London markets - 15 of the best markets by Mark Sukhija

London is famous for its numerous markets dotted around town. These are what I think are 15 of the best London markets.

  1. Borough Market (Borough High Street, SE1, Open: Thursday 11am - 5pm, Friday 12pm-6pm, Saturday 9am-4pm) - One of London's largest and oldest markets, Borough is a covered food market underneath the railway station. Surrounded by Victorian style architecture, the famers market on Saturdays is well reputed for its fresh, organic produce including seasonal fruits, confectionery, chutneys, jams and a plethora of breads and cheeses.

  2. Billingsgate Fish Market (Trafalgar Way, Isle of Dogs, E14, Open: Tues-Sat 5am-9:30am) - London's most famous fish market with merchants offering almost every type of seafood you can imagine from jellied eels to salted cod, Norwegian Salmon and Canadian Lobsters.

  3. Leadenhall Markets (Whittington Ave, EC3 Open: Mon-Fri 7am - 4pm) - A restored Victorian food market which does an excellent line in cheeses, seafoods, meat, poultry and game. There's a good selection of pubs around the area as well which invariably do a decent line in beers - notably London Pride - and lunches. The Lamb Tavern, inside the market, does a decent selection of Youngs beers and is a great oppurtunity to pass some time under the glass roof and watch the world go by.

  4. Smithfield Market (Smithfield, EC1 Open: Mon -Fri 4am - 10am) - Smithfields is a meateaters paradise as London's largest wholesale meat market. Meat, game and offal are all on offer. Try one of the local pubs or cafes for an excellent English Breakfast. Under special license, beer and stout can be served from 6am - a pint of which is excellent to wash your breakfast down with.

  5. Spitalfields (Commercial Street, E1 Open: Mon - Fri 11am - 3:30pm; Sun 10am-3pm) - A rather odd mix of traditional market traders and fashion boutiques, immigrant communities, city works and Eastenders. Pretty much the lot from fashion to gourmet food, flowers and stuff for the home. Bishops Square is covered by an impressive glass canopy. Also an odd mix of Victorian and modern architecture.

  6. Columbia Road Flower Market (Columbia Rd, E2 Open: Sundays, 8am - 2pm) - Tulips, petunias, bagels, buns and a pint of lager. Colombia Road Flower market is a fairly heady affair with staller holders hollering their offers. There's a massive selection of pots, plants, potted plants which means its a hayfever sufferers nightmare. Theres an assortment of shops with antiques as well. The best offers on flowers are available later in the day.

  7. Bayswater Road Market (South side of Bayswater Road, from Clarendon Place to Queensway) - Outdoor art market swith artists laying their oils, watercolours and sketches et al along the pavements are park railings for your perusal. There are some sculptures and handmade jewellery as well.

  8. Chelsea Antiques Market (245-253 Kings Rd, SW3 Open: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm) - Large and busy market in fashionable Chelsea known for its collectables especially for clocks, watches, and jewellery. Assorted bric-a-brac for the more budget-conscious.

  9. Charing Cross Collector's Fair (Villiers Street, WC2 Open: Saturdays, 8.30am-5pm) - Small, yet popular, antiques and flea market. Rows of stamps, coins and medals are on offer. Plenty of smaller, eccentric and niche-interest items are also on offer. A small but popular antiques and flea market, selling bric-a-brac, furniture and household accessories. There are rows of stamps, coins and medals on offer here, making it a collector's paradise, as well as lots of small eccentric items making it an ideal place to shop for unusual gifts. Villiers Street, WC2 Open: Saturdays, 8.30am-5pm Charing Cross

  10. London Silver Vaults (Chancery House, 53-64 Chancery Lane, WC2A Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm, Sat 9am-1pm) - Somewhat hidden away, the London Silver Vaults are downstairs below street level on Chancery Lane. There's an excellent selection of silverware from candlebras to jewellery to cutlery. Helpful and knowledgable dealers.

  11. Petticoat Lane (Middlesex St and Wentworth St, Aldgate, Open: Mon - Fri 10am - 2:30pm; Sun 9am-2pm) - Over a thousand stalls are spread over Middlsex and Wentworth Streets and the surround lanes of this East End clothing market. There's plenty of fabrics, Indian-style jewellery, rugs, cheap kettles, toasters, bed linen and the like.

  12. Brick Lane (Brick Lane, Cheshire Street and Slater Street, E1 Open: Sun 8am - 2pm) - Brick Lane Market is as much of an institution as a market is ever going to be. Pretty much everything is on offer from leather, clothes, 2nd hand furniture to bric-a-brac. Indian and Bangledeshi restaurants compete for trade with hot dog stalls and trendy bars. Plenty of hussle and bustle.

  13. Portobello Market - (Portobello Road & Portobello Green, W11, Open: Saturdays 8am-5pm) Antiques and jewellery, deisgner and second-hand clothing sit alongside food stalls selling fruit and veg, breads and cheeses. Quite a trendy, popular popular market. More exclusive, boutiques in the shopping arcade on Portobello arcade.

  14. Camden Market (Camden Lock Place, Camden, NW1 Open: Mon - Sun 10am-6pm) - Youth culture has given way to a mixed crowd over the years especially with Camdens once seedy reputation transformed into a place of note for ethnic arts, crafts, jewellery and second-hand clothing. Originally, Camden Lock market was next to the Grand Union Canal with three open yards around a Victorian Market Hall. Food stalls offer a variety of goodies such as falafel, Thai noodles and crepes. More expensive such as antiques and handmade one-offs are offered inside the market hall itself. The Stables Market, under the railway arches, does cheap and cheerful clothing and bric-a-brac.

  15. Merton Abbey Mills Market (Watermill Way, off Merantun Way, SW19 Open: Sat & Sun, 10am-5pm.) - Ideal for a more leisurely market attendee, the weekend market of Merton Abbey, alongside the River Wandle, offers crafts some antiques, jewellery and handmade goods along with pine furniture and fresh, homemade produce. Theres also a working pottery in the old watermill and a textile museum dedicated to 19th Century textiles.

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Further reading

City of London - 4 great pubs - The best pubs in the City of London - the financial district of London

London - the 11 best pubs - 11 great pubs to have a beer in in London

London - 15 things not to miss - Fifteen things no visitor to London should miss

London - museums not to miss - Information on and about the museums in London

London - 6 historic pubs - Six historic pubs worth visiting in London

London - 4 Samuel Smiths pubs - Four great Samuel Smtihs pubs around London for a drink

London - façade of St Pauls Cathedral - Detail of the façade of St Pauls Cathedral in London

Diamond Jubilee - Royal Salute - Royal salute for the Household Cavalry at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

London - Queen Elizabeth II at the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession - Queen Elizabeth II in an open top carriage in Whitehall, London to commerate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

London - Palace of Westminster - The Palace of Westminster and Big Ben overlooking the Thames River in central London

Camden - Official website of the London Borough of Camden

Visit London - Official website of the London Tourist Board

Key facts

Name: Billingsgate Market
Trafalgar Way, London, E14 5ST
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Name: Borough Market
8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL
Learn more
Name: Leadenhall Market
Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 1LR
Learn more
Name: Merton Abbey Mills
Merton Abbey, London SW19 2RD
Name: The London Silver Vaults
53-64 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1QS

About Mark Sukhija

Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook