The best markets in London

The best markets in London

Markets have been the lifeblood of the British capital for centuries. Having undergone a spectacular renaissance over recent years, they are once again at the centre of London’s shopping scene. Come rain or shine (and there’s plenty of the former) traders, artisan producers, and more than a handful of eateries can be found in marketplaces across the capital, hawking everything from local cheeses and antiques to coffee and cake. What binds these stallholders together in all their diversity is their dedication to this way of selling. And when the markets are packing up for the day, London’s LGBTQ scene is just as diverse. Historically centred around Soho, this area is a thriving mass of coffee shops, bars, clubs, and events that suit every budget and taste in an ever-vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.

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Borough Market has been quietly serving the capital’s freshest produce for at least a thousand years

In the shadow of The Shard, and for so long a hidden gem, London Bridge’s Borough Market has been quietly serving the capital’s freshest produce for at least a thousand years. Visits by the likes of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver are a testament to its matchless quality, but if you’re not in need of any vegetables, meat, or dairy, the market boasts a huge platter of hot and cold food options. Whether you have a taste for Indian street food, are craving take-away raclette, or plan to go all out in one of the many restaurants, your taste is catered too. A slightly lesser-known haunt of London foodies is Southbank Centre Market, located on the square behind the Royal Festival Hall between Fridays and Sundays. The alternating list of street food vendors means you’ll never know quite what you’ll find, but you’ll know it’s good—each stall is specifically picked for its dedication to sustainable and ethical food and drink. You’ll find British traditions such as meat pies, as well as spices and specialist fudges, to name just some of the products adorning the 40 stalls.

Camden Lock London

Camden Lock | Photo: Clem Onojeghuo

The floral equivalent of Borough and Southbank Centre Markets is Colombia Road Flower Market in East London. You certainly don’t need to be a floristry nut to enjoy the heady fragrance of shrubs, plants, and cut flowers available, nor to take in the stunningly powerful flower displays. Make sure to also scour the 60-plus independent stores that specialise in everything from gardening equipment to household antiques. Then take a pitstop at one of the numerous cafes and restaurants that call this London hotspot home. If it’s antiques that interest you most, a visit to Colombia Road Flower Market should be followed up with a trip to Portobello Road Market, which has been synonymous with all things vintage and period since the 1950s. To see it at its most vibrant, time your visit for a Saturday, when the largest number of stallholders are present and the entire area bursts with bargain hunters.

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Greenwich Market is a treasure trove of vivid arts, crafts, and mouth-tingling foods

South of the river, just eight minutes along the Thames by riverboat service from London Bridge, you’ll find Greenwich Market. Amid the splendour of Christopher Wren’s architecture and the meridian line, the market is a treasure trove of vivid arts, crafts, and mouth-tingling foods. Ideal for finding souvenirs with an authentic London touch, this covered market also boasts a flourishing food scene, regular events, and late-night openings, so there’s really no excuse for missing out. Brought to international renown by the late singer Amy Winehouse, who could often be seen passing through as she hauled her groceries back to her home Camden Lock Market hosts more than 100 stalls and shops in a series of cobbled alleyways around a fine example of 1970s concrete brutalism. Open seven days a week, the market’s stalls range from second-hand books and bespoke spray-painted trainers to vintage clothing and freshly-fried fish and chips.

Fruit Market London

Photo: William Felker

London

Photo: Angello Lopez

Once home to a fruit and vegetable market, Covent Garden Market, at the very centre of the capital’s theatre district, is nowadays a smorgasbord of the artistic. It houses several markets: alongside a plethora of restaurants and cafes, the Apple Market building provides a home for all manner of small-scale artisan makers, with jewellery, paintings, and handmade crafts available every day but Monday. Far from being a day off, each Monday sees the Apple Market’s artisans replaced by stalls brimming with antiques and collectables, while the East Colonnade Market shows off its varied wares every day of the week. And if that wasn’t enough of an incentive for a visit—perhaps between taking in the lions of Trafalgar Square and a matinee performance on Drury Lane—the Jubilee Market in the South Piazza switches between antiques, general household goods, and arts and crafts throughout the week as well.

Flower Market London

Photo: Bianka Csenki

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