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The insider’s guide to East London markets

East London has a lot to offer, but one of its best-known offerings is its proper traditional East End markets. From steaming food and fresh fish to bargain clothes and watch repairs, markets are a hub of social and retail activity, and East London has a good number of them. Tower Hamlets in particular is the London borough with the most street markets.

We pick the most essential East End markets, so whether you’re a local looking to home-decorate, or a out-of-towner seeking a true East London experience, we’ve got you covered.

Roman Road Market, Bow

Clothing rails in Roman Road Market in East London.

Roman Road Market is our local traditional East End market; people have been ‘going down the Roman’ for over 150 years and it’s still a favourite spot among locals. The market is home to many stalls and familiar faces, including Saint Sugar of London, Elif’s gözlemes, Steve’s Pets at Roam, a long tradition of French Connection outlet suppliers, and racks upon racks of bargain clothing.

With so many good shopping options on the Roman, it’s no wonder the market has been a local hang-out spot and Roman Road tourist destination for decades. From back when Gina from Gina’s Closet, used to buy her Saturday night glam-wear with her friends, to visitors picking up a few bhajis from Indian Snack Shack while they browse, the Roman is the spot to be.

Our top tip? Grab a doughnut from Andy while you’re there. His delicious, filled churros are always cheaper than when he heads to Brick Lane on Sundays.

Opening hours: Tuesday, Thursday 10 am-3:30 pm, Saturday 9 am-4 pm
Nearest underground stations:  Mile End, Bow Road DLR

Globe Town Market Square, E2

Marc Herbert joking with customers at his Globe Town Market Square stall

A little bit further down Roman Road takes you to a different kind of market in Globe Town Square. This large, open square doesn’t have the crowded feeling of its sibling Roman Road Market, but its stalls attract a throng of loyal locals. Thanks to its central and open location, the market square is inviting to people passing by, and the queues outside its stalls are often enough to draw more in.

Among its small but mighty selection of stalls is Herbert’s Fruits and Salad, a family business which has been selling produce on the square since 1974. Martin Fuller’s plant stall is nearby, pouring out of a blue van. Make sure you arrive before 2 pm; the stalls pack up before the mobs come pouring out of local schools.

The market recently underwent a long-awaited redevelopment, which included newly planted trees, floor demarcations for market pitches, and additional seating in the square.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 8 am-2 pm
Nearest underground stations:  Bethnal Green, Stepney Green, Mile End

Victoria Park Market, Victoria Park

Victoria Park Market in East London on a cloudy day

In the northwest corner of Victoria Park, this verdant market stretches neatly down in a straight line and hosts a number of colourful tents with hot food, ingredients and produce. Don’t be fooled by their largely uniform appearance; each stall offers an astounding amount of individuality and creativity.

With a more upmarket feel than surrounding East End markets, this might not be the place where most locals do their weekly shop. But with a civilised, convivial atmosphere and an assortment of speciality products like fresh bone broth, artisanal cheeses and hand-crafted momos, this market attracts visitors from near and far on Sundays. It’s the perfect place to kick back in the park, grab a duck confit burger (!) and a glass of natural wine and relax. Just don’t forget your debit card – the market is totally cashless.

Opening hours: Sunday 10 am-4 pm, 10 am-5 pm for hot food and alcohol
Nearest underground stations: Cambridge Heath, Bethnal Green, London Fields, Stepney Green

Bethnal Green Market, Bethnal Green

A flower and clothes stall at Bethnal Green Road Market, East London

Along Bethnal Green Road is a small but consistent group of stalls held by a selection of traditional market traders, many of whom have been setting up shop there for decades or more. Without having to dip off the high street you can pick up a range of fabrics, jewellery and flowers, as well as cheap toiletries and kids’ toys.

Aside from being the pathway to both Shoreditch and Central London, Bethnal Green Road itself is home to a number of popular shops, pubs, and cafes, so traders get the benefit of general footfall on this busy street.

Listen close enough to the transactions and you’ll find customers and stall keepers on a first-name basis exchanging banter. Once you’ve bartered a bargain for some earrings, show them off at local favourite pubs The Star of Bethnal Green and The Old George. If you stick around long enough, both put on fantastic club nights.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 8 am-6 pm
Nearest underground stations:  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Whitechapel

Chrisp Street Market, Poplar

Visitors at a homeware stall at Chrisp Street Market, East London

Chrisp Street Market has been the heart of Poplar since 1951, but under the almost futuristic canopy, it seems to be very current. The wide square hosts a splatter of stalls selling homeware, clothes, toys, fresh produce and jewellery, and with its bright, right-angled cover and location among shops, pocket parks and Idea Store, it’s a destination in itself.

In 2019, plans were approved for a Chrisp Street regeneration plan which will enhance both the existing market and the surrounding buildings.

