London markets: An insiders' guide

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You can find everything from street food to vintage clothes, second-hand books to unique collectibles at London's huge selection of markets. In our insiders’ guide twelve European bloggers tell us about their favourite markets in England's vibrant capital city.


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Borough Market

borough-market

Full address: Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL 

Opening times: Wednesday to Thursday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 8am-5pm

Closest train station: London Bridge (5 minutes' walk away)

History and facts: Records of the market’s existence date back to 1014 making it one of the oldest markets in London. 

About the area: Borough Market is located beside London Bridge, just across the river from the Tower of London. It's an ideal stop for lunch, specifically if you are already in the area, and especially if you are a food lover.  

What to find there: “You can find food of all types at Borough Market. You can shop for produce, sit down and eat the most delicious fish and chips, drink healthy smoothies or try a tasty hot chocolate from one of the chocolatiers. You can find almost anything at the market; think of any ingredient and you will find it here. I’ve personally bought cooking ingredients like flavoured salts as well as Italian and Spanish specialities. I love going there for lunch to grab a vegetarian wrap, and eating it under the sun in the churchyard beside the market.”   

The best time to go is: “I would recommend visiting in spring and summer for the seasonal local produce; however these are simply my favourite times and the market itself adapts very well all year round. For example, it is beautifully decorated around Christmas and the stalls serve mulled wine and gingerbread. In terms of best time of the day I’d recommend going in the morning at opening time, to avoid the crowds.” 

twitter Chiara Santamaria @machedavvero

Borough Market official website

Walking tour of Borough Market 


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Greenwich Market

greenwich

Full address: Greenwich Market, Greenwich High Road, London SE10 9HZ

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5.30pm

Closest train station: Cutty Sark (1 minute walk away) and Greenwich (3 minutes' walk away)

History and facts: There has been a market in Greenwich ever since the 14th century. The market originally specialised in the sale of livestock, meat, fish, eggs and poultry,and changed through time to crafts and street food. The old stables and slaughterhouses can still be seen in today’s new market.

About the area: Greenwich Market is located in the South East of London, in Greenwich, from which it takes its name. There are many attractions nearby such as the Cutty Sark (115 m away), National Maritime Museum (270 m away) and the Royal Observatory (650 m away).  

What to find there: “The market is located in an area where artisan crafts reign. There are also many stalls selling food from all over the world, and you can purchase homemade souvenirs, such as scented candles and jewellery.”

The best time to go is: “We went on a beautiful sunny Sunday in November. It’s not important which season you visit the market but sunny days definitely make it more attractive. On Sunday the market is filled with locals as well as tourists, which contributes to a more typical English experience.”

facebook Federica Pollastri Viaggie & Delizie

Greenwich Market official website


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Old Spitalfields Market

spitalfields

Full address: Old Spitalfields Market, 16 Horner Square, Spitalfields, London E1 6EW

Opening times: 

  • General: Monday-Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
  • Daily Market: Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
  • The Kitchens: Monday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 11am-6pm, Sunday 11am-5pm

Shops: Most shops are open between 10am and 7pm

Closest train station: Liverpool Street, Shoreditch High Street and Aldgate East (all about 5 minutes' walk away)

History and facts: Around AD 300/400 the market area used to be a Roman cemetery. In 1999, archaeologists discovered the remains of a pagan woman from Roman times in a decorated sarcophagus! The new market setup launched in early 2018 and consists of 114 retail stalls and The Kitchens, ten central kitchen units which form the heart of the market.

About the area: Old Spitalfields Market, one of London’s most iconic and treasured sites relaunched in October 2017 bringing together ten of the most creative minds in food and drink in the centre of the market. The Kitchens are designed as fully functional kitchens, allowing seven days a week trading. These ten units house ten of London’s much-loved and critically acclaimed restaurants and food brands who serve signature dishes unique to the market. Current traders include Yum Bun, JiaBa, Pleasant Lady, Laphet, Monty’s Deli, Berber and Q, Flank, Thousand Knives, Dumpling Shack and High Mood Food! 

