Our guide to visiting and exploring the best London markets. From Borough Market to Greenwich Market we're showing you our favorites. The London markets are fun places to shop for food, drinks, clothes, antiques and other merchandise. There's something for everyone!
I had the pleasure of visiting London recently with my husband. The company that my husband works for has an office just outside of London and he travels there every three months. Over the last few years, I've taken a few opportunities to travel with him. Nothing compares to the thrill I feel each time I see Big Ben from the distance or how happy I feel just walking along the Thames. London occupies a very special place in my heart and with the city's great energy, how old and new blend effortlessly and the friendly people, I never tire of visiting.
I've written before about visiting The Tower of London, seeing London from the London Eye, visiting Windsor Castle and much, much more. In fact, if you want to read any of my articles about those or other special places to visit in London, be sure to read the collection of articles that can be found here.
On this trip, however, my husband, EJ and I decided that we wanted to see a different side of London. We didn't necessarily want to visit the major tourist attractions. Instead, we wanted to explore a few of the many markets, visit neighborhoods and discover and explore a few of the hidden gems known mostly by the locals. We wanted to experience London like a Londoner.
The first market we explored was the Marylebone Farmers' Market in an area of central London, referred to Marylebone. This lovely market is open every Sunday and features between 30 and 40 vendors selling beef, fruit, vegetables, eggs, cheese, bakery items and much more. This market is in the heart of the city and we found it so hard to believe that a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of busy Oxford Street was this lovely, quiet neighborhood.
The Marylebone Farmers Market is a wonderful market to discover first thing in the morning. Make this your breakfast destination for coffee and homemade breakfast pastries while you browse the first class meats and produce that will become great meals in the surrounding homes.
Brick Lane Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays while both Backyard Market and Sunday Up Market are only open on Sunday (hence the name). The Sunday Up Market has an amazing food area which immediately drew us in with the wonderful aromas from the food stands. When we entered the main "food section" of the market, we saw rows and rows of vendors cooking and serving meals. From Ethiopian food to Cuban food, you will certainly have no trouble finding something wonderful to eat.
My only advice would be to arrive hungry. The food portions are huge so EJ and I ordered an Ethiopian dish and brought it outside and sat on the curb with everyone else. It was so much fun to people-watch and listen to the talented street musicians.
We found it funny that there was a section of Indian restaurants on Brick Lane that each had a banner in their windows featuring it as the "Best Indian Restaurant". I'm sure they are all very good. London is known for it's wonderful Indian food.
If you visit Brick Lane, make sure to stop at Dark Sugars Chocolate and sample one of their chocolates. They are out-of-this-world! EJ and I chose a Limoncello Truffle and a Pink Champagne Truffle to enjoy later in the day.
We spent the afternoon walking through the market and found quite a few items to bring back home. You'll see everything there from craftsmen selling their beautiful handmade items to "garage sale" type finds to young up and coming fashion designers trying to get their beautiful clothes and purses out in from of an audience. It's truly a fun place to visit.
Old Spitalfields Market is a short walk away from Brick Lane Market and is open seven days a week. You'll find everything from antiques and art to clothing and accessories.
Inside one section of the market is a great little spot to stop and enjoy a glass of wine. The wine bar is called Vagabond and at this award-winning wine bar you can choose from 100 different wines to enjoy by the sample, glass or bottle.
The wines are on tap and are "poured" from dispensing machines. Each guest is issued a "Vagabond" card which resembles a credit card. You load the card with money and sample various wines at a small cost before eventually choosing the wine you'd like to commit to having a glass of. When you've chosen your wine, find a seat inside the bar or outside and enjoy.
The last market we visited, and my absolute favorite, was Borough Market. Borough Market is London's most renowned food market and is truly a food-lovers paradise.
I've been to Borough Market before and was a bit intimidated the first time I visited. It's huge! There are stalls of vendors selling food everywhere and I just didn't know where to begin. On this visit, I knew we needed a strategy and it would begin with a glass of wine, as all good things do.
We began our visit by stopping at The Wine Pantry for a glass of wine. They were featuring wines from England and that really intrigued me. I had never tasted a wine from a winery in England before and I wanted to give it a try. EJ and I chose a glass of Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc which was delightful. Stopham Vineyard is in an area in West Sussex.
With a glass of wine in had, we found it a bit easier to browse and explore. Many of the vendors were handing out food samples so we could look and nibble before making any difficult decisions.
We ordered Salt Beef sandwiches from one vendor and from another vendor, we tried the Gruyere Stuffed Croissants which were both amazing!
For dessert, we ordered Stollen from a gluten-free bakery and it was perfect!
After spending a few hours exploring Borough Market, we stopped in a wine bar next to the market called, Wine Wharf. It was the perfect place escape from the business of the market and was a quiet place to decide where to head next.
On a previous trip to London, we visited the Greenwich Market. It's a great market which sells beautiful products from designer makers and smaller vendors. It's busiest on the weekends.
If you’re visiting Greenwich, be sure to stop at the gelato shop called Black Vanilla. They serve the best gelato and cappuccino and it's just down the street from the market.
Greenwich is worth a day to itself. The National Maritime Museum, the Old Royal Navy College and the tall-masted wooden ship, the Cutty Sark can all be found in Greenwich.
Also on an earlier trip, we went to Notting Hill and explored the Portobello Road Market. The main market days are Friday and Saturday but you can find a little something every day of the week.
Make sure to stop at the Hummingbird Bakery while you're in Notting Hill.
As you can see, the London markets sell everything from food to flowers, clothing to knick knacks, and modern art to antiques. They're fun to browse through, maybe pick up a souvenir or gift or even just to enjoy lunch.
This map below will show you the locations of each of the markets we visited. Have you been to any other London markets? I'd love add them to my list for our future visit.
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