Best Markets in London
London is a brilliant place to shop with stores catering to every kind of budget and taste. From designer labels and high-end department stores to independent boutiques and shops curating the best in creative design. Some of my favourite places to shop, however, are London’s markets. England’s capital is filled with fun markets from farmers’ to fashion as well as plenty dedicated to street food, antiques, flowers and more. There have been markets in London since at least the Middle Ages and nearly every corner of the city has its own corner where street stalls spring up weekly. However, if you’re just in town for a quick visit then these five London markets are the ones you should head to first.
One of my absolute favourite markets in London is Borough Market, a foodie paradise where you can buy quality fish, fruit and veg, meat, bread and cakes as well as oils, vinegars, spices and pretty much anything else you need to whip up a tasty meal. There’s also a huge array of street food from amazing sausage burgers, delicious empanadas, freshly shucked oysters, and plenty of freshly baked sweet treats. Located near London Bridge, a food market has existed in this spot in some form or other for around 1,000 years and although it still operates as a wholesale market in the very early hours of the morning, it’s best known among visitors as a great place to go to eat. It gets very busy so arrive early! Borough Market is open Monday to Saturday. On Monday and Tuesday, not all of the traders are there but there’s still lots of choice. The market is closed on public holidays.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Located just off the main drag of uber-trendy Shoreditch, the Columbia Road Flower Market is a flurry of colour every Sunday. The market sees the cobbled street transformed into an outdoor market selling bucketful of freshly cut flowers as well as bedding plants, banana trees, bulbs, shrubs and pretty much any other plant you might like for your garden or home. Columbia Road is also home to a huge number of independent shops including art galleries, vintage clothes stores, yummy delis and antique shops. There are also plenty of pubs and cafes for a post-market snack or drink. Although the market is supposed to open at 8am, stalls may well still be setting up at 9am. Peak time is 10.30am – 1pm when the road is packed.
Old Spitalfields Market
Located near Liverpool Street station, a market has stood on the site of Old Spitalfields Market for some 350 years. The current structure was rejuvenated in the early 2000s and is now one of the capital’s most exciting shopping destinations. Open daily, the main concourse is packed with stalls selling clothes – both contemporary and vintage – homewares, jewellery, art, children’s toys, artisan food products and more. There are also permanent shops and a number of great restaurants, cafes and bars. On Thursdays, the Antiques Market comes to town when 80 stalls set up selling the best of their vintage stock.
Portobello Road Market
The world’s largest antiques market takes place on Portobello Road in colourful Notting Hill. Expect over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique, knick-knack and collectable imaginable. The market is separated into different sections with one area dedicated to second-hand goods, another selling clothes (many famous designers and brands started out here), a third section for fruit, vegetables and other food and then, of course, the area dedicated to antiques. The market is open daily, check the website for more information (some sections are only open on certain days).
What originally started as a small arts and crafts market with just 16 stalls is today one of the most popular markets in London. Some 250,000 visitors head to Camden every week to explore the huge number of street stalls, street food traders and independent stores. The area is actually made up of several adjoining markets; Camden Lock Market is the place to head for arts-and-crafts, the Stables Market is home to an eclectic range of goods including furniture and clothes and Buck Street Market is the place to head for t-shirts and London souvenirs. For more information, take a look at the Camden Market website.
Katja Gaskell is a travel writer recently returned to London, U.K. after 12 years of living abroad in Australia, India and Mexico. She’s the co-founder of globetotting.com and is a firm believer that you can – and should! – take your kids everywhere. Katja has written across a range of titles for Lonely Planet guidebooks, tested luxury hotels for Mr & Mrs Smith and has contributed to publications including BBC Food, Hotelier International and The Australian.
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