The Best Markets in England to Visit

Londons Borough Market is renowned for its selection of fresh fruit and veg
London's Borough Market is renowned for its selection of fresh fruit and veg | © Meibion / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Dawson

You can’t rival the atmosphere of a traditional English market. Whether it’s an outdoor market flogging everything from carrots to kids’ toys, or a lively farmers’ market showcasing the very best local produce, these unique shopping experiences are at the heart of the local community. Here are 10 markets you need to add to your must-visit list.

Leicester Market

Considered the “heartbeat of the city”, Leicester Market has the usual top-quality fruit and veg stalls, along with a great butchers and one of the finest fish markets in the country. It also has an unmistakable multicultural flavour, with traders offering a mind-boggling selection of exotic vegetables and heady spices.

Borough Market, London

Chances are you’ve already heard of London’s famous food market. With an unrivalled reputation for top-notch produce, Borough Market is a foodie’s paradise, and the place to go to pick up all manner of gourmet goodness. Many of the stallholders are selling their own products – bread they’ve baked, cheese they’ve made or meat from animals they’ve reared themselves. It’s this connection with the food on sale here that gives Borough Market its authentic vibe.

St Nicholas Market, Bristol

In the heart of Bristol’s old centre you’ll find St Nicholas Market, affectionately known as St Nicks. Housed in a beautiful Georgian arcade, the charming market offers a mix of independent stalls, cosy little shops and incredible food outlets. Every Wednesday, the main market is joined by a farmers’ market and on Fridays and Saturdays, the Bristol Indies’ Market showcases local arts and crafts.

Portobello Road Market, London

This iconic street in London’s vibrant Notting Hill neighbourhood boasts the world’s largest, and arguably the most renowned, antiques market. With over 1,000 traders selling every kind of antique and collectible imaginable, you could easily spend a day taking in the sights and haggling for a bargain. Saturday is when the market is in full swing, with food stalls, fruit and veg stands and vintage fashion stalls joining in the mix.

Norwich Market

Having been in action for over 900 years, Norwich Market is an important part of the city’s history and culture. With 200 stalls – complete with distinctive brightly coloured stripy awnings – this open-air market is the largest in the country. On offer is a fantastic choice of local items including meat, fish, fresh bread, chutneys and cheese, as well as clothes, toys, jewellery and more.

The Covered Market, Oxford

The Covered Market in the beautiful city of Oxford is a historic indoor bazaar, packed with artisan food traders, boutique clothing shops and cafés where you can grab a coffee and a bite to eat. It’s a bit of a one-stop shop where you can pick up everything and anything you fancy from one of the many independent businesses, some of which go back generations.

Columbia Road Flower Market, London

Columbia Road Flower Market has to be one of the most Instagrammed markets in England. Every Sunday, this East London street comes alive with independent traders selling all manner of succulents and flowers. Buckets full of colourful hydrangeas, fluffy peonies and sunflowers line the roads here.

Kirkgate Market, Leeds

This huge indoor market attracts over 10 million visitors a year, and it’s not hard to see why. The Edwardian market hall itself is architecturally stunning, with its grand stone archways and ornamental wrought-iron castings, but it’s the 600 traders who really bring the place to life. The sights, sounds and smells of the market will draw you in as you explore the wonderfully varied choice of products on offer, including everything from Scotch Bonnet chillies to fresh razor clams.

Birmingham’s Bull Ring Markets

Not to be confused with the city’s huge shopping centre called The Bull Ring, Birmingham’s Bull Ring Markets have been trading in the same place for almost 850 years and are bursting with character. There are three different markets here – the Indoor Market, the Bull Ring Open Market and the world-famous Rag Market – all of which reflect the city’s ethnic diversity. The Rag Market has to be seen to be believed, with 350 stalls selling rich fabrics and textiles in a kaleidoscope of colours. It’s very popular with Asian brides from all over Europe, who head here to pick up materials for their wedding outfits.

Stroud Farmers’ Market

One of the biggest and best farmers’ markets in the country, this multi-award winning Gloucestershire gem has been a must-visit destination for food-lovers since it first started trading. Offering exceptional local products including eggs, honey, fish, meat and locally brewed beer, it pays to get here early so you can make the most of the various free tasters on offer from the different stalls. Make sure to bring plenty of bags as you won’t be going home empty-handed.

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