Fun Things to Do in Dalston, East London

Famous for the annual Dalston Music Festival and epic nightlife, Dalston is in East London, just four miles north of Charing Cross and about ten minutes out of Shoreditch. Dalston was essentially a sleepy residential area in the 18th century but began to proliferate in the 19th century after a cluster of upper-middle-class settlements formed west of Dalston Lane.

Today, the area has undergone significant gentrification, and once-legendary spots like Bardens are gone, and trendy wine bars, cocktail bars, restaurants, and retail spaces reign in their place. Read on for a scoop on some fun and affordable things to do in Dalston.

Fun Things to Do in Dalston

Visiting Dalston for the first time? Here are a few of the best ways to spend your day:

Stroll the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is one of the most scenic spots in Dalston. Once a run-down piece of land, the garden is now a one-acre, well-maintained urban oasis with flowers, exotic trees, and shrubbery planted alongside the area’s original plants. It also includes vegetable greenhouses and raised beds.

It’s a free-to-enter garden that visitors can either explore or enjoy a cup of coffee from the café while relaxing on one of the benches available. Note it’s a popular hot spot, so you might want to visit early if you’re to enjoy the experience.

Explore Art at the Arcola Theatre

The Arcola Theatre on24 Ashwin Street, off the west end, is an excellent treat for art buffs and creatives. Established in 2000, the theatre presents fascinating classic opera, plays, and musical productions featuring both established and new artists.

It is housed in a former paint factory and features two studio theatres, rehearsal studios, and a café where you can source some snacks before the plays. Plan your visit, and you might end up bumping into some top artists who perform here, such as Mike Bartlett and Arinze Kene.

Watch a Movie at the Rio

You cannot claim to have visited Dalston without stopping by the Rio cinema. Located on 107 Kingsland High Street, the Rio Cinema is one of Dalston’s longest-running community cinemas, opened in 1915.

Despite being around for more than a century, the Rio Cinema still retains its unique art deco charm. It has a 400-seat auditorium, a basement lounge area, and a foyer where you can find an assortment of yummy local treats. The cinema regularly airs indie to foreign films, Hollywood hits, classics, documentaries, and sometimes Q&A sessions for kids.

Other hot spots to check out in Dalston, East London include:

  • Ruby’s- an underground dive bar
  • The Shelter- an industrial bar and club
  • The Dalston rooftop park
  • BrewDog- the first vegan pub in Dalston

Getting to Dalston, East London

Dalston is easily accessible via the London Overground network at Dalston Kingsland, Dalston Junction, and Haggerston. You can also take a London bus on routes 76, 149, 242 243, and 277, which run 24-hours every day. While visiting, keep in mind whether you’re an art buff, a history lover, or an avid partygoer, Dalston has something for everyone.