London offers some of the best open markets to shop for antiques, gourmet foods, trinkets, art, and just about anything on your list. What I love is that you can find one in just about every suburb of London.
London’s markets date back to the 17th century, serving the neighborhood’s people with basic stables and other needs to sustain themselves. Today’s modern technology and transportation have created modern shopping malls and centers, but a few of the markets have kept with tradition.
My favorite market in London is the Fresh Farmers Market. Here are some great markets to visit and what they have to offer:
If you are a foodie, you will love Borough Market. With its full range of fresh and organic food, cheeses, cured meats, loaves of bread, and other homemade products, you will indeed find something that tantalizes your taste buds. Within the markets are excellent cafés and restaurants serving Spanish to Ethiopian dishes. One place that caught my attention was Scotchtails.
- Monmouth Coffee is across the street from this small coffee shop where we sat at the table with a group of retired Londoners discussing the daily news. Once they discovered we were Americans, they had tons of questions about Americans’ state of mind in today’s political climate.
Fresh Tomatoes at Borough Market
One of Notting Hills’ trendy markets has been in operation since the 1800s. With over 1,000 dealers, the street is full of shoppers looking for collectible items. Although it is known as London’s largest antique market, they offer other things such as fruits, vegetables, household goods, clothes, and secondhand items.
- After shopping at Portobella Road Market, we stopped for wine and tapas at the Earl of Lonsdale. The large windows allow you to people watch as you sip on a glass of wine.
If you are looking for something funky, punky, or original, you can find it at Camden Market. It is located along the Regent’s Canal, visited by over 1000 shoppers. The storefronts are incredibly elaborate and eye-catching. Many food vendors are happy to provide you with samples, from Brazilian Shawarma to Greek desserts.
We discovered many murals painted on the walls of side streets in this area. At night this area livens up with old-school pubs, music, and other entertainment.
This market reminded me more of attending an art show due to the unique art exhibits from painters, cartoonists, and woodworkers. In addition to these art booths, you will also find vintage fashion, children’s toys, music, and food vendors.
One of our favorite booths was the one selling sketches of superheroes and visiting with the artist. This market is open seven days a week.
Old Spitalfields Antiques & Flea Market is a Thursday affair and is hugely popular. It’s a haven for eccentric curiosities and people. You can pass hours indulging your eyes in the bizarre, weird, and unique items for sale. This market has lots of twentieth-century design, shabby chic, taxonomy, theatrical pieces, toys, jewelry, vintage clothes, and accessories.
- I was dying to sample the famous fish and chips in London, so while shopping at Spitalfields Market, we stopped at Poppies food stall and ordered a basket. The fish was light and flaky and perfectly fried, and the chips were equally delicious.
Apple Market is in the Convent Market. Filled with artisan stalls open from Tuesday to Sunday. The Apple Market is much smaller than the others and a bit more expensive. Unique items such as handmade jewelry, prints, London military uniforms, and real silverware can be found here.
Once home to the world-famous fruit and vegetable market, Convent Garden Market is world-class shopping and dining for food-lovers and fashion divas. With global brands such as Chanel and Mulberry as well as independent retailers, Convent Garden Market is one of the oldest markets dating back to the 17th century, and now new development within the building are luxury apartments,
Leadenhall Market, formerly a meat market dating back to the 14th century, is now home to boutique retailers, restaurants, cafes, wine bars, and famous pubs. Leadenhall Market is in the historic financial district and one of the few buildings that survived the Great Fire. A few of the storefronts in this area were used in the famous Harry Potter episodes.
In the West End area are the energetic streets of Soho, which feature an eclectic mix of dining, nightlife, and shopping options. Dean, Frith, Beak, and Old Compton streets are the epicenter of activities day and night, with long-running Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Theatre fans head to Shaftesbury Avenue, while shoppers flock to Carnaby, Oxford and Regent streets and the iconic Liberty’s department store.
Shopping at some of London’s most historic markets is truly an experience you want to forget. Each market is offering something unique and special for its prospective buyer. I recommend making a trip to a few of these markets as a part of your sightseeing plans—a great place to take a break, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy the scenery.