What to find there: Monday - Wednesday: a great array of goods that include clothes, shoes, gifts, and bric-a-brac. Thursday: antiques fair. Friday: fashion and arts. Saturday: themed markets rotate each week ranging from vintage, designer made products and collectables. Sunday: all about fashion. “I mainly spent my time there in the cheese market section and while I was doing my Eating London Food Tour I found some great things.”

The best time to go is: “The beginning of November is a great time. It wasn’t too crowded and since we went there on a Tuesday morning, we had plenty of space and time to look around.”

twitter Elena Paschinger @Creativelena

Official site


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Alfie’s Antique Market

alfies

Full address: Alfie's Antique Market, 13-25 Church Street, London NW8 8DT

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-6pm

Closest train station: Edgware Road (6 minutes' walk away) and Marylebone (7 minutes' walk away)

History and facts: The name Alfie’s comes from the father of the market's current owner - who says of Alfie, “he was a brilliant jazz musician but, sadly, not a great antiques dealer”.

About the area: London's largest indoor market is located in north west London, between Regent’s Park and Lord’s Cricket Ground. Regents Park is around 10 mins away by foot, while the famous Madame Tussauds museum is around 15 minutes' walk away. 

What to find there: “Halfway between the flea market and antiques, you can find jewellery, furniture, vintage clothing, books, old postcards, paintings, retro dishes, original lamps... There is something for all tastes and budgets. Last time I went, I found delightful dessert plates.”

The best time to go is: “I suggest going there in the late morning to discover all the floors of this Edwardian building and finish on the rooftop for lunch. Indeed, the top floor has a cool little cafe and a rooftop that can be enjoyed during nice weather.”

twitter Fabienne Henry @fabiennehb

Alfie's Antiques official website


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Backyard Market

backyard

Full address: The Old Truman Brewery,146 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL

Opening times: Saturday 11am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm

Closest train station: Shoreditch High Street (5 minutes away by foot) and Aldgate East (10 minutes away by foot)

History and facts: In the 17th century Brick Lane was a popular spot for breweries. The Trumans were a famous brewing family who started their business there, and the old Truman Brewery now houses Backyard Market.

About the area: Backyard Market is located in the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community, surrounded by plenty of things to see. Among these is the former Shoreditch Underground Station, which has been transformed into an arts and events space.

What to find there: “Visitors can expect to find stalls showcasing the work of London's young creative community, with lots of arts and crafts goods for sale.”

The best time to go is: “The best time to go is Sunday afternoon, when all of the other markets around Brick Lane are open.”

twitter Julie Falconer @aladyinlondon

Backyard Market official website


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Covent Garden Market

covent-garden-market

Full address: The Market, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RF

Opening times: Monday to Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday 9am-8pm, Sunday 11.30am-6pm

Closest train station: Covent Garden (3 minutes' walk away) and Leicester Square (about 8 minutes' walk away)

History and facts: The area is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, welcoming over 44 million visitors a year. Covent Garden Market is a covered market in the centre of the area's central Piazza, but Covent Garden itself is an entire neighbourhood in London, with streets of indie cafes and quirky shops.

About the area: Covent Garden Market is located in London’s West End, in the boroughs of Westminster and Camden. The market is surrounded by landmarks including the Royal Opera House (3 mins away by foot) and the National Gallery (9 mins away by foot).

What to find there: “Covent Garden is the place for chic shopping! The best British brands are there, but also foreign brands installed in small and very cute boutiques. Chanel, Burberry, Ladurée... You can also lunch at the trendy Shake Shack, which features US-style burgers! Covent Garden is bustling all day with artists such as musicians, singers and jugglers.”

