Old Spitalfields Market in East London – An Insiders Travel Guide
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Visiting the Old Spitalfields London Market is one of the best things to do in East London. In a few hours, you can absorb so much of East London’s charm by walking through the various stalls and tasting and smelling the unique aromas of the district.
The Old Spitalfields Market has lots to see and eat (mostly eat), and this handy travel guide breaks down everything you need to know before and during your visit.
From the best stalls to purchase gifts from, to the best way to get to the market, and the best street foods to try – this guide has it all.
What is the Old Spitalfield Market?
The Old Spitalfields Market has been around for a few centuries. The marketplace first opened in the 1630s and is about 350 years old. Needless to say, it has survived a lot throughout the years.
It may not be as old as some of the food markets near London Bridge, like the Borough Market, but it has still played a significant role in London’s history. While it was first an outside market, it has since moved indoors and now rests under one Victorian roof.
The Old Spitalfields Market is a big market that sells everything you could want from a marketplace. It has vintage stalls, shops, art, restaurants and a few dozen streets food stalls.
On some days, they also showcase some workshops, and on Sundays there are also a few yoga classes in summer.
There are always a few things on at this vibrant and buzzing market, so it’s best to check out their website for any upcoming events, workshops or things to do in the area.
Know Before You Go
Alongside the Liverpool Street Market, the Old Spitalfield Market is one of the top things to do near Liverpool Street. Here are a few things you need to know before going to the Old Spitalfield Market in London.
When to Visit the Spitalfield Markets
The Old Spitalfields Market is open seven days a week with a few sections to check out. A few days a week, the market highlights special crafts on their market floor.
The Market: The market is open seven days a week and displays all kinds of fashion, food, and art. There are also a few events every week like the Vinyl Market, rugby screenings and workshops.
The Vinyl Market: This market is on every first and third Friday of the month and showcases all things music and vinyl. Browse through the endless collections of records from the 60s to the 90s.
Urban Maker Market: This market happens every Wednesday and is a space where all artists and art lovers come together. Here, independent artists display their art at their stalls to potential buyers.
Vintage and Antiques Market: This market takes place every Thursday from 08:00 – 17:00. It has been part of London’s Spitalfields Market since 2003 and is still going strong. Here, you can find second-hand furniture, jewellery, homeware, and art.
The Kitchen: The kitchen is open seven days a week and is centred at the heart of the market. It is where all of the foodies gather to find the best tasting snacks, street foods and drinks from all over the world.
How to Get to the Spitalfields Market in London
The Old Spitalfields Market, London, is on 16 Horner Square. The market is in the heart of the lively city, which means there are a few ways you can reach it.
Tube: The closest tube station to the London Spitalfields Market is Liverpool Station. Once you stop there, it is about a five-minute walk to the market. The Shoreditch High Street and Aldgate East Stations are also quite close and about an eight-minute walk to the market.
Bus: There are a few bus lines that pass by this Shoreditch market. The main bus lines that reach the market are the Brushfield Street (67), and Primrose Street stops. For the Primrose Street stops, there are a few bus line options. These lines include: 8, 26, 35, 48, 78, 135, 149, 205 242, 388
Walk: If you love visiting markets, you’re in luck because this vibrant market is close to more favourite Shoreditch food markets like the Truman Brewery and the Leadenhall Market. The Truman Brewery is a stone’s throw away at about a four-minute walk, while the Leadenhall Market is about a 20-minute walk away.
Market: Typically, the market is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10:00 – 18:00. The market opens a bit earlier on Thursdays, at 08:00 and runs until 18:00. On Sundays, the markets close a bit early at 17:00, but still open at 10:00.
Kitchen: The Kitchen’s operational hours are independent of the daily markets. From Mondays to Fridays, it opens from 11:00 and closes at 20:00. Saturday times are 11:00 – 18:00, and Sundays are 11:00 – 17:00.
Shops: Besides the market, there are also individual shops with their own opening and closing times. It is best to check their website to see their opening times.
What to See at the Market
The market has a few sections to check out. These sections include the shops and stalls as well as The Kitchen, which is where you’ll find the Old Spitalfields market foods.
The Old Spitalfields Market has all kinds of stalls from prints, home decor or the latest fashion. These are the best stalls to check out while you’re there.
This quaint greeting card shop describes itself as ‘not your average greeting cards’, and they’re absolutely right. These bright coloured cards are based on the ancient art of origami and grab your attention through their captivating pop-up designs.
They sell bespoke cards for every occasion and every pop culture lover, from fans of Doctor Who to Harry Potter.
This lifestyle shop is fairly young and only opened in 2020. They sell textiles, candles, and homeware from independent designers from all over the world.
While they sell new products, they also sell vintage pre-owned items in their store, so you’re bound to find a gem, whether it’s old or new.
If you don’t spot Oneironaut, you’ll definitely smell their amazing aromas. This stall sells all things that smell good, from candles to fragrance oils and Palo Santo fragranced wood.
But you’ll have to time your visits well to catch these good smelling items because they’re only at the market on weekends.
If you miss the vintage market on Thursdays, you can still pop into Collectif to find some hidden vintage diamonds in the rough.
