Markets are one of those shopping experiences unique to holidays: you know you’ll probably find a one-off item, and get a story to go along with it that you can tell the folks back home about. London is a city filled with markets, which range from the upmarket to mass market.
Antique hunters should make their way to Notting Hill’s Portobello Road Market for the very best in all things vintage. The area is comprised of several markets ranging from fashion and food to vintage clothing and accessories. Saturday is the big day when the full market takes place – the serious antique collectors get there early to find the real gems. You’ll also find lots of antique shops (open Mon-Sat) selling everything from ancient globes to 17th-century silver.
A Mecca for all things food-related, Borough Market sits in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral and specialises in selling well-sourced organic food with an emphasis on provenance – everything from truffles to charcuterie. Photographers will also delight in the wonderful scene with the market’s many characters matching the colourful produce.
Spitalfields near Liverpool Street station is said to be London’s oldest market and offers a mix of contemporary and vintage fashions, music, children’s toys, jewellery and home interiors. On Sundays, you can expect to browse 200 stalls, including a specialist organic market. The Old Spitalfields Market hosts the Paw Pageant (25 Aug), which sees London’s best-dressed and smartest dogs compete to win prizes.
Crafts, alternative fashions, jewellery, home furnishings and souvenirs – the list goes on. Camden Market is one of the biggest of London’s markets – there are several markets centring on the Lock and the high street, as well as bars and restaurants to suit all tastes. This summer, Camden Lock is hosting several Thursday night markets with street food and DJs to entertain. So get ready to have a wander and splash your cash.
The Sunday flower market on Columbia Road, around the ‘market hub’ of east London, is a blaze of colour. Here you’ll find around 60 independent shops, galleries and cafes (open all week) but it’s the stalls that hold the real charm, selling all seasonal varieties of plants, flowers and garden accessories. Open 8am-3pm, it’s towards the end of the day that you’re likely to find some bargains.