Markets are an important part of everyday life in London, where produce is sold, goods are bartered and bargains are made. There are several scattered all over the city, all specialising in different wares. Here’s a guide to the main markets and what they have to offer.
Address: Bermondsey Square on Tower Bridge Road
Trading: 04.00 to 12.00 daily
Description: One of London’s oldest markets, Bermondsey is famous as a haunt of thieves, due to an ancient ruling (which, incredibly was only recently abolished) stating that the origin of goods sold before sunrise could not be brought under suspicion, therefore allowing stolen goods to be traded freely and without question. For this reason, the market has traditionally started very early in the morning. Get there early to find the best antiques.
Address: Portobello Road, Notting Hill
Trading: Saturdays, 06.00 to 16.00
Description: This area was a popular hippy hang-out in the 1960s and still has a bohemian feel today. The Saturday market stretches the whole length of the road and sells antiques and bric-a-brac as well as fruit and vegetables. The road itself is lined with antique shops, so it’s worth a visit any day of the week.
Address: Brick Lane, Whitechapel, East End
Trading: 07.00 to 14.00 on Sundays
Description: In the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community, this market is surrounded by Indian restaurants and sells all sorts of junk and jumble from tables and chairs to kitchen sinks.
Fashion and Music
Address: Camden Lock, Camden Stables, Buck Street and Inverness Street in Camden Town
Trading: Sundays, 10.00 to 18.00, although many stalls are now open throughout the week
Description: This is a lively and colourful part of the city with some weird and wonderful market stalls selling unique clothing and jewellery and alternative music.
Address: Middlesex Street, Wentworth Street and around, Whitechapel, East End
Trading: weekdays and Sundays from 09.00 to 14.00
Description: Started over 400 years ago by French petticoat sellers, this market is still going strong today. The Lane was renamed by the prudish Victorians to Middlesex Street in order not to offend any delicate sensibilities, but the market retains its historic name. You won’t find many women’s undergarments any more, but most of the stalls still specialise in clothing.
Address: Southwark Street, just south of the River
Trading: fruit and vegetable wholesale Monday to Friday 04.00 to 08.00; farmers’ market and fine food market Fridays 12.00 to 18.00 and Saturdays 09.00 to 16.00
Description: Traditionally a fruit and vegetable wholesaler, this market has been extended in recent years to include an excellent fine food market and a farmers’ market. It’s housed in a marvellous Victorian hall.
Address: Gracechurch Street, next to Lloyd’s of London and near Bank of England
Trading: weekdays, 08.00 to 15.00
Description: Another great food market in an old Victorian building. It’s in the heart of the City, London’s financial district, and is busy with office crowds at lunchtime.
Address: Trafalgar Way, Docklands, East End
Trading: Tuesday to Saturday 05.00 to 08.30, Sunday 06.00 to 08.00
Description: This is the UK’s largest fish market, where fish from UK seas and beyond are sold and transported to restaurants and shops all over the country. All sorts of fish and seafood are on offer, and stocks vary depending on daily catches.
Gifts and Other Goods
Address: Covent Garden, opposite the Royal Opera House
Trading: daily, 09.00 to 18.00
Description: This gentrified old fruit and vegetable market is now a classy European-style square with designer shops and stalls surrounded by trendy bars, cafes and restaurants. It’s now more popular with tourists rather than locals.
Address: Upper Ground and Riverside Walk, beside the OXO Tower on the South Bank
Trading: 10.00 to 18.00 Tuesday to Sunday
Description: Surrounded by old warehouses with a bandstand at its centre where live jazz is often played in the summer, this pleasant market sells individually designed ceramics, sculpture, paintings and other arts and crafts as well as clothing, jewellery and accessories.
Address: King William Walk
Trading: 07.30 to 17.00 on Thursdays and 09.30 to 17.00 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Description: Established in 1737, Greenwich is another of London’s oldest markets. It’s now a huge complex of stalls, shops, bars and restaurants, and every day there’s a different variety of wares for sale – antiques and collectibles on Thursdays; antiques and collectibles as well as arts and crafts on Fridays; and an additional food hall at weekends.