A booming area of trendy East London, Stratford has risen to become one of the capital’s most exciting corners with endless ways to spend an equally fun-filled and relaxing weekend. The epic regenerance of this once deprived London neighbourhood was largely sparked by the hosting of the 2012 London Olympic Games, and the transformation itself is worthy of a gold medal. Far removed from the agricultural hub it once was or the industrial centre that came after, Stratford is now a modern, cutting-edge part of London that has forged its own distinct identity out of the shadow of the Olympics’ eminence.
Sitting amidst iconic architecture, sprawling green space and contemporary, design-led residences, living in or visiting Stratford offers true variety, whatever your interests. Being one of the best connected parts of the country thanks to the major links of Stratford train station, it’s remarkably quick and easy to travel around the city, the UK and beyond, but with endless places to eat, drink, shop and explore in and around Stratford, there’s little need to venture elsewhere. Here are some must-visits in Stratford.
Stroll through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Formerly nothing more than a barren, 560 acre eyesore, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a prime example of how industrial wasteland can be transformed into a major city attraction and enjoyed for generations to come - and it’s free. Converted to host the London Olympics in 2012, the park became home to a world class Olympic venue and is a lasting legacy of the iconic sporting event watched from all corners of the globe.
Now, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the perfect place to explore, whether on foot or via one of the Santander bikes available to hire at various locations in the park. Pick up a coffee and wander along the Biodiversity Trail taking in the different wildlife and habitats, or check out the installments created by both emerging and renowned artists, commissioned to decorate the park prior to the Games. For those with little ones to entertain, the Tumbling Bay Adventure Playground can’t be missed, or why not take a picnic, lie on the grass and feel like you’re much further from the metropolis than you are. In warmer months, you can hire a swan pedalo and take it all in while gliding through the park waters.
Check out the views or slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit
The eye-catching, rollercoaster-like architecture of the ArcelorMittal Orbit is an iconic London structure that can’t be missed - literally. In fact, it’s the UK’s largest piece of public art standing 115 metres tall, and it’s located in vibrant Stratford. Designed by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond to coincide with the momentous occasion of the 2012 Olympics hosted nearby, the bright red metal structure is another example of the area’s creative spirit and offers panoramic views of the famous Olympic park and London.
For a more hair-raising experience than just the incredible skyline views, visitors can opt to go down the more adventurous route, either abseiling off the side or taking the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide featuring 12 loops for added thrill.
Shop ‘til you drop in Westfield
Thanks to the mecca that is Westfield Stratford City, comprising over 250 luxury and high-street retailers, Stratford is one of the best places to shop in London - and even in Europe. Being the UK’s third largest urban shopping centre there are endless options to appeal to all needs and tastes, whether you’re looking for a new outfit, the latest tech, or homewares to revamp your interiors. With rainy days not infrequent in London, there are few places better for staying sheltered while staying entertained, as you can even catch a film in the 17 screen cinema or hit the lanes in the luxury bowling alley.
When you’ve successfully shopped ‘til you dropped, there is also a plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants for you to refuel and take a load off, all conveniently under the same roof. Choose between a quick coffee and a bite, or wrap up your day of retail therapy with dinner and a cocktail. With flavours from around the world, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Visit the O2 Arena
A quick ten minute jaunt on the Jubilee line from Stratford is the famous O2 Arena. The natural home for some of the biggest names in music, comedy, sport and other major events, the 20,000 seat venue is an iconic landmark of London. Sitting proudly on the banks of the River Thames, it is well worth a visit even if not to attend a concert - though it’s an extraordinary venue to see your idols in action if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket.
The O2 is more than just an arena, with multiple venues situated underneath the iconic dome. Inside, you can attend more intimate music shows and comedy nights, as well as exhibitions and festivals, and there’s a 22 screen cinema, too. If you’re more interested in the outside, you can even gear up and climb the roof of the arena, marvelling at the breathtaking 360 degree views across London from this unique vantage point.
Check out Here East
Here East, which is just on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and was specially built as the Press and Broadcast Centre for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Now a bustling innovation and technology campus, this major development bolsters the creative and entrepreneurial culture of this unique part of East London to create an environment where thousands of forward-thinkers live, co-work, gather and innovate every day.
So much more than just a campus, Here East is an extraordinary place where anyone and everyone can come for a great cup of coffee, a fresh haircut, a gym class, a deep tissue massage, and some of the best casual eating spots the city has to offer. Sample local delights at one of their food festivals or sit along the banks of the River Lee and eat at one of the permanent fixtures, such as The Breakfast Club, a Hackney-grown favourite.
Head to Hackney Wick
Stratford’s cool and quirky neighbour, Hackney Wick, is just a stone’s away and is a treasure trove of places to eat, drink and explore. Once an area of social deprivation and jerry-built housing, a community of artists, designers and other creatives have more recently moved in to occupy the old industrial warehouses and disused premises with vast space, high ceilings and huge potential. Having undergone a transformation into a popular, creative, and vibrant area running along the canal, Hackney Wick is a bustling place where you can find everything from street art and independent creative studios, to unique canal boats floating on the water, to breweries and rooftop bars.
A go-to for foodies, Hackney Wick has become one of the best parts of London for a casual evening with friends, particularly in the warmer months, as there are many generously sized outdoor spaces with ample seating to while away the long evenings over great pizza, beer and conversation.
Stratford ticks so many boxes for those looking to buy in London. Home to so many exciting attractions, some of the best shopping in Europe, extensive transport links, and sprawling green space, it’s easy to understand why so many buyers have their eye on this exciting postcode.
Find out more about the latest phase of our New Stratford Works development; a collection of 23 one, two and three-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom duplexes, here.