London is a culinary capital and food tours here are becoming more and more popular. But at Free Tours By Foot we think paying upwards of £50.00 for a food tour for a set time and date is not necessarily affordable or flexible for many visitors. So we’ve put together a self-guided food tour so anybody can explore Borough Market for FREE by themselves at any time* – you'll only pay for the tasty treats you’ll surely purchase yourself!
This self-guided food tour leads through the world-famous Borough Market, where people come from all over the world to eat and drink. Borough Market is one of the largest food markets on the planet, and there is plenty here to get full without spending a fortune. From British food on show or international treats from across the globe – there’s always something for everybody at Borough Market.
[*Note: We recommend you visit Borough Market on the busiest days, to get the chance to see all of the stalls. This means Thursdays to Saturdays. The market closes before dinner time so try to come in the afternoon for the best experience.]
How to get to Borough Market
Start: London Bridge Underground Station
When you exit the station, follow signs for BOROUGH HIGH STREET. Walk along the High Street. Walk until you come to STONEY STREET and turn RIGHT. Take the FIRST entrance into the market on your right and immediately turn LEFT. You will pass one lot of stalls then come to a second. Your first stop is at the second lot. Here is a map of the inside of the market.
STOP 1 - Olive Oil Company - Flavoured Oils and Vinegars
This is a perfect place to start your tour as the Olive Oil Company is always offering up free samples of their amazing flavoured oils and vinegars. Taste all you like - with fresh market-baked bread, of course - and purchase your favourites. The staff here know their stuff and will talk you through all the interesting flavours available - the perfect appetiser before your feast begins!
When FACING the Olive Oil Company, go to the LEFT and follow the circle of stalls around, keeping the stalls on your right. You will then come into your next stop on the other side from where the Olive Oil Company is.
STOP 2 - Borough Olives - Nocellara Olives
Olive lovers get ready: this is the holy grail! Borough Olives provides a HUGE variety of fresh olives from all over the world (think Spain, Morocco and Greece) at very affordable prices. Feel free to sample to help you discover the ones you like best, then pick up a tub of your favourite for under £5. Our suggestion is the Nocellara olives - vibrant green, HUGE, and with a thick meaty texture, they're the best you'll have ever had.
For those of you who are not too keen on olives, don't worry! Borough Olives also serves up delicious salty Feta cheese, gorgeous sun fried tomatoes and a range of pesos. Think about picking up a jar, grab a delicious loaf of bread, and snack on later!
With your BACK to the Olive stall, step forward toward the next group of stalls directly ahead of you. Then go to your LEFT. Keep the stalls to your RIGHT and walk around until you get to your next stop.
STOP 3 - Parma Ham and Mozzarella Stand - Burrata and Buffalo Mozzarella
Here you'll find some of the finest mozzarella London has to offer - soft and fresh - and we recommend stepping things up and getting the Burrata - a fresh Italian cheese made of mozzarella and cream which is impossible NOT to like. You'll also be able to taste incredible Parma ham which is imported direct from Saint Ilario, a world renowned producer of Prosciutto di Parma. The ham, which is cured for 24 months, is described as 'tender, lean and packed with flavour...' We agree!
FACING the Parma Ham and Mozzarella stand, turn to your RIGHT and walk a few steps - your next stop will be directly in front of you.
STOP 4 - Bread Ahead Bakery - Foccacia Bread
To perfectly accompany your olive oils, dips, ham and cheese, you need to pick out a perfect artisan bread, and this is where you'll find it. Bread Ahead is a pure London bakery - based in Bermondsey, in the South East of town. There's a huge variety of bread here and, if we're honest, everything is good! Prices run from between £2 - £7 depending on what you'd like but our personal recommendation is the foccacia bread. Depending on the day, the selection of foccacia on offer could have garlic and rosemary, tomatoes and olives, herbs and nuts...and the list goes on!
FACING Bread Ahead Bakery, walk to your LEFT. Walk until you get to the last stall on your right and then turn RIGHT. The second lot of stalls on your right will hold your next stop.
