London has a long and colourful history of market culture, dating back
well over 1000 years when it was all about barrow-boys, fresh produce
and the odd bit of fencing stolen goods. These days, it’s often about
independent designers, decadent food and paying with credit cards. A
combination of the two mean London markets feature heavily on the
tourist internary, but don’t let this put you off. Seven days a week
there is a market to visit providing the opportunity to give your bank
balance a good battering, or, if you’re skint, at least there’s plenty
to look at.

Weekdays, Camden is a great destination providing six markets to peruse
that offer clothes, jewellery, arts and crafts, furniture, fruit and
veg, more Union Jack paraphernalia than you could ever wish to
encounter, and copied clothes and shoes of every designer label
imaginable. Camden Town tube is where you need to get to and then just
follow the crowds down the High Road.

Borough Market is the place to be Fridays. The closest station is
London Bridge and the market is located on the South side of the river
in Southwark . This Farmer’s market is open to the public on Fridays
12-6pm and Saturdays 9am-4pm. It is best to visit after 2pm on Fridays
when all the suits have returned to their offices and the market is far
less crowded. Don’t arrive hungry or you will find it hard to resist
the temptations on offer. There is organic everything, fresh game, meat
and seafood, cheeses, breads, specialty continental delis and chi-chi
delights such as tapenade of sea vegetables.

Portobello Road in Notting Hill provides the location for a Saturday
market stroll. Ladbroke Grove station is the better option to get there
and you can spend all day wandering amongst the stalls and various
shops that line the road. At Portobello darling “used” is always
“vintage”, everything costs more than at any other market and you are
almost guaranteed to spot a celeb slumming it with the masses. There
are clothes, art, food, trash, treasure and antiques galore.

If your Sunday constitution will allow it, head for Columbia Road
Flower Market in the East End sometime between 8 and 10am before it
starts heaving with people. A short walk from Shoreditch Town Hall,
Columbia Road is an assault on the senses, with colours and smells of
fresh cut flowers and plants in abundance. There is a little bit of
Cockney charm still evident at the market but when signs tell you that
your plants will “frive” (sic) you have to wonder if it’s all put on
for the tourists?

An added bonus at Columbia Road is the chance to point and laugh at all
the Shoreditch casualties milling about outside the Royal Oak wondering
how they ended up in the middle of a market when they haven’t been to
bed since Friday.

Sticking with the Sunday East End theme, you can then head toward
Liverpool Street Station and pay a visit to Spitalfields. An undercover
market it is a great place to visit on a rainy day. Even though a lot
of stalls double-up with traders at Notting Hill and Camden, there is
still much to see and buy unique to Spitalfields, including clothes,
jewellery, second-hand books and great collections of vinyl, furniture,
art, fresh organic foods and the best cheesecake in London.

The plethora of markets in London mean you could spend months visiting
one each week, and they not only guarantee to be full of great
characters and bargains, but provide the perfect excuse to get out and
discover different parts of the city.