Good for: Fruit and veg, baked goods, lunch
It lies between seedy Soho strip joints at one end and the elegant restaurant Yauatcha at the other. Bellows can be heard all round from the stallholders, vying for the attention of the harried denizens of Soho. The market is one of London’s oldest, going back as far as 1778, when people started (illegally) displaying their wares on the pavement outside their shops.
Good for: food, cafés
Compared to the culinary homogeneity of Borough market et al, Brixton is a sensory fiesta. The air is thick with the sizzle of jerk chicken stalls, tinny reggae riddims and yam-based price disputes while the multi-coloured hues of exotic fish displays glimmer like a whiffy rainbow. And for every hipster rammed into one of the (justifiably) rave reviewed eateries in the newly trendified Brixton Village, a stack of bargain basement exotic produce still teeters like a nutritious Jenga set.
Good for: clothes, accessories, souvenirs
Camden’s sprawling collection of markets offers a real smörgåsbord of street culture. Wander past loitering goths and punks to join the throng of tourists, locals and random celebs fighting it out at the vast and varied selection of shops and stalls. To avoid the rough and tumble visit on a weekday, though weekends are better for variety and atmosphere.
Good for: antiques, gifts
This London institution may appear too commercial and crowded to provide a characterful retail experience, but some quirky gems lift the experience. The colonnaded nineteenth-century Piazza building houses Apple Market, where tourist-friendly crafts are the staple. Over in the South Piazza, Jubilee Market is a little more eccentric: Mondays are for antiques lovers.
Good for: clothes, antiques
Portobello is actually several markets rolled into one, all penned in by Notting Hill Gate tube at one end and Ladbroke Grove tube at the other. The stalls start with antiques (between Chepstow Villas and Elgin Crescent); further up are the grocers (between Elgin Crescent and Talbot Road); and emerging designer and vintage threads are found under the Westway.
Good for: food, household goods
While Shepherd’s Bush Market is just a hop and a skip away from Europe’s largest urban shopping centre at Westfield, it’s a world apart in every other sense. At this gritty, multicultural market you’ll find a fantastic range of ethnic foodstuffs (Indian, Caribbean, African and Polish).