There are few ways to better connect with local life in a destination than visiting street markets where farmers, growers, chefs, and craftsmen sell their goods. And in London, every day of the week there are multiple markets to explore.
Here are my top five London street markets curated for their variety and quality offerings.
Borough Market (central London)
When friends ask me for London travel tips, one of the first things I tell them to do is stroll the south side of the Thames and stop in on Borough Market. This market is the best destination for food-centric explorers and has been for centuries. The market just celebrated its 1,000th birthday!
A maze of stalls and shops are full of fresh bread, imported cheese, fine chocolates, steaming, hot coffee, massive pans of paella, local cider, and a dizzying variety of cooked regional specialties, and inspired new dishes from around the world. And I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. Check out the Borough Market website for scheduled demos, talks, and tastings. This market is open every day of the week and thus can conveniently fit into an itinerary.
Viewfinder Tip: When visiting London street markets be sure to double check opening hours so that you don’t miss the action.
Colombia Road Flower Market (East London)
Colombia Road is a community of proud, independent shops, and eateries that is also host to an incredible flower market every Sunday. Dutch lilies and roses, locally grown herbs, and blooming shrubs line the already colorful streets. Grab a coffee and a fresh pastry from one of the charming cafes along the street and take in the bright blooms and fresh foliage as you stroll.
You’ll hear the vendors with their varied accents calling out prices and deals. Some are quite sassy and fun to interact with. The earlier you arrive at Colombia Road, the less crowds there will be and more flowers still for sale. The market is only open on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. And it really can get packed. But it’s worth it!
Broadway Market (East London)
Here you’ll find an inspired assortment of fruits, cheeses, and baked goods, but also locally made arts and crafts, vintage clothing, up and coming designers, recycled jewelry, and flower stalls. And of course, there are plenty of spots to grab a pint, a bacon and duck egg sandwich or a full Sunday roast a day early.
The stalls run along a few blocks between Regents Canal and London Fields. A visit to Broadway Market fits perfectly into a Saturday strolling along the canal and visiting Victoria Park.
Maltby Street Market (central London)
Sometimes I feel like this street market is my little secret. It is the trick I pull out of my hat when I want to really impress my visitors. This small market doesn’t advertise and is open on both weekend days making it a culinary paradise you’ll likely indulge in more than once.
Though set squarely in central London, the market will take you around the world. Sip an iced coffee brewed in a strictly Thai tradition or try a Dhan waffle from Taiwan. At the African Volcano stall, you can eat one of their famed burgers and take home a bottle of the homemade peri peri sauce. There are also a Spanish tapas, Greek beers, and Slovenian wines to sample.
My true favorite items at this market are the cream-filled donut holes from St. John’s Bakery, the rich Monmouth Coffee, cocktails with Little Bird Gin, and artisan smoked salmon from the fiords of Norway from Hansen & Lydersen. You choose the order you’d consume those in!
Portobello Market (West London)
The Portobello Market, open all week long, is really a cluster of smaller markets, with different specialties, but most people come to dig for treasure in the antique and bric-a-brac stalls.
The antique section of Portobello starts near the Notting Hill tube station and contains hundreds of stalls peddling everything from antique lace and vintage cameras to fistfuls of spoons and strings of vintage beads. There is also a great vintage clothing selection, nostalgic toys, old typewriters, and an endless selection of kitschy chachkies.
Where are your favorite street markets?