Things to do in Stratford

Stratford is in the East end of London and was the focal point of the 2012 Olympics.

The area went under a huge transformation in preparation for staging the Olympics, with many of the facilities turned over for public use following the end of the games.

The Queen Elizabeth Park and the Olympic stadium were at the heart of 2012 games. The Park is now a lovely area of parklands and waterways with free access for the public to enjoy. The park also contains world class sporting facilities such as the aquatic centre and velopark which are open to visitors.

Stratford is not all about the Olympics and its legacy. There has always been a rich industrial and cultural past to the area. Stratford’s cultural quarter is home to a diverse range of venues that will entertain the whole family, venues where you can enjoy film, theatre, music, circus performances and more.

Stratford is also a good area for shopping. Both the Stratford Centre and the Westfield Centre are packed with brand names, while traditional markets see stalls offering quality, local produce.

Excellent transport links make Stratford highly accessible. Here's our selection of Stratford's 10 best things to do.

1. Queen Elizabeth Park

Olympic gardens in front of the River Lea and its tributary the City Mill River (© The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, CC BY 2.0)
Kids playing at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (© Sludge G, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Olympic Park Panoramic view of Northern Parklands (© David Poultney, CC BY 2.0)

This park was a hive of activity during the 2012 Olympics and remains a hive of activity today.

The 560 acre sustainable site contains beautifully maintained areas of parkland and gardens where you can come and relax, stroll or have a picnic.

There are four trails to explore set out across the park, including the children’s adventures in the park trail, the art trail and the parkland and wildlife trail. Each trail provides the chance to explore different areas of the park in more detail, while enjoying the bustling wildlife habitats the park provides.

The waterways in and around the park have been restored and are now a vibrant feature. Hiring a pedalo offers a fun way to explore the Queen Elizabeth Park by water, costing £9 for an adult. Another way to explore the waterways is on a guided boat tour, taking in the wonderfully landscaped park while learning just how it was transformed. The tours last around 45 minutes and also cost £9 per adult.

With sports venues, plenty of food and drink options, plus playgrounds for the kids, there is plenty to entertain the family for the whole day within the Queen Elizabeth Park.

2. ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide

The ArcelorMittal Orbit at night. (© you_only_live_twice, CC BY-SA 2.0)
The View from the ArcelorMittal Orbit (© S. Charles, CC0)

Within the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth Park you will find the world’s longest tunnel slide.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture, a unique setting for this exhilarating tunnel slide. The looping sculpture was an iconic symbol of the London 2012 Olympic games.

The slide consists of 12 bends as you wind your way down the 178 meter slide. You can be sliding along at up to 15 mph, with the corkscrew style ending a final flourish to remember. As you slide down you will be able to catch glimpses of the park and the London skyline.

If you suffer with claustrophobia and do not fancy the fully enclosed tunnel slide, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is still worth a visit for the views. Lifts take you up to the 80 meter viewing platforms where you have stunning views across the park and on out across London. There are also stairs to access the platforms.

The slide is open all year round. You can buy a combined viewing platform and slide ticket for £16.50 if booked in advance, or £52 for a family ticket. The skyline viewing platform only ticket, without access to the slide, costs £11.50 in advance, or £32 for a family ticket.

3. Roof East Cinema

For a cinema experience with a difference head to Roof East, where you can watch films with the London skyline as your spectacular backdrop.

Located on the roof of a multi-story car park, Roof East turns an otherwise unused space in to a unique urban setting.

You can watch the films from the comfy deckchairs provided, which can be adjusted to suit your height. You will be provided with state of the art wireless headphones to ensure you have a quality audio experience, without intrusion from surrounding noises.

You can order hot food, snacks and drinks from your mobile to be delivered to your seat, with hot food served until 8.30pm. Roof East is located on level 7 of the Stratford Centre car park and is accessible by public transport, with Stratford station opposite the car park.

Roof East is open through the summer months until 23rd September. Seats cost £15.95, or £18.95 with popcorn included.

4. Discover Children’s Story Centre

Watch your children have the time of their lives as they allow their imagination to run wild in the story centre's immersive play areas.

Suitable for children up to the age of 11 years, you will have just as much pleasure watching them discover and create their own stories.

The Discover Children’s Story Centre is set around two floors, containing story worlds and a story garden. This is where your children’s imagination can come to the fore as they explore these immersive play spaces. With caves and hidden ships, a puppet castle and a story factory, the centre has something to enthral children up to 11 years of age.

Different exhibits through the year keeps the centre fresh and entertaining. Sessions cost £7.50 and last for two hours, on to which you can add an additional event such as one of the exhibitions. The centre also has an excellent children’s book shop as well as a cafe.

