London's Popular Markets
London is home to numerous lively and colourful markets dotted across the city selling almost anything including farm produce, clothing, jewellery, accessories, arts and crafts, collectibles, gifts and household items to name a few at knock down prices. The markets are also a foodie’s paradise and great places for sampling London’s tempting street foods. Most start trading early in the morning and close for business by early or late afternoon. Some markets operate on specific days of the week while others seven days a week. Therefore, check when a particular market opens before visiting.
There are so many markets across London that it’s impossible to describe them all. Below is a selection of the most popular markets that you shouldn't miss and each is unique - you never know what gems are in store!
Borough Market is a famous wholesale and retail food market in Central London situated near the southern end of London Bridge and the towering 95-storey Shard. To get here, it’s a short walk from the London Underground London Bridge Station serving Jubilee and Northern Lines. It’s also within walking distance from Borough High Street and Southwark Street where London’s red buses numbers 43, 141, 149, 521 stop. The ‘full market’ is from Wednesday to Saturday when all the traders open for business and the ‘limited market’ from Monday to Tuesday when there are some but still plenty of traders.
Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London with a history that dates back centuries. The market’s current location has been around since the 19th century and reflects its rich history with it’s Victorian setting. It’s essentially a food market that includes farm produce, meats, seafood, freshly baked breads, pastries, gourmet foods and confectionery. Borough Market is the mother of London’s food markets and the emphasis here is undeniably on quality and local traditions, which makes it distinct from the rest of the markets in London.
Wondering through the maze of passageways and open spaces, you could forget about time in Borough Market. There are around 150 traders when there is a ‘full market’ selling foods sourced not only from the UK but also from various corners of the world. Many of the traders at the market are producers and therefore have deep knowledge about the foods they sell. Borough Market is a gem for foodies offering an eclectic mix of tempting cuisines from around the world. Even if your plan is to explore and not shopping, you’ll definitely want to sample some of the foods to complete the Borough Market experience.
Camden Market comprises of several adjoining markets in Camden Town in northwest London. The nearest London Underground stations are Camden Town and Chalk Farm Stations, which both serve the Northern Line. The market attracts large crowds on Sundays with Camden Town Station becoming an exit only station from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the day. Use Chalk Farm Station instead, which remains open to all passengers throughout the day. A number of London red buses from several locations in Inner London also stop near Camden Town and Chalk Farm Stations.
Camden Market comprises of Stables Market, Camden Lock Market, Inverness Street Market and Buck Street Market. The individual markets are so close together that you wouldn’t realise you had left one market for another. While the shops operate seven days a week, only on weekends are all the 200 stalls open for business. It’s a much publicised London market attracting not only Londoners but also curious out-of-towners and tourists from around the world especially on weekends. Besides, Camden Market is a well-known destination in London for great bargains.
Stables Market is the largest of the markets and can find all sorts of items here including the bizarre! Camden Lock Market focuses on crafts but you can also find clothes, books and jewellery. Inverness Street Market is a popular fruit and vegetable market but there are also stalls selling clothes and souvenirs. Buck Street Market offers clothes including mainstream, alternative and funny shirts. Camden Market is also a foodie’s paradise and the food scene here is multicultural with Camden Lock and Stables Markets being the best destinations where there are plenty of stalls.
Portobello Market lies almost along the entire length of the mile (0.8 km) long Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill district. The nearest London Underground Station is Notting Hill Gate Station serving the Central, Circle and District Lines and Ladbroke Grove Station serving the Hammersmith & City Line. London’s red buses numbers 7, 12, 23, 27, 28, 31, 52, 70 and 328 from Hyde Park, Oxford Street, Victoria, and Kensington also stop near Portobello Road. Most shops, cafes and restaurants open throughout the week but the main market days are Fridays and Saturdays when all the street stalls open for business.
Portobello Market is a lively and colourful market attracting not only Londoners but also thousands of tourists each year. The market began in the 19th century initially selling fruits and vegetables but today a well-known and popular destination for vintage items including antiques and collectibles. The vintage market operates throughout the week but on the main market days, street stalls occupy half of the stretch along Portobello Road. It’s a gem of a market and can find vintage items that include clothing, jewellery, prints, books, vinyl records, ceramics, glassware, artwork and furniture.
You can also find non-vintage items such as clothes, jewellery, accessories, gifts, arts and crafts, gourmet foods and the fruit and vegetable market is still around since the 19th century. Portobello Market is another bargain hunter’s paradise in London. Many of the fashion items sold by the independent boutiques are from emerging labels and therefore prices are very reasonable. There are the more basic T-shirts, shirts, trousers, tights and scarves selling at rock bottom prices. When it comes to foods, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and food stalls offering a diversity of cuisines from many corners of the globe.
Old Spitalfields Market
Old Spitalfields Market is a huge covered market in the Spitalfields neighbourhood of London’s East End. The nearest London Underground station is Liverpool Street Station serving the Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines. Other stations slight further away are Aldgate East (Hammersmith & City Line), Moorgate (Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan and Northern Lines) and Old Street (Northern Line) Stations. The covered market including the shops and stalls open throughout the week all year round except during the Christmas holidays.
The history of Old Spitalfields Market began in the 17th century and currently housed in a restored Victorian-era building. This much-loved market attracts over a million Londoners each year but almost unknown to most tourists. The market comprises of small independent shops, restaurants and cafes surrounding an expansive hall and a mix bag of over 70 stalls (around 100 on Sundays) inside the hall. The market offers a bewildering mix of merchandise including fashion, T-shirts, hats, leather goods, arts, crafts, antiques, jewellery, souvenirs, gift items and personal care products.
Each day of the week is different with a continual daily rotation of nearly half of the stall traders. Thursdays are special days for antiques when there are assortments of vintage items and Fridays are for art by talented artists and fashion by emerging designers. There’s a music fair on the first and third Friday of every month selling second-hand vinyl and CDs and an African Market offering clothing, artworks, crafts, jewellery and foods from the continent. Old Spitafields Market is a gastronomic delight to savour with its mix of trendy restaurants and humble stalls serving a diversity of cuisines from across the globe.
Greenwich Market is located in the borough of Greenwich on the bank of the River Thames in southeast London. Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage with its rich maritime history and home to several buildings of historical and architectural significance. To get to here, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) stops at Cutty Sark Station (closest to the market) and Greenwich Station (further away but within walking distance). There are also boats under the London River Services stopping at Greenwich Pier, which is a short walk from the market. Greenwich Market opens six days a week on Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Greenwich Market has been around since the 14th century but the current Greenwich Market dates back to the 18th century. The market comprises over 120 closely packed stalls surrounded by a mix of small independent shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs. A glass roof protects the market area and therefore a suitable destination for a market regardless of the weather or season. Greenwich market is colourful, lively and family friendly with regular events for kids especially during the holidays. Though another popular market in London, it has a distinct neighbourhood feel.
Greenwich Market is popular for its arts and crafts but you can also find a host of other items. Here you can find antiques, vintage clothes, men’s and women’s wear, knitwear, scarves, leather jackets, jewellery, accessories, posters and gifts. Many of the fashion items are from independent labels by local designers. You can actually see some of the local designers and artisans at work in Greenwich Market! When it comes to food, it includes not only the food stalls but also the restaurants, delis, cafes, bakeries and gastro pubs serving a diversity of foods from traditional British to international. The handmade chocolates, freshly baked muffins, chocolate tart and lemon meringue are highly recommended.
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