England is a nation of bustling traditional markets, some of which have been around for hundreds of years. These markets are at the heart of the local community and sell everything you can imagine from piles of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, sweets and baked goods; homemade and handmade crafts and artisanal products, clothing, fabrics, computers, electronics, street food, jewellery, kids’ toys, arts and crafts, antiques, etc.
But what is so cool about many of these markets is the connection between the stallholders and their merchandise. Many of these sellers are actually selling their own produce. The meat are from animals they reared, fish they’ve caught, art they’ve created, crafts they’ve crafted, cheese they’ve made, fruit and veg they’ve grown, bread they’ve baked, etc. It is this special connection that gives these markets their authentic vibe that is hard to match elsewhere.
The markets provide fantastic shopping experiences and on any given day, you can go home with some incredible buys that will surely keep you smiling for days!
With so many amazing markets across the country to choose from, here are 17 of the best you should add to your must-visit list. We’ve also included tips to help you plan ahead of your shopping trip, especially with Christmas just around the corner.
Borough Market, London
Borough market is one of the oldest and most iconic food and drink markets in the world, and no visit to London would be complete without a visit there. The market is over a thousand years old with an unsurpassed reputation as the mecca of high quality fresh produce.
The market is located under a railway bridge, and there are around 150 stalls selling an amazing selection of the freshest produce including fruit, vegetables, rare-breed meats, artisan cheeses, fish, bread, coffee, cakes, ales, ice cream and patisseries. There is also a diverse variety of independent boutiques and pubs in the area.
Although the market opens from Monday to Saturday, the full market actually operates from Wednesday to Saturday. Mondays and Tuesdays are typically for the hot food market, fruit and vegetable. The market operates from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Saturday, when it opens at 8 a.m.
Try to get in as early as possible because it is always quite packed. There is very limited seating available at the market and there are no toilets. Make sure you take cash with you, as most of the stalls are cash only.
St Nicholas Market, Bristol
Established in 1743, St Nicholas market is a vibrant, thriving atmospheric market located in the centre of Bristol. It is one of the oldest and most charming markets in the country with a large and diverse selection of food from around the world.
St Nicholas Market is located in the historic heart of the city within the old Bristol Corn Exchange, and features a unique and diverse variety of independent street food stores which gives the market a lot of personality and a layer of authenticity that forms a large part of its appeal. The food itself is simply delicious, and the aroma from the different stalls really sets your taste buds on fire.
The main market trades six days a week, and is he largest collection of independent retailers in the city. You’ll find everything from lunchtime food stalls, cafes, pubs, specialist gift shops, arts and crafts, flowers, antiques, clothing, shoe repair, books, records and jewellery to tools, crystals, music hats, bags, incense, retro clothes and records, bicycle accessories, all at competitive prices. With such an eclectic range of shops selling all sorts of weird and wonderful things, you are guaranteed to find something you have never seen before.
Every Wednesday, the market is joined by a farmers’s market where you can buy local produce such as fruit and veg, honey, cheese and more direct from the producers. On Fridays and Saturdays, the market is joined by the arts and crafts market.
In 2016, the market was named Britain’s Best Large Indoor Market by the National Association of British Market Authorities.
Norwich is a city characterised by its modern architecture. Situated in the heart of the vibrant city, Norwich market is the largest open air retro market in the country with a great selection of food and fruit stalls with international cuisine, cafes and modern high street shops selling pretty much everything. You’ll find street food stalls that sell a diverse range of top-notch produce including meats, fish, freshly baked bread, spices, a wide range of cheeses, jam and putneys all at very reasonable prices.
There’s also a fantastic range of products on offer including vacuum cleaners, books, tools, VHS tapes, antiques, fresh flowers, jewellery, vintage clothing, children’s toys, household goods, flowers, shoe repairers, etc. The market is well maintained, and there are toilet facilities.
The Covered Market, Oxford
Oxford’s historic and quirky indoor market dates back to the 1770’s, and is a great place for artisan shopping. It has a traditional market feel to it, and showcases the very best in local crafts, food and drink.
The market is pretty much a one-stop shop with a range of small, independent, unfranchised stores selling a captivating array of products including amazing fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh breads, arts and crafts, hand-decorated cakes, meats, cheeses, seafood, fine foods, flowers, leather goods, shoes, watches and jewellery, clothing, gifts, hats and much more.
There are also some lovely traditional butchers and greengrocers alongside some cafes, coffee shops and upmarket boutiques. The quality of goods sold here are top-notch and prices are competitive.
Portobello Road Antiques Market, London
The vibrant Portobello Road Market is one of the most iconic markets in the world, renowned for its vintage clothing, handmade products and especially its antiques market. The street has a diverse variety of small, independent boutiques, lots of bakeries, coffee shops and eateries. Wonderfully eclectic, the market has a lot of charm and a unique personality.
There are over 1,000 traders peddling all kinds of antique and collectibles imaginable. Saturday is when the market really comes alive, with a diverse variety of stalls offering everything from delicious street food, fruit and veg, baked bread, ceramics, music and posters.
