One of the cheapest (could be free) and nicest things to do on a weekend in London is to visit one of its many markets. Whether you’re a local looking for some decent sausages, a bunch of flowers and a new spot to meet friends or a tourist looking to see what London is really like, these markets are for you.
These are two of my favourites:
I love this Saturday Market – from the walk there along Regent’s Canal to a little browse of the excellent bookshop Broadway Bookshop at the end. It is all great!
The market has everything from hot food for your dining pleasure to pastries to Vietnamese coffee, to proper local farmers market produce like meat, eggs and cheese. You can also buy flowers, jellied eels, vintage clothes and jewellery and you can listen to live bands and impromptu performances. All round it is pretty lovely!
Best Lunch choices (in my opinion):
–The Ghanaian stall sells a mixed box of its choice of Ghanaian currys – so yummy! Especially the Groundnut stew…
–The Crêpe man sells sweet and savoury pancakes and Galettes and the owner is a beret-wearing delight. For some French charm don’t miss this one!
—Deeney’s the Haggis Toasty emporium do what they do soooo well. And what do they do? That’s right, they put Haggis (a delicious Scottish oatily spiced mince) in a toasty with all manner of other things!
–Mushroom risotto place. Smells and tastes incredible and follows the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Other Things of Note:
- The official website is here and gives some history about the area.
- You can easily walk to the market from these stations: London Fields (overground), Cambridge Heath (overground), Haggerston (overground) or Bethnal Green (tube) and there are bus routes which run you right past. I suggest City Mapper for details on how to get there from wherever you are.
- You can work off your massive amount of snacking in London Fields Lido. One of London’s only open-air heated swimming pools. Lovely even on a rainy day!
- You can then walk along Regents Canal to Victoria Park for a wander there. Have a look here for my recommendations.
- There are several excellent pubs close by or on Broadway Market so be sure to stop for a pint or two. The Cat and Mutton is a particularly good choice!
Columbia Road Flower Market
This is the East End’s most iconic market. I’d also go so far as to say that Columbia Road is THE place to buy flowers in London. It has been up and running on a Sunday from 8am – 3pmish for years and this site will tell you a little more about the history of the area.
The road itself has plenty of lovely independent shops selling everything from coffee and croissants to gardening equipment and persian rugs. In the summer you’ll find a little icecream shop out of the window of a place that sells baskets – they do wonderfully wacky flavours like Beetroot! Delicious.
Much like Broadway Market, local musicians will use the Sunday crowds to try out their stuff. Music will range from some double bass jazz to pop to Irish Fiddle music. It’s all worth a glimpse.
But, the reason you come to Columbia Road is for the flowers. Even if you’re not buying it is worth forcing your way through the throngs listening to the patter of the stall owners as they try and sell you on some roses for your sweetheart or an orange tree for your balcony! If you are actually there to buy I recommend heading down at the end of the afternoon for some incredible deals.
Other Things of Note:
- Top Tip – Make sure to pop down close to Christmas for special candlelit carol services. It’s pretty magical!
- You can easily walk here from Old St (tube), Shoreditch High St (overground) and Hoxton (overground); and buses along Hackney Road will drop you at either end of it.
- If you walk from the end closest to Old St to the other end you’ll come out near Hackney City Farm and that is a great place to visit!
If you’re after some more inspiration and some tasty street food do check out some other markets in London!
I hope you enjoy these two markets. I’ll update with details of a couple more once I go on a photo gathering mission…