

Alternative London: off the tourist trail

In 2015, some 31.5 million people visited London. That was a record year, yet early indications are that 2016 beat even those figures. The capital has the three…

20 Feb 2017 • Neil McQuillian insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook