If I say “London Markets”, what first comes to your mind? I guess the world-famous Portobello Market, tell me if I’m wrong! What if I told you there are many other, nicer and cheaper markets in London, in my opinion? London really gives you the opportunity to choose among different markets where to buy collectibles, clothes, accessories. I love walking among the colorful stalls (you could love French markets in Provence too), often without buying anything but just to observe and enjoy artists’ creations at very competitive prices. If you go to London, visiting the markets is a must! And if you are addicted to Christmas markets do not miss London Christmas markets!
Let’s start with the list of my top London markets!
Portobello Market & Acklam Village Street Food Market
I put Portobello Market in this list although it is not my favourite one. What I love about Portobello Market is its atmosphere. Travellers visiting London for the first time consider it a must place to see. I agree, but I wouldn’t go back there again. Prices are exaggerated! Notting Hill and Portobello are the filming locations for romantic comedy Notting Hill. If you loved this comedy then you should not miss Notting Hill bookshop! This movie accompanied my adolescence.
9:00 to 18:00 Monday To Wednesday
9:00 to 1:00 p.m. Thursday
09:00 to 19:00 Friday and Saturday
Instead, what I would like you to visit in this area is Acklam Village Street Food Market, which is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 to 19 or so. This market is located just in the north of Portobello Road, under the overpass. It is the ideal place for those wishing to try typical dishes from all over the world. From Cuba to Venezuela, from Thailand to Morocco, from Japan to India and Mexico. There is a urban bar called Bar 58 with interiors made with recycles materials, where you can listen to live music and, in the meantime, enjoying a good cider sitting on the sofas. Acklam Village Street Food Market is one of those places little known to tourists. All the culinary world in a few meters, it is a a dip in the scents and colors of the different ethnic groups.
Camden Market, a Microcosm of Markets in London
Talking about Camden market means talking about a microcosm of markets that grow in this area and not about an only market. Camden Town was originally the neighborhood of the accursed poets, because the ‘800 bohemian poets Verlaine and Rimbaud went to live here in Camden!
Here are my favorite markets:
- Camden Lock Market is located at 32 Camden Lock Pl in an old warehouse next to the Regent Canal and Regent’s Park. This market is my favorite for the lively atmosphere thanks to its proximity with the canal. It is open every day from 10 to 18, but the best days where you find something interesting is definitely on Saturdays and Sundays. You can combine its visit with the London Zoo, London Canal Museum, Open Air Theater, Camden Arts Center. Here you can buy clothing, jewelry, household items, crafts and vintage items. Just from Camden Lock you can take boat trips on the Regent’s Canal on their way to the Little Venice neighborhood. In the past the canal was a landmark for the London market. If you take a boat tour you will see that the bridge handrail still has the furrows left by the ropes towing the horses that pulled up to barges up to the 50s. There are still ramps underwater; they helped fallen horses in the canal to go up on the banks.
- Buck Street Market. It is located just a few steps from Camden Lock Market. The Buck Street Market has many stalls where to buy t-shirts and clothing from local designers. Of course, it is ideal for those who love extravagance! It gets its nickname, ‘The Cages’, from its grid-like structure . It is open every day from 9.30 to 17.30. If you love neon sunglasses and pseudo-witty slogans garments you can find them here.
NOTE: Electric Balloon was the first town hall to have electric lighting. On Sunday it is filled with stalls.
- Stables Market. The market is only partially covered by an extension of steel and glass. You can buy clothes and second-hand records, antiques, Japanese kimonos, African masks and wooden objects. Often, these are unique pieces made by artists. For a coffee break go to Proud, housed in the Stables Market. In Victorian times it was a hospital for horses with stables, and the halls of Proud Camden origin from the pits where the treated horses were hospitalized. The site houses art collections, exhibitions and cultural events by day, to become a “club” night, often offering DJ sets and themed evenings. The Stables Market is open from Monday to Friday from 10.30 to 18, Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 18.
My favourite shops in this area are:
– Nabi London > delicate silver jewelry shop in Yard East Camden Lock Place
– Skinny Dip > graphic phone cases, bags, purses and accessories at 200 Chalk Farm Rd
– General eyewear > spectacles and sunglasses at Stables Market, Chalk Farm Rd
– Japan craft > traditional arts and crafts, ideal for manga lovers, at Stables Market Chalk Farm Road
Columbia Market, the Flowers Market of Scents and Colors
I really love this flower market. Columbia Market is located in the East End. It is only open on Sundays between 8 and 14. Flower stalls are so colorful: tulips, camellias, orange trees and lemon as well as aromatic herbs and medicinal plants. And if you love flowers you cannot miss the gardening tools, easy to find here. The shops behind the stalls sell hand-painted ceramics and design objects but only until 14.
