London’s most popular market, it’s plain to see why. But I happen to like Borough Market for a slightly different reason.
POSTED BY PINKY
I have to admit, I’m not really into markets. Not as much as my husband is, at least.
Although I can appreciate how essential markets are – after all, this is where we get the stuff we need to nourish ourselves with, and as fresh as we can possibly get them – I can’t really say I jump for joy at the prospect of going to one.
However, whenever we go to the different markets during our travels, I do manage to have an enjoyable time.
Why? Probably because I’m basically a voyeur. A social voyeur, if you will.
But instead of quietly observing material over social media, as a social voyeur technically does, food markets are my platform of choice and I actually do participate in the exchange.
The attraction for me is seeing how locals go about an integral part of their day, each one carrying a surprisingly underlying vulnerability: one party desperately needing to sell his goods while fresh and in peak condition, the other hoping for a great deal on what he, too, may be desperate to have.
It’s a daily dance for most people, where relationships between buyer and seller are formed. And though for tourists like us the situation may be different, a win-win outcome for both parties is still pretty much the goal.
How markets are set up, why they’re set up the way they are, the types of items being sold, the dynamics between buyer and seller, the haggling process, is everything done in loud voices or in hushed tones – watching all this can be quite fascinating.
Markets for me, therefore, serve as windows to the soul of a people and its culture, revealing so much more than they actually let on.
What Borough Market is to London…
In my opinion, Borough Market is popular among tourists for the same reason London attracts millions of visitors every year. Both of them naturally British in character yet extremely diverse at the same time, to me Borough Market reflects what this city is largely about.
It’s the quintessential London market.
No one can deny that London is one of the world’s largest and most important melting pots. It’s enjoyed this distinction even way before the era of when the sun rose and set within the British Empire.
London’s attracted not only diversity, but a portion of it a cultivated populace from all over the world seeking higher learning or better work opportunities – or both, bringing with them a certain level of their own cultures and flavours into the city as well.
Just as Borough Market is now a source for some of the best ingredients and food products from within the U.K. and all over the world, offering a rich variety with normally top-notch quality, it’s practically an international food market levelled up but which remains accessible for most people. Not cheap, but one can still manage to find something affordable.
And it does attract primarily locals who want the best. And there’s nothing we visitors want more than to do as the locals do, don’t we?!
Why I Like Borough Market
- It’s large enough to be interesting. Food lovers can easily spend hours here. And with the amount of food options available, it will take weeks to be able to try everything.
- The variety. They’ve captured the wholesale trading and retail markets. There are fresh produce, prepared specialty food, and non-food products from the U.K. and other parts of the world.
- It’s genuinely where locals go. I find it quite satisfying to know that this market wasn’t packaged specifically for us, tourists. And if it’s good enough for discriminating Londoners to keep coming back to, it’s got to be good enough for us, visitors, too, right?
- Expect quality. Not only of fresh produce sold directly by the growers, but also food you can readily enjoy – from the usual suspects like Monmouth coffee on Park Street (there’s always a queue!), Tapas Brindisa, Bread Ahead, to the simple duck confit sandwich at Le Marché du Quartier right by the Stoney Street entrance to the market – depending on what you’re game for, you’re likely to discover something that won’t disappoint.
- The price range. This isn’t exactly the place for rock-bottom rates. This is London, after all! But given the quality of food and other items available in Borough Market, you’ll manage to find something fantastic without breaking the bank.
- Proximity to other sights. London Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s across the River Thames. I like the fact that the market is centrally-located and I can go to any of these sights before or after a visit to the market.
- It has a fascinating history. And wouldn’t you know that I just love a good story! Over 250 years in its current location, the market itself has been around since originally set up closer to London Bridge in 1014. Making it the oldest food market in London.
What I Don’t Necessarily Love About It
- The crowds. Certainly a sign of success, it can also deter people like me who feel suffocated in crowds from enjoying the market. So if you’re one of those people as well, just make sure to get there before noontime.
- It gets touristy. I’m certainly one of them, of course! I just find it hard to get the true sense of a place when you feel there are more tourists than locals. But don’t mind me, I just get naturally cranky in large crowds. 😳 Again, I’d just get there early.
- It ain’t cheap. As mentioned earlier, don’t expect bargain rates here. But you do get what you pay for.
Best Time to Go
If you’ve got time to visit just one market in London, I think Borough Market should be it.
Open from Monday to Saturday, the full market operates from Wednesday to Saturday.
It’s absolutely bustling on Saturdays, so I’d say that would be the best day to go. But as it’s also the busiest day, make sure to be there at around 11am or anytime before the lunch crowd descends upon the market.
How to Get There
To plan your visit to Borough Market, check here.