Your Modern-Day Treasure Hunt Through The Markets Of London

4 August 2021

You might think going on treasure hunts was reserved for stories of pirates sailing the sea, hunting down scribbled X’s covering crumbling pieces of parchment.

But we’re here to show you that really isn’t the case. The markets of London are treasure troves filled to the brim with gems waiting to be discovered.

In fact here and now, we anoint you a modern-day treasure hunter, a seeker of lost goods and hidden delights.

And as your humble servant, we’ve gone out with our old piece of parchment, ink and quill and found some of the greatest markets for you to start exploring.

So, the map is ready. And we’re excited to tell you it’s covered in a lot of X’s marking a lot of different spots.

Shall we begin?

Old Spitalfields Market

Open every day of the week, Old Spitalfields Market in the East End of London is a prime location if you’re looking to find something special. As soon as you enter the market, all your senses immediately begin to fire.

The steam wands firing from the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs all the way to Climpson & Sons echo throughout the whole place.

A journey across the continents

Smells from Venezuela arrive one moment only to be replaced seconds later by the aromas of toasting parathas and simmering curries all the way from Sri Lanka.

Your nose will have you convinced you’re wandering from continent to continent but luckily for your legs, it’s really just a stroll around the corner.

Starting things off right, with a cup of chai

But we think the best place to start on your gastronomical adventure is Chai Guys. Their dedication to producing the most authentic cup of chai around using only the best ingredients is truly a sip of happiness.

Then, with a delicious frothy cup of chai in hand – the warm spices and velvet milk coating your whole mouth after every delightful sip – make your way around some of the independently owned stalls.

We recommend stopping off at The Little Tibet.

They support indigenous Himalayan craftspeople by sourcing all their materials and products by ethical means.

You can find some truly beautiful shawls and scarfs, plus a lot of other wonderful products, to treat a loved one to or even invest in your new favourite fashion piece yourself.

Thursday Antiques Market

Be sure to turn up to the market on Thursdays when the Antiques Market makes an appearance.

This is where the treasure hunt really begins. Search through more than 80 stalls and hunt down everything from vintage art and furniture to jewellery and fashion pieces.

Arrive early and you’ll have first dibs and pick of the lot.

Portobello Road Market

The next stop on your treasure hunt is Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill. After treating yourself to some truly artisanal delights at Old Spitalfields, the Portobello Market is a hot spot for second-hand goods.

Wandering down the road, you’ll never have believed you needed a candlestick holder or vintage tea set, but when you see the glittering delights catching the sun and set of intricately designed porcelain on the stall tables, well it becomes quite obvious that in fact, you do.

You’ll certainly be leaving the market ready to decorate your whole place with wonderful pieces. Portobello Market is the world’s largest antiques market so you can be sure you’ll be leaving with some lovely little trinkets to match.

Special Saturdays

Vintage antiques are dotted all around the market every day. But head to the market on Saturday when the best antique stalls are out and you’re sure to find some of those hidden treasures you’re after.

From fruit and veg to fashion and furniture

There are a few different sections to Portobello Road Market. After you’re done hunting down some fabulous antiques, the sounds of clinking metal and ‘oooh's and ‘ahhh’s’ are soon replaced by colourful fruit and veg and calls of hawkers shouting about great deals to be made.

It’s a quintessential market atmosphere and after you're done grabbing some lovely looking produce, you can make your way to the fashion and second-hand goods part of the market.

Here, you’ll find some of the best treasures. From vintage bags to fine lace all the way to retro trainers and unique pieces of clothing, it’s impossible to leave without picking up a few decent bargains along the way.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market is truly a unique experience. The road is packed with every colour you can imagine and smells as fresh as a daisy (literally), to the aromas of sweet jasmines and intoxicating roses are never far away.

Pick up everything you need to fill your home with lively colours or grab some bedding plants for the garden. There’s no hunting really needed at Columbia Road Flower Market because every way you look is filled with every treasure you could hope for.

Brick Lane Market

After you’re done dreamily wandering around the flowers, you have to head to Brick Lane Market. And your first stop when you get there? It's got to be Dark Sugars.

The chocolate delights of Dark Sugars

After all that walking you need to energise back up, right? Well, a hot chocolate and some chocolatey treats can do that very well plus they have the added benefit of being absolutely delicious.

After trying Dark Sugars vegan hot chocolate and an assortment of vegan treats, we reckon you’ll soon be filling your trolley with cartons of oat milk after you’ve discovered just how delicious it can be.

Then, revitalised on chocolate, it’s back to the streets. Sundays at Brick Lane Market sees the street at its finest. Stalls packed with second-hand furniture, clothes and knick-knacks line the whole street and every week, there's a new treasure to be found.

Food from all over the world

When your appetite is bursting, head to Upmarket. From gyoza to falafel and everything in between, you’ll find some of the best street food around at Upmarket.

Plus you’ll also have the opportunity to take home some great produce to get cooking with. Stalls with local fruit and veg, sourdough bread, and natural preserves are just a few of the delights you’re sure to be leaving with.

The end…for this week anyway

Exploring London’s markets is truly a wonderful way to spend a day. You’ll be supporting local artists, eating some of the best food from around the world and discovering hidden treasures every moment of the day.

Making your way back home, a sit-down and cup of tea seems like the most inviting thing in the world.

Tea brewed and shoes off, fall back into the sofa and rest those wandering legs. But sooner or later those bags in the corner of the room will start calling out to you.

You won't have been sat down five minutes before the temptation becomes too much and you're dragging them over, checking out all the wonderful things you brought back home.

So what will you find? What delights will you be treated to? The only way to find out is to begin your treasure hunt and see for yourself.