Best Markets in London for First-time Visitors

Columbia Road Flower Market is one of the most popular Sunday markets in London

London has a long history of markets. The first market was held in Roman times already in the then small settlement called Londinium. As London expanded and absorbed numerous market towns, obviously the number of London markets also rose. In present-day London, there are about 280 markets to choose from! If it’s your first time visiting London, it might be overwhelming to decide which ones are worth visiting. So to help you on your way, here are the five best markets in London. Since these are my personal favourites, none of these are tourist traps either!

The 5 best markets in London

1. Old Spitalfields Market

The beautiful covered Old Spitalfields Market in Shoreditch, London is home to dozens of independent market vendors

Old Spitalfields Market is a beautiful indoor market in East London and by far my favourite of all markets in London! It’s also one of the showstoppers during my Shoreditch tours.

Old Spitalfields Market started as a traditional fruit and vegetable market over 350 years ago, but is far more funky today. The vibrant market hosts dozens of vendors selling anything from mouthwatering meals and snacks, hats, original artworks, books, unique fashion items and crafts.

Besides the stalls, the market building is also home to permanent restaurants and (upmarket) boutiques and shops. Are you an avid antiques collector? Then don’t miss the spectacular Antique & Vintage Market (every Thursday). Music lovers on the other hand should come down to the Vinyl Market (every first and second Friday of the month).

On Thursday there is an Antiques and Vintage market at the Old Spitalfields Market in Shoreditch, London

Where is Old Spitalfields Market in London?
The nearest Tube and train station is London Liverpool Street station. From there it’s a 5-minute walk to the market.

When is Old Spitalfields Market open?
The market is held 7 days a week all year-round. Shops are generally open from 10am till 7pm. The market is open daily from 10am till 6pm, with the exception of Thursday (8am-6pm) and Sunday (10am- 5pm).

2. Brick Lane Sunday Markets

Combine your visit to Old Spitalfields Market with the famous neighbouring Brick Lane markets. On Sundays, bustling Brick Lane becomes even busier thanks to two famous markets.

Firstly, there’s the incredible Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket. This indoor market is housed in several parts of the former Old Truman Brewery on both sides of Brick Lane. Come here for the best fashion, crafts, art and vintage finds or gorge on the wide array of mouthwatering street food.

Incredible street food at the Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket

Secondly, there’s the Brick Lane street market. This is an eclectic mix of traditional East London vendors, food stalls, artisan coffee and pastry stands, street performers and anything in between. And I mean ANYTHING! Even a chance to play chess with the regular market patron keen to take on any opponent.

Traditional street market stalls at Brick Lane Sunday Market

Looking for attractions near Brick Lane? Find original inspiration in my blog post: 10 Unique Things to See in Shoreditch.

Where is the Brick Lane Upmarket?
The nearest Tube and train station is London Liverpool Street station. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to Brick Lane.

When is Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket open?
Every Saturday: 11am-5.30pm
Every Sunday: 10am-6pm

Where is the Brick Lane Sunday street market?
Take either the Overground train to Shoreditch High Street or the Tube to London Liverpool Street station.

When is Brick Lane street market open?
Every Sunday from 9am till 3pm. Come early to beat the crowds.

3. Borough Market

Borough Market is London's biggest food market

Foodies rejoice and make your way down to the renowned food market Borough Market, pronto! This is one of London’s oldest and largest markets. Consisting of both an outdoor and indoor market area, Borough Market houses dozens of market stalls selling anything from top-quality cheese, fresh fish and meat, to freshly prepared paella and street food.

Boxes of mixed mushrooms at food market Borough Market in London

Still want more? Then sit yourself down at one of the surrounding wine and oyster bars or top restaurants. You certainly won’t go hungry here!

Combine your visit to Borough Market with a self-guided London walk along the Thames as described in my article: How to Plan Your Perfect Weekend in London: Day 1 (+free map).

