If there’s one thing Londoners love, it’s a good old market. It may come as no surprise then that the British capital is filled with markets of all sorts and sizes. Whether it’s a traditional flee market displaying antiques and vintage, a crafts market with independent designer wear and arts, or a farmer’s market selling fresh local produce and street food: London has it all. Almost every neighbourhood has its own regular market and to list all of them would make for a VERY long read, but here is a selection of some of the most wonderful, vibrant outdoor and indoor markets London is home to.
If you’ve ever been to London you’ll probably know this one, because Borough Market has established itself as one of London’s most famous and popular food markets. Located in Southwark, there has been a market here as early as the 12thcentury. Nowadays, though, customers are no longer just locals, but come from all corners of the world, and so does the food that is sold here. Underneath the beautiful 19thcentury arches you’ll find traders selling all sorts of produce and dishes, from English fruit juices to Italian delicatessen and from Swiss cheese raclette to Asian hotpots. Saturdays tend to be very busy, but now Borough Market is also open from Monday till Friday, making it the perfect spot for an outdoorsy street food lunch during the week too!
Borough Market: open Monday till Saturday, 10:00-17:00 (station: London Bridge or Borough)
Camden Town is known for its punk and rock-n-roll scene. The area is filled with tattoo shops, bars and legendary music venues such as the Roundhouse and Electric Ballroom. It is not for nothing that Amy Winehouse called this neighbourhood her home for many years. Although the rise in the number of tourists and redevelopment projects means that the atmosphere is changing, there is still something very special about this part of London.
The presence of various markets with small, independent traders – together known as Camden Market– is one of the key reasons why the area still feels so unique and distinctive. On and around Camden High Street you’ll find market stalls selling clothing items and tourist memorabilia. A bit further north, on the other side of Regent’s Canal, is Camden Lock. Once a wharf and horse stables, this area is now a massive food and retail market. Outdoors, next to the canal, a street food market (now part of a chain) sells anything and everything to still your cravings. Indoors, in the historic horse hospital, is the Stables Market, consisting of a maze of alleyways where salesmen and women sell second-hand clothes, books, hand-made jewellery and crafts. Despite its changing nature, Camden and its markets are still very much an incredibly inspiring place to be.
Camden Market: open 7 days a week, 10:00-18:00 (station: Camden Town or Camden Road)
Old Spitalfields Market
Spitalfields Market, on the edge of the City (London’s financial district), used to be the East End’s wholesale food market until the 1990s when it moved to the outskirts of the city. Since then, the halls have been renovated and converted into a giant covered crafts and design market. Now known as Old Spitalfields Market, it’s become one of the most popular markets in London. Seven days a week, hundreds of vendors sell their crafts here, be it handmade clothes, bags or cupcakes. So, if you’re looking for a unique piece of designer or vintage wear, this is the place to be!
Old Spitalfields Market: open 7 days a week, 09:00/11:00-17:00 (station: Liverpool Street)
Brick Lane Market
Brick Lane is home to not one, not two or three, but four über cool indoor markets, together known as Brick Lane Market. Although these markets operate different opening hours, the best time to visit is on Sunday, when all of them are open simultaneously. Brick Lane Food Hallis an indoor street food market where vendors prepare and sell the most mouth-watering dishes from all over the globe.
Just next to it you’ll find Backyard Market, where on Saturdays and Sundays East London’s creative community comes together to showcase their arts and crafts, such as handmade jewellery and clothing. On the other side of the road, in the buildings of the Old Truman Brewery, is Brick Lane’s Sunday UpMarket, a market that houses more than 140 creative traders selling everything from fashion, accessories, interior design and food. The same building is also the home of Vintage (Up)Market, a huge indoor vintage clothing market that’s open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Brick Lane Market: every Sunday, 10:00-17:00 (station: Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street)
Southbank Centre Food Market
On a sunny weekend day (yes those do exist in London), what’s better than strolling along the river Thames, grabbing a delicious bite from a street food vendor and sit down by the water whilst watching the crowds passing by? Not much, right? If this is also your idea of a day well spent, then head to Southbank Centre Food Market on a Saturday on Sunday. Located on both sides of the Southbank Centre, on the river banks as well as on a little square just behind the building, this market is a feast for international street food lovers. With anything from vegan Indian curries, German sausages to Filipino hotpots and Italian pastries, making a choice for a meal here is quite a challenge, but one that I usually love to take on!
