Everyone has his or her reasons for visiting London. It could be to take in the city’s rich history, or to see some of the iconic attractions that the London is known for (Buckingham Palace, London Eye, or Westminster Abbey), or even to check out the amazing food scene. “Eating your way through London” (hate that phrase) can be a trip in itself. There are thousands of eateries and the variety of food options will definitely please the pickiest of eaters.
Contrary to US tourists’ beliefs, London isn’t all about the bangers and mash or the fish and chips. Instead, it’s home to some of the most amazing culinary hot spots in the world. Hitting London’s food scene doesn’t require a 3 month wait list for a reservation and a cool $700 tab at the end of the night. With so many scattered across the city, a London market is a good place to try new, authentic, and colorful cuisines.
What I’ve got for you here is a list of my London favs and a quick little tip that I learned about each one.
It’s the most well-known and one of the oldest food markets in London. Open Monday through Saturday, the Borough Market is a Londoner’s go-to for fresh produce. Exploding with culture, stall merchants, fragrant smells, and of course tourists, the Borough Market can be located right across the street from the London Bridge Underground Station.
Here, you’ll find all kinds of stalls selling fresh breads to exotic meats (like rattlesnake and kangaroo – I swear.) to my favorite, drunken cheese. You’ll find seafood that’s just been caught or even sometimes still alive, freshly squeezed juices and smoothies, to vegetables that are straight farm-to-table.
»What I Learned: The market opens at 10am, but I found that going an hour or two after opening, I beat “a little” of the tourist crowd and felt as though there was a better chance that all the stalls are officially open.
Old Spitalfields Market
Art, fashion, food. Three descriptors that encompass the Old Spitalfields Market. Just a quick 5 minutes walk from the Liverpool Underground station, this East London market has some serious eclectic vibes.
Open seven days a week, the market features a variety of events that are held either on a daily or weekly basis. For instance, the produce market is featured every Wednesday, a “Classic Cars Club” was featured earlier this month (cue my dad salivating over this!), and the “Startisans” every Friday, which features new start ups and artisans.
The market is intermixed with restaurants, hair salons, jewellery shops and classic skin care stores like Kiehl’s.
»What I Learned: Sundays are the busiest day of the week to hit up the market. Monday through Wednesday offers a limited supply of open stalls, so I found that the market was in full swing on Thursdays and Fridays and, as an added bonus, I was able to do some thrifting on those days, too.
My jam. Located in North West London and a few minutes walk from the Camden Underground station, Camden Market is open every day and is filled with the most eclectic spread of food, fashion, and art.
A shopper can find almost anything here from souvenirs to retro glam/ urban and street fashion. Indian textiles and vintage cameras for sale are littered in stalls across the market. Some of the best stalls are buried deep in the middle of the market, so make sure to carve out a nice chunk of time exploring.
Camden’s edgy vibe plays well all throughout the market and right into it’s food scene. When you’ve shopped until you worked up a serious appetite, stay in the market and check out ANY of the killer food choices. You cannot go wrong with any food decision. The spread ranges from sushi, to quaint tea rooms, to burgers and mammies and my ultimate favorite, pasta tossed in a cheese wheel. To. Die. For.
»What I Learned: Camden Market does host events, some are free while others require tickets in advance. This was obvious, but I didn’t do it because I just didn’t think about it: Make sure to check out their site before going to make sure you’re not missing a sweet event!
Portobello Road Market
Located in the cutsie little nook of Notting Hill, Portobello Road Market is a tourist hot spot. It’s known more as a flea market or a street market. It’s a shoppers dream for collectibles and antiques.
Saturdays are the prime day of the week for this market; it’s known as the “main antiques day”. Maybe it’s not called that per se, but it’s for sure the busiest day. Some stalls are open on Fridays, along with numerous stores, making this the second busiest day. Portobello Road Market is also open some days for a half day, where merchants are selling fruits and veggies.
The trip to the market is definitely worth it, even if you’re not feeling up to crowds.
»What I learned: Saturday is the best day to go, but I stopped in early before 11am since someone told me that this is when the market is about to get real busy.
Each of London’s markets offer a huge spread of attractions for everyone. Although my time in London wasn’t spent at markets every day (that would get old IMO), I did like spending a morning visiting one or two of these famous hot spots. Whether it be shopping for vintage trends at Old Spitalfield’s then meandering south for a hearty lunch at the Borough Market, or making a quick trip up to Camden and moseying around Camden Lock, London’s vibrant market scene is definitely my one of my faves.
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