One of my new favorite hobbies is exploring the multitude of markets in and around London. Markets provide a new destination in a part of town I wouldn’t normally venture, and also justify two other weaknesses of mine: (1) people-watching and (2) my sweet tooth. There are plenty of interesting folks to see at markets and no shortage of dessert vendors to sample.
I still have many more markets to discover as each neighborhood has their local version, but here are my top picks so far. If you visit me I will happily take you to some of these places to eat lunch, purchase souvenirs, buy ingredients for a home-cooked dinner which you will then prepare for us, or all of the above.
My absolute favorite. This is near my office so I have my coveted lunchtime food vendors (Indian Street Food for £5? Yes please.). The best times to visit are Friday and Saturday when all the vendors are out in full force, although it’s open every day except Sunday. The focus is primarily food.
Portobello Road is nestled in the adorable Notting Hill neighborhood. As a tourist hot spot it’s not as authentic as some markets but still fun to see. Shoppers will find antiques, souvenirs, street performers, pubs, and various food options too. Unfortunately I have never seen Hugh Grant here despite his Notting Hill association.
Brixton is in South London, and locals know that means a more gritty, less touristy part of town. I love it because of its authenticity. Real Londoners shop for their groceries here. It’s comprised of outdoor vendor stalls and the covered Market Row housing diverse restaurants, cafés, and boutiques.
Don’t be fooled by the name, Covent Garden isn’t really a garden. You’ll find restaurants, shopping, and pop up markets here though so it makes up for the lack of gardens.
Spitalfields is in East London which basically translates to “too cool for school”. You’ll find clothing and art vendors, restaurants, cafés, and probably some hipsters mixed in there. Basically, a recipe for fun.
Columbia Road Flower Market
If you visit Spitalfields you can’t miss the nearby Columbia Road Flower Market. It’s only open on Sundays until 3pm though so plan accordingly. It’s the definition of quaint.
I’ve still got some exploring to do as evidenced by this list of the Top 10 London Markets according to VisitLondon.com. Happy market exploring!