I love a high street haul as much as the next girl, but nothing beats strolling down a market street, walking away with a great bargain and still having a little spare change left over to treat yourself to a few drinks after.
While I can navigate my own city’s markets in my sleep, I love the thrill of being lost in a busy marketplace in a new city. A city’s markets are where you can truly experience local life at it’s best and everything wonderful it has to offer, from it’s famous delicacies, quirky clothes to it’s eccentric people, bustling about, getting on with their daily lives.
I had a couple of hours to spare between meetings so I decided to explore a couple of London’s markets to get some lunch and do a little window shopping. Here’s a little guide I put together along the way, so you can pick and choose what you’d like to see the next time you’re visiting:
PORTOBELLO ROAD MARKET
Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm (9am – 1pm on Thursdays)
Nearest Tube Station: Notting Hill Gate
Attractions: Notting Hill’s famous pastel houses, antique arcades
Must Do: Snag a vintage keepsake
If you’re looking for something old, be it a piece of antique furniture or a vintage jacket, you’re in the right place. Portobello Road Market is a haven for fashion lovers with a host of little boutiques, rare art-deco jewellery pieces and pop-up vintage shops hidden in other stores’ basements. Street stalls with everything from fringed kimonos to leather-sleeved military jackets and retro sunglasses are an absolute treat, but be sure to carry an umbrella and expect the market to close an hour or two early in the event of rain / extreme cold. Take time off from shopping to visit nearby Golborne road for some street food on the go.
COVENT GARDEN MARKET
Operating Hours: 10am – 6.30pm
Nearest Tube Station: Covent Garden
Attractions: Street performers, live music
Must Do: Pop over to Ladurée for a macaron
Nestled in the heart of London lies one of it’s oldest markets and one of my favourite places in the world. The atmosphere is unmatched, with a live string quartet, quaint pubs and restaurants and beautiful architecture adding to it’s old-world charm. While the market mainly sells touristy items and cheeky slogan t-shirts, you can also find brands like Chanel, Burberry and Dior standing tall under it’s gorgeous archways. You can also expect to find jewellery, candy, flower crowns and artwork spread among it’s Apple and Jubilee mini-markets.
Operating Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 10am-5pm
Nearest Tube Station: London Bridge
Attractions: Live music, foods from around the world
Must Do: Try as many free food samples as you can!
If, like me, you love your food, Borough Market is one you mustn’t miss. People of all nationalities gather here to celebrate the street foods that celebrate their country’s heritage. You can expect to find anything from Polish sausages to organic ice tea, flavoured fudge and even moong dal dosas! This is also the place to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies, select from the best the ocean has to offer, do a little wine and frommage tasting and indulge in mouth-watering treasures like white truffle honey, sourdough rolls, Santana apples, Mediterranean bruschetta and beer sticks.
Operating Hours: 10am – 6pm
Nearest Tube Station: Camden Town / Chalk Farm Road
Attractions: Costume stores, buildings with quirky exteriors and art installations
Must Do: Buy a piece of ‘I Love London’ merchandise
If I’m being honest, Camden Market was my least favourite of the lot. The equivalent of Bombay’s Fashion Street, the market was messy, overcrowded and not the easiest on the eyes. Clothes here are similar to those you find on the high street, but with a compromise on quality, for the same price. Camden has a variety of vintage stores, but after the beautiful ‘forever’ pieces Portobello had to offer, these seemed like a mess of beat-up Hawaiian shirts and faded bermuda shorts your mom wore out gardening in the eighties. The market is frequented by those who seem to gravitate towards punk / scene clothing, neon colours and fake designer goods.
I’m sure there are tons I am yet to discover, but these are definitely my go-tos. Which are your favourite London markets topop to when you have a couple of hours to spare? Share them with me in the comments below!