The best time to go is: “Springtime. Between March and April is a great time to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.”

twitter Stéphanie Rousseau @MdemoiselleStef

Covent Garden Market official website


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Hay’s Galleria

Hays

Full address: Hay's, 2 Hay's Lane, London SE1 2HD

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 8am-8pm

Closest train station: London Bridge (5 minutes away by foot)

History and facts: Hay’s Galleria was originally a brewery and takes its name from its owner, the famous merchant Alexander Hay.

About the area: The Galleria is located in the area of Southwark and today is a complex of offices, flats, restaurants, and of course, a market. 

What to find there:“Hay’s Galleria is en-route to one of the nicest walks you can take along the River Thames. You can find coffee shops, restaurants, and some of the most famous high street brands as well as extraordinary views of the city. One of the most interesting things tourists can find there is most certainly the range of souvenir and hand craft shops, which are perfect for gift ideas.”

The best time to go is: “There isn’t an exact perfect moment to go visit the galleria as such. Let’s just say that if you want to ensure that you find all the stalls open, anytime between opening time and 5pm is the best, whilst if you are simply looking to dine the evening is also perfect. The same can be said about the best season to visit, however if I must absolutely pick a time then Christmas with all the lights is definitely a great time to go.”

Manila LdnCity.com

Hay's Galleria official website


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Portobello Market

Portobello

Full address: Portobello Road, London, W10 5TA

Opening times: Monday to Wednesday 9am-6pm, Thursday 9am-1pm, Friday to Saturday 9am-7pm

Closest train station: Ladbroke Grove (6 minutes away by foot)

History and facts: Portobello Market was named after the Porto Bello Farm, dating back to when the area was no more than a country path. The farm itself was named after the town of Porto Bello in Panama, which was seized by the British from the Spanish in 1739 during the war of Jenkins’ Ear.

About the area: Portobello Road is a street running through Notting Hill, and is regularly featured on TV, in books and perhaps most famously in films such as Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant. It is also home to Britain’s oldest working cinema, The Electric Cinema.

What to find there: “There are so many cute little shops that offer all sorts of nice products. I especially fell in love with the selection of beautiful and creative mugs. One of my friends told me to go and visit the Highland Store and it was so worth it. I bought a cashmere scarf for such a low price and even though it was so cheap the quality was still really good!”

The best time to go is: “The Portobello Road Market is open seven days a week. But on Fridays there is an additional food market and it’s worth a visit especially in the afternoon. The whole market is a bit bigger on Saturday and Sundays, but that means it’s a bit more crowded.”

twitter Duni Sendrowski @duniwindmelodie

Portobello Market official website


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Southbank Centre Book Market

southbank-centre

Full address: Southbank Centre Book Market, underneath Waterloo Bridge, A301, Lambeth, London

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 11am-7pm

Closest train station: Embankment (5 mins away by foot) and Waterloo (10 mins away by foot)

History and facts: The Southbank Centre Book Market is one of the oldest second hand book markets in the south of England.

About the area: The market is located right below Waterloo Bridge on London’s Southbank, making it an ideal stop if you are visiting any of the other nearby attractions, such as the Tate Gallery, Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament or the London Eye.

What to find there: “This is an open air market with stalls full of second hand books longing for a new owner - some of which are real treasures. I managed to find an old illustrated 1968 edition of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.”

The best time to go is: “The market is almost entirely covered by the bridge, so you’ll be free to browse through the books even when it rains. The best time to visit it is probably from April to September. It’s an open air market so it will be more pleasant to walk around the stalls when the weather is better. Furthermore, with good weather the number of book sellers also rises, increasing your chances of finding something interesting.”

twitter Martina Sgorlon @MartinawayTB

Southbank Centre Market official site


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Brick Lane Market

Brick Lane

Full address: 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QR

Opening times: Market: Sunday 9am-5pm; Shops, galleries and restaurants: Monday-Sunday, varying times

Closest train station: Aldgate East (8 mins away by foot) and Liverpool Street (12 mins away by foot)

History and facts: Brick Lane is filled with amazing street art - throughout the market you can spot pieces from famous UK artists such as Banksy.

