The 10 best London markets
Alfie’s Antique Market
People come from far and wide to Alfie’s in Marylebone where about 100 antique dealers offer a huge range of furniture and art, vintage fashion and jewellery and 20th century decorative arts. It has been going since the 1970s and is the largest antiques arcade in the country.
London’s oldest food market has served Southwark for 1,000 years. Now it’s the ultimate foodie heaven with stalls and stores offering outstanding quality produce. Most of the stallholders are the actual producers so they know their stuff, while other traders have sought out the best in speciality and artisanal products. Borough Market is a busy place but a must for any food lovers.
Busy old Camden is home to various markets. Camden Market (Buck Street) has lots of clothes, bags and jewellery while Camden Lock Market is good for crafts. The atmospheric brick arches of Camden Stables Market are great for a colourful wander among the clothes, furniture and food stalls while the fruit and veg stalls of Inverness Street Market are surrounded by bars and cafes that stay open late. On the face of it Camden has changed a lot in the last thirty years but you can still get your Doc Martens, band T-shirts and legal highs if you want them.
This area is packed with market stalls but on Fridays and Saturdays it is also packed with people and tourists so get your elbows out as you shuffle your way along. In Southern Portobello Road you’ll find antiques, the middle of the market has food, fashion and accessories while in north Portobello you’ll uncover vintage clothing, bric-a-brac and collectables. This is a lovely, pretty place to visit with some vibrant food stalls but parts of it can get quite narrow so avoid it if you don’t like crowding.
Once only open on Sundays, London’s oldest market, Spitalfields is now a glossy, glassy seven-days-a-week destination complete with chain restaurants. Spitalfields Traders Market in Crispin Place offers fashion and interiors, original artworks and as well as food. It has up to 110 stalls on its busiest days ranging from fashion, music, children’s toys, jewellery and interiors. But the biggest market of the week is next door at Old Spitalfields. There’s homeware, fashion and jewellery, organic food, leather bags, furniture, fresh bread plus an alley of street food. And at weekends there’s Spitalfields Art Market too.
Colombia Road Flower Market
Every Sunday this atmospheric East London street attracts hundreds of visitors who come to admire the display of foliage and flowers. Many of the traders grow their own plants or import flowers from around the world. Lining the street are 60 independent shops from cup cake shops to vintage clothes stores. Not your average high street, this one. Colombia Road is a great spot to soak up the atmosphere, grab a coffee and feed your Instagram.
Welcome to the beating, bearded heart of Hackney. Broadway Market has been home to market traders since the 1890s but now it is hipster HQ. There’s a bunch of lively pubs and independent restaurants around the market which sells everything an earnest foodie hipster could wish for. Chilled Vietnamese coffee, vegan lettuce, craft olives, artisanal water…It’s all here. Probably.
This is a large attractive covered market that is brilliant for clothing, crafts, collectables and interiors. The local antique shops in Greenwich Market offer a range of pieces that can be delivered or shipped if they are too large to take home. There is also a host of galleries and independent craft shops showing works from local artists and designers, many of whom you can meet in the market.
Although the restaurants and boutiques of Brick Lane are open all week, the main market is on Sundays. It is a riot of colour and noise with a young, artsy vibe. Stalls sell bric-a-brac, furniture, clothes and a host of other second-hand stuff. In fact you’ll never really know what you’re going to find. It could be anything from Art Deco treasures to unwanted magazines.
With so many glossy designer stores in this vibrant shopping district, it is easy to forget that originally Covent Garden was a market. The market still operates today with three different areas to explore. On Mondays Jubilee Market Hall hosts an antiques market. From Tuesday to Friday the stalls sell household goods, clothing, food and gifts, and on weekends more than 200 artisans sell everything from candles to calligraphy. Meanwhile Apple Market offers crafts and curios while traders in the East Colonnade sell homeware, fashion, jewellery and accessories from their designer barrows.
Maltby Street Market
The overlooked neighbourhood of Bermondsey in south-east London is now a thriving gastronomic destination. Since 2010, the railway arches have been pulling in traders and customers alike and now there is a full-on street market in Ropewalk and another nearby market at Spa Terminus. Bring an empty belly and lots of shopping bags and get stuck into the full Maltby Street experience.