8 Best Open Air Markets in London

September 27, 2018

Open air markets have been happening in London for centuries. Long ago, traders gathered with food and their wares throughout the region to meet the needs of their customers. Fast forward to present day London: locals and visitors still enjoy purchasing fresh produce and pastries, silver and stemware, clothing and collectibles.

When you visit London, here are several markets you might enjoy:

4 Best Known Markets

  • Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill
  • Apple Market in Covent Garden
  • Jubilee Market, also in Covent Garden
  • Borough Market on Southbank

4 Bonus Markets

  • Shepherd Market in Mayfair
  • Camden Market
  • Columbia Road Flower Market
  • Bermondsey Antique Market

Ready to begin your virtual tour of these London markets? Hang on — here we go!

Now let’s look at the markets one by one to help you decide where to begin:

Portobello Road Market

Every Saturday, thousands of people from around the world gather on Portobello Road in Notting Hill to search for a treasure or a souvenir. Visitors will find fine porcelain, military collectibles, jewelry, vintage purses and clothes, elegant furs, silver boxes, and leather trunks.

Portobello Road Market began as an open air food market like many in London. During the 1940’s, some traders began to sell antiques — which is the focus of the market today. With over 1000 dealers, Saturday morning’s gathering is the world’s largest antique market. You can also find food, clothing, and bric-a-brac (collectibles) on Saturday and throughout the week. Closed Sunday.

The Portobello market stretches across several blocks. Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove are the nearest Tube stations. Buses and cabs are also good options.

Apple Market

The charm of Covent Garden will welcome you to London. You will quickly understand why visitors love to gather in this popular area. The animated performers and the cobblestone streets are overflowing with charm.

Apple Market sits in the center of the Covent Garden Plaza and has unique vendors throughout the week. Even though it is considered open air, the covered area keeps you nice and dry on a rainy London day.

  • Monday: Collectibles and antiques
  • Tuesday to Sunday: Jewelry, artwork, fashion, housewares, accessories, handmade crafts
  • Open daily from 10am to 6pm
  • Bathrooms available, ATM, and credits cards and debit cards are accepted

If you can’t find the antiques, clothing, watercolors, handmade soaps, art prints, jewelry, collectibles, and sweet treats inside the market — you don’t need to worry. There are nearby restaurants to relax and boutique shops to peruse. You can’t go wrong here; this is part of the London experience. If you wake up and see rain in the forecast, head to Apple Market!

Jubilee Market

Monday morning in London and where will you find Thomas Moore III, the founder of London Connection? There is NO OTHER PLACE than Jubilee Antique Market in Covent Garden. For years, Mr. Moore has been meeting with his “picker” Patrick who finds some of the finest collectibles available. These lovely items decorate many of the vacation apartments throughout London.

Jubilee Market is open every day with over 200 artisans.

  • Monday: Antiques and Collectibles 5am – 5pm
  • Tuesday to Friday: General Market 10:30 am – 7pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: Arts & Crafts 10am – 6pm

Borough Market

The south end of the London Bridge has been a trader’s gathering place for centuries. In fact, there is even a historical reference as far back as 1014 about the market located there. Borough Market is now considered the most renowned FOOD MARKET in London. Exotic spices, international cuisine, fresh fish, colorful produce, Italian sausage, gourmet cheese, Turkish delights, and other specialty foods can be found here.

Many stalls with food ready to eat make an afternoon or evening meal very convenient. The only trouble will be HOW TO CHOOSE. Since it is a favorite stop for tourists, you might find the prices a bit higher than in other neighborhood markets. The variety of choices make up for the extra cost.

Located south and west of Southwark Cathedral, you can take the Jubilee or Northern underground line, and get off at the London Bridge Tube stop. Buses, bikes, trains, and cabs are also an option. Be sure to wear your comfortable shoes; you will want to spend some time here!

Shepherd Market

Mayfair is the center of high end shopping in London. Tucked a short walk away from the big names on Oxford Street and South Audley, you will find the charming enclave of Shepherd Market that was developed in the early 18th century. Even though this is NOT an open air market, it is included in our list of favorite markets as an option for Mayfair visitors.

If you are a guest of London Connection’s Mayfair vacation rentals, this is the closest market area for you — the crowd changes throughout the day. Immediately following work hours, you will see men in suits lined up outside of the pubs sampling their favorite ale. Dinner hour brings out the locals to choose from the fabulous international cuisine.

The variety of shops and restaurants will keep you interested for hours. You will find an art gallery tucked next to a barber shop, with bakeries and expensive dress shops side-by-side. And like the rest of London, it becomes even more magical over the Christmas holiday. Shepherd Market will be a favorite spot you will enjoy.

Camden Market

Camden Market is one of the newer markets, beginning with only 16 stalls in 1974. At first, it was only open on Sundays, and is now open daily with over 1,000 places to shop, eat, drink, and dance. Many young designers got their start at Camden Market, and the Dance Hall has been a gathering for fans of rock music since the 70’s.

Camden Market is located at Camden Lock Place. Open every day from 10am to late, including holidays.

Walking times from train stops:

  • Camden Town (5 minutes)
  • Chalk Farm (10 minutes)
  • Camden Road (8 minutes)

Buses available:

  • King’s Cross (214)
  • Victoria (24)
  • West End (274)
  • East London (393)

Columbia Road Flower Market

The Columbia Road used to be a pathway for sheep, and is now the location of 60 independent shops. Some of the shops that include antiques, jewelry, vintage, clothing, and restaurants are open throughout the week and are nice to visit. But the REAL REASON to travel is for the FLOWERS.

You will see varieties grown locally as well as imported blooms. Together, the rainbow of colors almost TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY.

If you want a large selection, be there early. If you prefer a bargain, wait to make your floral purchases as the stalls are closing. While in busy London, why not take time to stop and smell the roses?

You can take the Northern Line to Old Street Station or the Central Line to Bethnal Green Station and then walk the few minutes to Columbia Road. The train to Cambridge Heath Station is also an option. Numerous buses stop on Shoreditch High Street or Hackney Road. See map below.

Bermondsey Antiques Market

Every Friday from 6am to 2pm, the Bermondsey Square comes alive with a spectrum of antiques from jewelry to furniture and china. This square is a perfect place for an antiques market, since it still contains evidence of Roman occupation. 

Bermondsey Antiques Market has 30 or more traders who are experts and have been there for years. It is not a large market, but a genuine British antique market. Within walking distance of the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge, this market is a hidden gem.

Take the Jubilee Line to Bermondsey station, then you can walk the 10 blocks or travel by bus to the market. The market will be there throughout the year each Friday, rain or shine. London Connection founder, Thomas Moore III says that this is the market where the antique dealers do their shopping. They get there by 4am as the stalls are setting up! If you are a serious collector, this is the PLACE FOR YOU.

Thank you to our friend in London, Marilyn Collis (an official Blue Badge Tourist Guide) who helped to remind us of the less known markets that will add to your experience. If you would like an expert to lead you through the markets or anywhere else in London, she is the perfect person to do so.

Have you decided where to begin? Do you want to see 1000 shops and stalls at Portobello Road or Camden Market, or would you prefer the quaint 30 stalls at Bermondsey? Maybe you want to sample all the foods at Borough or see the flowers at Columbia Road. You can’t go wrong. And don’t worry if you can only see one or two markets this time — another good reason to return. SHOP SHOP SHOP