Spring is just around the corner in our part of the world, which means it’s times to emerge from our indoor cocoons, shed our winter wear and brave the big bad world outside.
That’s why, when writing our latest series of London guides for travel guide website Buggl, we thought we’d turn our attention to the great outdoors and give a run-down of the capital’s best outdoor markets. Markets are something London does rather well, from Columbia Road’s striking bevy of blooms to the long-running Petticoat Lane Market and its stacks of brightly coloured textiles and clothing.
Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve shared our London secrets with Buggl. In the past, we’ve produced online travel guides showcasing city highlights ranging from East London’s best curry houses to best theatres outside the West End, as well as the great London parks for when you need to escape the city’s concrete and crowds.
Planning a spot of shopping in London? Scroll down for our insider selection of our recommended markets. To see this travel guide in its entirety, head over to the Buggl website, where you can download it free of charge.
The Best London Markets to Bag A Bargain
There are many reasons to visit London’s markets. Not only do they give you a real flavor of the city, but they also offer value for money. Without huge overheads and sky-high rents, the vendors can afford to sell their goods at more modest and affordable prices.
Then there’s the sheer variety of stalls. Shopping malls and high streets are usually dominated by commercial chain stores. Markets on the other hand, generally have independent traders, which bring an element of surprise — you never know what you might discover. With everything from ethnic street food and handicrafts to antiques and bric-a-brac, London’s markets provide the chance to find unusual, one-of-a-kind items.
Brick Lane Market
This sprawling Sunday market spreads out along the northern part of Brick Lane and through several surrounding streets. It even encompasses the fashionable Sunday Upmarket and the food-centric Boiler House Food Hall, both located in the Old Truman Brewery. There’s a wide variety of stalls and stands, and the result is an unpredictable mishmash of all sorts of items, from bargain bin second-hand books to stylish vintage clothes. The food offerings range from bog standard East End fruit and veg stalls to more exotic ethnic snacks, such as okonomiyaki pancakes and empanadas.
Petticoat Lane Market
This rough and ready East End market has been on the go since the 1750s. Merchants and traders crowd the narrow street every Sunday and sell all sorts of cut-price wares. It’s not the prettiest market in the world nor is the stock of the finest quality, but there are bargains to be had, especially when it comes to leather goods. Behind the stalls, you’ll find Asian fabric shops selling bright and elaborate patterned fabrics.
Columbia Road Flower Market
This famous East End flower market is a visual treat. Every Sunday, vendors arrive with flowers, plants and shrubs turn the road into a riot of color. There are exotic bulbs, homegrown potted plants and more tulips, roses, lilies and petunias than you can shake a stick at. The hawkers are vocal, hollering out prices and offers to the passing crowds. If you’re plant adverse, there are still plenty of art galleries, independent shops and cafes on the street to keep you entertained.
Portobello Road Market
This market — a London institution — is all about vintage, antique and retro items, although it also boasts a tasty selection of street food. It’s a favorite among tourists, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains to be had. You just have to look hard. Saturdays are generally very crowded, while Fridays are typically less busy.
What’s your favourite London market? Did it make it onto our list? If not, tell us what we should have included on Twitter. (Following us also gives you access to our expert travel writing tips and other travel-related titbits.)