© Howard Kingsnorth / Getty Images

Borough Market

Top choice in South Bank

For a thousand years, a market has existed at the southern end of London Bridge, making this still-busy ancient gathering point a superb spectacle. Overflowing with small shops, food stalls and wholesale greengrocers catering to London's top-end restaurants, Borough Market makes a delicious lunch stop, afternoon grazing session or pure dinner-party inspiration. The market is committed to sustainability and supporting small-scale food producers.

A cheesemongers with a large sign reading "Please wait here to be served"
There are small shops and stalls throughout the market selling fresh produce © Mark Chilvers / Lonely Planet

Gourmet stalls

The market specializes in high-end fresh (and often local) products. You'll find an assortment of fruit and vegetable stalls, cheesemongers, butchers, fishmongers and bakeries, as well as delis and gourmet stalls selling spices, nuts, preserves and condiments. This gastronomic ensemble makes for an eye-catching and mouth-watering display, and plenty of visitors stroll through with their cameras at the ready.

Two market stalls selling bread and charcuterie, with brightly colored awnings over them
Many specialty food stalls offer free samples © Alex Segre / Shutterstock

Food stalls

Once you're too hungry to continue window-shopping (and sampling), grab some grub from one of the many takeaway stalls. Choose anything from sizzling gourmet German sausages to Ethiopian curries, Caribbean stews, falafel wraps, and raclette cheese melted over cured meats and potatoes. Save room for dessert from the cake stalls; walking out without a treat will be a challenge. Many of the takeaway food stalls cluster in Green Market, the area closest to Southwark Cathedral.

People walk along in the street beside a large food market. The street is lined with pubs and cafes
The market is surrounded by places to eat and drink © Mark Chilvers / Lonely Planet

Restaurants, pubs and bars

If you'd rather eat and drink indoors, there are a whole host of options in and around the market. Padella, the eternally busy pasta restaurant, operates a virtual line so you can sign up in advance or on the door and return when your table is available. Tucked under a railway arch is Arabica, which serves delicious Middle Eastern mezze dishes that are perfect for sharing. 

Get a pint at the Market Porter, where most people seem to spill out onto the street to watch the market in action. The Rake, a tiny bar with an outside area, stocks an exceptional range of beer.

Opening times and other practicalities

The market is open from 10am Monday to Friday, and from 8am on Saturday, but not all traders are there every day. It's heaving on Saturdays; arrive early for the best pickings or embrace the craze at lunchtime. If you can't find a spot in the stepped seating area in Jubilee Place to enjoy your takeaway, walk five minutes in either direction along the Thames for river views. Water bottles can be refilled at the water fountain on Stoney Street, not far from Maria's Cafe.

The market is right next to London Bridge rail and Underground station (Jubilee and Northern Lines). The public spaces of the market are all on one level and are wheelchair accessible, but there are some old cobbled stretches and narrow alleys to contend with. Some of the surrounding restaurants and pubs are on multi-levels. 

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