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The Abroad Guide to London's Markets - Borough Market

The Abroad Guide to London’s Markets

guide to markets in london
When I touched down at Heathrow, I thought a market was a place to buy fruit and maybe bread. I had no idea about what the markets of London held. This city is home to some of the best and most diverse markets in the world- and there are so many of them! I found myself spending so much time in markets while I was in London because it was a great place to meet locals (both the buyers and the sellers) and it was a place to go when I didn’t have much else to do.

The Abroad Guide to London's Markets - Borough Market
Borough Market
Located in Southwark, this market was the place I took everyone who visited me in London. It also became the place I went to before class for breakfast, after class for a snack, or whenever. The first time I went, I spent an hour acquainting myself with all of the stalls before I decided what I wanted to buy. Borough Market is great for sampling food; everything from fresh bread and brownies, to olive oil and fruit {and drinks, including mulled wine and cider) is right at your fingertips. An unusual features is the exotic meat market, where you can purchase ostrich, zebra and kangaroo. But my favorite stall by far is Cherry Tree Preserves– I took home five jars of the raspberry and lemon curds, which I snack on with tea cookies when I’m having an I-miss-London day.

The Abroad Guide to London's Markets Portobello Market
Portobello Road Market
Exit the Notting Hill Gate tube station and find yourself in the middle of one of the most famous street markets in the world. Those looking for antiques may be overwhelmed at the selection found at Portobello Road Market. The market is in full swing on Fridays and Saturdays, with not only antiques dealers, but also produce, fashion, furniture and flower sellers. For the most part, stalls are grouped according to what they sell, so its relatively simple to navigate. An entire day can easily be devoted to this market, and while you’re there, Notting Hill movie fans can search out the locations of their favorite scenes. Portobello Market is located in the Notting Hill area of London.

The Abroad Guide to London's Markets - Brick Lane
Brick Lane
Brick Lane should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting London. This area is full of restaurants serving some of the best curry in Europe, and is one of the coolest markets I visited in London. The front end of Brick Lane Market is comprised of endless prepared food stalls, from Mexican to Bangladeshi. Farther into the market you will find stalls of new and secondhand clothes, hand-made jewelry, posters, hand bags, and one particular stall with some of the yummiest -and cheapest- macaroons I found in all of London. Saturday is the best day to visit, as the market is in full swing- and make sure to check out the famous street art surrounding the market and restaurants.

London's Markets - OId Spitalfield's Market
Old Spitalfields Market
Just a short walk from Brick Lane, Old Spitalfields Market is the place to go if you like fashion. I wish I could stock my closet with coats, dresses, sweaters, handbags and jewelry from this market, as everything is very trendy. In between ogling over pea coats and leather shoes, you can check out knickknacks and eat anything from a cupcake in a jar (two thumbs up) to crepes. Open seven days a week, Old Spitalfields is really unique because, while it has its usual vendors, certain days are specific to certain markets, like Friday Record Fairs. There has been a market located at Old Spitalfields for over 350 years, but these days, there are also permanent stores surrounding the stalls, including MAC and Mischa Barton’s boutique.

London Markets - Camden Lock Market
Camden Lock Market
Camden Lock Market is really difficult to explain, because I think it just has to be experienced. The location is awesome, situated right on Camden Lock, which is part of Regent’s Canal, and the Borough of Camden is very eclectic and lively. It is home to great nightlife and legendary pub crawls. The market itself is full of stalls selling iPhone cases and jewelry made from antique silverware, and almost everything in between. This market is great for vintage clothing and custom, hand-painted shirts, which make for a unique souvenir. This maze of stalls felt endless, so you’ll probably have to visit a few times to really grasp Camden Market.

Markets in London - Covent Garden
Covent Garden
The shops at Covent Garden are mostly permanent stores and boutiques, some which are chains and others independent. On Mondays, Covent Garden is transformed into an antiques market. A great souvenir or gift for someone back home is an antique tea cup and saucer, and there are plenty to be found at Covent Garden. There is also jewelry, knickknacks, old coins and war memorabilia. Take some time to sift through and you will definitely come across some very cool finds. Covent Garden was one of my favorite places to wander from store to stall, buying things like tea and Doctor Who posters. It is located just a short walk from Trafalgar Square.
After returning to the United States, one of the things I miss most about England is the markets. I miss the fresh produce and bread and the delicacies sold in the stalls. And I can’t even look at lemon desserts without thinking about the amazing lemon tart I had in Borough Market. The markets of London are a serious change of pace from places like Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, and most of them have been around for centuries, which is definitely cool! The market life is definitely a don’t miss while you travel!

For more info on London, check out our guides on how to save money while in London, our review of Generator Hostel in London, and our food guide for Londontown.

Photo sources: Jessica Spengler via Flickr, nabekor via Flickr, Tom via Flickr, Maria Guillaumet via Flickr, samchills via Flickr, Tony Austin via Flickr


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Liz is a recent graduate from Marist with degrees in English and psychology. She fulfilled her dream of living and studying in London during her junior year of college and cannot wait to keep exploring the world. When not writing and daydreaming about future travels, she loves hiking, reading and rowing. You can read about her back in the United States on her blog.


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