5 East London Street Markets

East London is home to many vibrant traditional and modern street markets selling fruit, veg, homeware, fashion and about everything else imaginable. Here are the 5 that I think are most worth a visit:

1. Walthamstow Market

Walthamstow Market is the longest street market in Europe and runs all the way down the High Street, and is held every Tuesday to Saturday come rain or shine. I've seen the market running in the snow, and the stall holders are there from 6am setting up. At the top end, there's a good selection of fruit and veg stalls, and the rest of the market contains an endless range of clothing, fabric, homeware, food and jewellery stalls. If you need it, they probably sell it here. On Sundays, there's a much smaller farmers' market that sells a nice selection of break and cakes, meat, cheese and veg. 

2. Broadway Market

Running on Saturdays, this extremely popular food market just down from London Fields offers artisan delicacies for refined East Londoners including a good selection of vegan and gluten free food. There's also a few clothing and gift stalls, but the main draw is the food - it's always extremely busy so prepare for a bit of light jostling to get to the scotch eggs.

3. Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road in Dalston is home to an extremely bustling, slightly down-at-the-heel fruit, veg and fish market where you can expect to have a bit of a to-do with other customers over who gets the biggest cauliflowers. I used to hop on the overground from Surrey Quays to get my fruit and veg here, though I was a bit put off for a while after it turned out some dude was selling rats on sticks to unknowing (and perhaps some knowing) punters. But I'll always have an affection for this slightly rough and tumble market and it's a great place to load up on massive amounts of fruit for a few quid. It's open Monday to Saturday. 

4. Columbia Road Flower Market

Your first visit to Columbia Road Flower Market is a very special London experience. It only runs on Sundays, so it's always very busy, and the range and quality of flowers on sale is amazing. From English classics to exotic wonders, there's a mixture of cut stems and potted plants for sale, and even if you're not there to buy it's a lovely place to browse the stalls and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

On either side of the street, there's also a collection of sweet little boutique shops that are a great place to buy presents, most of which only open on Sundays too. Columbia Road then winds round to another section of cafes and antique shops which are also buzzing on a Sunday. It's a short walk from Hoxton and Bethnal Green.

5. Brick Lane Up Market

A massive Sunday institution, the Up Market is a sprawling mass of food, art and fashion stalls on the street and dotted in numerous surrounding buildings. There's also all sorts of other stuff going on here, there and everywhere in and around Brick Lane including a more traditional fruit and veg market spilling out down the side streets, an ever so slightly shady-looking collection of second hand bike sellers and occasionally some happy-go-lucky car-less car booters. These intermingle with an infinite number of the Indian restaurants Brick Lane is famous for, busy bars and pubs including the Old Turman Brewery site, and a diverse range of shops spilling into one another along the famous meting pot of a street.

It reminds me of a medieval painting of a chaotic street scene, and as it gets incredibly busy it's not one for the faint-hearted. If you do one thing though, go an buy a bagel from one of the famous 24 hour beigel shops at the Bethnal Green end of the street. It's just around the corner from Shoreditch, so be prepared to journey deep into the epicentre of hipster culture, complete with cereal cafe.