This city could be famous simply for its markets selling everything from fresh produce, bread and cheese to ready-made food, flowers, and vintage finds. Let’s leave out all that stuff about London’s status as a world cultural capital and leading global city for over two millennia… we’re going to talk about the drool-worthy markets. Who has time to visit a world class museum when there is a guy serving caramelized plantains from a stall over there? London is home to some massive markets that set up on the weekends (and some weekdays) that cater specifically to your inner foodie and vintage fashionista needs. With so many options and so many markets, how does one choose? Here we present our top 5 based on food/fashion/art selection, vibe, and people-watching opportunities. All are
Alternative Atlas approved!
1) Broadway Market
This has to be at the top of the list. The market is located in Hackney in an adorable neighborhood… I got a great feeling from being here. The market is open on Saturdays from 9-5 when the street is closed and the stalls are open!
There is a really relaxed and cool vibe here; it caters to a younger crowd and spills out into a park where you can sit and enjoy your delicious foodie finds.
The focus here is definitely on food; we split a dish of vegan paella, a fig and honey sourdough pizza, and coconut water (drank from a coconut, of course). The coconut stand was especially fun: they took our photo and posted it on their Instagram page.
If you want to visit a market where the locals hang out, this is it. Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ.
2) Colombia Road Flower Market
In my head, a flower market is a very dainty affair. There are beautiful bouquets arranged in orderly rows being sold by very polite old ladies in matching floral outfits. The Colombia Road Flower Market is the opposite of that. It is a huge collection of stalls run by gruff old men (usually shirtless) shouting their prices and 2-for-1 deals to the passers-by.
After walking through the market I was overcome by this this “what did I just witness?” feeling… I suppose it can be shocking to hear so many curse words being yelled in various English accents to describe a selection of flowers. “Too forra tenna! Too forra tenna! I’m givin this foockin theng away now come on!”
Certainly the Londoners know this is a steal because they come here in droves and leave carrying massive bouquets; the whole scene is pretty surreal and shouldn’t be missed. Make sure to make this part of your Sunday in London. Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG.
3) Borough Market
This market is one of the largest and oldest in London, and specializes in British artisanal baked goods, dairy, and locally-sourced meats and fish.
There are some awesome stalls here with some equally awesome cheeses. I bought a small bit of Stilton from the L’Ubriaco (which translates to “drunk cheese”) stall. After ordering, the man said “Be careful, this is a delicate cheese. You might cry. I cry every time.”) I love these guys.
Also, it is encouraged that you drink wine while perusing the stalls, so of course Jaime ordered a glass of Prosecco immediately.
Lastly, I found my favorite beer of all time here: Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait. I’m sure I cried then, because a man nearby asked me what was so special about this particular beer. I can’t remember what I said, but obviously I was convincing because he bought a bottle as well.
Did I mention that a bakery school also operates from here? The market is open Wednesday through Saturday. 8 Southwark Strett, London, SE1 1TL.
4) Sunday Upmarket
Located near Brick Lane, the vibe here is a mix between funky and uber cool, and this is definitely a place where you will find hipster beard grooming tools and WWII army surplus side by side.
As well as fashion stalls, this market has an incredible selection of street food vendors. The best part? The free samples of course! Make sure to walk around before deciding what to buy.
The food is very affordable; we bought a huge plate of Venezuelan black bean arepas for less than £5. We also bought fried plantains, shelled nuts, and a Chinese vegetable baozi bun. Woah is that a bunch of Cholula down there?
There is a lot to see here and the market is one of several that runs along Brick Lane… Sunday Upmarket, The Vintage Market, Boiler House, The Tea Rooms, and the Backyard Market are all part of the larger Truman Markets. Old Spitalfields and Petticoat Lane are also iconic London markets that are within walking distance. Ely’s Yard, The Old Truman Brewery, London E1 6QL.
5) Brick Lane Market
This London staple operates every Sunday and hosts a wide assortment of bargain vintage stalls and bric-a-brac. If you can handle the crowds it’s a great time.
There is a focus on fashion here, so expect some prime people-watching!
The market starts in the heart of the Bangladeshi community and runs past the Truman Brewery, so you can easily see several markets in one day. 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QR.