Street markets have been the lifeblood of Britain’s trade industry for centuries. A living and breathing part of the city, each market reflects the character of its neighbourhood so what better way to soak in the sights than the streets! Credit: Giphy
If you like crowds and bric-a-bracs, then Portobello Market is for you! A flea market of sorts with a wide range of collectibles, you’ll appreciate the quaint bustle of the busy street while vegetable merchants lay out the spud of the season and antique dealers peddle their wares.
Opening Hours: 9.00am – 6.00pm Monday to Wednesday, 9.00am – 1.00pm Thursday and 9.00am – 7.00pm Friday and Saturday
Address: Portobello Road, London, Greater London, W10 5TA
Closest tube station: Ladbroke Gove (Hammersmith & City Lines) or Notting Hill Gate (Central, Circle and District Lines)
Bus: 7, 12, 23, 27, 28, 31, 52, 70, 94, 328 and 452
Follow the map below to get to Portobello Market.
#HHWT Tip: There’s a no-frills Malaysian restaurant called Makan Café in the middle of the street which serves up a decent teh tarik and banana balls (cekodok pisang) which is great on chilly days 😄
Credit: London Chow
Shoreditch isn’t just hipster haven, it’s also home to one of the largest Muslim communities in London and 3 iconic boulevard bazaars. Nestled in the West of this eclectic neighbourhood is Old Spitalfields market, a treasure trove of art and knick knacks. Discover fashion finds and crafts or tinker around the designer Trader stalls whose collections are as chic as they are functional.
Trawl East-ward and you’ll stumble upon the famous Columbia Road flower market, which is peppered with stalls of Instagram-worthy beautiful blooms, independent art galleries, cupcakeries and traditional garden shops – perfect for the green thumbs looking to pick up a cute garden accessory!
Credit: Gary Pepper
And just a little walk away is Brick Lane Market, a regular Mipster (that’s a Muslim Hipster for you) haunt which pulsates from vibrant, street performances, ethnic food joints and youngsters looking for Art Deco furniture, trendy threads and second-hand collectibles.
#HHWT Tip: Hidden among the seemingly endless row of curry houses is Jungle Braai, a halal-certified South African steakhouse with dish after dish of tender-roasted meat. If you like spice and heat, then this is definitely for you!
Credit: Jungle Braai
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 5.00pm Sunday to Friday, 11.00am – 5.00pm Saturday
Address: 28 Osborn Street, E1 6TD, Brick Lane
Closest tube station: Liverpool Street Station (Central or Hammersmith & City, District, Circle and Metropolitan Lines)
Bus: 8, 26, 35, 42, 47, 48, 67, 78, 135, 149, 205, 242 and 388
Find Old Spitalfields Market on the map.
3. Camden Lock
While Camden Market might seem to attract hordes of tourists, especially the younger crowd in search for alternative fashion like punk and leather, Camden Lock’s Global Food Kitchen is an absolute highlight that shouldn’t be missed. Featuring Street Food from around the world, you will wander through a maze of options from Ethiopian Curry to kangaroo burgers (?!) but my absolute favourite is the melt-in-your-mouth, crispy and crumbly salted caramel fudge from Cupcakes and Shhht. The price is a bit on the high side, putting you back £5 for a 150g tablet but trust me when I say, it is so worth it!
#HHWT Tip: It’s easy to miss but there’s a secret pathway taking you from pulsing Camden through the quiet Regent’s Canal to Little Venice, a picturesque waterway and narrow-boat hangout. Stroll along the romantic inner-city oasis to pass Regent’s Park and London Zoo and photograph the mooring barges painted bright (and the random Chinese floating red pagoda restaurant, as if things weren’t bizarre enough already).
Credit: Photo Steam
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 6.00pm every day
Address: 56 Camden Lock Pl, London NW1 8AF
Closest tube station: Camden Town (Northern Line)
Bus: 24, 27, 29, 31, 134, 135, 168, 214, 253, 274, C2
Follow the map to get to Camden Lock.
