We love London’s energy and traditions just as much as a good wander around the cities markets. With many of London’s most prominent markets housed inside glorious, ornate buildings dating back centuries ago, exploring doesn’t have to mean buying. Although, we think there are plenty of great purchases to be had!
All of London’s markets have their own distinct style and purpose. Check out your guide to London’s markets right here.
Southwark Street, London
Borough Market is a London institution which has stood in London Bridge for more than 1000 years. This is your go-to food market but don’t expect the kind of food market that features caravans of cheap food you could expect in other Western countries; Borough’s selection is sophisticated.
Expect fresh baked breads, melt in your mouth cheeses, award worthy pickles and chutneys, decadent chocolates and cakes, and delicious meats. Borough is a party for the taste buds.
If you have the choice, Wednesday through until Saturday is when Borough Market is in full glory, though it is open 7 days a week. On weekends the market is busy with travellers and locals alike wandering slowly, browsing and sampling. Jostling and queueing is part of the experience. You will find some craft and souvenir stalls, although food is certainly what Borough Market is known for.
When visiting Borough Market, remember to take a look around at the building itself. The market is located inside a train station.
Gracechurch Street, London
The Leadenhall Market building dates back to the 14th century and is a spectacular sight. Since surviving The Great Fire, Leadenhall has been lovingly kept to a pristine standard featuring stained glass windows, intricate detailed domed walkways and original sash windows. Designed as two arcades meeting with a junction, a cobbled walkway connects the arcades.
Originally Leadenhall Market was a poultry market created to service Londoners. Now though it couldn’t be further from a poultry market, and is instead home to classy fashion and accessory shops (Reiss, Timpson, Hobbs). In the centre of the walkway visitors can find seating of the eateries and cafes, under the domed arcade ceilings. Come for the shopping, a cocktail, or coffee and artisan bread.
Brushfield Street, London
Spitalfields Market embraces everything that East London is about: individuality & creativity. This is the market where artists and independent traders receive the recognition they deserve. You’ll find one off pieces but quality isn’t compromised. Clothing, jewellery and textiles are a plenty, as is retro music or memorabilia. Whatever is found at Spitalfields, will not be found on a High Street.
The Spitalfields building itself is much like a large, spacious warehouse. Although the market began in the 1600’s this is not the site of the original market and the building remains largely unimpressive. Expect plenty of space and void of a commercial feel, which is exactly what this space is all about.
Retailers to Spitalfields are carefully selected to ensure a quality, unique product. Visit on the weekend for the full experience, and enjoy a traditional pub lunch in one of the many near by places nearby.
Camden Town, London
Quite possibly the largest market in all of London, Camden (North London) is more than a market; it’s a showcase of all the weird and wonderful sights of London. Visitors can hardly walk a few metres without noticing human art with unusual hair colours, tattoos or piercings which add to the Camden appeal; it’s a living gallery.
The market itself is a seamless bottomless pit of stalls. Row upon row of antiques, crafts, clothing, jewellery, homewares and food items. Once you have seen a few stalls you may feel like you are in groundhog day but visitors can enjoy the chaotic spectacle.
Camden Market is open weekends. Expect plenty of jostling (it’s a popular place) and weird and wacky stalls, attractions and items. Not the place for high end purchases.
Portobello Road, London
Known as the market for antiques and retro items, Portobello has a slightly classy presence. Located in a prestigious residential street in Notting Hill (which is home to a large number of celebrity’s), on Saturdays the street is closed to traffic, and stalls take over. Expect bouquets of flowers, antique brooches or Gucci earrings and the like. Enjoy a slow pace, in the open air. This is the kind of market to sip a cup of tea afterward.