The East End's original art gallery
Less critical to the local Whitechapel community than it once was, the publicly funded Whitechapel Gallery nevertheless holds a special place among London galleries showcasing international contemporary art. Throughout the last century the gallery has staged major exhibitions and/or premieres by Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, and furthered the careers of some of Britain’s most significant artists, including Gilbert & George, Lucian Freud, Peter Doig and Mark Wallinger. Positioned within an interestingly scruffy part of London, the late-1890s building by arts-and-crafts-era architect Charles Harrison Townsend is a standout. And since the gallery's radical expansion in 2009 there's a foodie restaurant attached. Tube station: Aldgate East [as opposed to Whitechapel station, which is an eight-minute walk away]. Immediately to the north you'll find Brick Lane and Spitalfields — an area well worth investigating.