Where is Borough Market?
The nearest Tube and train station is London Bridge. From there it’s a 5-minute walk to Borough Market.

When is Borough Market open?
Monday – Thursday: 10am-5pm (not all vendors are present on Monday and Tuesday)
Friday: 10am-6pm
Saturday: 8am-5pm
Sunday: closed (open in November and December)
The market is closed on public holidays.

4. Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market in East London is open every Sunday

Columbia Road with its colourful window displays must be one of the most picturesque streets in East London. The Insta-friendly shop windows are ever inviting, but curiously enough, most shops are closed six days of the week. That’s because they get all the trade they need on Sunday, when the weekly famous Columbia Road flower market is held. It’s one of the most bustling London street markets and the best time to visit is earlier in the day when it’s not incredibly busy yet.

The best time to visit Columbia Road Flower Market in London is earlier in the day

Besides endless stalls of plants and flowers, there are also street musicians who give the market extra atmosphere. And since it’s East London you’ll obviously also find artisan coffee shops and a few great restaurants here.

On Sundays there is live music at the Columbia Road Flower Market, London

How do I get to Columbia Road Flower Market by Tube?
Columbia Road Flower Market might be a bit difficult to find as it’s located in a slightly hidden residential area. The nearest stations are Hoxton Overground (9-minute walk), Shoreditch High Street Overground (12-minute walk) or Cambridge Heath Road Overground (13-minute walk). Alternatively, you could take the Tube to Bethnal Green (17-minute walk).

What time is Columbia Road Flower Market?
Every Sunday from 8am till 3pm. Come early to avoid the crowds.

5. Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill must be the mother of all markets in London! Consisting of several connecting street markets, the world-famous Portobello Road Market is one mile long! (That’s over 1.5 kilometres!) No wonder there are several maps dotted around the area on street signs and lamp posts to help you navigate your way around. The market is made up of the following five sections: Antiques, Bric-a-brac, Fashion & clothing, Fruit & Veg and Food.

The most famous part is probably the antiques section at the beginning of Portobello Road (coming from Notting Hill Gate Tube station). Here you’ll find several antiques & vintage shops like Alice’s you see in the photo below. Paddington Bear fans might recognise it as Mr Gruber’s Antique shop in the films!

Alice's vintage shop on Portobello Road London appears in the Paddington Bear films

Besides market stalls and shops you’ll also find cosy cafés, inviting restaurants and little hidden alleyways on and around Portobello Road. It really is worth going off for a wander in the area, even if it were to just get away from the crowds in the market for a moment.

Portobello Road is famous for its market, but also its shops and cafés

What is the nearest Tube for Portobello Road?
From Notting Hill Gate it’s a 5-minute walk to the start of Portobello Market. Or take the Tube to Ladbroke Grove from where it’s a 4-minute walk to the centre of Portobello Road.

What day is Portobello Road Market open?
The street market is open Monday till Saturday, but not all sections are open on weekdays. The complete market is only open on Saturday (9am-7pm). Antique stalls are present on Friday and Saturday.

I hope you found this article useful for planning your own city trip to London! Want more ideas for free things to do in London? You might want to see some of the world’s best street art dotted all around the capital or enjoy spectacular views over London from the 35th floor of the Sky Garden.

By the way, what do you think of the photos in this post? They’re all taken and edited by me and personally I’m super pleased with them. One of my blogging goals for this year was to improve my photography, so let me know what you think of it!
Thanks, Zarina xx

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18 thoughts on “Best Markets in London for First-time Visitors

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    1. Dutch Girl in London

      Ah wat jammer! Ik had zelf ook een aantal groepen die een rondleiding in Londen met mij hadden geboekt die nu zijn geannuleerd/verschoven. Hoop dat jullie stedentrip alsnog snel kan plaatsvinden!

  5. Lodi

    wat een super gave plekken om te bezoeken wanneer je in Londen bent. Ik hou sowieso van markten in het buitenland. De sfeer vind ik er altijd zo gaaf om mee te maken.

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