Looking for the best things to do in Stratford, London? From roaming Olympic Park to retail therapy in Westfield Mall, here’s how to spend the day in the East London area — like a local.
In 2012 Stratford became home to none other than Olympic Games, and it’s been East London’s fastest growing neighborhood ever since.
From world-class green spaces to ample shopping opportunities, wild rides, vintage cinemas, and more — there’s a lot to get up to in the area!
Without further ado, here’s the best things to do in Stratford, London; including fun things to do in Stratford, London; free things to do in Stratford, London; where to eat in Stratford, London; where to drink in Stratford and where to stay in Stratford, London. Shall we?
The Best Things to do in Stratford, London
1. Visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a world-class green space that was built for, you guessed it, The Olympic Games (and the Paralympics too!).
The park offers visitors and locals alike an opportunity to explore the best of London’s sporting and cultural heritage through its year-round incredible attractions, activities and events.
In fact, the park was the setting for some of the most memorable moments from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, such as Usain Bolt winning gold in the 100m; Jessica Ennis-Hill taking home gold in heptathlon; and David Weir’s success in wheelchair racing.
Today it’s a bustling hub of activity with sports facilities open all year round, including hockey pitches, athletics tracks, basketball courts and more. Even better news is that you don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy the park – it’s free to explore!
The Olympic Park is also a great place for families with children of all ages. The Tumbling Bay Playground is a fun, natural playground that all kids will love exploring; while the London Aquatics Centre offers swimming lessons and other water-based activities throughout the year.
There’s also plenty of culture on offer in this vibrant corner of London – with art galleries, music venues and more scattered through the 560 acres of park (yes, acres!).
P.S – It’s easily the best free thing to do in Stratford, London too!
2. Shop Til You Drop at Westfield Mall
If retail therapy is on your mind then look no further than Westfield Stratford City.
The larger-than-life shopping hub is the biggest mall in Europe — filled with a huge variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, entertainment venues and more.
Outside of the 250+ retailers and 70+ dining opportunities for every cuisine type, they’ve also got all your day-to-day needs covered too, including banking facilities and beauty shops.
Once you’re done shopping, you can treat yourself to a cheeky Nando’s on the top floor, and a movie night at their Vue Cinema.
3. Slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit
The ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford, London is an iconic structure that stands tall over Olympic Park. And by iconic…I mean home to the world’s largest tunnel slide.
Standing tall at 114.5 meters the observation tower’s unique piece of architecture offers unrivaled views of the city, and a wild ride to match.
Take a ride up the 34 second life journey to the top and descend down The Slide for the full experience.
Once you’re at the summit, you’ll be treated to incredible 360° views across London and beyond — best enjoyed during sunset or sunrise when the sky takes on beautiful hues of orange and pink.
Long story short, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush like no other the ArcelorMittal Orbit is the place to be. Book your tickets here.
P.S – You can also go abseiling down the slide too! Check it out here.
4. Walk from Stratford to Hackney
For something a bit more laid back in Stratford, I highly suggest taking a river walk from Stratford to Hackney.
The canalside walk will take you through Olympic Park, the River Lea, Fish Island Village, and lots of local Hackney Wick dining opps, ending at Here East!
5. Cycle Down the River Lea or The Greenway
For my cycle lovers, you’ll be pleased to know Stratford has some of the best bike-friendly paths in London.
The Greenway in particular will lead you from Stratford to Beckton (but you can stick to riding it in the area) offering 7-kilometres (4.3 miles) of East London views.
To ride around the stadium and more of Olympic Park, I suggest taking the calm trail along the River Lea.
Either way, both paths are fairly easy and great for a fun day out in Stratford.
6. Hire a Swan Boat in Olympic Park
For a unique thing to do in Stratford, London give the Swan Pedalos a ride!
Located adjacent to the London Aquatics Centre, the swan rides give you an excellent chance to see all the parklands and local wildlife the neighbourhood has to offer.
The ride lasts 30 minutes and tickets are £9 for adults, £8 for local residents and £5 for children. No booking required!
7. Play Sports at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre and Velo Park
Right on brand for the Olympic Park is the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre and Velo Park — both great places to get some exercise on in the neighbourhood.
For tennis, there’s tons of lessons you can book throughout the week or you can book a pitch if you’re in the mood for a hockey game with some friends.
Velo Park also houses a re-modelled Olympic BMX track, including track cycling, road-circuit racing, and mountain bike trails. So lots to get up to!
8. Roam Hackney Marshes
Tucked right next to Stratford is the peaceful Hackney Marshes.
With over 335 acres of glorious green space and wildlife, it’s the perfect place for a lazy day in the Stratford area. And is home to Sunday League Football!
Bring a picnic and simply enjoy the space or take part in wildlife spotting, play football or rugby, fish, or enjoy their café and a public terrace.
There’s also ample cycling routes and paths to explore nearby too.
9. Swim at the London Aquatics Centre
Another Olympic staple in Stratford is the London Aquatics Centre.
On a mission to offer affordable swimming and fitness facilities to local residents and beyond, it’s a fantastic place to take up a swim in the area or get a workout in before you explore the Stratford area.
10. See a Show at Theatre Royal Stratford East
It’s not every day you find a London theatre that’s been kicking it since 1884, unless you’re Stratford East of course.
