London’s East End is a terrific place to find street markets selling everything from flowers to clothes and bric-a-brac. Whether you’re a shopaholic or a casual browser, you’re bound to find something of interest in the stalls, boutiques and shops that line the streets. In this guide, we take a look at some of the best.
Old Spitalfields Market
Brushfield Street, open daily
This indoor market at Spitalfields has a great mix of food places, boutiques and stalls, which vary depending on the day. It’s only five minutes’ walk from Liverpool Street station and a place where you can find all manner of bags, vintage clothes, jewellery and one-off pieces (often these can be bought directly from the maker). A useful perk is that it’s undercover so you can stay dry in the rainy London weather. The multicultural food stalls are particularly recommended and you’ll find things like tasty Jamaican patties. This fun and slightly trendy market is a great place to take friends visiting the city.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road, Sundays 8am-2pm
It’s not uncommon to see people walking down Shoreditch High Street with all manner of foliage in their hands on Sunday. They’ve probably been to Columbia Road Flower Market, where you can buy all manner of cut flowers, houseplants, orchids and bulbs. It’s possible to find everything here from peonies to ten-foot banana trees. The best time to go is first thing in the morning when all the good stuff is still available. Alternatively, pay a visit at the end of the day when everyone is trying to get rid of their remaining stock at rock-bottom prices. It’s also worth exploring the art galleries, cupcake shops and delis that now line the street since the market became successful.
Bethnal Green Road, open daily
Not strictly a market but actually a ‘pop-up’ mall, Boxpark is made up of the freight containers that are usually used to transport goods. Each one has been turned into a mini shop for a particular brand. The shops are a mixture of small independents and bigger brands like Nike and Levi wanting to increase their ‘edginess’. The owners have deliberately chosen to exclude high street stores, but they might have also included a few more vendors that would appeal to the Shoreditch demographic. Still, the second floor offers some nice food and drink places to chill out and it’s definitely worth a visit. Get there while you can, before it pops up somewhere else!
Brick Lane Market
Brick Lane, Cheshire Street and Sclater Street, Sundays 8am-3pm
As if the Brick Lane shops and cafes weren’t exciting enough, on Sundays it has its own slightly chaotic street market. This is the place to make a weird and wonderful discovery amongst the stalls selling second-hand furniture, old bikes, bric-a-brac, household goods and pretty much everything under the sun. Those without a proper stall sell their wares on blankets causing the market to spill out into the adjoining streets. Its grungy feel makes it a popular choice with art student photographers, but be careful as the area is notorious for selling stolen bikes.
Petticoat Lane Market
Middlesex Street and Wentworth Street, weekdays 8am to 4pm, Sundays 9am to 2pm
London’s oldest street market, Petticoat Lane Market, has been going strong since the 1750s. It got its name from the petticoats and lace that used to be sold back in the day. The Victorians tried to change the name to something less ‘racy’, but the original stuck. On weekdays it’s a smaller market selling cheap clothes, bags, make-up and more. On Sundays it’s a monster with over 1000 stalls. This salt-of-the-earth shopping experience may not be as trendy as Spitalfields, but it’s still an excellent place to grab some bargains. The food stalls are great too.
Matt Lindley lives in East London and enjoys travel and playing the guitar. He writes for HotelClub who provide booking for hotels in London and beyond.