Good for: food
The famous Borough Market is London’s oldest – dating back to the 13th century. Now, it’s also the busiest and most popular for gourmet goodies. Here, traders satisfy the city’s insatiable appetite for beautifully displayed organic fruit and veg, cakes, bread, olive oil, fish, meat and booze. They say “don’t go shopping on an empty stomach”, but there’s a lot to nibble on at Borough Market, and it’d be rude to say no.
Good for: clothes, accessories, souvenirs
There are several markets under what you might call the Camden Market umbrella. Once you’re in Camden they’re all pretty easy to spot – a sprawling collection that offers a real smörgåsbord of street culture. Saturdays are not for the faint-hearted – you’ll see endless crowds swarming over lava lamps, skull rings, fashion, interiors, music and vintage items, too. There’s a lot to see, do and eat here, so we recommend making a day of it.
Covent Garden Market
Good for: antiques, gifts
This London institution may appear too commercial and crowded to provide a characterful retail experience, but some quirky gems lift the experience. The collonaded nineteenth-century Piazza building houses Apple Market, where tourist-friendly crafts are the staple, as well as cutesy chain stores – although it’s worth keeping a lookout for independents still holding their ground such as Eric Snook’s Toyshop and the specialist tobacconist/cigar shop Segar & Snuff Parlour. Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for arty knick-knacks and crafts largely geared toward tourists.
Portobello Road Market
Good for: food, antiques
Portobello is actually several markets rolled into one, all penned in by Notting Hill Gate tube at one end and Ladbroke Grove tube at the other. The stalls start with antiques; further up are the grocers; and emerging designer and vintage threads are found under the Westway. Saturdays are manically busy so head out early, especially if you’re serious about buying antiques.
Shepherd’s Bush Market
Good for: food, haberdashery
While Shepherd’s Bush Market is just a hop and a skip away from Europe’s largest urban shopping centre at Westfield, it’s a world apart in every other sense. At this gritty, multicultural market you’ll find a fantastic range of foodstuffs (Indian, Caribbean, African and Polish). You’ll also see vivid print fabrics, goatskin rugs, saris, home furnishings and electronics.