Eight London underground stations have been reclassified to make it cheaper to travel to them from central London. Six of those stations—including Stratford and Canning Town—are found in East London.
The reason? London’s centre of gravity is moving eastwards.
So what are the best things to see and do around the newly classified stations?
Stratford is home to two of the best East London attractions. The first is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which hosted the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Visitors to the Park can check out the Olympic stadium (soon to be West Ham United’s home ground), take a dip in the Zaha Hadid designed London Aquatics Centre (where you can swim in the same pool as Michael Phelps for under £4), be whisked to the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit (a 115 metre tall viewing platform), visit the Copper Box (home to London’s professional basketball team, the London Giants), or visit the Lee Valley Velopark (and the 6,500 capacity velodrome where Wiggins, Hoyle and Pendleton all won gold).
The park also has a number of good eateries, playgrounds and splendid gardens.
The second is Westfield Stratford City, Europe’s largest shopping centre. Arranged over five levels, there is a casino, 17-screen cinema, 400 shops and over 70 restaurants!
Canning Town is a 10-minute walk from the Emirates Cable Car Station, found close to Royal Victoria on the DLR. From there, a cablecar whisks passengers 90 metres into the air on a one kilometre journey to the Greenwich Peninsula.
The gondolas, which travel at 6 metres per second, offer stunning views to the O2 Arena (a short walk from Greenwich Peninsula station), Canary Wharf, and the City of London. Tickets for a single journey cost £4.40.
The Emirates Air Line has been controversial. The Guardian newspaper described it as ”… [a] pointless project built for spurious reasons connecting two places no one wants to go to.” And more recently a hopeful for the position of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has threatened to close the attraction if elected in order to save money. But passenger numbers are holding up: almost 50,000 used the Air Line in the week ending 31 October 2015.
When you disembark, you can check out the small but interesting Emirates Aviation Experience. Highlights include a video-wall showing how an Airbus 380 is turned around after landing, a wind tunnel, a Rolls Royce engine made from 165,000 Lego bricks, and a number of fight simulators.
The O2 Arena is a ten-minute walk away. Formerly the Millennium Dome, the O2 is now the most popular indoor arena in the world. With a capacity of 20,000, the venue is used mainly for music, with bands such as Bon Jovi, U2, the Eagles and the Killers having headlined. The arena also hosts a number of sporting events, including tennis’ ATP World Tour Finals.
Other attractions at the O2 Arena include scores of restaurants and bars, an 11-screen cinema, a bowling alley, a smaller music venue called IndigO2 and regular temporary exhibitions. The newest addition is ‘Up at the O2’ . This enables visitors to climb to the top of the 52-metre high Richard Rogers designed dome.
So: charge up your Oyster card, and check out the best that East London has to offer. It is now cheaper to do so.