Kirkgate Market Leeds
Kirkgate Market in Leeds is the largest indoor market in Leeds, and attracts over 10 million visitors a year. It is a traditional English market located at heart of Leeds in an architecturally stunning building, although it initially opened as an open air market in 1822.
The market has a fantastic atmosphere, and has the distinction of being the founding location of Marks & Spencer, which opened in Leeds Market in 1884 as a penny bazaar.
With over 800 market stalls that attract over 100,000 visitors every single week, Kirkgate market has a jaw dropping range of products that is wider than any supermarket in the world.
The market sells everything you can think of and the poshest restaurants in Leeds source their fish here. The sellers are highly knowledgeable and experienced experts, many with decades of experience.
St George’s Market, Belfast
The multi-award winning St George’s Market is an absolutely amazing market and one of the most iconic attractions in Belfast. It is home to some of the finest home-grown local produce in the country and some of the freshest fish you can find anywhere. The market was named the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities, and opens on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
St George’s Market has a truly fantastic atmosphere with a wonderful array of sights, sounds and smells. It emphasises local arts and crafts, offering more local craftspeople the ideal opportunity to showcase their talents.
There is also live music from solo artists and top local bands to keep visitors entertained. Products on sale include delicious local, continental and specialty foods from all corners of the globe, a rich variety of colourful arts and crafts, scented candles, clothing, antiques, art, souvenirs and handmade jewellery. You also get free Wi-Fi which is pretty fast and reliable.
Old Spitalfields Market
Old Spitalfields Market is the oldest and one of the most vibrant and thriving markets in the capital. It is a covered outdoor market with a nice, artistic vibe. It is packed with independent traders and has over 100 eclectic and colourful stalls selling a diverse range of products including fashion, books, music, jewellery, arts and crafts, homeware, organic food, furniture, leather bags and fresh bread.
There’s an antique and vintage market every Thursday. There’s also an awesome variety of street foodstalls selling various types of delicious, continental food that is cooked right in front of you. The market itself is surrounded by independent shops, trendy bars, cafes and restaurants.
Billingsgate Fish Market
If you love fish, Billingsgate needs to be on your must-visit list. Once the largest fish market in the world, Billingsgate offers the largest selection of high quality fresh and frozen fish in the UK, with the hustle and buscle of a traditional English market. The traders stock every type of seafood you can imagine including prawns, salmon, crabs, squid, lobsters, shellfish, octopus, mussels, scallops, snappers, shark, etc. To get the best deals, you’re better off buying in bulk.
The market is open from 4 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. from Tuesday to Saturday, although things start to wind down around 8 a.m. You’ll want to get there as early as possible because the best deals go pretty quick. Children are not allowed.
Make sure you bring cash because most of the traders do not accepts cards. Although there is a cash machine in the cafeteria, it is not free and charges a £2 fee. You should also wear closed shoes – ideally wellies, because the floor is always awash with water.
Bury Market, Lancashire
Award winning Bury Market in the North West of England is one of the UK’s largest and oldest markets with all of the hustle and bustle of a traditional English market. It has a fantastic, bubbly atmosphere, and is regarded by many as the best in the country with everything you could ever want at some of the most competitive prices you’ll find anywhere.
Located right in the heart of Bury town centre, the market is located next to the shopping mall, and attracts more than 250,000 shoppers every single week. Is it open on Wednedays, Fridays and Saturdays and no matter what it is you’re looking for, there are many excellent bargains to be had.
There is a large outside market with lots of regular and specialist stalls selling fruit and veg, cheeses, jams and spreads, etc, an indoor market with a massive selection of meat and fish and a separate indoor market where you have all the various stalls. You will be astonished at the sheer variety of fish and seafood on offer, given how far the market is inland.
In all, there are over 370 stalls selling high quality stuff from Bury’s famed black pudding, fresh produce, local cheeses, fish, meat, sports gear, fashion, vintage, electronics, flowers, household goods, art, footwear, books, gifts, home decor, toys, household goods and much more besides.
There’s also plenty of cafes around and there are a number of car parks around. The location of the market is also very convenient for public transportation, being right next door to the interchange which houses a bus station and metrolink tram station.
Also known as the heartbeat of Leicester, Leicester Market is Europe’s largest covered market with a strking multicultural flavour, with traders from 25 countries selling a variety of exotic vegetables and spices. It is around 800 years old, and sells a diverse variety of goods including fruit and veg, clothes, flowers, second-hand books, cosmetics, jewellery, greeting cards, pet food and fabrics. has over 270 market stalls. It is also one of the finest fish markets in the country.
A monthly farmer’s market is held on the last Wednesday of every month, specializing in locally produced organic meat, fruit and vegetables.
Edinburgh Farmers Market
Award winning Edinburgh Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday morning in a wonderful atmosphere under the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The market hosts farmers and independent dealers offering a massive variety of fresh local produce that they’ve grown themselves at great prices. These include specialty butchers, great fishmongers, organic vegetables, choclatiers, and specialty bakers and artisan cheeses.