Southbank Centre Food Market: open Friday till Sunday, 12:00-18:00/20:00 (station: Waterloo)
Located in Clerkenwell, close to Angel and Faringdon tube stations, you’ll find Exmouth Market. This pedestrianised street lined with small shops and restaurants is a great place to visit any time of the week. But it’s at its liveliest on weekdays during lunchtime, when the street is the scene of a vibrant street food market, attracting local office workers and visitors alike. This is a real gem!
Exmouth Market: open Monday till Friday, 10:00-16:00 (station: Angel or Faringdon)
Rundown and dodgy, Broadway Market was almost bulldozed in the 1990s, but locals managed to prevent its destruction and reintroduced the weekly Saturday food and crafts market to reinvigorate the area. Now it’s one of East London’s most vibrant areas. And although it can get very busy here on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the audience is mainly made up of local hipsters (or wannabe hipsters like myself), with only a few lost tourists here and there. With the rise in East London’s popularity, however, the crowds here are getting bigger and bigger, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Broadway Market is one of London’s happiest places.
Broadway Market: open every Saturday 10:00-16:00 (station London Fields)
Maltby Street Market
Maltby Street Market is one of those hidden gems that you need to know of in advance, because you won’t easily bump into this street food market by chance. In a small alley, nestled between buildings and railway arches, vendors have been selling their home-made food here on Saturdays for years now. What’s more, while on the one side stalls are tempting you with fragrant dishes from all corners of the world, on the other side, underneath the railway arches, you’ll find a couple of lovely bakeries, coffeeshops and independent shops. What’s not to like!
Maltby Street Market: open every Saturday and Sunday, 10:00-16:00 (station: Bermondsey or London Bridge)
Columbia Road Flower Market
In the list of great markets Columbia Road Flower Market has to be represented. With its cute little houses, colourful doors and independent shops Columbia Road is brilliant Instagram material, even when there’s no market. However, the ambiance in this street is at its best on Sundays, when dozens of flower vendors set up shop here. Be prepared for an abundance of colourful flowers and plants, loud salesmen and women and lots and lots of people. Despite the fact that it’s not on the main tourist path, more and more people are finding their way to this place. It all adds to the lively and buoyant atmosphere though. For great coffee and cake, check out Lilly Vanilly Bakery (only open on Sundays), which is situated in a small courtyard just off Columbia Road.
Columbia Road Flower Market: open every Sunday 08:00-15:00 (station: Old Street)
Portobello Road Market
Any tourist guide about London will mention Portobello Road Market, and for a reason. This gorgeous corner of Notting Hill with its colourful facades and small independent shops and cafes (if the queue isn’t too long check out Farm Girl Café!) is just sensationally charming. Every day of the week there’s another market here, with Saturday being the big day when most of them are open at the same time. The crowds multiply by ten, too, but it all contributes to the wonderful atmosphere.
Although Portobello Road Market is most famous for its antiques (it’s one of the largest antiques markets in the world), all sorts of things are being sold here, including fashion, crafts, foods as well as second hand goods. For the latter, you need to be here on a Sunday, when vendors sell second-hand items for 24 hours in a row. If you’re looking for a great bargain, this is the place to be!
Portobello Road Market: open every day of the week, various times (station: Notting Hill Gate)
Brixton has long been home to one of London’s largest Caribbean communities, and that’s reflected in the neighbourhood’s markets. Brixton Village and the adjacent Market Row are two gorgeous indoor markets housed in two separate arcades. Both still have a considerable number of Caribbean-oriented stalls. However, as the area has diversified over the past decade or so, so have the local markets. These days, Brixton Village and Market Row are a lively mix of shops and restaurants selling produce, dishes and drinks from all over the globe. Whether it’s Jamaican, Mexican or European food you’re looking for: Brixton has it all.
Brixton Village and Market Row: open 7 days a week, 08:00-23:30 (Mondays until 18:00) (station: Brixton)
Victoria Park Market
Relatively new to the street market scene is Victoria Park Market. Located on a quiet pedestrian road crossing the beautiful Victoria Park in London’s East End, this must be one of the city’s greenest farmer’s markets. Every Sunday, local producers line up here to showcase and sell their products, from regionally sourced veg and fruit to small food start ups with innovative new ideas. If you’re in the East on a sunny Sunday afternoon, this is the place to be!
Victoria Park Market: open every Sunday, 10:00-16:00 (station: Bethnal Green or Mile End)