Things to do in London: Borough Market

Borough Market is situated in the borough of Southwark and is really easy to get to. In total, there are more than 100 stalls, restaurants and bars in and around Borough Market. The food stalls sell everything from amazing cheeses to mind-blowing doughnuts, truffles to Turkish delights. There are also incredible greengrocers (very Instagram-able fruit and veg displays), fishmongers and butchers. It’s a really deliciously sensory overload.

When’s the best time to visit Borough Market? 

Stephen: “Personally, I think the best time to visit Borough Market is slightly later in the week, on a Thursday or Friday’ as that’s when most stalls are open, though you avoid the weekend rush. But anytime is a good time to visit.

When is Borough Market open?

Borough Market is open from 10am until 5pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm on Saturdays, and 10am to 2pm on Sundays. However, it’s worth noting that the market is limited on Mondays and Tuesdays. All hot food traders are open but there is a limited selection of fresh-produce traders open. All traders are open on Wednesday to Saturdays.

Why is Borough Market so special?

“Borough Market is more than just a food market, it’s a place where people come to connect over their love of food. The market is bustling with small, independent traders, selling the highest-quality produce, with sustainability at their core. Over the years the market has grown to become not just a place to buy good, trustworthy produce, but to also bring people together to immerse themselves in all the flavours these foods can provide. We provide cooking demos, host cookbook clubs and work closely with the local community to support their projects and schemes. Established in 1756, Borough Market has become a London institution to be proud of. We are the only independently owned market in the capital, owned by a charitable trust and run by a board of volunteer trustees. There really is no other place in the world like it!” – Kate Howell, Director of Engagement and Communications at Borough Market.

What’s good to eat at Borough Market?

The eating is excellent at the market. There is a huge range to choose from, in terms of food styles, nationalities and prices from snacks to fine dining. Lunch is the best time, as while (the great) restaurants and pubs are open in the evening, the market is not.

Stephen: “One of the best places to eat are the lunch stalls next to Winchester Walk, where there is a dedicated eating area, with lots of seating.”

Hazel:Hash does a pretty good mac and cheese. You can choose to have it on its own or accompany fried chicken or pulled pork. Le Marche du Quartier do an awesome duck burger with a brioche bun, plus they have some seating for customers. Those with a sweet tooth should try the doughnuts from Bread Ahead, my particular favourites are honeycomb, or the chocolate one! Yummy”

Ian: “For in-market eating for fellow vegetarians, Turnips make the most delicious mushroom risotto, cooked right in front of you in giant pans.”

Borough Market is also ringed by a wide range of excellent restaurants. What good restaurants do you recommend?

Hazel: “Padella Pasta is one of those places you will remember, all for the right reasons. Try their famous Pici cacio & pepe or burrata with Le Ferre olive oil and Pici cacio & pepe for a starter and as a mains try the pappardelle with 8 hours dexter beef shin ragu and the tagliarini with Dorset crab, chilli and lemon with some gnocchi on the side. If you have instagram then try their epic tagliarini pasta with nettles, nutmeg & egg yolk. You can thank me later!”

What good food shops are at Borough Market?

Susan: “I love the cheese stalls but my favourite place is the Spice Mountain – so many spices/flavourings I have never heard of. I’m always tempted to buy some when I venture in.”

Borough Market for Cheese Lovers

Palace Culture sells organic plant based cheese. My favourite is their Truffled Camembert.” If you’re looking for an impressive cheese that will be the talking point of your next dinner party then I can certainly recommend blue-brain cheese from cheese artisans Jumi Cheese London, it goes great with some crunchy bread and a glass or two of chilled chardonnay.” Ian

“We have traded in borough market since 2011 and opened a cheese shop in Islington in 2018. Our best sellers are Blue Brain and Belper Knolle, they come from a small village in Emmental Valley called Belp. The first is a fresh raw cow milk cheese coated in mould that ends up looking just like a brain! It’s fresh and salty inside and pungent on the outside. The Belper Knolle is also raw cow milk with garlic mixed inside and a coating of black pepper. It’s very versatile and can go on literally any dish. We only source cheeses from our family production in Emmental Valley!” Jumicheese

Are there toilets at Borough Market?

