This post is also available in: Ελληνικά (Greek)
Borough Market is a must-visit for any food lover in London. As the city’s oldest food market, it has been around for over a thousand years. With more than 100 stalls, it is one of the most famous food markets in the world. This is the place for amazing street food, artisanal cheese, delicious cured meats, fresh veg, wine and more.
It was a windy day in March when I visited London for the n-th time (I’ve also lived there for a year, as a postgrad student). After visiting The Shard earlier that day, I stepped outside and a cold blast of wind greeted me. This didn’t look well for a day of sightseeing.
So I turned right from The Shard and just a few streets down I reached Borough Market. Just at the entrance, there was a stall selling delicious warm mulled wine. Oh heavens! The best thing to warm up a frozen traveller. Thus, with a mug of warm wine at hand, I started my foodie exploration.
About Borough Market
The market’s history begins around 1014. Even though there’s no specific opening date, a market has existed near London Bridge since Anglo-Saxon times. Back then, times were difficult and the market chaos of live animals and traders was in the middle of the high street.
As the city of London grew over the years, at some point the market was forced to move and almost closed. But the people living in the area petitioned for it. Finally, a 1754 Act of Parliament ruled that the market would stay “for the use and benefit” of the local community forever.
Nevertheless, the adventures of Borough Market were far from over. You can read more about its rich history here. In the end, the market got a new breath of life in the 1990s. The renewed interest in artisanal foods, with the likes of Neal’s Yard Dairy and others, meant the market became more and more popular.
Borough Market today
Nowadays, the market’s a vibrant place, full of delicious smells, colours and activity. You’ll find everything from French cheese to Italian liquorice, amazing sourdough bread sandwiches, wine, oysters, flowers, fruit and veg, you name it. It’s not cheap, but the quality is the best.
The market is also a champion of the Slow Food movement and has many accredited Slow-Food traders. In addition, it actively supports the environment, with low-energy lights, recycling food waste and more.
As well as reducing its impact on the environment, the market also aims to put any leftover food that, the market participates in the FoodSave scheme run by the charity Plan Zheroes. This way, any surplus produce goes to local charities.
How to make the most of your visit to Borough Market
Rule number one: come hungry. You won’t be able to resist the amazing street food anyway, so why fight it?
Secondly, allow plenty of time to explore the market at your own pace. Or even make it a whole day! After you finish shopping and snacking, you can also eat a proper meal at any of the wonderful restaurants nearby.
Explore it on your own
Borough Market is a maze of open spaces, stalls and passageways. Although you can always get a map, which will give you an idea of its layout, the best way to experience it is to just walk around. Let your nose and sight be your guide. Stop by any stall you find interesting and ask the traders about their wares. They are more than happy to talk about food.
Last but not least, come prepared with a large shopping bag. But even if you forget it, the Market’s souvenir shop has got you covered.
Or, book a tour
Even though it’s best to allow plenty of time to fully explore the market, if you are short of time, a tour might be a good idea. Therseveralber of walking food tours of the area, but food expert Celia Brooks is the only one officially licensed to conduct tours that, the guided tour war own idea and creation!
The best food stalls in London’s Borough Market
First of all, deciding which stalls are the best is very difficult, as practically everything is delicious. That said, there are some “classics” that you shouldn’t miss.
Bread Ahead Bakery & Baking School
Bread Ahead isn’t just an awesome place to get some yummy artisanal bread, but also to learn how to bake them. The school is just across the road, but they have a stall in the market, selling handmade bread and other delicious baked goods. Their sourdough is a must. – breadahead.com
Brindisa & Brindisa Kitchen Bar
The renowned Spanish deli and charcuterie first opened in 1988. Go for the best quality imported Spanish goods, like ibérico bellota ham and Spanish cheese. Also, don’t miss their famous chorizo roll, served at their Kitchen Bar just outside. – brindisa.com
Une Normande à Londres
Do you love French cheese too? I sure do and this stall was one of my first stops! Run by the Le Blais brothers, who came to London from Normandy, France. This is the place to get favourites like camembert de Normandie and brie de Meaux, but also rare gems like Sainte Maure de Touraine. Everything is carefully selected from French artisan producers. – www.instagram.com/unenormandealondres/
Calling all raclette lovers! Kappacasein’s raclette and toasted cheese sandwiches are legendary. Here they make raclette only from unpasteurised, full-fat milk. Which makes for simply the best raclette. Other highlights of this stall include the potatoes with melted cheese and pickled onions, and the toasted sandwiches with Montgomery cheddar, onion, leeks and garlic. – kappacasein.com
Marianna Kolokotroni started Oliveology in 2009, to share the culinary treasures and traditions of Greece with hungry Londoners. She only works with independent Greek artisan producers and offers premium olive oil, unpasteurised olives, organic vinegar, herbs, wild honey, artisanal cheese and much more. Insider’s Tip: at Easter time, make sure you get some of their delicious tsoureki, a brioche-like bread that we in Greece love to eat all year round.
Neal’s Yard Dairy
Although it’s outside the market, it would be a big miss not to include the shop that started it all. You can find amazing cheese here, of all sorts and kinds. – nealsyarddairy.co.uk
Shellseekers Market Kitchen
Ex-naval officer Darren Brown is the man behind Shellseekers. Everything on offer here is fresh, wild and seasonal, from the hand-dived scallops and fresh fish to the wild game from his Dorset moor estate. Dishes include venison burgers, seared scallops with mashed butternut squash and sustainably sourced fish tacos. – shellseekersfishandgame.co.uk
Richard Haward’s Oysters
Seven generations of harvesting oysters from the same river in Essex can only mean the finest oysters in the market. Enjoy them with a glass of crisp prosecco wine. – richardhawardsoysters.co.uk
Monmouth Coffee House
All that food is bound to make you feel full after a while. So what better than a cup of the best espresso in town? Bonus points for it being Fairtrade. – monmouthcoffee.co.uk
Best time to go to Borough Market and how to get there
When to go
Borough Market can be busy, so it’s important to time your visit right. On Mondays and Tuesdays, it is open as a “limited market”, which means that not all the stalls are open. In contrast, all stalls are open from Wednesday to Saturday.
The best time to go is any day from Wednesday to Saturday, before noon. Saturdays have the most people but this is also when it is the most fun to go.
How to get to Borough Market
The market is next to the London Bridge underground (Tube) station. You can take either the Jubilee or Northern line to stop there. By bus, the closest stops are London Bridge and Borough High Street. The bus lines that go there are 43, 141, 149 and 521.
Finally, the market has a bike rack in Jubilee Place and there are many car parks within walking distance.
What else to see nearby
First of all, the market is near London Bridge and in one of the oldest areas in London. Just a few blocks from the market, you will find the tallest building in London, i.e. The Shard.
Also, just minutes away you will find the working replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, at its original spot. Just before that, in the canal, there is a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s famous ship, the Golden Hind.
Finally, a little further away, but still within walking distance, there is Tate Modern. In other words, you could easily spend a fantastic day in the area.
In conclusion, if you are a lover of gourmet tastes and quality produce, Borough Market is the place to go in London!