Sunday, 9 January 2011

London guide, Part 1: Markets

Here it finally is; my London guide! I will do it in several parts, focusing on different things every time, and I'll give you a little taste of the things I think are worth doing in London. I'll write about well known London favourites, but I'll try to concentrate on things that most tourists don't know about. In this first part I will write about markets.

There are so many fantastic markets in London, it's hard to know where to start! I absolutely love going to markets, either on my own or with friends. I love looking at all the things and people, feeling the atmosphere and getting inspired to go home and be creative. Here are some of my favourite markets.

Cabbages & Frocks
in Marleybone Village, situated at the top of Marleybone High Street, which runs parallell to Baker Street up from Oxford Street. Closest tube is Baker Street.
Open on Saturdays ca. 11- 5.

This market is quite new and small, but very worth visiting! You'll find anything from vintage clothes and accessories, to new designs made by young and often unknown people. I find a lot of inspiration in just looking around, and I often get new ideas for what I can make myself at home. There are also quite a few food and coffee stalls that sell delicious food to keep you going for the afternoon! The area around is also very nice, Marleybone High Street has lots of great shops and lovely cafés (I will write about cafés later on) and is perfect if you want to avoid the stress of Oxford Street (which I always do).

Southbank Book Market
Situated under the Waterloo Bridge, on the Southbank. Easiest way to get there is taking the tube to Embankment and walking over the bridge.
Open every day ca. 11-6.

This little bookmarket is often very overpriced, but you can sometimes find good bargains here. I still think it's great to look through the big piles of books that are laid out on the table, even if you don't find anything you want to buy. The area is also worth visiting; it's great for a Sunday afternoon stroll. The skyline is impressive, you can see Big Ben, Westminster and St Paul around you, and the South Bank area often has little stalls set up on weekends, selling food, coffee, clothes or arts and crafts.

Portobello Road
Open most days, but the biggest market is on Saturday ca 8-5.
Nearest tube is Ladbrooke Grove, but you can also walk down from Notting Hill.

I used to live ten minutes from Notting Hill a few years ago, and spent a lot of time in this area. Portobello Road is probably the most famous market in London, and it's very popular. Saturdays are crazy down there, so I normally try and avoid going there on that day. I find that Friday afternoon is a good time to go, as it's quiet, with fewer tourists standing in your way, but a lot of the stalls are still open, and so are all the shops. At this market you can find almost anything your heart desires, if you're willing to look for it! Most famously they have antiques, but they also have clothes, accessories, shoes, food, arts and crafts. You'll find young artists trying to sell their art or jewelry, stalls with second hand clothes and accessories, old china, or just random 'knick-knack'. The stall keepers are lovely and often very chatty, and they are willing to give you advise if you ask them nicely. A vibrant and exciting market to visit, and one of my favourites! Just be aware that a lot of the antiques can be overpriced, so check the prices in different places!
The market continues all the way down Portobello Road, under the West Way bridge through to Cambridge Gardens.

Northcote Road
Situated in Northcote Road, close to Clapham Junction. The train from Victoria to Clapham Junction takes about 10 mins. You can also get the train from Waterloo. To find it you have to walk through Clapham Junction (which doesn't look all that nice) up to the beginning of Northcote Road.
Open Monday to Saturday 9-5 (Wed. 9-1)

I lived in this area for a couple of years, and really fell in love with Northcote Road. It's got really great independent shops and lovely cafés with great food. There are quite a few kitchen and home-ware shops, in addition to antique- and clothing shops. The stalls at the market (which is situated alongside the road) sell flowers, food, photos, clothes and furniture. If you keep walking up the road there is a lovely antique shop just across the street from Cath Kidston (another shop worth visiting!).

Borough Market
Situated close to London Bridge, just off Borough High Street. Follow the signs from London Bridge.
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

This has been my favourite food market ever since I first moved here. Sadly a lot of it has closed down because of the Thameslink Project, and a lot of the old historic buildings in the area have been or will be knocked down. This includes the building in which Bridget Jones has her flat in the films.. But the market has moved over a little, and is still going strong. You'll find food from all over the world, both prepared and fresh, and most stalls will let you have a little taste of what they're selling. You can walk around and try cheeses, olives, chocolate, cured meat, or buy your lunch from Greek, Indian, German, Italian, English, South American or Spanish stalls. Other stalls sell fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, smoothies, coffee, glasses of wine or hot cider. Try the Cranberry stall, where they sell umpteen sorts of chocolate covered fruit and nuts, or the one that sells a hot apple and cinnamon drink.. Walk around and look at all the exciting things, enjoy the smells and chat to the nice people behind the stalls.
The area around is also very nice, with lots of little cafés and restaurants. The cheese shop Neal's Yard is one of our favourites, and absolutely worth a visit. Shakespeare's Globe is only a ten minute walk along the river from Borough.

Greenwich Market
A very big market situated in the Greenwich area.
Closest tube is Cutty Sark.
The whole market is open Saturday and Sunday, but different parts are open at other times as well.

This market is almost too big to describe in a brief manner. Here you'll find anything from clothes, antiques, food, drink, toys, music, arts and crafts and general 'bric-a-brac'. Great place to just walk around, suck up the atmosphere, look at things and people and then sit down for a nice lunch or coffee. The markets are situated mostly inside big market halls and in tiny little narrow passages in between. If you're in the area make sure you also take a walk around the impressive Royal Naval College and the National Maritime Museum up to Greenwich Park.

Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane
Spitalfields Market is situated close to Liverpool Street Station (follow the signs), and Brick Lane is a 5 min walk away.
Spitalfields is open Thursday (antiques and crafts), Friday (crafts) and Sunday (all).
Brick Lane and markets around are all open on Sundays.

Spitalfields is probably my favourite of all the markets in London. It's quite a big area with lots of different market stalls, and it's less famous than Portobello, which means fewer tourists and often better prices! In the surrounding area there are several market halls similar to Spitalfields, which are also worth looking around, but I find that most of them have similar things to offer. There are also lots of interesting shops around, particularly second hand clothes and shoes shops, and lovely cafés and restaurants. The Brick Lane area is quite 'up and coming', which I guess it has been for quite a while, but this means there are lots of fascinating people to watch, and lots of things happening in the streets!
Sunday is the best day to go, as that's the day when all the markets and shops are open. The markets are full of young people trying to sell their own designs, both clothes and accessories like handbags, earrings and hats, and the prices are often quite reasonable. You'll also find lots of stalls selling second hand clothes, accessories and home- ware, and also their prices are often good. In between all these there are food stalls where you can buy your freshly prepared lunch, and lots of different nationalities are represented.
To me this area is the perfect place to spend an afternoon, strolling around, sucking in all the impressions and inspiration you find everywhere.


  1. Godt nytt år fra Stavanger! Nå fikk jeg virkelig brennende lyst på en tur til London! Skal samle opp tips fra guiden du lager, og hvem vet? Kanskje blir det en tur engang utpå året:)Alt for lenge siden sist. Kjempefint å få slike insider tips fra lokalkjente. Halvparten av gleden er jo forberedelsene og forventningen.

  2. Godt nyttår! Så bra du blir inspirert :) London er en veldig spennende by, med mye som skjer hele tiden! Og jeg vet hvor lett det er å bli slukt opp i turistfellene om en ikke har planlagt litt på forhånd.. Og det er sant som du sier, forberedelsene og forventningene er halve spenningen!

  3. Synes en tur innom Spitalfields er obligatorisk, men er ikke fremmed for å prøve et nytt marked når jeg kommer. NÅR jeg kommer :-D Ikke lenge til!