4. Borough Market
A favourite of the foodie, just off London Bridge, Borough Market is a must-visit if you fancy a hot lunch from a food stand and a bona fide market experience. With over 70 stalls of food selling produce, fish and meats, baked goods, imported chocolate, coffee, bread and loads more, this is the go-to location for the local chefs to stock up their kitchens with fresh food of unrivalled quality.
Credit: : Aperture Club
#HHWT Tip: Look out for a little Ethiopian stand along the back of the market stalls for a hearty meal that won’t break the bank. A plate of chicken breast, rice, Injera bread and a choice of two sides will cost you just £4 for a medium meal and £5.50 for large.
Credit: Sweet Like Cinnamon
Opening Hours: Full market open 10.00am – 5.00pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 10.00am – 6.00pm on Saturday and 8.00am – 5.00pm on Sunday. Lunch available 10.00am – 5.00pm on Monday and Tuesday.
Address: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL
Closest tube station: London Bridge (Jubilee and Northern Line)
Bus: Stops at London Bridge, Borough High Street or Southwark Street
Borough Market on the map.
5. Covent Garden
If you like the finer things in life, Covent Garden exudes the classic charm of what used to be a fruit and vegetable market which has transformed into a chic shopping district surrounded by elegant buildings such as the Royal Opera House and theatres. While the fresh market has been moved to New Covent Garden, the original building still hosts some swanky cafes, top-notch street performances and a tourist bazaar selling antiques, food, souvenirs and arts and crafts.
Credit: Tom Blackwell
#HHWT Tip: Nothing is more of an English treat than an afternoon tea so pop into the luxurious bakery, dessert house and tea salon Ladurée, the French household name famous for its double decker macarons. Go easy on the wallet and skip the expensive afternoon tea set for a cake from the à la carte menu. I love their Plaisir sucré, a hazelnut meringue sandwich cake with crushed Piedmont hazelnuts, crunchy praline, thin slivers of milk chocolate, Chantilly cream and milk chocolate filling which is affordable at £5.80. Anything from their extensive (and posh) tea menu will cost £3.60 a pot.
Credit: Sometimes I Crave
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 9pm Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 8.00pm Saturday, 11.30am – 6.00pm Sunday
Address: Covent Garden, London WC2E
Closest tube station: Covent Garden (Piccadilly Line)
Bus: RV1, 9, 13, 15, 23, 24, 139, 153
If you’re not getting off from the RV1 bus, it’s a short walk to Covent Garden from Trafalgar Square, Aldwych and Leicester Square.
Season Bonus: Christmas Markets
If you’ve been thinking about an European Christmas, the Winter Markets are enough of a pull factor for me to make the trip. Despite the short days and long night, there always seems to be magic in the air at Christmas time.
Originating from Germany, Christmas markets are the place to find beautiful gifts for the holiday season, many handmade and one-of-a-kind. Every year, Hyde Park plays host to the Bavarian-style Market Winter Wonderland which transforms the park into a spectacular funfair with fairground rides, an ice skating rink, a magical ice kingdom, a circus, a giant wheel and Santa Land! Filled to the brim with traditional Christmas treats like mince pies and frothy hot chocolate, you’d be able to spend an entire day out here in complete exhilaration!
Credit: View GB
#HHWT Tip: I’m always on the lookout for warm sarsaparilla which I first discovered at a Christmas market in Manchester seven years ago. But then some hot Spanish churros never fail to cheer me up!
Opening Hours: Awaiting 2016 market dates.
Address: Hyde Park, London W2
Closest tube station: Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Line)
Bus: C2, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 19, 22, 23, 30, 36, 38, 52, 73, 74, 82, 94, 98, 113, 137, 148, 159, 274, 390, 414, 436
Winter Wonderland is easy to find on the map.
In all, you’ll truly be hard-pressed to fit everything in if you’re on a tight schedule. But knowing what you like and what you’re looking for, any choice you pick would be an amazing time simply because nothing else quite beats the raw authenticity and classic appeal of the old English street market.