Even though the market is relatively small, the variety and freshness of the organic food on offer is fantastic. These include fruit and veg, condiments, apple juice, salmon, langoustine, eggs, jams, mushrooms, haggis, cheeses, artisan bread, apple juice and all types of meat including squirrel, venision and hogget.
Columbia Road Flower Market, London
Columbia Road Flower Market is currently one of the most visually stunning markets anywhere. It is located in Bethnal Green in East London, and comes alive every Sunday with independent traders selling a dazzling selection of fresh bulbs, plants and flowers at much better prices than you can get at your local nursery.
You’ll also find a selection of independent galleries and shops selling pottery, perfumes and the like. There are also little coffee shops and cafes to eat, and there are always buskers around doing their thing to entertain the crowd.
The market has the vibe of a traditional English market with lovely shops and sellers shouting out their wares, and only opens on Sundays between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Things start to wind down as from 2 p.m., so you’ll have to get there as early as possible to get the best stuff. On the other hand, some people suggest arriving as late as 2 p.m. when things have started to wind down as it is quite small, and as you can imagine, gets really packed full of shoppers.
Stroud Farmers Market, Gloucestershire
This multi-award winning farmers market is widely recognized as one of the largest, busiest and most popular farmers markets in the country. You’ll find delicious locally sourced food choices – organic, vegan and gluten free and the market has the bustle and vibe of a traditional English market with a lovely and friendly atmosphere. There is a fantastic selection of locally sourced products on sale, including jewellery, plants and flowers, honey, wine, artisan pottery and crafts dairy markets.
The food is mostly organic, with virtually no imported products. There’s also lots of street food options to satisfy the most discerning palettes.
Them market has been featured in the Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian Weekend and The Independent amongst many other publications. Its very upmarket and the prices reflect the area, so don’t go there expecting to find the bargain of the week.
Birmingham Bullring Markets
Birmingham’s world famous Bullring Markets is a thriving market with almost 1000 years of history, having been trading at the same location for almost 850 years. The markets sell absolutely everything from fruit and veg to clothes, DIY, pet food, meats, fish, gifts and traditional clothing and more, and there are great bargains to be found.
The fish market in particular deserves special mention. It is one of the best in the country with so much variety at the most competitive prices you can find anywhere. There’s also a decent cafe for refreshments.
There are three markets there: the Bullring Open Market, the Indoor Market and the Rag Market, which is one of the most incredible markets in the world. The Rag Market consists of 350 stalls selling textiles and rich fabrics in a diverse range of colours. This is where Asian brides from across Europe travel to in order to source materials for their wedding outfits.
Swansea Market, Wales
Award winning Swansea Market is Wales’s largest indoor market located in the heart of Swansea shopping centre. It is famed for its array of produce and was named the UK’s best large indoor market by the National Association of British Market Authorities.
There are over 100 stalls offering everything from the freshest local produce and traditional Welsh gifts to freshly personalised gifts, baked Welsh cakes, bread and pasties, cheeses, health products, fresh meat, seafood, jewellery and accessories, cosmetics, fabrics, footwear, flowers, leather goods, special occasion children’s wear, quality rugs, hair extensions and lots more.
Camden Lock Market
The vibrant, edgy and quirky Camden Lock Market is one of the world’s most famous markets, and consists of a wide array of hundreds of adjoining boutiques, pop-ups, bars, cafes, art galleries, organic shops, tatoo shops, restaurants and market stalls. Camden Lock was one of London’s first crafts and antiques markets and maintains its original focus as the major Camden market for crafts.
Camden Market is London’s largest and most cosmopolitan market, and there’s always lots of events going on. The market is relatively new, having only been going on for around 30 years. It is open 364 days a year, and only closes on Christmas Day.
Famous singer and Camdenite, Amy Winehouse worked on a stall in Camden Lock Market when she was a teenager. An eclectic blend of goods are on sale at the market including gifts, fashion, books, soaps, accessories, vintage clothing, new and second-hand clothing, arts and crafts, antiques, music, art, costume jewellery, souvenirs and home decorative pieces. The market is located next to the Regent’s Canal, and is the fourth-most popular visitor attraction in London, attracting approximately 250,000 visitors per week.
The market is a great place for shopping and alternative shopping alike, and you can get a lot of whacky, hand made stuff that you cannot find anywhere else. It is completely unique in that it doesn’t have the vibe of a traditional English market. Nevertheless, it has an amazing atmosphere, with a laid-back chic and cool urban feel to it.
The market stays open later than most of the other markets, and many of the people are quite polite and helpful. You might find prices of certain items to be a bit on the high side, but don’t be afraid to negotiate. Note however, that you can pick up some great souvenirs at incredible prices.
There is a large variety of delicious street food from all over the world with a great selection of fast food stalls. What is really special about buying the food here is the fact that the sellers will actually allow you to sample the food out before you buy.