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London's richly diverse cultures are reflected in it's many markets. Across the city, everyday, there are markets selling food, clothes, music, antiques, flowers and many other things. You will almost certainly have a local street market near to your accommodation that sells fresh food. If you live near Shepherd's Bush visit Shepherd's Bush Market which, in particular, serves the local Irish and Afro-Caribbean community. You'll find plenty of exotic fruit as well as everyday items.
London markets are open all year, whatever the weather; however opening hours may vary as they are at the discretion of individual stall holders. For smaller items, most market stall holders will only take cash (usually only £ sterling). When buying larger, more expensive items, such as antiques, you can ask for a receipt and a written description of the item from the seller.
Beware of designer goods being sold vastly below the normal price. Although these may be genuinely 'second quality' or ends of ranges, there are some fakes about. And, as you would anywhere, watch your purse/wallet in crowded places.
Occasionally you will be able to reduce the price by bargaining. In many markets, the very best bargains come at the end of the day, when anything perishable is sold off - so watch out for big bags of bagels, and parcels of fruit and flowers going cheap!
For some of the most famous markets see below.
Portobello Road Market
The famous Portobello Road antiques and flea market in Notting Hill takes place every Saturday from 08:00 to 18:00, although there are stalls from Monday-Friday, too. On Saturday it's huge, with over 2,000 stalls selling everything from books to bric-a-brac and lace to Limoges - even fashion and exotic cooking ingredients are on sale. (This is the place to shop-and-eat and then shop some more.) The market runs from Chepstow Villas to just under the Westway.
Tubes: Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Chic little boutiques line this historic street, which every Sunday is filled with flower stalls. As well as cut flowers, there are topiary trees, pot plants, bulbs and bouquets on sale, and everything to cater for that English obsession, gardening. The market is open from 08:00 to 14:00 and there are plenty of chic cafés and authentic sea-food stalls to refresh you.
Tube: Liverpool Street or Aldgate East.
In the heart of the City, in the shadow of Christ Church, Old Spitalfields Market offers the perfect antidote to out-of-town shopping malls. The stalls in the old covered market are the place to look for something original, of excellent quality and value for money. Sundays are busiest, with over 200 stalls operating, including a specialist organic market. On weekdays between 11:00 and 16:00 the markets' varied stalls are quieter, except at lunchtime, when the choice of eating places attracts the young City crowd. On Thursdays, over 50 young designers show their work at the Fashion Market.
Tube: Liverpool Street.
Camden Market is actually several markets wrapped into one fun, funky canalside shopping experience. On sale are crafts, bric-a-brac, clothes, health foods and antiques. It is a place to pick up outrageous retro clothing, creative clubwear and even silly souvenirs. There's Camden Lock Market, The Stables Market and Camden Canal Market, where you can find a wide variety of goods including clothes, crafts, antiques and jewellery. The best days to go are Saturday and Sunday from 08:00 to 18:00 - as long as you don't mind crowds. A smaller number of shops and stalls open on weekdays.
Tube: Camden Town or Chalk Farm.
Greenwich Market sells a variety of traditional, hand-crafted goods. The craft market is held at College Approach and the antiques market is off Greenwich High Road. All the markets are open at the weekend from around 09:00 to 17:00.
DLR: Cutty Sark. Rail: Greenwich. Boat: Greenwich Pier, click here for details.
Otherwise known as London's Larder (a large store cupboard for food), Borough Market has a great range of fresh food stalls under its Dickensian wrought-iron roof. Italian cheeses, Morecambe Bay shrimps, Mersea oysters, French and Spanish foods and much more. Atmospheric, lively and mouthwatering, it's a definite must on a Saturday morning. It's a foodie's paradise! Open 12:00 to 18:00 Fridays, 09:00 to 16:00 Saturdays.
Tube: London Bridge.
Grays Antique Market
Grays Antique Market is just off Oxford Street so easy to pop into if you're shopping in central London. The indoor market is spread over many corridors and specialises in antique furniture, art, jewellery and books. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm, Sunday Closed.
Tube: Bond Street Station Bus: 6, 7, 10, 13, 15, 23, 73, 94, 98, 137, 139, 159, 189 & 390.