Covent Garden may have its trendy hipster fashion and Portobello Market may have its antique and vintage items, but if you want to sample as much international cuisine as humanly possible during your visit to London, then Borough Market is the place to be.

With a history stretching back well over 1,000 years, not to mention some of the most mouth-watering street food you won't find anywhere else in the UK, the Borough Market can certainly give other London markets a run for their money – it is the oldest market in London, after all.

Although its exact starting date is difficult to determine, it is believed that Borough Market has been around since at least 1014. Being next to the London Bridge (which was the only route across the river into central London for hundreds of years), its location made the market easily accessible for locals who travelled from all over the city to shop around the many stalls.

Today, Borough Market has evolved into a sprawling street market which attracts over 4.5 million visitors each year, and consists of more than 100 different stalls selling everything from meat, fish, vegetables, olive oil and ciders to breads, coffees, cakes and so much more.

As soon as you enter the vicinity of the market you will bombarded with all sorts of smells, sights and sounds that will ignite all the senses. With international cuisine from nearly every corner of the world (most of which has been imported from abroad), and street vendors selling everything from paella, duck wraps, and Thai coconut pancakes, a lot visitors head to Borough Market just for the sole reason of sampling some of the many street food items. Not only that, Borough Market is also a popular destination amongst London locals doing their weekly grocery shopping, as here you can find fruits and produce, fresh fish and meat, and all sorts of different spices and cooking ingredients.

Borough_Market, french food signs. By Georgio Borough_Market, entrance. By Andrew Muller
Borough_Market, food stalls. By Steve Parker Borough_Market, food vender. By DncnH Borough_Market, fruit and veg. By John Adams

Borough Market Highlights

Borough Market has a unique layout with sprawls through a maze of narrow passageways, so you could easily get “lost” in the market and stroll around for hours, stumbling upon all sorts of delicious delights during your wanders.

Out of all the areas in the Borough Market, the Three Crown Square is the market's largest trading area, and focuses specifically on fruit and veg, cheese, meat and fish. However, another must-see is the Market Hall (facing onto Borough High Street) which acts as a sort of “greenhouse” for growing plants, and is now used as a venue for foodie demonstrations, tastings and even workshops as well.

If you're short on time, then try to stick to the stalls just south of Southwark Cathedral, which offer everything from artisan foods, mouth-watering chocolate, and food from Ethiopia, the Balkans, France, Cumbria and much more.

There are also a handful of cafes located along Stoney Street, and if you want to grab a quick bite to eat for lunch, then try to stick to the stalls in Green Market (which is the area closest to the Southwark Cathedral).

Special Tips

  • If you want to avoid the crowds but still want to see the Borough Market in its entirety, try to visit on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, or as soon as it opens on a Saturday.
  • If you happen to be visiting London during the Christmas holidays, be sure to try some eggnog and mulled wine at the market as well.
  • If you feel like doing some sightseeing before or after your visit to the Borough Market, the Southwark Cathedral is only a two-minute walk away.
  • Make sure you visit the market on an empty stomach!