Friday is the best day to visit Portobello market – it's far quieter than Saturday, and is the perfect opportunity to snap up the best vintage and indie fashion buys and thrift purchases before the crowds descend at the weekend. There are also food and clothing markets across the capital – a great way to kick off the weekend's shopping early.
Alfie’s is packed to the rafters with handsome twentieth-century home decor, hosting more than 100 dealers in vintage furniture and fashion, art, accessories, books, maps and more. Dodo Posters do 1920s and ’30s ads. Be warned, the wares down at Alfie's are all fabulous but not cheap, though some gentle bartering; some of the hundred antique dealers will be keen to strike a deal.
Following the redevelopment of Bermondsey Square the ancient antiques market – traditionally good for china and silver as well as furniture and glassware – continues in an expanded space that now accommodates 200 stalls that now include food, fashion and craft stalls. Browsing here is like going through Fagin’s gang’s loot.
This small, buzzy street market, in a sometimes sleazy area, is one of London’s oldest. On weekdays it hosts a good selection of street food stands.
London’s oldest market – dating back to the thirteenth century – is also the busiest, and the most popular for gourmet goodies. Traders satisfy the city’s insatiable appetite for artisan cheeses and ham from acorn-fed pigs. If food is your thing, then Borough, with its abundance of beautifully displayed organic fruit and veg, cakes, bread, olive oil, fish, meat and booze, is the place to go.
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.
Although something of a London institution, Covent Garden Market is too commercial and generally too crowded to provide a particularly characterful retail experience. However, the colonnaded 19th-century building is impressive, and occasionally some of the performers and entertainers can even be worth watching.
Most of Deptford Market is your standard south/east London fare: three-pack pants, timber wolf fleeces, Duracells and lighters. Halfway down its length, though, is a distended gut of impacted crap, presided over by two tennis umpires up stepladders who take money, dispense change and guard against pilfering.
There are plenty of stalls selling bric-a-brac, second-hand clothes, ethnic ornaments, CDs, crafts and jewellery galore at Greenwich Market. On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the market takes a different turn with an excellent antiques and collectibles.
A street market since Victorian times, there’s some quality veg, women’s clothes, decent jewellery and vintage shops.
Decent fruit and veg, flowers, ceramics, vintage clothes, plus the Antiques Market (No 155A; 020 7228 6850) and some excellent independent shops.
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