Published On: 2012/07/31

On a large scale, London has been what I expected it to be: Crowded, busy, oh-so British, but also culturally and artistically buzzing.

What really surprised me however, was the hipster-artsy-hippie-vintagey side of London.

Knowing me way too well, my host and guide Sarah took me to Portobello Road and Brick Lane. And she was so right about me — I just loved these street markets!

Having been a sucker for flea markets for the greater part of my life, this isn’t so surprising… but these markets are so much more than just random street markets!

Portobello Road in the heart of Notting Hill is a street lined with colorful little stores selling everything from books, records, and vintages scarfs to anything for handicraft work. In front of these stores many market stands sell jewelry, cloths, old cameras, and a lot of food… Heaven!

Sarah and I spent hours on Portobello Road, inhaling its artistic vibes, looking at more useless than useful stuff, and eating delicious crepes.

I really had to force myself not to spend all my money on all the many arty-oldish-pretty little things… This street and everything around it was immediately declared my favorite spot in London!

That was, however, before I went to Brick Lane for the first time. Brick Lane may be similar to Portobello Road regarding what you can see and buy there, but the atmosphere at Brick Lane is totally different.

Brick Lane is rough and urban. The former factory area offers a less neat, but more creative setting. The old factory halls were turned into huge food courts and vintage clothing market halls.

I quickly realized the advantages of living in a vibrant giant city like London: Endless options!

When we entered Boiler House Food Market located in an old brewery building, I just couldn’t believe my eyes: Food from literally everywhere in world! How to choose between Burmese and Indian? Between gluten-free Venezuelan and vegetarian Malaysian? Impossible!

In the end, I decided on vegan Ethiopian; Sarah on one of the many Asian options… I was almost sad that I was full so quickly — I wanted to try so much more!

Brick Lane really is a great place to encounter the most interesting international influences on art, cloths and food — and the perfect spot for hipster watching. (And eventually even trying to blend in with them? At least I tried to…)

These street markets definitely were my overall favorite experiences in London!

Have you been to any of London’s street markets?