About the area: Brick Lane Market is located in north east London, only a few minutes’ walk from the Old Spitalfields market. The area was once associated with poor slums and the notorious Jack the Ripper murders. Today however it’s one of London’s trendiest and most prestigious neighbourhoods, famous for its galleries, restaurants and festivals. Brick Lane is also the location of quite a unique place of worship. Currently a mosque, it was previously a church and a synagogue! The area and architecture – especially the streets off the Western part of Brick Lane – are synonymous with the Huguenot era – the French Protestant silk weavers that were thrown out from France in the late 1700s.

What to find there: “Brick Lane Market is quite large and its great advantage is that there is everything! New, vintage, designers of tomorrow, antiques and street food stalls, perfect for a small gourmet break. I remember I bought some vintage crockery with flowered prints that I love, and for peanuts!”

The best time to go is: “Sunday morning is the best time to go to Brick Lane Market. The atmosphere is amazing and there are more street food stands during the weekend. I especially like Brick Lane in the spring because I can also visit Colombia Road Flower Market, which is nearby!”

twitter @Melissa_PLTblog

Walking tour of Brick Lane including Indian food tasting 

Brick Lane official website


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Camden Market

Camden

Full address: Camden Market, 56-56 Camden Lock Place, London NW1 8AF

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 10am-6pm

Closest train station: Camden Town (5 mins away by foot), Chalk Farm (9 mins away by foot), Mornington Crescent (9 mins walk away)

History and facts: Camden Market is the fourth most popular visitor attraction in London. It was established in 1975 and has since survived through two fires - the first in 2008 and the second in 2014.

About the area: Camden is a vibrant area with lots of things to see. While you are in the area, why not plan a trip to the famous London Zoo (16 mins away by foot) or the Camden Roundhouse (9 mins away by foot). All these attractions can be reached by walking along the scenic Regent’s Canal. Music lovers also have the opportunity to roam Amy Winehouse’s stomping ground, and visit the statue dedicated to her in the heart of the market.

What to find there: “In one of the many clothing stores, I bought a super cosy scarf. But you should definitely try to bargain with the vendor. And you shouldn’t miss out on all the delicious food that’s offered there. There is something for everybody: no matter if it’s caramel popcorn or fudge (my favourite was ginger) or even something more substantial like a sandwich or a salad with falafel. You won’t leave the market hungry.”

The best time to go is: “Anytime is good, but the huge popularity of this market means that going early makes for a more relaxing walk around, so aim for 10am and claim some extra space to browse in!”

facebook Katharina Walter Whatinaloves

Camden Market official website


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Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall

Full address: Leadenhall Market, Whittington Avenue, off Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 1LR

Opening times: Monday to Friday 10am-6pm

Closest train station: Monument (3 mins away by foot) and Aldgate (6 mins away by foot)

History and facts: Leadenhall Market is a beautiful covered market within a Grade II listed building in the City of London. It’s the filming location for Diagon Alley scenes in the Harry Potter films.

About the area: Leadenhall Market is located in London’s ‘Square Mile,’ in the east of the city; close to the Bank of England Museum (5 mins away by foot) and not far from Tower Bridge (about 25 minutes' walk away).

What to find there: “I enjoyed looking at all the paintings whilst having a drink and eating a sandwich at one of the many local pubs, such as Tom’s Bar. There is a fantastic library nearby but I mostly enjoyed the shopping.”

The best time to go is: “I’ve not experienced all times of the day, but I enjoyed heading there at lunchtime: you see all types of people, from men in business suits to local traders and art students creating images of the pretty architecture. It’s a lively, cheery area and the atmosphere has a nice mix of the building’s prestigious past and the modernity of the people.”

twitter Cécile @ciloubidouille

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