Yes, the market has public toilets. 

Are there ATMs at Borough Market?

Yes, there’s even one in a phone box! There are also a number of ATMs at the nearby banks but have been known to be empty on Saturdays after the lunchtime rush. Lots of vendors take card payments. 

Is Borough Market in the congestion zone?

Yes, Borough Market is in the Congestion Zone. You can get to Borough Market so easily, by Tube, National Rail (London Bridge station) and buses, or you can walk along the Thames. If you are wanting to drive to Borough Market there is no parking at the market, but there is a large car park close by at Snowfields by St Thomas’ Hospital, but if you can, use public transport.

Is Borough Market dog friendly?

Dogs are welcome, but you do need to keep your dog on a lead or carry them. They are sure to enjoy the plethora of smells this remarkable food market has to offer. Oh, and it’s best to avoid the busiest times. 

What are the best pubs in and around Borough Market?

Hazel: “Borough Market has some excellent and historic pubs nearby. The George Inn is on Borough High Street which is London’s only remaining Georgian Coaching inn. Charles Dickens is known to have drunk there. The George Inn is owned by the National Trust, is Grade I listed and is currently run by Greene King”.

Stephen: “Go downstairs in the Southwark Tavern and sit in your very own personal prison cell (or so they say). The Anchor pub for river views (where Samuel Pepys saw London burn in 1666). Upstairs in the haunted Market Porter does a good fish and chips, with a great view of the market. Many more are available!”

Map of historic pubs around Borough Market

Where are the best places for afternoon tea near Borough Market?

Rabot 1745’s restaurant terrace overlooks Borough Market and is the perfect setting for a chocolate afternoon tea. Available Friday and Saturday, 1pm-5pm

The price is £35 per person and includes a hot drink of your choice: tea, coffee or drinking chocolate. Add a glass of Prosecco Superiore DOCG for £5 each. Booking can be made if you give them a call. 

London Bridge Hotel is a hop, skip and a jump from Borough Market and offers an afternoon tea, including a cocktail afternoon tea for £35. Read our experience here

What else is there to do around Borough Market?

Stephen: “If the crowds get too much for you, pop into Southwark Cathedral which is right next to the market. There is free entrance but donations are welcome. The cathedral is filled with history. Highlights include the beautiful stained glass windows of local literary greats Chaucer and Shakespeare. It also has a quiet and very good café next to the river, now run by Bread Ahead”. 

Hazel: “Up a narrow 52-step spiral staircase and in the attic of the early eighteenth-century church of the old St Thomas’s Hospital is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe. Predating anaesthetics and antiseptics, this atmospheric museum offers a unique insight into the history of medicine and surgery. Find out more on our London History podcast.

What’s the best London market to visit?

Stephen: “Some people ask which they should visit: Borough Market, Camden or Covent Garden market. All are great in their own way and should all be seen but Borough Market is the real foodie market and the one with the longest history, so that’s my go-to London market. If you get there early enough sometimes you can meet the guy with the huge falcon that scares away the pigeons.” 

Have a wonderful saunter around this remarkable place and see what catches your eye. Here’s a video of our wandering:

Borough Market’s History

Stephen: “It’s next to the Roman road, leading to London Bridge, the only bridge in London for almost a thousand years. There may well have been a Roman market in the area, there certainly was one by medieval times. Chaucer and Shakespeare would have walked through a Borough Market. The market moved to its current location in the mid-18th Century and the Victorian railway viaducts give the area its distinctive architecture, with the trains still rumbling overhead today.

It was generally a wholesale market, selling to restaurants and greengrocers. But with the growth of supermarkets and wholesalers changing the way they work, the market’s future became increasingly in doubt in the 1990s. However, the foodie revolution of the late ‘90s and into this century allowed the market to reinvent itself, into the wonderful place it is today. Borough Market is overseen by an independent trust which works to promote sustainable producers and social outcomes.”

You can explore the area more on Stephen’s Southwark walk. Private Southwark tours available too.


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