Markets are central to life in the city. Daily and weekly enterprises are thriving; some are centuries old, while others are new to the scene. All provide memorable experiences, whether you’re looking for a quick lunch at a street food stall or have time to browse the goods selected by specialist antique dealers. These markets also provide a snapshot of the diverse neighbourhoods within the city and visitors are sure to have a memorable experience, wherever you go.
Portobello Road Market could quite easily be classified as the quintessential London market. It is known around the world, and is popular with visitors and locals. A market has been held here since the 19th century and, as with many of London’s historic markets, some of the stalls are run by third-generation traders. The market has a diverse range of products; famous for its antique shops and stalls, vintage clothing, contemporary fashion, and food are also sold. Stalls set up here during most of the week, with the full market open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8am to 6.30pm.
Also specialising in secondhand items, but far less crowded than Portobello Road Market, is Bermondsey Antiques Market. This pleasant little market in south London is held on Fridays from 6am to 2pm. Visitors will be met with the gentle hum of people milling about, browsing the stalls of silverware, Victorian illustrations and old books.
East for eats
Infused with an east London hipster vibe, Broadway Market is open every Saturday from 7.30am to 7pm alongside a parade of independent boutiques and eateries. This is where the area’s trendy residents like to while away their weekends, and the market’s offer is diverse, ranging from food to clothing. While in the area, take time to visit the nearby Netil Market on Westgate Street. This initiative was set up five years ago to support local creatives. Open on Saturdays from 11am to 6pm, the market’s stalls include those selling ceramics, jewellery, original art and clothing.
Columbia Road Flower Market is a must-visit attraction. The market started in 1869 but by the 1970s was in need of a fresh lease of life. Thanks to the perseverance of local people, the market has been revived and has become a popular destination. Open on Sundays from 8am to 3pm, the sight of, and fragrances from, the array of bright bouquets and leafy plants provide a perfect start to the day.
Set against the backdrop of beautiful Greenwich, close to the river Thames, Greenwich Market has the atmosphere of a small, bustling town. This is a good place for crafts, art, antiques and handmade jewellery and plenty of food options are available. The covered market houses a number of boutiques, which proudly promote local businesses. Visit from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
The Borough district is home to London’s oldest fruit and vegetable market, dating back to the 13th century. Borough Market is now a hub for all kinds of artisanal, high-quality food from around the UK – cider from the New Forest or cheese from Wales, for example – as well as from around the world. Buy ingredients to take away or stay and eat in one of the cafés and restaurants. The full market is open from Wednesday to Saturday, with free tasters available from some stalls, particularly for those who arrive early.
London’s markets are as rich as they are diverse, and each has its own identity and atmosphere. These are the perfect destinations for shoppers who are keen to seek out independent businesses and to discover one-off items.