While visiting England, spending Sunday at one of the many street markets in London has become a pleasant pastime. Many travelers get an early start, visit one market, have brunch and head for another. Each market has something unique to offer in addition to the goods for sale. Their neighborhoods are interesting and you might find the cuisine a little less expensive than in central London.
Street market shopping is not for everyone, but if it’s for you, these markets are a great place to snag something to brag about back home.
We focus on the Portobello Road Markets and the Camden Market, although we provide coverage of six other markets that may be of interest
Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove
The Portobello Road Market, one of London’s famous outdoor flea markets, has become fairly commercialized and real bargains are hard to find. On weekends, it has the feel of 70’s “head shop” with boodles of things you would never buy on any other occasion.
Wander both the outdoor stands and the permanent indoor arcades and you will find something you just demands to be purchased and taken home with you. You will find fascinating , custom jewelry and unique crafts. In reality, most of us the Portobello Market because it is just plain good fun. Mix with the crowds, scan the amazing diversity of goods and strike up some conversations. You will be glad you did.
Fans of the movie “Notting Hill” may notice that many of the storefronts seen on a visit to Portobello Road were captured in various scenes of the movie.
If you are interested in the Portobello Road Antiques Market, snoop around the website of the Portobello Antiques Dealers Association. Other information is available from the official website of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which describes the markets, opening hours and how to get there.
The Camden Markets
Camden Town, Chalk Farm
There are six markets including: the Camden Stables, Camden Lock, Camden Canal, Camden Buck Street, Inverness Street and the main street itself (along Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road).
The focus varies by market but most of what you will find can be categorized as antiques, clothes, furniture, collectables, jewelry and accessories. You will find numerous snack shops, several pubs and a number of restaurants in the area. The Electric Ballroom (near the Tube station on High Street) has an interesting clothing market on Sundays only.
Camden town, which hosts the Camden Markets, is an interesting stop by itself, but the area has been overwhelmed by the success of its flea markets. The best (and most crowded) time to visit is on Saturday when all of the markets are at their peaks. Many but not all of the markets are open during the week and numerous shops are now open seven days a week. The crowds peak on the weekend and build up to the weekend crescendo starting on Thursday.
People watching is probably the greatest sport here, but if you like to search for bargains, this is the place. The market’s neighborhood is “edgy” and not for the tame of heart. You will see an amazing cross section of society and some segments of civilization that you may have not yet seen! Many feel that the “mix” is part of the attraction of these markets.
Visit this website for more detail on the various markets and for helpful information on transportation to the Camden Markets.
Aldgate East or Liverpool Street
Spitalfields Market has a variety of specializations, but is most often classified as a good old “flea-market”. Sunday (0900 to 1400) is the most active day and also the most fun. See the\ websites for the Spitalfields Market and the Old Spitalfields Market for more information on visiting and the variety of shops available..
Aldgate East, Aldgate
Although the street Petticoat Lane has not survived, its market continues to exist along Wentworth, Middlesex and Goulston. Known for fashion for the whole family it is open limited hours during the week and on Sunday (its biggest day) from 09AM until 2PM.
Primarily a food market, the Borough Market spreads over several blocks. We find it enjoyable and even more so when we have a flat with a kitchen. Open only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Hours vary but the market is always open between 1100 to 1600 . See this official website for more detail
Brick Lane Market
Liverpool Street, Aldgate East
The Brick Lane Market is focused along the north end of Brick Lane extending along Cheshire Street and others, so you may have to do a bit of wandering to see it all. This is a classic flea market and runs on Sunday from 0800 to 1400. You will find a lot of junk, some fashion and a few attractive trinkets. Remember, this is the East End, so if you are in the mood for Indian food, you may have found a new home. A smaller market runs during the week. See the Brick Lane website for more details on visiting.
Columbia Lane Flower Market
Columbia road is primarily a “garden” market selling cut-flowers, plants, bulbs and shrubs. Also, you can find all sorts of gardening accessories and gifts for the gardeners on your list. It runs Sunday only, from 0800 to 1400. This site offers more information.
Not very close to any Tube station but Bermondsey, Elephant & Castle and Borough are the nearest.
Known for antiques and silver, the Bermondsey is a market in flux. The area around it is being redeveloped and the markets status is unclear. The market is open on Friday from 4am to 1300, rain or shine. One piece of advice – get there early if you hope to find a bargain. Click for the website of the Bermondsey Market.