The shop sells items inspired by the 1940s and 50s and combines them with the latest trends. They plan on expanding to a wedding range soon and are also size-inclusive and sell in sizes 6 to 22.
Where to Eat at Old Spitalfields
The Old Spitalfield has one of the top food markets in East London in the form of ‘The Kitchen’. This is the market’s designated foodie gathering spot, where you can pick up aromas and flavours from all over the world, whether you’re a meat-lover or are more plant-based. Here are a few eateries to dip your fork into.
These pillowy steamed buns are stuffed with fresh ingredients and a selection of fillings. These fillings are then doused with delicious oils and crunchy toppings.
Choose between pork and chicken filling or vegetarian alternatives like tofu and mushrooms.
You can also order a ‘Bun Box’, which includes a mixture of South East Asian favourites like gyoza and miso soup along with the steamed buns.
Cafe Caribbean serves exactly as the name suggests – Jamaican food straight out of the tropical islands. These recipes are freshly cooked on the premises according to family recipes handed down to the cook from her mother and grandmother.
It has all the traditional Jamaican foods to transport you to the Caribbean, from plantains to jerk chicken.
If you love steamed buns, you’ll love these handmade buns from the Dumpling Shack. These flavoursome dumplings are designed to satisfy even the pickiest of palates.
They spent three years perfecting their menu, which has a selection of dumplings, including Shanghai soup dumplings, wontons soups and noodles.
Stop by Bleecker Burger for the best New York-style burgers in the British capital. There are usually long lines that wrap around the block, but the wait will be worth it.
Their beefy burgers are hearty and sourced from local farmers in the area.
Then, the meat is aged for about 40 to 50 days to really get the best flavours marinating through. Pair these tasty burgers with their fries, shakes, sodas or American Craft Beer for a truly New York taste.
This powder blue van is your next ride to an authentic South Italian kitchen. Sud Italia serves Neapolitan Pizza that is prepared from scratch in this little vehicle.
They only use Italian ingredients and specially milled flour to create their thick pizzas. Then they wood-fry it in their wood ovens – also fitted in this magical van.
Serves up homemade vegan and vegetarian dishes with an Ethiopian twist. The award-winning team at Merkamo Ethiopian expertly combine traditional East-African cuisine with a variety of original flavours to create fresh and exciting dishes.
Stalls Also Worth Trying:
The Indians Next Door
Where to Drink at Old Spitalfields
You can spot Grind a mile away in their stylish pink van, which helps when you need a strong cup of coffee. This chic van sells high-quality brews and the trendiest drinks right now, from charcoal lattes, matcha drinks, and beetroot lattes.
Chai Guys is a tea house that celebrates India’s healing chai tea. The art of Chai is something these guys hold dear, and you can taste it in their balanced mix of spices and aromas.
Each blend is sourced from the highest quality spices from India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. Try their blends for yourself and pick up a freshly baked treat at its location at the market.
Climpson & Sons
For my coffee addicts looking for the finest speciality coffee from the heart of East London, need to look no further.
Bottles serves Italy’s finest wines in one of London’s most beloved markets. These diverse fine wines are served in an equally stylish environment and paired with good food as well.
While they are Italian, that doesn’t mean they don’t hold space for other international wines as well. Their wine list is extensive and sees fine wines from all over the world.
Best Desserts to Try
A trip to the market wouldn’t be complete without something sweet to compliment the savoury. These sweet treats are crowd favourites at the market.
This dessert spot sells some of the most Instagrammable desserts in London with its artisanal take on the traditional fruit crumble.
This beautiful crumble is topped with their signature golden brown meringue or custard and crowned with a few petals for a pop of colour. Perfect for a quick snap.
Pop into Nosteagia, which serves all things bubble related from Hong Kong bubble waffles to Taiwanese bubble tea. These sweet treats are 100% vegetarian, with a few vegan waffles available.
Try a plain bubble waffle or one of their funky flavours to try, like the Naughty Nutty packed with chocolate, M&Ms, and drizzled in peanut butter sauce. Then, wash it down with a tasty bubble tea.
Flying Angels is not an ordinary bakery. Their baked goods cover the globe. You’ll find mouthwatering pastry at this stall like American brownies, German apple strudel, traditional Greek delicacies, and even some very British scones.
Crepe & Roll
This is Crêpe but Reimagined. You can grab sweet or savoury crepe rolls, served plain or with ice cream and toppings like biscuits and marshmallows.
So, whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch, or a sweet snack! Creppe & Roll’s got you sorted.
Final Thoughts on the Old Spitalfields Market
The Old Spitalfields Market sells many great things and is a stone’s throw away from many of London’s best attractions and other big food markets.
The Old Spitalfields food market serves a wide variety of treats from all over the world to wide audiences. It caters to all food restrictions and is a great place to spend the whole day just taste testing your favourite flavours.
Besides great food, the market also has a big selection of arts, crafts and fashion stalls to grab your attention and tug at your wallet.
You’ll find it all at this market from indie creators that sell one-of-a-kind items to big commercial shops to buy old tried and true favourites.
This market is a collection of favourites and hidden gems that you can explore again and again without it getting stale or boring.
This market is more than a trading area. It aims to build communities through shared interests in food, art and lifestyle.