On top of the variety of stalls and friendly bartering, Chrisp Street Market is home to one of the only places left in the UK to find proper traditional pease pudding. Come for a range of clothes and ingredients, stay for a saveloy at Ivy’s or a pie and mash at Maureen’s.

Our top tip? While you’re here, take in the iconic Festival of Britain clock tower, and the giant Chihuahua mural on the side of a housing block.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 8 am-6 pm
Nearest underground stations:  All Saints DLR, Langdon Park DLR

Whitechapel Market, Whitechapel

A produce stall at Whitechapel Market, East London

Whitechapel Market has to be seen to be believed. Stretching for almost a kilometre down Whitechapel Road, this bustling market is an immersive experience and has anything you could ever want in a market. Just minutes down the road from Aldgate and the City of London, the primary language heard is Bengali and the smells and sounds could all have been dropped in from a far-away country.

Among the locals who visit the market to do their everyday shopping, you can choose from a number of stalls selling fruit and veg, meat, clothes, electronics, and fish so fresh that some of it is still swimming around in a crate.

Look out for the shops facing their stalls; many of them pop open their windows and sell accras and curries straight onto the street. At the end of the day, watch the heavily graffiti-ed white vans pack up their stalls and disperse across East London.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 8 am-6 pm
Nearest underground stations:  Whitechapel, Aldgate East

Watney Market, Commercial Road

A central view of Watney Market, East London

Watney Market fills a pedestrianised shopping street off the side of Commercial Road and has a loyal following of local regulars frequenting its 50-odd stalls. It feels a world away from the city yet is only a short walk from Aldgate.

Like Whitechapel market, Watney Market caters largely to the Bengali community and has a great selection of Asian clothes, textiles, jewellery and fruit and veg (you won’t be able to miss the sight of the more tropical kinds, like head-sized durians).

It’s also a great spot for electronics. Plus, you can even get your keys cut and your watch repaired at lightning speed by institutional market stall Mr Sadak. Another big draw is one of London’s few remaining Wimpys offering a nostalgic bite to eat.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30 am-6 pm pm
Nearest underground stations:  Shadwell, Shadwell DLR, Whitechapel

Petticoat Lane Market, Spitalfields

Petticoat Lane Market in East London with City of London skyscrapers behind

Petticoat Lane Market is made up of two adjacent streets; Wentworth Street Market is open Monday to Saturday, and Middlesex Street hosts the booming Sunday market.

People have been selling fabrics and bric-a-brac on this spot since the 1600s, and fleeing Huguenots made it their own in the late 17th century. Now, since skyscrapers and white-collar workers of London have percolated outwards, the weekday market is a popular spot for lunch breaks from the neighbouring office blocks.

A healthy selection of food vans selling a changing variety of cuisines serve city workers, while the vans that don’t have a long queue of people in suits stick out toothpicks with samples at passersby.

Pouring out in front of the fabric shops on the road, you can find bargain clothing from dozens of sellers, rain or shine. If the office blocks and financial types get too much for you, head down the road to Whitechapel Market to get a different shopping vibe.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday 10 am-2:30 pm, Sunday 9 am-2 pm
Nearest underground stations: (Weekday) Aldgate East, Shoreditch, Liverpool Street (Sunday) Aldgate East, Aldgate, Liverpool Street

Broadway Market, Hackney

A fresh food stall at Broadway Market, East London.

Broadway Market is a long stretch of stalls serving an astoundingly wide variety of goods on the more artisan side. Whether you’re looking for clothes, art, backpacks, organic dog treats or vintage photo prints, or fancy some oysters, produce, banh mi, Kara-age chicken or rainbow-dyed bagels, this market will sort you out.

If you like the bustling vibe and don’t mind the crowds, pull up a chair at one of the surrounding pubs and cafes, or grab a perch along the adjacent canal to fully enjoy your day out.

It’s fun to see the sights of Broadway Market, but some say it has become a victim of its success and is becoming quite a tourist destination. Avoid the crowds by heading to Netil Market, off the beaten track but only a stone’s throw away. It’s open every day from 11 am-6 pm and hosts a load of local designers as well as some great street food. There’s also the School Yard Market by London Fields Primary School, featuring a lively selection of fashion and food, plus crafty art and wacky inventions.

Opening hours: Saturday 9 am-5 pm
Nearest underground stations: London Fields, Cambridge Heath

Columbia Road Flower Market, Bethnal Green

A vendor at Colombia Road Flower Market in front of a pub, East London

The only market on this list that only sells one thing, Columbia Road Flower Market still packs a huge punch in East London. Its iconic Victorian street is so packed on Sundays that flower-buying locals and sightseeing tourists alike are shepherded into a slow train of movement through the plant stalls.

No matter what kind of plant or flower you hope to buy, this market will have it. Arrive early to nab the best leaves, or get there just before close to enjoy end-of-day discounts.

