A curated list of markets in London, for those who have more than a weekend to spare.
One of the best parts about traveling is uncovering the city’s market culture. In smaller cities like Zagreb, there’s one Dolac Market which embraces curiosity from travelers and locals alike. On the other hand, in a massive metropolitan like London where sordid history is deeply intertwined with shipping, trade and politics; there are more than a dozen markets emanating regional cultures in both delicious and fashionable ways.
There are different approaches to experiencing markets in London, all of which depend on the time you have in the city. For weekenders, please note that most markets are open on Saturdays, except for Columbia Road Flower Market and Brick Lane that are only open on Sundays, making it an ideal final stop right before hopping on the train or airplane. For long-term staycationers, London’s markets are fantastic weekend activities. Select one market per weekend to taste, smell, and shop a neighborhood’s brightest artisanal or vintage gems.
Of course, there are more than seven markets in London. But the ones chosen for this list are catered to various types of travelers hunting for particular experiences and shopping items. If you have a limited amount of time in this grand capital, here are the most iconic markets that should top your itinerary.
Borough Market – historic & iconic
8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, United Kingdom
Even if you ask locals, they will unanimously agree that Borough Market offers the freshest and the best produce in all of London’s wide array of market culture. Situated at the southend of London Bridge, Borough Market self-proclaims to have been in existence since 1014. Despite its popularity among tourists, the market is renowned for its premium quality of artisanal foods, organic vegetables and fruits. For more specific stalls to discover, here’s a JST article on Top 5 Stalls In London’s Borough Market.
Columbia Road Flower Market – sundays only
Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG, United Kingdom
Columbia Flower Market attracts my attention every single time I visit London. Now that I’ve been stuck in the city for several months, it is also the only market I’ve attempted to visit during COVID lockdown. Back in 1869, the market began as a covered food market with hundreds of stalls. It was only during modern era that the market developed to trade flowers, making this Sunday hotspot perfect for weekend travelers to stop by right before hopping on the return train ride. Today, in addition to the city’s freshest flowers, Columbia Road Flower Market is also a coveted destination for antiques, vintage artifacts, artisanal food items. Since it’s located right next to Shoreditch, the market is a lovely activity before brunch on an outdoor terrace.
Broadway Market – hipster vibes
Hackney, London, E8
This seems to be where the cool kids are today! Broadway Market boasts a similar ambiance to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and its laidback hipsterdom. Just a little past Shoreditch, highlighting the view of the Regent’s Canal; Broadway Market received a major makeover almost twenty years ago. Situated on Hackney Street, the market is adorned with typical vendors that blend fresh groceries, crab cake burgers and apple cider vinegar pop-ups. Just as some Londoners are complaining about the gentrification of Hackney, folks are also relishing on Yorkshire burritos and artisanal coffee that play friendly neighbors to vintage bookstands and thrifty clothing racks.
Exmouth Market – most charming
Exmouth Market, Farringdon, London EC1R 4QB, United Kingdom
One of the most hidden gems in all of London, Exmouth Market is as alluring as it gets. Unlike the mass appeal of Borough or Columbia Road markets, this one in Clerkenwell is all about its Islington neighborhood charm. On weekdays, there’s a delectable variety of street vendors. On weekends, the pace picks up with a lively ambiance that makes it difficult to imagine the same cobblestones that rooted rundown buildings back in the 90’s. The best part about the Exmouth Market is the evening atmosphere, where locals hang out on patios with romantic lights draped over ancient alleys. Don’t miss an influencer favorite: outside of Barber Streisand unisex salon.
Brick Lane Market – most diverse
Brick Ln, Spitalfields, London E1 6QR, United Kingdom
Or, Truman Brewery Markets, is essentially five markets rolled into one: the Boiler House Food Hall, the Tea Rooms, the Backyard Market, the Sunday UpMarket, and the Vintage Market. Situated in the heart Shoreditch and the Bangladeshi community, this area of East London is synonymous with fantastic curry houses, so be sure to stop by for a memorable grub. Back during the 17th century, Brick Lane commenced as a farmer’s market catering to the Jewish community. Nowadays, since the Truman Markets are so vast, you’ll discover the most diverse range of items, from: antique books, to bargained down fashion pieces especially down the stairs at the Brick Lane Vintage Market (a personal favorite!)
Camden Market – retro but gentrified
54-56 Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town, London NW1 8AF, United Kingdom
If one can debate on the gentrification of Broadway Market in Hackney, then Camden Market is already far beyond the meter of commercialization. During the 1970’s, Camden Town originated as an abandoned motorway for selling crafts. In recent years, it has become an attraction all on its own. Street food, live music, funky and punky shops welcome crowds of tourists. Camden is not only yesterday’s hidden gem but it’s also part of today’s must checked bucket list item. Despite its breakaway from subculture, Camden Market is still a traveler’s must-do for those who adore food halls and a weekend outdoor endeavor.
Portobello Road Market – antiques & collectibles
306 Portobello Rd, London W10 5TA, United Kingdom
….And often hailed as one of the most touristy markets in London. Located in the colorful Notting Hill, Portobello Market is marked by hoards shoppers meandering between this classic neighborhood’s colorful houses. Portobello is a combination of five categories or sections: clothing, fruits and vegetables, household items, second-hand finds, and antiques – the market’s most renowned category. Since I had my wallet stolen here years ago, I vowed to never come back here again. As I’ve lived up to my own promise, I still wanted to include this emblematic stop on the list since I discovered and bought two beautiful Moroccan leather belts that I still very much adore to this day. Please indulge in this beautiful area but make sure to keep your eyes on your bags!