For lunch, go to Brick Lane Market which is very close to Columbia Market.
TIP: Near Columbia Road is the pastry Lily Vanilli Bakery at Unit 6 The Courtyard 18 Ezra Street. Delicious dishes in a lovely pastry, my favorite dessert is the pie with lime and meringue. Brawn restaurant, at 49 Columbia Road, is perfect for dinner. Ideal for vegetarians. There is a great selection of wines. I tasted a good burrata cheese with vegetables.
My favourite shops here are:
– The Future Mapping, lovely shop for beautiful maps of hang in all imaginable styles
– Angela Flanders, where to buy home and body fragrances
– Milagros for handmade pottery, a tribute to Mexico.
Brick Lane, the Picturesque London Market
Brick Lane Market is a historic market which takes place in East London and it is mainly frequented by vintage and second-hand clothing lovers. It is open on Saturdays from 11 to 18 and Sundays from 10 to 17. The name origins from the kilns where the bricks were realized to rebuild London after the fire of 1666. People of Brick Lane come from all parts of the world. This is a trendy neighborhood with workshops of young designers selling cheap creations on the stalls. On Bethnal Green Road there are many restaurants.
TIP: I recommend an amazing hot salt beef beigel at Beigel Bake (159 Brick Lane). Very low prices and tuna and sweetcorn is amazing!
On weekends the stalls alternate with sheds with stalls. Visit the stalls of Sunday Up Market (on Sundays from 10 to 17) and the Backyard Market (on Saturdays from 11 to 18 and on Sundays from 10 to 17) in the Old Truman Brewery, the red brick building which was a brewery in the past. An area of the Sunday Up Market is all about street food, and this is the most interesting part of the market, not the vintage clothing. I think it’s a real explosion of scents and colors from all over the world, especially those of Asian and African cuisine. You can try dishes of Mexican cuisine, Moroccan tajine, pide (Turkish pizzas shaped like a boat), Japanese dishes cooked or uncooked, vegetarian recipes, fruit and drinks. There are also little live music bands.
TIP: There is a nice shop not to miss called The Tea Rooms next to 146 Brick Lane. It is open on Saturdays from 11 to 18 and on Sundays from 10 to 17. It is a lovely space where you can buy furniture, collectables and antiques, items for your home like cushion covers. There is also a cafe inside where you can have tea!
Borough Market, a Gourmand London Market
This is a gourmand market where to find British regional products and specialties from the former colonies from producer to consumer. Fishermen, manufacturers, breeders, come from all over the UK to raise awareness of their fresh or processed products. For meat lovers taste the pork and mutton. The fish consumers cannot miss the smoked cod with oak wood in the Scottish town of Arbroath. Among the drinks taste Pimm’s homemade drink (gin, chinino and a mix of secret herbs), perfect with oysters. There are also fruit juices and beers from around the world. Among the cheeses: buffalo mozzarella and the famous cheddar. It is open every day from 10 to 17, on Friday from 10 to 18, Saturday from 8 to 17 and closed on Sundays.
Brixton market, the Caribbean in London
Brixton market is open every day from 8 to 18, on Wednesdays it is open until 15 pm and closed on Sundays. It is the market that takes you to the Caribbean. It is a multi-ethnic market, a real mix of colors, flavors (tropical fruit and vegetables), where you can often listen to reggae music. You know that David Bowie was born in these neighborhoods?
The market was established in 1870 and in the 50s became a center for the whole Afro-Caribbean community. It extends from Brixton Station Road, where you can buy second-hand clothing, the Electric Avenue, specializing in fruits and vegetables, and then branch out into the early twentieth century structures Reliance Arcade, Market Row and Brixton Village. Do not miss the African Queen Fabrics Ltd, where you will find colorful dresses whose tissues are from Africa: wax print (printed using a complex technique that makes the bright colors) of the Ivory Coast, Ghana’s kente, batik of Burkina Faso, bogolan of Mali, fabrics of traditional tribes, etc…
TIP: to have a tasty pizza go to Franco Manca. It is hard to me say that a pizza is perfect when I’m accostumed to the most amazing pizza here in Sicily. But if you are pizza-holic here you can eat a good one.
So, are you ready for a mega tour of London markets? If you have already visited them, which one is your favourite?