If you arrive at peak times and find yourself squeezed into a sandwich of budding horticulturists and their dogs, dip off around the corner and you’ll find charming cafes, arts and craft stores, and a busker with a huge cello who comes along and plays for visitors most weeks. Grab a bowl of homemade chilli and stick it out till the end – traders sell unsold cut flowers for around half price.

For a hipster fix, Hackney Road is a hop and a skip away, and bordering the market there are dozens of quirky home-furnishing shops selling sieves for entertainingly high prices. Get back to reality at The Royal Oak nearby, a lovely old pub which used to be famous for its lock-ins that ran till the first hours of the market.

Opening hours: Sunday 8 am-2 pm
Nearest underground stations:  Aldgate East, Bethnal Green, Liverpool Street

Brick Lane Market, Bethnal Green

Brick Lane Market's Backyard Market on a Sunday

Brick Lane Market is one of the most popular tourist destinations in London and attracts people for its food, clothing, bric-a-brac, crafts, and more.

It opens at its fullest on Sundays and has grown to inhabit a couple of sub-markets: Backyard Market, a covered space in the Old Truman Brewery full of bespoke arts and crafts, and Sunday Upmarket, a food hall hosting a hodgepodge of street dishes and other delicacies.

If you missed Broadway Market or Roman Road Market on Saturday, you might find your favourite food truck – like Saint Sugar of London – on Brick Lane on Sunday. There is also the obligatory beigel to be enjoyed at Beigel Bake open 24 hours a day.

If the busy main street gets too much for you, dip off to Hanbury Street and Cheshire Street for a quieter Brick Lane experience. If you’re eating at a local curry house, choose wisely: they’ll all tell you they’re the best on the road.

Opening hours: Saturday 11 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-5 pm
Nearest underground stations: Shoreditch, Aldgate East, Liverpool Street

Old Spitalfields Market, Spitalfields

Old Spitalfields Market

People have been trading on the site of Old Spitalfields Market since the 17th century when King Charles I first allowed the sale of produce, meat, and fish on Spittle Fields. A far cry from its humble beginnings, the modern market has a reputation for being the place to go for antique furniture, rare vinyl, and indie fashion brands.

Though the market is open seven days a week, they dedicate different days for the sale of different wares. On Wednesdays, Roman Road’s own Urban Makers, a community-based network of urban designers, set up shop in the market. On Thursdays, shoppers can search the stalls for vintage furniture and fashions. Fridays are reserved for the sale of rare vinyl.

If the more traditional market fare is more your speed, the daily market hosts dozens of stalls featuring anything from Sri Lankan street food to hand-pulled noodles. A rotating cast of artisan brands and local food sellers sit alongside more established businesses in this grandiose Victorian market.

If you need a change of scene, Old Spitalfields Market is mere minutes away from Brick Lane Market.

Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday & Friday-Saturday: 10 am–6 pm, Thursday: 8 am-6 pm, Sunday: 10 am-5 pm
Nearest underground stations: Shoreditch, Aldgate East, Liverpool Street

Flea London at Hackney Bridge, Hackney Wick

Women shopping at London Flea.

The newest market on our list, Flea London at Hackney Bridge opens on May 14th. The Hackney Wick market is a collaboration between Hackney Council and the Broadway Market team and will be Flea London’s second location.

Set along the banks of the River Lee Navigation, the market will feature stalls selling vintage clothing, rare books, antique furniture, and more. If you’re feeling peckish, a produce market will sell fresh bread, jams, and artisan cheese.

After you’ve had your fill of shopping, you can have a stroll through the Olympic Park, or head over to local favourite Barge East for an award-winning meal on the water.

Opening hours: Sunday 11 am-5 pm
Nearest underground stations: Hackney Wick, Stratford, Homerton

Bohemia Place Market, Hackney

Black-Owned Hackney at Bohemia Place Market in Hackney Central is a lively weekend market with an infectious atmosphere. Occurring monthly from April to October, the market generally runs from Friday to Sunday and features a variety of black-owned businesses.

Fridays have an undeniable party atmosphere. Though the market stalls are open from 6 pm-10 pm, DJs continue to play music until 2 am to allow people to dance to their heart’s content.

While a series of DJs from an assortment of different genres continue to provide the entertainment on Saturdays and Sundays, event organisers describe it as a more ‘family friendly’ event. Market stalls are open from 12 pm-6 pm.

If you need to walk off all of the delicious food and drink, Victoria Park is only a mile away.

2023 Dates: May 26th-27th, June 23rd-25th, July 28th-30th, August 25th-26th, September 15th-17th, October 5th-8th
Nearest underground stations: Hackney Central, Homerton, London Fields

If you liked this, you might also like our guide to pubs around Roman Road.

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