London’s Best Markets
London is home to over 90 different markets, each with its own atmosphere and specialties. Whether you’re interested in food and drink, art and antiques, clothes and accessories, or flowers and plants, there is a London market to suit you. They’re one of the most colourful places to shop in the capital, where you can find a flea market bargain, pick up an individual piece straight from the designer, or just do some people-watching. Here’s our guide to a selection of London’s best markets.
London’s oldest market, Borough dates back to the thirteenth century and is more popular than ever today. Crowds gather under its wrought-iron roof and railway arches to sample food and drink from over 70 different traders. Producers from around the UK and beyond sell everything from organic fruit and vegetables, rare breed meat, cheeses, breads and cakes, coffee and juices. It can be quite pricey, but even if you’re not buying you can still taste your way round with some free samples, and grab lunch from one of the food stalls – my favourites are the hot roast meat rolls and grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Opening times: Thursday 11am–5pm, Friday 12pm–6pm and Saturday 8am–5pm
- Transport links: nearest tube and mainline station is at London Bridge
- Find out more: www.boroughmarket.org.uk
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road runs through west London’s Notting Hill, and the famous film had helped make this one of London’s most popular markets (look out for the line of tourists leading to the blue door of Hugh Grant’s house from the film). There’s a market here six days a week, but the biggest is the Saturday antique market with over 2000 dealers selling artwork, coins, ceramics, jewellery and furniture. Portobello Road is actually three markets rolled into one though, and there’s also a food market plus a fashion and second-hand market under the Westway flyover. Here you can pick up old and new fashion, from vintage pieces to creations from new designers.
- Opening times: every day except Sunday 8am–6.30pm (closing at 1pm on Thursdays)
- Transport links: nearest tube stations are Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill Gate
- Find out more: www.portobelloroad.co.uk
Columbia Road Flower Market
This East End street is turned into a lush garden every Sunday, where stalls sell everything plant related, from bulbs to 10-foot trees. It’s a riot of colours and perfumes, with buckets of cut flowers lining the street, and Cockney accents yelling out ‘three for a fiver!’. Get there when it opens and avoid the crowds if you want to do any serious shopping, otherwise you can bag a bargain when it starts winding down after 2pm. Away from the stalls, Columbia Road is lined with 60 different independent shops, like art galleries, antique shops and vintage clothes stores. There are also cafes and restaurants where you can grab a coffee and cupcake or a Sunday roast.
- Opening times: Sunday 8am–3pm
- Transport links: nearest tube stations are Old Street or Bethnal Green
- Find out more: www.columbiaroad.info
Brick Lane Market
One of London’s most multicultural areas, Brick Lane is a vibrant mixture of Bangladeshi curry houses, Jewish bagel shops, Indian sari shops and street art. The Sunday market here is a chaotic mix of street performers and second-hand stalls, with trendy young east Londoners looking through furniture, clothes, books and bric-a-brac. You never know what you treasures might come across amongst the junk. And even if you don’t buy anything then it’s worth coming for the people-watching and an inexpensive curry or bagel for lunch from the international cafes and restaurants in the streets around the market.
- Opening times: Sunday 9am–5pm
- Transport links: nearest tube stations are Shoreditch and Aldgate East
- Find out more: www.visitbricklane.org
Camden is probably London’s best-known and busiest market, packed with over 100,000 visitors every weekend. It started off as a weekly craft market in 1974 and has grown to be a complex of different markets, each with their own specialism. The Camden Lock Market sells art, crafts and antiques whereas the Stables Market sells vintage and alternative clothes and accessories from beneath Victorian archways. There’s also the Lock Village Market along the Regents Canal towpath selling clothes and jewellery and the Buck Street Market and Electric Ballroom on Camden High Street for new and second-hand clothes and music. Although its popularity has meant that Camden’s lost some of its edgy, alternative atmosphere, the live music and comedy venues, restaurants and bars still make it a good place for a night out.
- Opening times: every day 10am–6pm, except Christmas Day
- Transport links: nearest tube stations are Camden Town (though it can get very busy at weekends) or Chalk Farm Road
- Find out more: www.camden-market.org
Old Spitalfields Market
Old Spitalfields Market takes place in a Victorian market hall in east London which dates back to 1876 – so it’s a good bet if it’s raining as it’s under cover. It’s open every day, with a mixture of general and themed market days. You can usually find a range of old and new items, like clothes, accessories, artwork and homewares. The busiest days are Thursdays when the market specialises in antiques and vintage, Fridays for fashion and arts, Sundays for a bit of everything, and the fortnightly record fair. Bang in between Brick Lane and Shoreditch, there are also plenty of interesting shops and trendy bars to visit around the market.
- Opening times: Monday–Wednesday 10am–5pm, Thursday 9am–5pm, Friday 10am–4pm, Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 9am–5pm
- Transport links: nearest tube and mainline station is at Liverpool Street
- Find out more: www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com