London, in all its hip, fashionable glory, is a shopaholic’s nirvana. From Harrods and Mayfield, to just about any shop on Regent Street, there’s no shortage of tempting window displays and designer goods. Oxford Street alone, the city’s most popular bustling shopping district, has over 300 designer shops and unique boutiques to browse.
But ask a seasoned Londoner, and they’ll tell you there’s a no better way to spend a weekend morning than navigating the city’s famed street markets in search of that one perfect piece, that one-of-a-kind antique, or that fresh, farm-to-market produce—the stuff you just can’t find at the department stores (sorry, Harrods).
For some of the best street shopping and market stalls in London, check out these popular spots.
Borough Market (Borough Market, se1, t: 02074071002, open Wed–Thurs 10am–5pm, Fri 10 am–6pm, Sat 8am–5pm) is the stuff of foodie dreams, and happens to be one of the oldest and largest markets in London. From Wednesday to Saturday, vendors and suppliers flock here from around the country to peddle their delicious treats: fruits and vegetables, freshly-caught seafood, still-warm-from-the-oven breads, homemade chocolates, jams, olives…you get the idea. Bon appetit!
This diverse and popular market is sort of part-flea, part-pop up, part-sample sale—you might find a handmade piece of jewelry direct from the artisan, or you might find designer shops discounting their threads for a limited time. Whatever you’re after, Sunday Upmarket (The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, e1, t: 02077706028, open Sunday 10am–5pm ) is the perfect spot to buy unique, quality products from over 140 vendors—and it doesn’t hurt that more than a few of them sell delicious baked goods. Just follow the scent of scones wafting through the market.
Portobello Road Market
The famous Portobello Road Market (Portobello Road, w11, open Monday–Wednesday & Saturday 8am–6:30pm, Thursday 8am–1pm ) isn’t the place to go for bargain-hunting, but it’s definitely a unique and worthwhile experience. There’s no telling what you’ll find, as the market stalls tend to change every day, but that’s part of the fun. If you’re in the market for antiques, head to Portobello on Saturday, when the market expands to accommodate a huge variety of sellers. The farther down the street you go, the more unique the offerings get—so don’t worry about going under the somewhat shabby overpass. There may be treasure lying just ahead.
Alfie’s Antique Market
To get to Alfie’s Antique Market (13-25 Church Street, nw8, t: 02077236066, open Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–6pm), you’ll have to deviate a little from the standard tourist route, but it’s absolutely worth the detour. This market is a treasure trove for antique and vintage shopping aficionados. More than 100 vendors sell their wares in this enormous covered labyrinth, from teaspoons to sideboards. Tin Tin Collectables is a great spot for vintage clothing (don’t freak out, but Kate Moss is regularly spotted here). Added bonus, the Rooftop Kitchen is an excellent spot for a classic English breakfast or a quick lunch.
Broadway Market (Broadway Market, e8, open Saturday 9am–5pm) is where the city’s uber-cool hipsters flock to. It’s also a great spot to sit with a coffee on a Saturday morning and watch said uber-cool hipsters pass by. The market itself has been running for years—historical records show there were vendors here hawking their wares as early as the 1890s. It hit a bit of a rough patch in the 1980s, but the locals loved it too much to let it fall into decline; passionate residents pitched in and fully revived the market to its new, trendy splendor. Favorite businesses include the Spinach & Aguchi stall for delectable chicken stew with peanut sauce, Donlon Books and Artwords for exclusive photography and art books, and Off Broadway for cocktails.