London is known for many things. Its impressive museums. Its lively theater scene. Its historical monuments. Its unique and cosmopolitan culture. But more and more these days, London is also becoming known for its great selection of markets.
Really, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Markets have been part of London street culture for centuries, and long before they became tourist attractions, they were where Londoners went to shop and socialize. Barrow boys selling their wares – not all of them strictly legal – formed a unique aspect of London culture, helping to create the famous Cockney rhyming slang. But these days, you’re more likely to find vintage fashion, high-end food, and luxury items from around the world than you are stolen goods at a London market.
Shopping the many markets of London is a great way to spend some time on any trip to the UK. Drop off your unneeded bags at a London luggage storage and dive into some of the best markets London has to offer.
Easily one of the oldest markets in London and possibly one of the longest continuous markets in the world, Borough Market has been part of the city for more than a thousand years. It’s been a focal point for food lovers since the 12th century, and today it offers up some of the best fresh produce found in London.
The market is held on Southwark Street, and it’s buzzing with activity most days of the week. You can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to freshly-made cheeses, cured meats, seafood, jams and jellies, spices, breads, and pastries – all made by local producers who use traditional methods to make their wares.
Brick Lane Market
Undoubtedly the most famous of all London markets, Brick Lane Market is an East End institution. Here, you’ll find a vast selection of vintage clothing and antique furniture, as well as plenty of live music and street food – perfect for visitors who want to taste-test their way around the city.
For those who are keen to find a bargain, there are plenty of second-hand stalls selling all sorts of interesting items, so it’s definitely worth spending some time searching through them.
Whether you’re looking for clothes or accessories, homewares, or collectibles, Brick Lane Market has something for everyone.
The Camden Market is a must-visit when you’re in London. Located near the iconic Camden Lock, the market offers an eclectic mix of fashion, music, and culture that reflect the area’s diverse population. This is also one of the best places to find handmade crafts and art pieces from around the world.
With over 200 different stalls to tempt you, the market is open seven days a week, so it’s easy to squeeze this exciting location into your itinerary.
South Bank Centre Market
Located at the South Side of Waterloo Bridge, this weekly market has become a mecca for lovers of handcrafted goods and independent designers. Here, you’ll find everything from used and vintage books to jewelry to street food. The view across the River Thames is also not to be missed, so make sure you get a photo!
The South Bank Centre Market also puts on various events. If you’re in town during late November through December, the Winter Market is especially fun.
Portobello Road Market
One of London’s oldest markets, having started out in the 19th century, Portobello Road is the world’s largest antiques market. You’ll find everything from furniture to jewelry, watches and vintage clothing here, as well as stalls selling food and drink.
Covent Garden Market
This is the main market in London’s Covent Garden, and it’s one of the most bustling places in the city. You’ll find all sorts of clothing, jewelry, art, and souvenirs here – as well as delicious food and drink. It’s a great place to pick up some unique gifts or mementos from your trip to London.
You can visit this bustling community market in downtown London every day of the week, and it offers cover for those unavoidable rainy days in the city.
Broadway Market has been part of East London since the 19th century, and today it’s one of the trendiest places to shop in the city. You’ll find everything from vintage clothing and handmade jewelry to fresh food and delicious street eats here, as well as an eclectic mix of music, art, and culture.
Located in historic Greenwich Village, this market is a great place to pick up just about anything, including antiques, crafts, and vintage items. The stalls run the gamut here, there are a dozen antique stalls, almost 100 stalls selling art and crafts, and over 40 food stalls. You can do your grocery shopping, pick up a new outfit, and buy some beautiful home decor all in one place.
Brixton Village Market
Brixton Village Market is a vibrant, colorful market located in the heart of South London. Here, you’ll find a mix of vintage clothes, art, and unusual gifts – many of which are made by local independent traders. There’s also an array of excellent street food stalls to sample from. Brixton has been a center of immigration for generations now, particularly from the Caribbean, so this is an excellent place to pick up Jamaican food like jerk chicken and spicy beef patties.
Columbia Road Flower Market
The Columbia Road Flower Market is a feast for the senses. It’s held every Sunday, and it’s one of London’s most beloved markets, with crowds of people flocking to browse through bright blooms and buy bouquets of fresh flowers. You’ll also find plenty of other items here, including house plants, garden tools, and craft supplies.
Maltby Street Market
The Maltby Street Market is one of London’s best-kept secrets. Here, you’ll find an array of gourmet treats – including artisan cheeses, cured meats, freshly baked bread and desserts, and craft beers. The offerings are all made by local producers who use traditional methods. This is the perfect place to pick up some unique gifts or mementos from your trip and spoil yourself a little.
This relatively new market is worth visiting for its setting alone. Located in an old church in the heart of Mayfair, this sustainable food market is as beautiful as it is delicious. This is the place to come for gourmet food items around the world combined with local flavors and products to give a new spin on British cuisine. If you’re looking for something delicious to eat or great food-based souvenirs to take home, the gorgeous Mercato Mayfair is hard to beat.
As you can see from this list, London is almost overflowing with great markets to explore. Bring your wallet and your sense of adventure, and you’ll find almost endless opportunities to shop local in this global city.
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