I’m an absolute market fiend, whether I’m at home or on my travels. I love visiting markets at home because it takes me out of my regular world for a while, and forces me to adapt to market pace, whatever that may be on any given day. This is good for me, because I’m a bit of an OCD control freak, and I know that isn’t a healthy way to live 24/7. I love markets while I’m travelling because I firmly believe that the only real way to assimilate oneself into a new culture is via the markets. Eat there, shop there, talk to people there; ignore the nice restaurants and shopping malls, the markets are where you find real life, no matter where you are in the world.
While I was in London last year, we hit three markets in the space of about 48 hours, one better than the next! They weren’t “hidden treasures” or secret markets, they were three big ones that everyone knows about. But they’re all definitely worth visiting!
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road, stretching from Pembridge Rd near Notting Hill Gate, all the way down to Golborne Rd
This website gives a great guide to sections of the market and operational hours, so I won’t bother to regurgitate all of that. We went on a Saturday and it was fantastic, with my highlights being the antiques/vintage sections, and Acklam Village, which was a killed street food and bar area. Basically, you could get your food from any of the numerous vendors leading to the bar, then grab yourself a beer or cider and enjoy some live music and your drink and food in a communal area! Amazing! This was also my favourite market of the lot – it was a very mixed crowd, a bit of a hipster vibe, super laid back with great variety and excellent food options. That’s happy for me.
Catch the train to Camden Town and follow the hoards!
London’s most well known market, it’s just a sprawling metropolis of market goodness. I found this website really helpful as a guide when I visited, but you’re basically looking at a collection of adjoining markets collectively known as Camden Markets or Camden Lock. It has a reputation for an alternative kind of crowd, but again, it’s that big that you’ll find people from literally all walks of life there. I thoroughly enjoyed their international food area (seeing a pattern here?!) which you could have spent a day eating your way through. Actually, on that note, leave at least half a day to enjoy this market properly, it’s amazing and you’ll kick yourself if you have to rush through it!
Covent Garden Market
Take the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden! Easy!
This was a smaller but more intimate market experience than the others, in my opinion. I really liked it. There were lots of little stalls and shop fronts within the market, amazing baked goods and food items as well as beautiful handcrafted jewellery, stationery, hats, accessories, art work and more. You can see some of the vendors on their website; I particularly liked the Apple Market area. Definitely worth the visit, and the general Covent Garden area was really lovely, too.