5. Shopping

The artistic trees of the Stratford Centre reflect the evening sunlight. (© mattbuck, CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Stratford Centre in 2012, with the "Stratford Shoal" sculpture (© DAVID HOLT, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Westfield London is a large shopping centre in White City, west London, England, developed by the Westfield Group at a cost of £1.6bn (© Chmee2, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Stratford has plenty of options for a day’s shopping, including two main shopping centres.

Stratford Centre

Located on Broadway in the heart of Stratford, the centre operates both as a mall and an indoor market. Open every day of the week, and with over 60 units, there is plenty to browse as you wander through the centre.

Brands you will find here include Foot Locker, Milano Couture, Holland & Barrett, Charlotte Reid London, H. Samuel the Jeweller, The Body Shop, The Works and The Fragrance Shop. The centre has a number of coffee shops and eateries to help keep you fully refreshed.

Stratford Centre also hosts a market from Monday to Saturday, with 30 stalls selling a wide range of products including groceries, seafood, flowers, clothing, mobile accessories and sweets.


This is a large shopping centre located in the Queen Elizabeth Park, which opened in 2011 in time for the London Olympics. There is a vast range of shops, including over 100 fashion outlets and three department stores.

Brands who have stores located in Westfield include John Lewis, M&S, Accessorize, Gant, Kurt Geiger, Levi’s, Next, Primark and Kiehl’s. Open every day of the week, the Westfield also has dining and entertainment options, ensuring a great day out for the whole family.

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6. Theatre Royal Stratford

The Theatre Royal Stratford East is a large theatre in Stratford in the London Borough of Newham (© Sbrooks91, CC BY-SA 4.0)
The interior of Theatre Royal Stratford East showing the stage with the safety iron down. Photograph by Jamie Lumley (© Stratfordeast, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Since opening in 1884 the Theatre Royal has maintained a tradition of staging entertaining, thoughtful productions.

This is a community theatre at the heart of Stratford where such names as Dom Warrington, Barbara Windsor, Meera Syal and Sheila Hancock have graced the stage.

By 1953 the theatre had sadly become derelict until the arrival of the Theatre Group under the direction of Joan Littlewood. Since then this 450 seated theatre has built a reputation for creating bold, yet inclusive art, representing the diverse community of which it is a central hub.

The theatre has a program designed around all age groups, including youth theatre programs and the Theatre Royal’s seasonal twist on the traditional panto. The theatre is easy to reach, being within a five minute walk from Stratford station.

Concession prices for visitors under 26 years of age can start from £10. For a pre-show meal why not treat yourself to home-cooked Caribbean fusion style food served from the Stratford East bar.

7. London Aquatic Centre

The Aquatic Centre in the Queen Elisabeth II Olympic Park in Stratford, designed by Zaha Hadid, used for the 2012 Olympics (© Rick Ligthelm, CC BY 2.0)
Panorama of the interior during a London Prepares test event in April 2012 (© Alexander Kachkaev, CC BY 2.0)
The Aquatics Centre seen after the games, without the temporary wings (© Bert Seghers, CC0)

If you ever fancied the chance to swim in an Olympic pool then here’s your opportunity. Architect Zaha Hadid’s design ensured the aquatic centre was a stunning venue for the London games.

Since 2014 the public have been able to swim in the aquatic centre, where some of the country’s top swimmers still train.

Anyone of any swimming ability is welcome to use the impressive facilities in the London aquatic centre. You must pre-book your session, but that is a minor issue for the chance to swim in one of the two 50 meter swimming pools and pretend you are about to claim your Olympic gold.

The centre offers a range of programs including lane swimming, family sessions and diving lessons for those who want to release their inner Tom Daley. If swimming is not for you there is also a state of the art 50 station gym above the pool, looking out over the Queen Elizabeth Park.

There are a range of membership options available, but standard non-member prices are £5.10 for off peak swimming sessions and £12 for use of the gym at any time of the day.

8. Food and Drink

King Edward VII is a traditional pub located on Broadway, close to the Queen Elizabeth Park. Locally known as the King Eddie, the menu offers value British pub food including a traditional full English breakfast for £6.95. (© Ewan Munro, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Stratford has a good selection of quality restaurants, pubs and cafes when you are looking for somewhere to eat or a place for a drink. The following are a sample of the venues in Stratford.


Enjoy a little taste of Italy in East London in a relaxed atmosphere at this light and spacious restaurant located on Endeavour Street. The menu represents regions from across Italy, with pizzas from £8.50 and mains such as Pollo Alla Milanese from £17.50. Classic Italian wines and seasonal cocktails provide the perfect complement to your meal.

Kitchen E20

This is a ground floor restaurant within the Stratford hotel, close to the Queen Elizabeth Park. The menu has a contemporary British feel while inspired by Australasian influences. Meals are served throughout the day including breakfast from 7am. This sees a good selection of menus, including the bottomless brunch which offers sharing plates and a bottomless drink from the menu from £40.

