London has long been the destination of choice for avid shoppers and with its reputation for thrifty fashions and vibrant street markets, so it’s no surprise that the capital offers bargain hunters some of the world’s best flea markets to rummage through.
Perhaps one of the most famous flea markets of London is West London’s Portobello market, a mass of stalls taking over the streets of Notting Hill every week from Friday to Monday (Saturday is the main day, with up to 2,000 stalls). Dating back some 300 years, the market sells just about everything – second hand books, antiques and fresh food, alongside clothing and accessories by up-and-coming designers. It’s not all about the goods on offer though – there’s an amazing array of food stalls and bijou cafes to take a break and soak up the lively atmosphere.
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Next up is Camden market, the city’s largest market spread throughout several locations on and around Camden Lock. Ethnic pieces, alternative clothing, vintage wares and second-hand furniture are on offer at the Stables market which runs all weekend, plus food stalls, a vast selection of vinyl and art displays from local artists. Alternatively the Camden Passage market runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays and serves up mostly vintage furnishings, antiques and a wild array of home wares.
Moving over to East London, Brick Lane, renowned for its eclectic array of retro clothing and art galleries is home to a vibrant Sunday market where anything goes. The area’s high number of Bangladeshi residents adds an ethnic vibe, with beautiful Indian silks hawked alongside second-hand furniture, clothing and an appealing array of junk. Nearby, the Olde Spitalfields Antique Market runs each Thursday, with everything from prize antiques to second-hand tat on offer. While you’re in the East end, Petticoat Lane market is as close as you’ll find to the rowdy street markets of old London with its noisy hagglers, eclectic bric-a-brac interspersed with black market goods and good-humored cockney banter.
A little further afield, Greenwich market is just a short train ride away and runs from Tuesday-Sunday. Sprawling along the central square, the clusters of stalls offer books, clothing and antiques, but are best known for their stunning array of art and handicrafts on display at the weekend markets.