The 460-seat Victorian theatre has been the beating heart of the East London entertainment scene for decades, famously home to the Theatre Workshop company with the likes of directors like Joan Littlewood.
Nowadays, it’s a fantastic place to see original and affordable theatre shows, from revived classics to dramatic showstoppers.
11. Pay a Visit to East Village
Just a stone’s throw from Westfield Mall is one of Stratford’s newest neighbourhood — the East Village.
Formerly the ‘Athletes’ Village,’ the vibrant E20 hub always has something going on.
From eclectic new restaurants like Bamboo Mat or Italian classics like Firezza Pizzeria to an endless amount of cafes, shops, and local events, it’s a great pocket of Stratford to spend the day.
12. Stop by Here East
One of the most unique things about Stratford is how much the Olympics impacted the area, which becomes extremely apparent when it comes to Here East.
The technology and innovation hub has taken over this pocket of East London — now home to a variety of change-making companies across the business, technology, education, and art sector.
Between the canalside setting and ample dining spots, it’s a great place to take a weekend walk in Stratford or grab a drink with friends.
13. Catch a game at the Copper Box Arena
The Copper Box Arena was the original home to handball, modern pentathlon, fencing, and goalball during the 2012 Games, and is still one of best places to see sport in action in Stratford.
Outside of being an active gym and sports center, they also host tons of basketball games throughout the year, and are the official home to The London Lions.
14. Catch a Football Game at the London Stadium
The London Stadium is home to West Ham United and watching a football game here easily makes the list for the top things to do in Stratford, London.
Grab a ticket and enjoy basking in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with a good game to match (at least if you’re a West Ham supporter!).
15. Have a Movie Night at the Stratford Picturehouse
The Stratford Picturehouse is a sweet reminder of what makes movie theatres so great.
Nestled in Stratford’s cultural corner, the neighbourhood cinema is well-known for their family-run vibe and great prices (£8 for an adult ticket as of writing!)
Definitely worth cosying in to for a film if you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Stratford.
16. Sing Along to ABBA at the Abba Voyage Arena
If you’re looking for something unique to do in Stratford, London — a visit to the Abba Voyage Arena should be at the top of your list.
The brand new music venue offers an unforgettable night out for the ABBA-obsessed.
Head here to experience an unbelievable (seriously, unbelievable) immersive-themed performance from hologram ABBA’s most popular setlist.
From their stunning costumed dancers and professional sound systems, Abba Voyage Arena is guaranteed to bring all the thrills that come with an authentic ABBA-filled night out.
17. And have a pint at King Edward VII
There’s something about old East London pubs that just do it for me, especially if it’s King Edward VII.
The Grade II listed pub was founded in the early 18th century and was where Kind Frederick William IV came to meet the famed prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry.
Nowadays, it’s a traditional pub with a modern twist — including a Sunday Roast and apple crumble that will knock your socks off.
18. Brunch in Stratford
Considering one of the best things to do in Stratford is to mosey Olympic Park, you should definitely start your day with brunch before you do so.
From famed London breakfast chains like Balans to family-run joints like The Sawmill Cafe, there’s a brunch in Stratford spot for every taste.
Be sure to read my breakfast in Stratford guide for more recommendations!
19. Eat at Stratford’s Best Restaurants
One of my favourite things about Stratford, London is the never-ending supply of restaurants (there’s hundreds!).
For Moroccan, I highly suggest Dar Marrakech, Figo, or Santi for Italian, Sichuan Grand 成都府 or Lam’s Kitchen for Chinese or simply take your pick from the 70+ restaurants in Westfield Mall.
20. Drink at Roof East
From an empty rooftop car park to Stratford’s coolest rooftop bar, Roof East is thee place to be come summer in Stratford.
Enjoy everything here from an outdoor cinema to street food, games, and weekly events. Perfect for a night out in Stratford and right on top of the Stratford Centre car park!
P.S – No need to book just walk in!
What is Stratford, London famous for?
Most notably Stratford, London is famous for being the home to the 2012 Olympic Games.
In fact, many of the things to do in Stratford today all came from buildings, sites, and attractions built specifically for the Olympics — so its role in the area is huge!
What underground line goes to Stratford?
You’ll be pleased to know that Stratford has some of the best transport connections in the city!
Reachable by the Jubilee, Central, and Elizabeth Line, along with the Overground and DLR (Docklands Light Railway).
Read More: How to Get Around London: Your Ultimate Transport Guide
Free Things to do in Stratford London
The best free things to do in Stratford all start and end with Olympic Park. From taking a scenic walk from Stratford to Hackney to picnicking at Hackney Marshes — nature truly is your best friend here.
Is Stratford a good area in London?
If you’re considering coming to Stratford to live or to travel, you may be wondering is Stratford a good area in London?
Pre-Olympics Stratford, London was considered one of the more dangerous areas of London. But since 2012, it’s had a major regeneration which has also aided in the increased safety of the area.
So, if you’re wondering if Stratford is a safe place to stay, the answer is yes!
But just like anywhere, always be sure to keep your wits about you when you’re travelling — especially if you’re travelling to London solo.
Where are the best places to stay in Stratford?
Glad you asked!
Best Budget Hotels in Stratford, London:
Best Mid-Range to Luxury Hotels in Stratford, London:
Map of the Best Things to do in Stratford, London