STOP 5 - Bath Soft Cheese Co. - Wyfe of Bath Cheese
The Bath Soft Cheese Co. is perfect British product. All the cheeses here are organic and are made near Bath using milk from cows owned by the same company. Their signature cheese is the Wyfe of Bath semi-hard cheese which is named after a character in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Their soft cheese is not to be missed - it is, after all, where they got their name - and has a pedigree that goes back to the 1790's and it is even claimed that Admiral Lord Nelson enjoyed this cheese! For blue cheese lovers, there's plenty here for you, too. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming so talk to the staff - they're lovely, friendly and they know exactly what they're talking about!
When facing the Soft Cheese Co. you will see an exit out of this part of the market behind the stalls, in the direction you are facing. Take that exit which will bring you onto BEDALE STREET, which runs between the different parts of the market. Turn LEFT and this street turns into CATHEDRAL STREET. Walk as far as you can before hitting the Cathedral, and enter the market again on your RIGHT (this should be the third entrance on your RIGHT).
Immediately on your left, will be your next stop.
STOP 6 - Scotchtails - Scotch Egg and Sweet Potato Fries
Scotch eggs are a true British tradition - most often found in country pubs, they are quickly becoming the hottest pub food trend in town. A traditional scotch egg is a boiled egg, surrounded by sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs and then fried or baked...what's not to like? The various eggs on offer here contain not just ordinary sausage meet but pulled pork, lamb and mint, black pudding, or even chorizo. Scotchtails also serves up a vegetarian option with the egg surrounded by beetroot and lentils. If you've got the space left - consider ordering their sweet potato fries which are the best to be found at the market. Price wise, Scotchtails also delivers, and you won't have to spend more than £5 to get a delicious bite to eat.
With Scotchtails to your back, walk to your LEFT. Keep walking in this direction and turn RIGHT as soon as you can. This will lead you straight to one of the largest stalls in the market - and your next stop.
STOP 7 - Borough Nuts - Nuts and Snacks
This is a personal favourite, and it's a guarantee that there is something for everyone at this stall. Huge baskets overflowing with dried fruits, nuts, and baklava are on display, alongside yogurt and chocolate coated goodies - all of which are priced by the weight. This makes it a perfect budget-friendly stop because you can choose to spend exactly how much you'd like to spend! Our personal recommendations are the spicy cashew nuts! For those with a sweet tooth, take a look at the yogurt coated banana chips - yum.
With Borough Nuts BEHIND you, walk to your RIGHT. Walk a few paces and your final stop will appear on your LEFT.
STOP 8 - Comptoir Gourmand - Canele' and Desserts
It's time for dessert and Comptoir Gourmand is the place to get it! All the desserts here are created by owner Sebastien Wind, who is an exceptionally talented chef-patissier who uses French technique to create all the delicious delicacies you'll find at this stall. Try the Canele' de Bordeaux - a pastry with a smooth custard centre and a thick caramelized sugar crust, or the beautifully colourful meringues, or even gorgeous shortbreads boasting plump raisins and crunchy pecans. There's so much to choose from here, you'll have a hard time deciding! It's the perfect way to end your feast.
If you’d like to grab yourself a cheeky drink to enjoy during your tour, pay a visit to Cartwright Bros. This stall specialises in importing wines sourced from independent estates. You can purchase a bottle (or three!) or you can also buy by-the-glass. The delicious prosecco is our personal favourite! You’ll find this stall on MIDDLE ROAD which cuts through the Market.
Finish: Either River Thames or London Bridge Underground Station
Once you've finished your food tour - you have an option of where to go. Perhaps you're going to take your goodies away, in which case you can follow the signs back to LONDON BRIDGE STATION. Or maybe you'd like to sit somewhere nice and enjoy your snacks! If so, you have the option of sitting in the courtyard of SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL - which you can see from the Market itself. Or, if you'd like, you can go back to STONEY STREET and follow it toward the river, where it will dead end into CLINK STREET. From there, turn LEFT, go under the bridge then turn RIGHT and you will be on the Southbank of the Thames where you can find a lovely bench to sit and enjoy the London skyline!
+++We recommend all foodies to check out our other (self-guided) food tours as well as our regular pay-what-you-like walking tours!+++