When you visit London, make sure to visit at least a few of its public markets. After all, these markets are an essential part of daily life and its history is as old as the city itself. Today, there are more than 150 markets operating in London, including one that has a thousand-year history. What’s more, some markets are among the city’s most popular attraction, drawing millions of visitors each month. Whether you’re searching for a souvenir or looking for spots with the best street food, here are some of the most famous London markets. Regardless of which ones you visit, make sure to bring some cash as not all vendors accept contactless payments.
8 Southwark St.
London SE1 1TL, UK
+44 20 7407 1002
With a history that extends one thousand years, Borough Market is said to be the oldest market in London. Set near the south banks of the River Thames in Southwark, it’s also among the largest and most famous. With easy access via public transportation, there is no better place to find fresh produce, street food and retail goods. Covering 4.5 acres, the Market features over 100 businesses, including bakeries, food stalls and arts and crafts. Borough Market is just minutes from the London Bridge underground station and London Bridge train station.
Unit 74 Coldharbour Lane
Brixton, London SW9 8PS, UK
Brixton Village is perhaps best known as the location for the first public market to have electric lighting. Yet it became even more famous in the 1980s when Eddy Grant sang about that same Electric Avenue. Today, the street market is part of the larger Brixton Village, along with three shopping arcades. If you visit the market, you’ll find approximately 80 vendor stalls, selling produce, street foods and affordable gifts. While you can find street food daily, there are more options during the farmers markets on Fridays through Sundays. Of course, you’ll have other food and gift options at the three arcades.
Camden Lock Place
London NW1 8AF
Just northeast of Regent’s Park, Camden Market is a collection of several markets in historic Camden Town. Despite having a history that only dates to 1974, it’s among the most famous markets and one not to miss. In fact, it’s among London’s top attractions, drawing a quarter million people each week. Spread across 16 acres, there are at least 19 separate markets and over 1,000 business in this lively neighborhood. Among the markets you should visit are the Stables, Camden Lock and Horse Tunnel. In addition, Camden features live entertainment venues and visitor attractions like Regent’s Canal. While there are subway stations nearby, you can also take a boat near Paddington Station to Camden Market.
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London WC2E 8RF
Set in one of the most vibrant sections of the city, Covent Garden is home to not one, but two famous marketplaces. Of the two, Jubilee is the longest standing, first opening in its namesake building in 1904. While Jubilee Market is open daily, the individual stalls have different hours of operation during the week. For instance, antiques and collectable stalls are open on Mondays while the general market is open from Tuesday to Friday. On weekends, it’s open for arts and crafts. In addition, Covent Garden is home to two smaller markets, the Apple Market and East Colonnade Market. The other major market in Covent Garden is Seven Dials, one of the trendiest food halls in the city.
5B Greenwich Market
London SE10 9HZ, UK
+44 20 8269 5096
Of London’s many popular markets, Greenwich has a particularly interesting history. In fact, it was a Royal Charter Market upon opening in 1737 and now rests next to the Old Royal Navy College. Today, it’s part of a World Heritage Site and thrives as a spot for street food, arts and crafts and antiques. While Greenwich Market is open daily, individual stalls are open according to their specialty. For example, weekends you will find arts and crafts vendors while on Tuesdays and Thursday you’ll find antiques. Of course, traditional businesses like restaurants, cafes and boutiques are open seven days a week. The borough of Greenwich is best known for famous sites like the Royal Observatory and the location for the official prime meridian.
London EC3V 1LT, UK
+44 20 7606 3030
Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or fan of Charles Dickens, you will love visiting Leadenhall. Among London’s most popular and most famous indoor markets, Leadenhall has a connection to the Dickens novella “A Christmas Carol” and has been seen in two Harry Potter movies. Among the oldest markets in London, Leadenhall was originally a poultry and game market that dates to 1321. Today, you can find upscale dining and premium retail stores. Its most prominent features are ts stunning Victorian-era arcade and glass skylights. Leadenhall is a .2-mile walk from the Monument underground station.
Maltby Steet Ropewalk
Arch 46 Ropewalk
Maltby St. London SE1 3PA, UK
If Borough Market is on your list of places to visit, you might want to add Maltby Street as well. Running along the Victorian arches of the London Bridge railway station, Maltby is only open on weekends. That’s not to mention that it’s one of the newer markets, opening in 2010. However, it’s one of the best market spots in the city for a diverse collection of fabulous street foods. In fact, some visitors say that the food here is even better than its larger, older and more famous neighbor market. In addition to the popular food stalls are restaurants, producer vendors and retail goods.
Old Spitalfields Market
16 Horner Square
London E1 6EW, UK
As you would expect, Old Spitalfields is among the oldest markets in London. The site in which it stands has been a market since 1638 and now occupies a 19th century building. However, in 1991 the wholesale produce vendors have been in the New Spitalfields, which in itself, is worth a visit. As for Old Spitalfields, it now features name brand stores and restaurants, along with stalls selling upscale products. In addition to Old Spitalfields inside the landmark Horner Buildings, are Brick Lane and Petticoat Lane markets. The closest tube station to Old Spitalfields is Liverpool Street, less than a 10-minute walk away.
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Golborne and Portobello Road
London W11 1LU, UK
If you’re shopping for antiques in London, there is no better spot than Portobello Road. After all, with more than a thousand vendors, it’s the world’s largest and most famous antique market. However, unlike most other spots, the full market with 19th century roots is only open on Saturdays. On the other hand, business like antique stores, food vendors and restaurants are open daily. In addition, some antique stalls are open on Friday although by far the busiest day is Saturday. Known for antiques and colorful buildings, Portobello Road is a short walk from the Ladbroke Grove underground station.
Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 8DF
+44 7881 232599
This market isn’t as famous as its more popular counterparts like Borough and Camden. Nevertheless, Shepherd’s Bush is well worth a visit and especially if you’re looking for ethnic cuisine or interesting travel keepsakes. Among the businesses you can visit are jewelers, pet stores, food vendors and independent retail stores. For nearly 110 years, Shepherd’s Bush has been its same location along the railway viaduct for the Hammersmith and City line. In other words, you will have easy subway access, arriving at its namesake station. Shepherd’s Bush is quite famous for its music venues like Eventim Apollo and Shepherd’s Bush Empire. In fact, the Beatles’ first appearance on the BBC’s Tops of the Pops in 1964 was at the Empire.
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About the Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across over 20 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.