If you are keen to explore the real East London away from the tourist traps, there is no better way of doing so than rummaging through the wares and sampling the artisan delights at an authentic East London market.
In our fast-paced modern era, many facets have moved away from community atmospheres and experiences; East London markets are the last remaining vestiges of community culture. As an additional benefit, even if haggling is not your strong suit, East End markets are filled with bargains galore.
Whether you head to a market in East London alone or choose to explore the curios and local produce with your friends, it is a social experience; through which you will meet plenty of local characters who add to the vibrancy of the marketplaces – you may swear off shopping online and in chain stores ever again!
This list of the top 10 East London markets covers everything from foodie hotspots to prime locations for vintage fashion to multicultural hubs where you can explore the world via your tastebuds.
Top 10 East London Markets
1. Brixton Village market
Set aside plenty of time to explore Brixton Village Market, which is open seven days a week. It houses over 100 independent traders, so even if you are not sure what you are looking for, you will find something between the boutiques, international food shops and antique shops. Some top traders in Brixton Village Market include the 1950s-inspired clothes shop Leftovers, and Saloon, known for mixing feminine vintage fashion with pieces from independent labels.
Once you have finished browsing the stalls and worked up an appetite, sate it in one of the many foodie-recommended cafes or pop-up restaurants, which represent Indian, Asian, African, Caribbean and almost everything in between authentic cuisine!
The best way to head to Brixton Village Market is by hopping off the tube at the Brixton Underground or Overground stations. From there, it is a short one-minute walk until you arrive in the arcade, where you can find everything from Chinese Medicine to cheeses that would make for a winning charcuterie board.
2. Old Spitalfields Market
With its 350-year history, Old Spitalfields Market isn’t only one of the oldest markets in East London; but one of the largest and most revered. Whether you are shopping for gifts for yourself or someone else, the independent art and craft stalls will leave you with plenty of options.
Old Spitalfields Market is also one of the only markets to have an event page listing all of the various events which take place under its historic roof. Special events hosted at the market include everything from record markets, where you won’t just be left flipping through the same old unloved 75s found at other markets, beer festivals hosted by local East London breweries, and weekly antique fairs.
The market is open every day of the week. If you plan on eating at one of the many street food-style vendors, expect queues during busy hours, which are typically around lunch times. The best way to get to Old Spitalfields is by tube; hop off at Liverpool Street Station.
3. Victoria Park Market
The Victoria Park Market pops up every Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm. Head along the Nightwalk section of the public space, and you are sure to find the sprawl of stalls, which many East Londoners save their weekly shop for.
The Farmers market makes it easy to ensure you are only purchasing local and organic seasonal fruit and veg, so you can get your five a day in the healthiest way possible, but don’t feel bad about treating yourself to something sweet or some award-winning international street food.
The stalls at Victoria Park market go above and beyond what you would usually expect from a Farmer’s market; there is everything from a kombucha bar to raw honey to kimchi to vegan cheese to single-origin coffee to farm-made pies.
4. Leadenhall Market
If only boutique and bougie will do, Leadenhall Market is sure to hit the extravagant spot. Dubbed as vibrant, intriguing, and iconic, Leadenhall Market is a hidden gem of a heritage site; it is worth exploring for the 14th-century Roman architecture alone; just don’t forget to look around the high-end and independent stores. The ticket price on some items may be high, but if you are in the market for luxury goods, Leadenhall Market is the market to head to.
Leadenhall Market often finds unique and innovative ways to celebrate national holidays and other events; it is always worth checking the event listings to check if there are extra reasons you should experience head down to the decadent indoor complex of market stalls. Recently, the market has hosted everything from a goose chase to a pancake day race. The market has also been known to awaken the senses by putting on mood-boosting light and audio trails when it isn’t getting slightly macabre by adding giant tentacles to the arcane architecture.
5. Columbia Road Flower Market
The Columbia Road Flower Market is one of the most verdant markets in East London, with every kind of flora you could hope to encounter. Don’t worry if you don’t know your succulents from your salix plants; the friendly traders will be more than happy to walk you through their wares and tell you how to look after them. The flower traders only set up shop on Sundays, so if you want to see Columbia Road in full bloom, save your trip for the Sabbath. Alternatively, if you want to browse the market when it is a little quieter, from Monday to Saturday, there is a cute and quaint enclave of deli shops, cafes and craft stalls to frequent.
Even though visiting the Columbia Road Flower Market is a visually decadent experience, most East Londoners refuse to buy their plants and other forms of flora from anywhere else due to the prices, which are often much cheaper than the nurseries and gardens you will find on the London high streets.
6. Netil Market
If you have a hankering for exquisite artisan cuisine but don’t have the budget for one of East London’s high-end restaurants or cafes, Netil Market will serve you some delicious plates at a fraction of the cost.
Nestled away in London Fields, the outdoor courtyard hosts a range of stalls that have been carefully curated to offer a great variety of indulgent street food eats. Rumour has it that the halloumi fries craze that has taken London by storm started in Netil Market. There are food stalls and wares straight from independent artist studios all week round, but new stalls tend to pop up every Saturday.
7. Brick Lane and Truman Brewery Markets
Top up your grunge wardrobe by visiting the Brick Lane and Truman Bakery Markets any day of the week. You will be right on trend in the Brick Lane bars and restaurants if you deck yourself out in the vintage clothes provided by one of the many independent traders. Once you have raided the clothes racks, check out the indoor food market hosted in the Truman Brewery, or see what the hype around the Brick Lane 24-hour bagel shop is all about!
One of the best days to explore the Brick Lane and Truman Brewery Markets is on a Sunday when a flea market is held in the Sclater Street car park. It will take some digging to find the hidden gems, but it can be one of the best markets to venture to if you want to kit your home with kitsch and retro wares on a budget.
8. Roman Road Market
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, Roman Road is taken over by one of East London’s oldest street markets. The Roman Road Market has been going strong for over 150 years, but it doesn’t struggle to keep up with the times and trends, which should leave Londoners of all generations keen to explore budget-priced goods.
Whether it is affordable homeware, fashion items or delicious street food you have set aside money for, Roman Road Market won’t disappoint. Notable staple stalls include St Sugar of London, Super Chef Caribbean, and Andy, the Donut Man. You can even pick up some end-of-the-line clothes from high-street labels, such as Zara and French Connection at minimal cost.
9. Broadway Market
If the idea of a traditional East London road market doesn’t float your metaphorical boat, see why Broadway Market sets itself apart from the traditional while keeping traditions alive; there are artisanal delights by the smorgasbord, and it is in a stunning area to boot! So once you have stocked up on gourmet goods, take it to London Fields Park and make a day out of your trip.
On a Saturday, there are plenty of stalls to explore in addition to the 70 cafes, shops and restaurants. Rumour has it that the Broadway Market, sometimes referred to as the Victorian Working Street Market, inspired the soap Eastenders!
10. Chrisp Street Market
Concluding the list of the top 10 East London markets is the Chrisp Street Market, which is one of the most authentic markets you will find in London. If you want to get away from the tourists and find cheap ways to stock up your fridge, the almost endless array of fruit and veg stalls to browse.
The market is open from Monday to Saturday; whichever day of the week you visit, you are bound to experience a lively atmosphere in the shopping district, which just so happens to be the first ever purpose-built shopping area in Britain. Once you have finished filling your shopping bags, be sure to notice the street art that burgeons across the brickwork and some of the historical landmarks.