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columbia road flower market after covid
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The best markets in London

From Borough Market to Portobello Road, here are the best places for food, flowers, fashion, antiques and more

Written by
Nick Levine
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Londoners love a market. It’s that unique combination of eating, chatting and browsing. Lovely stuff. Locals and visitors flock to the capital’s best stalls and these days there’s a market for almost anything across London, from farmers’ markets and fashion markets to street food, and vintage and antique markets. Any one of these is worth making a beeline for. Here’s our pick of the very best markets in London, from foodie Borough Market to flower-filled Columbia Road.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in London.

12 incredible London markets

Alfies Antique Market
  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Lisson Grove

Housed in a huge Egyptian-style art deco building in Marylebone, Alfie’s Antiques Market has been attracting collectors and casual buyers for more than 40 years. Spread over four floors are around 100 different dealers selling an eclectic selection of jewellery, homeware, decorative items, memorabilia, furniture and artwork. Full-on bargains are few and far between, but that’s only because the quality of goods on offer is so high. Alfie’s Antiques is open 11am-6pm, Tuesday to Saturday; once you’ve found your dream objet, you can enjoy a bite and a tipple at the rooftop café, a famous sun trap.

Borough Market
  • Things to do
  • Borough

Nestled next to London Bridge, this iconic food market has existed in some form since at least 1014. Although it still operates as a wholesale market in the early hours, it’s now best known as a foodie’s paradise where discerning Londoners come to buy top-quality meat, fish, fruit and veg, fresh bread, cakes and sweet treats, oils and vinegars, and pretty much anything else. There’s also an amazing array of street food (don't miss communal dining space The Borough Market Kitchen), and a dedicated covered area to chow down in – albeit with reduced communal seating. Borough Market is open Monday to Saturday, but you’ll find a fuller selection of stalls from Thursday to Saturday. While it used to be known to get hella busy, staff are now limiting the numbers who enter. You’ll also be asked to wear a face mask within its enclosed spaces. Otherwise, it’s mostly business as usual. 

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Brick Lane Market
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  • Markets and fairs
  • Brick Lane

On Sundays, the streets of east London’s bustling Brick Lane are lined with stalls selling anything and everything. You’re bound to find bargain fruit and veg, household items and electrical products, but this market’s USP is its sheer unpredictability: you could bag a secondhard bargain, or spend hours sifting through trinkety tat. Brick Lane’s recent ‘trendification’ is reflected in the various splinter markets that surround it. Visit Backyard Market for arts and crafts, Sunday Upmarket for street food and interesting gifts, The Tea Rooms for vintage bric-à-brac, and the Boiler House Food Hall for more snack and drink stalls.

Brixton Village and Market Row
  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Brixton

Brixton is one of the capital’s most vital neighbourhoods, and these adjacent indoor markets reflect its unique and varied flavour. In recent years they’ve become a place of foodie pilgrimage where hungry Londoners can grab a table at places serving seafood, superior pizza, Portuguese cuisine, Mexican food, Jamaican/European fusion and all manner of Caribbean delicacies. But they contain plenty for shoppers, too. A leisurely amble through the arcades reveals a treasure trove of independent outlets selling clothing, jewellery, homeware, art, antiques and unusual gifts. Brixton Village and Market Row are open from 8am to 11.30pm every day, except for Monday, when they close early at 6pm.

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Broadway Market
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  • Markets and fairs
  • London Fields

Since its relaunch in 2004, this Hackney street market has become a magnet for hipsters. And in the Before Times, it was packed every Saturday from 9am to 5pm with arty students and East End creative types filling their tote bags with organic groceries, vintage clothes, fresh flowers, coffee, books and unusual handmade gifts. It was one of the last to return after lockdown, but it’s back in full effect again. 

