London’s East End is one of the city’s richest areas for markets. You can visit anything from traditional street markets selling fruit and veg and bargain basement products through to eclectic alternative markets that sell something different every week.
Explore East End Street Markets
Let’s look at some markets you really should be visiting if you make a trip to the East End.
Billingsgate Market is the capital’s fish market. It is now located at Canary Wharf, but was originally found on Lower Thames Street. Historically, this was a general market before the major London markets started to specialise in particular products. Most people who shop at Billingsgate are buying wholesale, but the way the market works and its working traditions makes it a bit of a tourist attraction, even if you don’t want to buy any fish.
Bear in mind, if you do want to buy fish, you might have to buy a minimum amount. Few traders will be happy if you ask for a couple of cod fillets! The market is open to the public but requires an early start – it opens Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5-8.30am
Brick Lane Market
Brick Lane sits in the very heart of the East End. Its market is slap bang in the middle of a flurry of Indian restaurants, Jewish cafes and local ethic shops and is best visited on a Sunday when the market is at its peak.
People don’t generally plan to go to Brick Lane to buy something specific – they often visit and come away with something eccentric, eclectic, collectable or just plain odd.
This is a great place for second-hand stuff, including furniture, though you may have to root through a fair amount of junk before you find something that you just have to have!
Hackney’s Broadway Market is less well known than other East End markets to non-locals, but it is worth a visit if you are in the area. This is a good spot for foodies as it has a lot of organic food and independent stalls. The market also has vintage/second-hand clothes sections and some stalls run by independent designers/craftsmen.
Columbia Road Market
The market on Columbia Road is dedicated to all things flower. You can buy cut flowers, plants, trees, shrubs and all kinds of garden accessories here from over 50 stalls. You should aim to get there early to get the best that’s on offer – the market runs from 8am to early afternoon every Sunday.
Petticoat Lane Market
If you’re around and about in the East End of London on a Sunday, then Petticoat Lane is worth a visit. This is one of London’s best known general markets, selling anything from cheap household goods to fruit and veg to designer clothes and quality leather goods and clothing. Although there are some stalls open during the week, the best day to visit is Sunday when stallholders come out in force – on a really busy day, there can be up to 1,000 stalls spread around. Its location in Middlesex Street makes it close to Spitalfields, so you can take in both markets on the same visit.
Don’t look up Petticoat Lane on the map – head for Middlesex Street – the Victorians renamed the street as they thought using the word petticoat was just a little bit too rude!
Ridley Road Market
Dalston’s Ridley Road market is where many Londoners come to stock up on exotic foods and spices. Although the market also has regular bargain market stalls, it is well-known for its food stalls. This is the place to go in the East End for anything you need to create Afro-Caribbean and Asian meals.
Roman Road Market
The market in Hackney’s Roman Road stands on the oldest trading road in the country which was built by the Romans. It is best known for its “Super Saturday” markets in the summer months, although the market is open year round. The market is an odd mix of the traditional and the unusual and is a favourite with antique hunters, book lovers and people looking to buy unusual crafts. There is also an Arts & Craft market every Saturday in Ewart Place and a monthly Farmer’s market (first Saturday of the month) on Cardigan Road.
Spitalfields market is in the heart of the city near Liverpool Street station – visit during the week for lunch and you could be hobnobbing with bankers; go at weekends and you’ll mix with a totally different crowd. After a relatively recent renovation, the market building now has a lot of permanent shops with some big name retailers and eccentric small shops.
There are also plenty of restaurants and food stalls. The market itself is best visited at weekends when it has over 150 stalls selling all kinds of things from food, crafts, gifts, second-hand items and clothes.