London markets are an excellent way to find bargains.
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road Market is the London market par excellence, famous all over the world for its antiques and art objects. Portobello in fact sells other merchandise too: new and traditional clothes, household goods, furniture, CDs, books, paintings, ancient gramophones, musical instruments, the ubiquitous flags, military uniforms, masks, radios, watches, lighters, boots, jewellery, shoes, bric a brac, ethnic goods, at very good prices (even bycicles), but at the North end of the Portobello Road, further from Notting Hill Gate and less familiar to tourists. In the middle, Portobello sells food, fruit and vegetables. Among so much colourful, unusual merchandise, you can find excellent bargains.
You'll find there ethnic cafés and live music venues.
It's obviously in Portobello Road, London W11 (underground: Notting Hill).
Open Fridays and Saturdays 8am to 3pm. On Sundays only a part of the market is open until 5pm.
Brixton Market is mainly for ethnic foods, fruits and vegetables. You can find odd merchandise, like wigs, rare records, homeopathic root cures.
It's situated in Electric Avenue, Pope's Road, Station Road and The Concourse, London SW9 (tube: Brixton).
Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm, except Wednesday when it's open 9am to 3pm.
Covent Garden Market
At the colonnaded Covent Garden covered market (tube: Covent Garden), pictured right, you can find a bit of everything: an enormous variety of arts and crafts, jewellery, food, clothing, accessories and antiques.
Covent Garden has a long history, going back to the Middle Ages when the Abbey of Westminster owned the 'Convent Garden' in which surplus produce was sold to Londoners.
Today's indoor market, partly designed along with the square (the piazza) in 1632 by Inigo Jones on an Italianite design, is a large glass-covered building made up of several arcades. Here you'll find cafés, ice cream parlours, restaurants, fashion shops and trendy boutiques, as well as the market stalls which are open every day from 10am to 6pm.
Being next to the renowned Covent Garden Piazza, you can also enjoy its celebrated street entertainers. Covent Garden market is in the same area as the famous Covent Garden opera theatre, the Royal Opera House. Visit the Covent Garden's Jubilee Arts and Crafts Market Hall.
The New Covent Garden Market, which transferred directly from Covent Garden Market, is the UK's largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market. It is in Nine Elms, on the South Bank, between Battersea and Vauxhall.
Over 200 traders are registered with it. The Fruit & Vegetable Market wholesalers are open Monday to Saturday from around midnight to 6am. The Flower Market is open Monday to Saturday from around 2am to 8am. The nearest Tube is Vauxhall on the Victoria Line.
Camden Lock Market (Camden Town)
The Camden Market is a huge market, covering almost a whole neighbourhood, and it takes hours to explore. At weekends it gets extremely crowded, but it's beautiful to walk along the Camden stretch of the Grand Union Canal, looking at the narrow boats on one side and the market stalls on the other. The area is also full of shops and stores. The market and stores sell new and second-hand clothes, arts, crafts, ethnic knick-knacks, jewellery, bric-a-brac, furniture, designer clothes, army surplus gear, records, 1960s clothing: a bit of everything. It's very good value, especially for designer clothes.
It's situated in Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 (tube: Camden Town or Chalk Farm).
Open Monday to Sunday 10am to 6pm.
Other London markets
For good quality fruits and vegetables there is Berwick Street, in the heart of Soho (underground: Piccadilly Circus).
But if you want very good organic fruits, vegetables, tofu and other foods, go to Spitalfields market, in Commercial Street, Aldgate, London E1 (underground: Shoreditch or Aldgate East). It's open Monday to Friday from 11am to 3pm and on Sundays from 9.30am to 5.30pm. At Spitalfields market you'll also find crafts, antiques, bric-a-brac and clothes stalls, and a falafel cafe.
At the market of Club Row, Shoreditch High Street, London E2 (tube: Shoreditch), you can find good bargains in furniture, radios, boots, shoes.
Still antiques in Bermondsey Square Market, London SE1 (tube: London Bridge).
The market of Petticoat Lane, in East London, sells new clothes and electrical goods.