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  • Street vendors
  • Camden Market

Technically several adjoining markets, this sprawl of stalls stretching from Camden Town tube to the Regent’s Canal is London’s fourth most popular visitor attraction. In its recent heyday, around 250,000 people came here every week to shop, sample street food and soak up the distinctive, still-grungy atmosphere. Camden Lock Market is an arts-and-crafts haven while the Stables Market is a trendy spot for everything from quirky furniture to fetish clothing. Nearby Buck Street Market on Camden High Street (the one under a sign that reads ‘The Camden Market’) is best for T-shirts and touristy trinkets. The markets in Camden Town are open seven days a week and typically seem to be buzzing. 

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  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Bethnal Green

Situated just off Shoreditch’s main drag, this weekly flower market is an East End gem. Every Sunday from 8am-3pm (roughly), the picturesque cobbled street is packed with traders selling bulbs, herbs, shrubs, bedding plants and bucketfuls of cut flowers. Flanking the stands are around 60 interesting independent shops and cafés, many open only at weekends. Arrive super-early for the best selection of flowers, or as the market’s winding down to bag a bargain. It used to be heaving each and every weekend, but nowadays you’ll find more space made for browsing punters. Still, wearing a mask is advisable. 

Covent Garden Market
  • Shopping
  • Lifestyle
  • Covent Garden

This grand neoclassical market building in the heart of Covent Garden is a true London landmark. Since 1980, after traffic congestion forced the traditional fruit-and-veg market to relocate, Covent Garden Market has reinvented itself as a serious shopping destination. And now the whole area has been pedestrianised to encourage socially distanced punters to return for a browse in safety. On Mondays, it’s filled with stalls selling antiques and collectables; then from Tuesday to Sunday, it welcomes a broader range of traders offering everything from handmade jewellery to artisan soaps. There are plenty of permanent retail units, too, mainly housing fancy brands like Mulberry and Tom Ford. Once you’re done exploring, Jubilee Market across the piazza is great for gifts and trinkets. 

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Greenwich

Though it’s situated in historic Greenwich (a Unesco World Heritage Site, no less), this eighteenth-century indoor market is no relic. It’s home to stalls selling jewellery, clothes, second-hand furniture, interesting gifts and general bric-à-brac – although the selection is more limited these days to allow for social distancing. Opening hours have also been adjusted, so check before you visit. There are still plenty of delectable street food stalls to refuel at before you pay a visit to the nearby Cutty Sark or Royal Observatory. Or just hop on a Thames riverboat back to central London.

Maltby Street Market
  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Bermondsey

Located in lively Bermondsey, Maltby Street Market is a bit like a calmer, more curated version of Borough Market. It’s only been going since 2010, doesn’t open during the week, and the tourists haven’t quite cottoned on yet. So, if you can’t face the masses, this is the place to come when you’re having a Nigella moment and want to stock your kitchen cupboards with high-end condiments and tipples you can’t get at Tesco.

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Old Spitalfields Market
  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Spitalfields

Following its noughties rejuvenation, this covered market opposite Liverpool Street station has blossomed into a major shopping (and eating) destination. Now open seven days a week, the central concourse is filled with stalls selling contemporary and vintage clothes, posh children’s toys, homeware items and artisan food products. Inside, you’ll also find a selection of fantastic places to eat, including Dumpling Shack and Bleecker Burger. There’s extra buzz on Thursdays, when it welcomes Old Spitalfields Antiques Market, a bonus cluster of stalls offering collectables and objets d’art from 8am to 5pm. And if you’re still not shopped out, Brick Lane Market is a five-minute walk away.

  • Shopping
  • Vintage shops
  • Portobello Road

The world’s largest antiques market occupies a prime stretch of Notting Hill, an area that manages to feel diverse and surprising despite heavy gentrification (how Hugh Grant in that movie could afford a one-person flatshare while working in a bookshop is well beyond us) in the ’90s. Portobello Road Market is really five markets in one, with different sections dedicated to secondhand goods; clothing and fashion; household essentials; fruit, veg and other food; and the main event: antiques. You’ll find the greatest range of antiques stalls on Saturdays. Portobello buzzes on Fridays too, but this fascinating street packed with characterful cafés, shops and drinking spots is worth a visit any time. 

Craving some more market mayhem?

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