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The best markets in London

Portobello Road
The granddaddy of British antiques markets (though there's a little bit of everything), vast and bustling and in a choice neighborhood. The deals aren't what they once were (this has become largely for serious buyers of antiques, not folks looking to pick up a battered "old-ish" stick of furnishings).
Open Saturdays

Camden Markets
The best bit-of-everything flea market and boot sale in Greater London, along with a thriving restaurant and nightlife scene. If you can't find something here, it probably doesn't exist in the U.K. Note that in February of 2008 a huge fire ripped through the market, and it may take a while for it to get back on its feet.
Open Daily (though best on Sat-Sun)

Covent Garden
The fruit and veg market of Elisa Doolitte fame vanished in 1970; today's this is more sort of a miniature mall set in a historic building (a British cousin to Boston's Faneuil Hall, or San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf). The little shops and caffs fill a small rectangular building, most with entrances on both the outside as well as onto the glass-and-iron skylit courtyard. It's set alone in middle of "the Piazza," a would-be Italian square in the middle of the vibrant shop-and pub-filled Covent Garden neighborhood.
Open daily

Perhaps the most bohemian of London markets, out on the eastern, Cockney end of town, with artists' studios mixed in amongst the food and knickknack stalls. Sunday is the busiest day, with more than 200 stalls operating. Thursday it becomes a fashion show for hip young designers. It's currently in danger of being "developed" out of existence.
Open daily

Petticoat Lane
Clothing market with the perfect name and everything from funky young designers to used merchandise to high fashion overstock, slight irregular, and last year's mode.
Open Sundays (smaller version Mon-Fri)

You don't come here for shopping—unless you're in the market for a couple of sides of beef. This is London's main meat market, two long buildings with an open loading dock in the middle, making for a weird bit of early morning sightseeing (you soon get used to the smell). History and film buffs will be happy to know that the tiny square off to one side was where William "Braveheart" Wallace was drawn-and-quartered. The real reason to visit, though, is the Fox & Anchor pub at 115 Charterhouse St., which has a special exemption to the local liquor licenses allowing it to serve beer at breakfast to hungry meat cutters (it costs about $12, but it'll last you through to dinner, trust me—eggs, bacon, sausages, beans. fried bread, a tomato, unlimited tea, and of course a pint of bitter).
Open Monday to Friday



Intrepid Travel

This article was last updated in May 2007. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2010 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.