By Maurice Shasha
// Tue 29th
From fabulous street cuisine to curiosities, latest fashions to arts and crafts, London’s markets have it all.
A world-class tourist destination and a fabulous place to live, London is overflowing with exciting experiences. With each district possessing its own unique feel, it’s a city of amazing contrasts where there’s something fascinating around every corner; from historic buildings to striking contemporary architecture. These interesting juxtapositions create the illusion that many cities fused into one melting pot of modern life, but it is in the street markets that London feels at its most vibrant, diverse and alive.
From fabulous street cuisine to curiosities, latest fashions to arts and crafts, London’s markets have it all. You can shop till you drop while soaking in a sensory overload like no other.
Here are 10 London street markets you really shouldn’t miss
Borough Market delivers a fiesta of foods to explore from more than 100 stalls and restaurants. British specialities vie with cuisine from the four corners of the earth to fill the air with enticing aromas. Whether you are looking for a fine French cheese to complete your dinner party menu or a delicious snack while walking the South Bank, the market will draw you into its hubbub. Open Monday to Saturday, with the full market operating Wednesday to Saturday, you’ll find Bourgh Market next to London Bridge Station. It’s never short of visitors – testament to the fact that food markets in London don’t get any better than this.
Brick Lane Market
With Borough Market closed, Sundays are a great time to head east, when Brick Lane Market bursts into life between 10am and 5pm. Funky collectables, bric-a-brac and antiques sit cheek by jowl to create an Aladdin’s cave of treasures just waiting to be discovered. Famous for its Asian restaurants, Brick Lane itself is also something of a foodie treat.
Portobello Road Market
A London institution, the exciting Portobello Road market has been welcoming visitors since the 19th century, but it was in the 1950s that it became famous for antiques. These days you can find everything from fine art to vegetables, or vintage clothes to ceramics, as you explore the diverse fare. The full market is on Friday and Saturday, but some stalls are open every weekday. Located in Notting Hill, Portobello Road is undeniably cool.
Camden Lock Market
Hugely popular since the 1970s, this former timber yard for the shipping industry is a fascinating feature of Camden Market. Open every day, its many stalls offer delights including vintage clothing, jewellery, artwork and crafts. Food stalls are dotted around serving irresistible international cuisine. Every day is a good day to visit Camden Lock.
If you are heading south of the river, Greenwich Market is worthy of your attention. On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, you will discover antiques and collectables, on other days arts, crafts and designer wares. The historic covered market showcases the best of British design together with delicious international street food and is surrounded by independent shops and cafes. To make your day extra-special why not arrive by riverboat?
Broadway Market in Hackney has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years. The centre of the local community, this market has been home to a variety of traders since the late 19th century. Numerous stalls are crammed into this East End street, stocking an eclectic mix of fresh produce, crafts, original clothing and street food. Bordered by independent shops and galleries, Broadway Market is a welcoming place to visit - open Saturdays.
Southbank Centre Market
If you enjoy a stroll along the South Bank, plan your walk for a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. It will give you the opportunity to experience the Southbank Centre market. Situated behind the Royal Festival Hall, the market welcomes independent traders and producers, selected for their commitment to sustainable and ethical food. Treat yourself to wonderful meats, confectionery and other culinary delights.
Covent Garden Market
In the heart of the West End, Covent Garden Market is always a hive of activity. The World-famous fruit and veg market is now an elegant shopping centre, but market stalls also feature. The Apple Market is a fabulous place to find handmade gifts. From Tuesday to Sunday, it is filled with jewellery, art and beautiful crafts but on Mondays, the stalls showcase antiques and collectables. The East Colonnade market is open every day with stalls selling a huge variety of goods. Walk through to the South Piazza and you can explore the Jubilee Market which offers somethings different every day.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Another great reason to visit the East End, Columbia Road is near Brick Lane and boasts a colourful flower market on Sundays. Packed with stunning blooms and interesting plants, it is renowned for its friendly atmosphere. The street itself is lined with independent shops and there are plenty of places to eat. As Brick Lane Market is also open on Sundays, you can easily visit both on the same day.
Tooting Market opened in 1930 and has been at the heart of this south London community ever since. The last decade has, however, seen the market go from strength to strength, with an influx of hip new bars and cafes, global dining options, arts and crafts and vintage stalls. Its popularity also contributed to Lonely Planet naming Tooting one of the Top 10 Coolest Places to Visit in the World – so it’s definitely worth a look. You can pop by seven days a week, with bars and restaurants open till 10.30pm in the evening.
Every day is market day somewhere in the capital. Providing a welcome departure from big chains and malls, London’s street markets each possess their own special character. Expect a memorable day out and some very special finds.