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Best Things to do in Dalston: An Insider’s Area Guide

Best Things to do in Dalston: An Insider’s Area Guide

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Heading to Dalston and wondering what to do? One of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in London, there’s no shortage of cool spots to discover. Discover the best things to do in Dalston with this insider’s guide. 

Dalston most likely started as a farmstead way back in the 1200s. It grew throughout the years, gaining a reputation for its grand houses. Today, Dalston is one of the most diverse spots in London, so much so that Time Out named it the 13th coolest neighbourhood in the world in 2021. 

With a big Turkish influence, Dalston has some of the best restaurants in East London. But it’s not just limited to food, offering a great selection of thrift stores, bars, and live music venues. Dalston is a hub for a great time. 

Things to do in Dalston

Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road Market is open from Monday to Saturday and hosts over 150 stalls. The market has been in existence since the end of the 1880s, when there were only about 20 stalls around.  

Unlike other areas where the markets have become streetside boujee boutiques, Ridley Road is a real London market. Go to shop for its unique fusion of African, European, and Asian foods and goods.

Find books, car accessories, clothes for dolls, wallpaper, blinds, lamps, and just about anything else you can think of.

The Rio Cinema

The Rio Cinema has played a big part in Dalston’s history. It has showcased movies ever since the silent film era. It was built in 1902, and over 100 years later, it still welcomes visitors with a great vibe. 

Set in a stunning Grade-II listed Art Deco building with two screens, today it is one of the best independent cinemas in London, so take a chance on this gem for all your favourite indie screenings and big-budget blockbusters. 

The Invisible Line Gallery

The Invisible Line Gallery is dedicated to the young creatives in the area. Its main goal is to bring youngsters together not just to showcase their talents, but also to network.

Part of the Whitechapel Gallery, the Invisible Line is within easy reach of Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction station, meaning it’s perfectly located for artistic minds in the local community.

Regular events include talks, lectures and debates, workshops, film screenings, readings and recitals, pop-ups and much more.

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Take a break out of your day and go for a stroll in the Dalston Eastern Garden

This gorgeous social enterprise runs down the old Eastern Curve railway line and is a great spot for a little lunchtime get-together with friends, as well as a much-needed spot in the heart of East London. 

With a café located in the gardens, you can grab a coffee and a pizza and take the rest of the afternoon off.

Beyond Retro Vintage Clothing Dalston

Beyond Retro is a massive location in Dalston with tons of the latest fashion trends. They own over 12,000 one-of-one pieces, meaning it’s a store that is any trendy fashionist’s dream and one of our fave vintage stores

Not only do they sell vintage fashion goods, they also have a beyond retro exchange programme that allows you to exchange your old outfits for store credit. So pack up all your old goods and get yourself some new ones. 

Storm in a Teacup

Cutting-edge clothing is what Storm in a Teacup is all about. 

They are a unique London-based clothing store that calls their style ever-evolving and meticulous. They have a great selection of men’s and women’s clothes, with great accessories and shoes to match. Not only are they trendy, but they also have a vast array of vintage pieces from all over the world. 

LF Markey

Owned by Sydney-born Lousie Markey, LF Markey is a women-only shop that focuses on producing feminine but edgy pieces. 

Mainly inspired by workwear, they are well known for using bold and bright fabrics for all their designs. Lousie, formerly a Burberry designer, is well-known for her signature pieces, such as boilersuits, dungarees, and jeans. 

Swing Dance at the Mildmay Jazz Club

Tuesdays at the Mildmay Jazz Club are where you can get your swing dancing shoes on, and enjoy beginner or intermediate dance classes in a classic venue.

Whether you have two left feet, or are light as a feather on your toes, this is an awesome way to meet new people, enjoy toe-tapping tunes, and indulge your inner-Strictly fan.

New dancer classes start from the very beginning, helping you build your confidence, and once you’re ready to level up, you can move on to the next stage of linking moves together, adding in variations, and eradicating any bad habits you’ve picked up.

No need to pre-book, no need to have a partner – they have you covered.

Once you’re done, hang around from 9pm for some cool live jazz.

