Portobello Road Market: a first-timer’s guide
Portobello Road is one of the most famous streets in London. Located in the Notting Hill neighborhood in the western part of London, this road hosts one of the largest street markets in the city, as well as a bevy of boutiques and specialty stores.
The Portobello Road Market runs all week, but the biggest day for antiques, second-hand clothing, and specialty stands is Saturday, which also tends to draw the biggest crowds.
The neighborhood: Notting Hill
There’s much more history to Notting Hill than what you see in the Julia Roberts movie. Since it was built in the 1820s, Notting Hill has been associated with artist culture, although now it has more of a reputation as an affluent, fashionable, and sometimes Conservative neighborhood, with residents such as former Prime Minister David Cameron.
During the 50s the neighborhood was populated mostly by Western Indians and Caribbeans, but a wave of gentrification and rising rents pushed most out in the 1980s. Now the neighborhood is primarily known as the host of the Portobello Road Market.
Getting to Portobello Road Market
To get to the famous Portobello Road Market you can ride the Tube to either Notting Hill Station (Central, Circle, District lines) or Ladbroke Grove (Hammersmith and City line).
By bus, you can take the 7,12, 23, 27, 28, 31, 52, 70, 94, 328 or 452 routes.
Any taxi knows exactly where to take you (London!), so make sure to specify which area you want to stop in:
Antiques: Corner of Westbourne Grove & Portobello Road
Street Food: Corner of Cambridge Gardens & Portobello Road
Vintage Fashion: Corner of Lancaster Road & Portobello Road
There are more cute boutiques along Portobello Road than I can easily list in one blog post, but here are the ones I remember 🙂
An adorable Alice in Wonderland shop and Portobello Road Market classic with everything from vintage tins to teapots to silver to other bric-a-brac (what a curious word!).
86 Portobello Road
If you love old (sometimes inaccurate) maps (or prints), this shop is for you. Need I say more?
109 Portobello Rd
For my American readers, Oxfam is kind of like the Goodwill of Britain. This branch of Oxfam focuses exclusively on second-hand books.
170 Portobello Road
Stumper & Fielding
More of a boutique than an antiques dealer, this cute and quintessentially British hipster shop sells clothes, shoes, bags, and more.
107 Portobello Rd
The stalls are what it’s all about. For the largest selection (and the largest crowds), make sure to stop by on Saturday.
This stand is for design fetishists such as myself … full of old wood and metal type cases, vintage letters, drop caps, and other typographic knick-knacks. I’ve never seen a street stand like it and I still think about it constantly (as well as my Caslon type tray I bought there)
Saturdays: Site 43 – Portobello Road Market
This darling stall features antique cameras from the Victoria times to the 1950s. These cameras definitely need no Instagram filters.
Site 4 Portobello Road
Andy Morant Toys
This stall sells antique toys! What could be a more perfect souvenir than a little vintage Queen’s guard figurine or a double decker bus?
Site 35 – Portobello Road
This isn’t so much a stall as a giant section of the market, featuring second-hand clothes, a farmer’s market, jewelry of all sorts, leatherworks, vinyl, and all sorts of other things I’ve missed or forgotten.
Beneath the giant white canopy
It’s a given that you will start to work up an appetite while spending your hours digging through crates of maps or racks of clothing, and luckily, there’s no shortage of food around the Market.
There are so many street stalls to pick from, ranging from falafel to ice cream to banh mi to drinks-in-a-pineapple. Send me pics if you go to any!
If you need to stop off for a quick pick-me-up, Hummingbird Bakery is a lovely place for a tea or coffee and a cupcake. Try the blueberry lemon cupcake!
133 Portobello Road
If you’re more in the mood for a pub, Chipping Forecast fits the bill perfectly. A classic stop for fish and chips!
29 All Saints Road
If you need to fuel up before shopping, Mike’s Cafe is an excellent brunch choice with hearty British breakfast options at an affordable price. It’s also right around the corner from the market.
12 Blenheim Cresent
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
This museum focuses on consumer culture from the Victorian era to the present day, featuring over 12,000 items. A must visit for those interested in design and advertising.
111–117 Lancaster Rd
Open Tues – Sat 10AM–6PM, Sun 11AM–5PM
Notting Hill celebrates its West Indian and Caribbean heritage with a traditional Carnival on the last weekend in August. The attendance for this massive event tends to hover around 1 million people annually.
Don’t miss the beautiful and humungous costumes in the parade, the Caribbean street food everywhere, and the traditional Caribbean music playing from a bevy of soundsystems. A great event for anyone who loves to dance!
Good to know
The biggest day for antiques is Saturday, but this also draws the biggest crowds. Make sure to show up early if you don’t want to wade through throngs of tourists.
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesday tend to focus more on fresh food and produce than vintage and antique items.
Haggling is also accepted as long as it’s reasonable.
Hours for the market:
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (9AM – 6PM)
Thursdays (9AM – 1PM)
Fridays and Saturdays (9AM – 7PM.)
Have you found anything beautiful or unique you want to show off? Tag me @wondrouspaths or show it off in the comments!
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