Sawmill Cafe

This award winning family run cafe and bakery offers simple, healthy meals which are freshly made every day. From breakfast and lunch, coffee and delicious cakes, Sawmill Cafe delivers food and service made with fresh ingredients and no small measure of passion. Lunch mains start from £7.20, while the Sawmill full English breakfast costs £7.60. The cafe has good vegetarian and vegan options too.

King Edward VII

This is a traditional pub located on Broadway, close to the Queen Elizabeth Park. Locally known as the King Eddie, the menu offers value British pub food including a traditional full English breakfast for £6.95. Mains include pub favourites like steak ale pie and bangers & mash. There is a good range of burgers available with the classic burger priced at £7.95, while non meat-eaters have good options too, including a halloumi Sunday roast.

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9. All Star Lanes Bowling

Ten pin bowling is great entertainment for the whole family. All Star Lanes is located in the Westfield shopping centre and has 14 lanes for hire. (© Xiaphias, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ten pin bowling is great entertainment for the whole family. All Star Lanes is located in the Westfield shopping centre and has 14 lanes for hire.

There is an authentic retro feel to the venue as you are transported back to 50’s Americana.

Bowling is fun and an excellent social occasion. Don your bowling shoes at All Star Lanes and lose yourself to a slice of classic American culture. The venue’s bar plays its part too, with old style American cocktails and craft beers among the extensive range of drinks stocked.

You can also enjoy a meal at the All Star Lanes restaurant. Classic Mac ‘N’ Cheese costs £10.50, while a classic burger is £8. The Lanes Kitchen serves all your bowling favourites such as BBQ wings and Cajun halloumi fries.

A maximum of six people can bowl on one lane, with off-peak prices per game starting from £7.50 with shoes included. There are also bundle offers available, such as the Bowl, Drink and Dine experience which costs £30 per person and includes a two course meal.

10. Lee Valley Velopark

The London Velopark at the World Cup Cycling Event in February 2012 (© Munkfishmonger, CC BY 3.0)
The velodrome in November 2014 (© Martin Pettitt, CC BY 2.0)
Bradley Wiggins during his successful Hour record attempt at the Velodrome (© Andrew Last, CC BY 2.0)

This is another of the iconic London Olympic venues which is now open for the public to try the sports they cheered on in 2012.

The velopark offers the unique chance to try four types of cycling from one venue.

Ability is irrelevant here. From complete beginner to the elite, the Lee Valley velopark caters for all. You can turn your hand to track cycling, road racing, mountain biking or BMX racing. The Velopark has different courses for the different disciplines, and sessions to suit all abilities.

Prices vary across the disciplines and the level of experience the sessions are aimed toward. An unaccredited drop-in session on the track where you ride at your own pace costs from £10.50 for an hour, with any kit required additional. A learner session on the BMX course will cost from £15 with gloves an extra £3.

11. More things to do in Stratford

Many sporting fields, where many teams play, on Hackney Marshes (© Ewan Munro, CC BY-SA 2.0)
A temporary Olympic games footpath for the visitors at Hackney Marshes (© Sludge G, CC BY-SA 2.0)

There are so many things to see and do around Stratford in east London. The following are a few more places to visit when you are in Stratford.

Zap Space

Zap Space is a trampoline park set over three stories, with lots of fun activities for both adults and children to enjoy. The grown ups can have a blast freestyle jumping around the trampoline park, or playing dodgeball as you bounce around. Zap Space also offers the challenge of their Junkyard escape room.

The kids also have access to all three floors of Zap Space to enjoy freestyle jumping sessions. Each session lasts for an hour and costs £12. Children must be over 4 years old to participate. For children 4 years or below, the venue has a soft play area to ensure they do not miss out on all the fun.

London Stadium Tour

Visit the iconic stadium where athletes such as Mo Farah, David Rudisha and Jessica Ennis wowed fans during the 2012 games. Now home to West Ham FC, you have the chance to go behind the scenes and learn all the fascinating facts about this multi-use venue.

This is a part guided part- multimedia tour, where among other highlights you will visit the players changing rooms, walk down the tunnel pitch side and visit the indoor training track. There are different tour options available with the guided tour on a non match day costing from £19. For football fans, a tour with a West Ham legend like Tony Cottee costs from £40.

Hackney Marshes

The large open spaces of Hackney marshes sits opposite the Queen Elizabeth Park. Perhaps best known for the volume of its sports pitches, Hackney Marshes is a Green Flag facility, a wide expanse of greenery within London which is home to a good range of wildlife.

The marshes have walking trails, a conservation area and a bird hide, and is another important green lung within the capital. The river Lea runs alongside the marshes and provides a valuable wildlife habitat. Following a stroll around the trails you can head over to the Hackney Marshes Centre, where you will find a cafe and a roof top terrace offering views across the marshes.

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