the best markets in london

This post was published on my previous blog, CollegiateChic.com, which I wrote when I was in college. Though it’s been a few years since then, it’s a thorough guide that I think is pretty useful, so I’d love to share it here.

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One of the best things about Europe? The markets. And London is no different. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that some of the world’s most legendary markets are located in this incredible city. While I may be a little biased, I’ve also visited quite a few and have lots of tips to share. The markets in London are varied and enormous, and can satisfy nearly any sort of craving, whether it be for gooey melted cheese or age old antiques. Here’s my top four to hit:

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Portobello Road Market
On the bright and pastel colored streets of Notting Hill, you’ll find what is probably my favorite market in London. It’s fine to visit everyday, but the magic really happens on Saturday (head early to beat the crowds) to catch the antiques market. Gorgeous home wares, such as floral printed teacups and pots, vintage books (even some first editions), old maps, and even bigger pieces of furniture tucked inside some of the streets’ shops — anything an antique lover could wish for. Be sure to check out one of my favorites on Portobello Road: the Blue Door: great for London souvenirs, adorable tea ware, and beautiful maps of London drawn by a local artist! I of course picked one up before I went home.
TUBE: Notting Hill Gate (Central, Circle and District Lines)

Stephen Hall/Flickr Creative Commons
Stephen Hall/Flickr Creative Commons

Camden Markets
Settled in North London, this is like market MECCA. There’s the lock market, the stables market, the tourist shops lining Camden High Street. There’s food stands representing every nationality imaginable, jewelry stands, vintage stores, clothes, sunglasses, purses and bags, headbands, books – the list goes on and on. These markets is worth hours of perusing and multiple visits. Be sure to save room for food and grab something to go so you sit on the motorcycle seats that line the canal on a nice day. As with all markets, haggling is the name of the game here, so be sure and try to get the best price you can (or feel comfortable doing — I’m not the best haggler).
TUBE: Camden Town (Northern Line)

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Borough Market
Foodies, take note. A visit to London won’t be complete without a trip to Borough Market. This market is solely food, so come hungry. Notable buys are the paella (made in huge, drool-inducing paella pans) and the famous grilled cheese. There is also tons of pastries, breads, teas, juices, wines, etc, not to mention nearby restaurants. Get some grub here and then walk the short distance to the Tate Modern for an afternoon art viewing! It’s open Thursday-Sunday.
TUBE: London Bridge (Jubilee, Northern Lines)

Hans Dinkelberg/Flickr Creative Commons
Hans Dinkelberg/Flickr Creative Commons


Spitalfields Market
This is the market I’m least familiar with, so my tips will be brief. My main thing to say: check it out. I barely spent any time here while in London, and I regret it. Why? One, because Spitalfields is an awesome area with a lot of history. Two, this place is HUGE. They’ve got all your market staples, and more. Tons of stalls. Lots to purchase and peruse. Anything you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you can find it here. Unlike Camden, Spitalfields is located semi-indoors and in one giant space. However, the East End Markets and Beigel Shop are nearby and are definitely worth a visit. If you’re craving curry, head to Brick Lane. The best day to hit this one up is Sunday.
TUBE: Liverpool Street (Central, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City Lines)

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