Drag Yourself to the Karaoke Hole

We love to belt out a bit of Gloria Gaynor, Abba, or The Weather Girls, and there’s no place we love to do this more than in the Karaoke Hole, the little lister of Dalston’s famous Superstore.

An LGBTQ+ powered space, you can choose some of East London’s hottest drag stars to host your night of karaoke carnage, each one offering their own acerbic brand of judgement on your vocal proficiency throughout the evening.

Alongside the standard karaoke shows, they have a regular programme of queer-friendly variety shows including comedy, cabaret, and of course, the best drag acts in the area. 

Try and Escape Room

Heading to an escape room with friends, partners, or colleagues is a proper test of any kind of relationship. The immersive experience at Fox in a Box combines immersive storytelling experiences with mind-bending puzzles that will make or break friendships.

After transporting you to a different time or realm, you have an hour to complete one of the cool challenges. From Prison Break, where you can also go head to head with another team to add an additional competitive edge, to escaping a nuclear bunker and preventing a nuclear winter or foiling the nuclear winter.

If you’re looking for a cool evening activity with friends, this is the ideal thing to do. 

Eating & Drinking

Dalston Jazz Bar

A small venue located in Dalston’s jazz micro-district, this bar offers some of the best vibes you can get in the area. 

With the weekend beginning on Thursday and continuing through to the small hours of Sunday morning, It’s an intimate venue that manages to draw in quite a crowd.

On a packed night, you’ll see every table filled with waiters navigating their way to everyone as the live music adds even more energy to the atmosphere. 

Hacha Bar

Tequila, tequila, and some more tequila. Hacha Bar is home to the Mirror Margarita, which received the Cocktail of the Year award in 2020 at the Class Bar Awards. Adding the UK Specialist Bar of the Year Awards in 2022 and 2023 to its impressive trophy haul, this awesome bar has an ever-changing list of 25 spirits just waiting for you to taste.

We absolutely love their collaborations with Tigre Tacos where you can sample the best tacos and taste of Mexicana to complement your beautiful cocktails. Sit and enjoy an hour of as many tacos as you can eat every Tuesday with Bottomless Taco Tuesday for just £18.

Little Duck Picklery

A mixture of a kitchen and wine bar, the Picklery is a restaurant that takes pride in its monthly changing menus. 

It is also a fermenting kitchen that doubles up as a workshop space that teaches anyone keen to learn about pickling. The large kitchen counter is the hub of this small eatery and after dark the lights dim so you can enjoy dinner, and the best natural wines in East London.

What can you expect from the menu? While it changes regularly, expect dishes like Saffron braised leeks, delica pumpkin broth and ray wing with hispi cabbage and mussels. 


Named after a special breed of free-range poultry, Jidori is a yakitori restaurant that specialises in free-range chicken with stunning flavour, incredible freshness and the finest Japanese vibes. 

They don’t produce what we regularly know as chicken but use every part of the bird and place them on skewers. Highlights of the menu are the Katsu curry scotch egg starter, and the Tebaski (Wing on a skewer), Mune (Breast), Tsukune (Minced Chicken and Egg Yolk), and the Reba (Liver)

Mangal 2

This is a Turkish delight; we’re not talking about sweets. Mangal 2 is a famous Turkish restaurant that makes impressive meat dishes over coals. They also offer great wine and locally crafted beer, but the concise menu excites us most. 

The Lokma Kebap with fermented green tomato is beautiful, and the Ex-Dairy Beef Rib with grilled onion salad and Sivri Biber is expensive, but trust us, worth every penny with its stunning flavours.

Voodoo Ray’s

We love Dalston, and pizza, and absolutely adore the two in union. Voodoo Ray’s is one of fave Dalston eateries, and pizza joints in the entire city.

Marketing themselves as London’s original New-York-style pizza place, churning out the best pizza by the slice, in 12-inch form, or incredible 22-inch pizza pie format. 

Using the best, and most authentic Italian ingredients for their bases and sauces, the toppings change according to the season. Our faves include the vegan El Nino, which has a suitable kick thanks to the Chipotle mayo, the Queen Vegan, and Porky’s, which combines Cumberland sausage, stilton, and red onion.

Sit in their cool interior, and grab yourself a locally brewed beer from Gipsy Hill and Signature breweries to wash it all down.

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