London is blessed with a wealth of famous shopping streets, whether you're on the lookout for antique collectibles or a gourmet lunch. Here are 10 of the best markets the English capital has to offer, from quirky Camden Market to historic Old Spitalfields Market.
Camden Town is famous for its market, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors every weekend–making it one of London's top attractions. It's a great place to shop for funky clothes and original gifts from independent designers, all at an affordable price. Camden High Street is lined with shops including plenty dedicated to alternative music and clothing; while the area around Camden Lock is packed with global street food stalls.
Portobello Road Market was the backdrop for the movie Notting Hill and is located in the neighborhood of the same name. Labeling itself as the world's largest antique market, its bustling Saturday extravaganza is home to more than 1,000 stalls selling antiques and collectibles. Throughout the rest of the week (except Sundays), other, smaller markets specialize in fruit and vegetables, new goods, fashion, and food.
Borough Market occupies a vast space under a Victorian warehouse roof, just south of London Bridge. It's the capital's oldest food market, having been in operation for more than 1,000 years. Today, it's a haven for high-quality produce and gourmet food, most of which is sold by the farmers, butchers, chocolatiers, and bakers who made it. Make sure to arrive hungry because even if you save your purchases for later, there are samples on offer at every stall.
Greenwich Market is open seven days a week and is one of London's best markets for arts and crafts, unique gifts, antiques, and collectibles. Weekends can get rather crowded, so if you prefer a quieter vibe, plan to visit from Monday to Thursday. The area around the stalls themselves is packed with lively pubs, cafés, and restaurants perfect for refueling after your visit. The Coach & Horses is a centrally located favorite.
Brick Lane Market has been held on Sunday mornings since the government gave the local Jewish community dispensation to sell goods on the Sabbath back in the 19th century. It sells everything from second-hand furniture to fruit and veg, and is a renowned spot for bargain hunters. The surrounding section of the East End is famous for its curry restaurants, craft breweries, and vintage clothing stores. Stay after dark to experience Brick Lane's buzzing nightlife.
Old Spitalfields Market started in 1638 when King Charles gave a license for "flesh, fowl, and roots" to be sold in what was then known as Spittle Fields. It's now a seriously cool place to shop, with jewelry and clothing stalls spanning the designer spectrum from vintage to contemporary. The market is busiest on Sundays but is open Monday to Friday too. It is surrounded by independent boutiques selling crafts, fashion, and gifts.
Petticoat Lane Market was established over 400 years ago by the French Huguenots, who sold petticoats and lace in the area. In the mid-1800s, the Victorians rechristened the lane Middlesex Street to avoid references to women's undergarments, but the original name stuck and today the market is a gloriously disorganized collection of second-hand goods, bric-a-brac, and jumble sale clothes. You never know what treasures you might find.
Every Sunday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., the East End's Columbia Road is transformed into a veritable jungle of flower stalls and shops selling exotic blooms, locally grown shrubs, and towering young trees. It's beloved by green-fingered locals, and by visitors with a passion for all things colorful and fragrant. Throughout the rest of the week, the street is worth visiting for its collection of garden-inspired art galleries, delis, cafés, and clothing stores.
Established in the late 1800s on an old drovers' route into the capital, Broadway Market is located at the heart of Hackney in London's East End. The market itself takes place on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and offers the chance to peruse stalls laden with everything from fresh produce to global street food, clothing, and crafts. At other times, the street remains a popular destination thanks to its host of independent boutiques and cafés.
On any day of the week, head to South London to explore Brixton Market, located in a pedestrianized street near the tube station. From Monday to Friday, stalls sell street food and goods inspired by the neighborhood's multicultural heritage. Saturdays are reserved for themed markets that differ from one week to the next, while Sundays welcome the Brixton Farmers' Market; a great place to stock up on organic produce.
BONUS: Southbank Centre Winter Market
If your visit coincides with the festive season, get into the Christmas spirit at the seasonal Southbank Centre Winter Market. Traditional Bavarian chalets strung with sparkling lights line the River Thames, selling artisan gifts and gourmet winter food. Carols drift through the crisp air, and passersby are tempted to stop and linger awhile by the scent of mince pies, bratwurst, and Swiss raclette. Head to Alpine-style Bar Under the Bridge to warm up with a glass of mulled wine.