Markets are arguably one of the best ways of soaking up a city’s “true” atmosphere. They’re a melting pot in which local and exotic goods blend to create a truly unique experience every time you visit. Seasons and availability bring about changes in produce on sale so their offering never risks stagnation.
In London, where it can be hard to avoid the tourist trap and venture off the beaten track, markets are a latierrademisamores welcome escape. Though some of the most historic and central markets are heaving with tourists and thrill seekers, their popularity is justified. For the more adventurous, however, some of London’s best markets are in the residential areas surrounding the city centre.
Brixton Village Market
Housed in a 1930’s arcade, Brixton Village saw a complete regeneration in 2009 when creative agency Spacemakers got involved. A competition for three months free rent saw local entrepreneurs and creatives coming up with fantastic ideas to fill the derelict space. Some of the winners and many more have now become permanent unit holders. These days, visitors can browse fabulous hand-drawn greeting cards and cute homeware at Brixi, invest in vintage or indie designer gear at Saloon, satisfy their sweet tooth at the aptly named Sweet Tooth confectioner and more. The old arcade is also home to some great neighbourhood restaurants with affordable prices. Choose from Pakistani cuisine at Elephant, Italian goodies at Bellantoni’s, burgers at Honest Burgers and more. Look out for the market’s regular “lates”, when shops stay open for longer and shopping is accompanied by live music and workshops.
This East End hive of activity is more than just a market, it’s a catwalk too. Some of the city’s hippest and best dressed crowds gather over the weekend to strut their stuff and make a few impulse purchases along the way. Traditionally, a specialist food market, Broadway has grown to include clothing stalls and boutiques, jewellers and other types of peddlers. Here, plastic bags are banned and instead you can buy yourself a souvenir bag to show off to the rest of the glitterati where you’ve been. Market highlights include the bread and cake stalls piled high with freshly baked goods, cheesemongers and vintage clothing sellers.
Open from Tuesday through to Sunday, Greenwich Market offers an array of goods from antiques to food. It’s a covered market, so is an all-weather favourite. Rummage through fantastic vintage items and collectables to pick out a truly unique London souvenir. As seems to be the going trend at many modern markets, Greenwich also specialises in organic, handmade, vegetarian, vegan and superfoods. Try the delectable sushi at Koyul, savour a crunchy baked treat at Ruby Tuesdays artisan vegan bakery or sip a farmhouse cider from Orchard Press.
As if sightseeing wasn’t enough, exploring markets is truly exhausting, but in a good way. You’ll be so full of tasty treats at the end of the day that a good night’s sleep is guaranteed. Look out for hotels in London Westminster, a great, central location with excellent transport links to most of the city’s markets.
Harvey McEwan writes to offer information and advice on a variety of areas, from technology to holiday destinations. Read through Harvey’s other articles here to find out more.