If you know anyone who has been to London, chances are they have visited the Portobello Road Market. This antique market is one of the most famous in the world and is a buzzing hive of activity. Every weekend, thousands upon thousands of tourists and locals flock to the trendy Notting Hill district to scour the market for gorgeous antiques, exquisite vintage fashions, and the finest jewelry from over 1,000 vendors.
The dazzling array of items available at the Portobello Road Market certainly gives credence to the eponymous song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks – “Portobello Road, Portobello Road, street where the riches of ages are stowed! Anything and everything a chap can unload is sold off the cart in Portobello Road. You’ll find what you want on Portobello Road!
When to visit Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road Market is open seven days a week. But it is on weekends that the streets come alive with an estimated 100,000 visitors! A sea of people greets you as you step out of the tube station and you can easily find your way around the mile-long strip of stalls, arcades and shops. If you are visiting with a group of friends, it is a good idea to arrange a meeting point in case anyone gets lost. You won’t be the first person to get distracted by all the exciting things to do, and you certainly won’t be the last.
Monday through Wednesday the market is open from 9 am to 6 pm. Casual market days bring fresh fruit and vegetable stalls along with general household goods and a scattering of clothing stalls. A quiet way to take in the location and browse the various coffee shops in a relaxed atmosphere. Thursday is the smallest day of the week on Portobello Road, opening from 9 am to 1 pm with the same stalls open as the previous days but closing earlier.
Friday and Saturday are buzzing with energy and you can see why Portobello Road Market is one of London’s most exciting and popular landmarks. This vintage bargain hunter’s dream opens its doors at 9 am and attracts thousands of visitors who leave the market tired but happy by 7 pm. At the southern end of Portobello Road are the antique stalls, where beautiful old relics and ornate vintage furniture will make you dream of redecorating your home. In the middle of the market you will find fresh fruit stalls, discounted new fashion, and essential household goods, often with a retro twist. At the northern end of Portobello Green, there is a seemingly never-ending mass of vintage clothing rails to wade through, alongside trendy new clothing designers and the finest handmade jewelry.
Saturday’s Portobello Road Market is the jewel in the crown of this vibrant and bustling marketplace. As an added bonus to Friday’s market, there is a special antique arcade where you are likely to discover a new treasure chest full of old coins and worldly charms. If you want time and, more importantly, space to search for something unique, come early. Starting at 11:30 a.m., the streets fill up and soon burst at the seams.
Portobello Road Market offers a pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll. Most of the street stalls are gone and the arcade is closed. However, Portobello Green has a large vintage clothing market where you can find many items that are available on Fridays and Saturdays in a much quieter environment. Most cafes, bars, and restaurants are open all week, but the market closes on all public holidays throughout the year.
Portobello Road Market’s famous antiques
Antiques are the main attraction at Portobello Road Market, with a rich heritage dating back to the 1940s. Each vendor is a specialist in a particular field and together they offer hundreds of items that reflect their deep passion for timeless artifacts and memorabilia. You are sure to find the experts selling exquisite ceramics with traditional designs, dazzling jewelry from around the world, and a staggering amount of gleaming gold and silverware.
Independent shops in the arcade sell everything you can imagine, from African tribal art and jewelry to historic scientific instruments and delicate Asian porcelain. Arriving on Portobello Road with a clear idea of what you are looking for will quickly vanish, as the monstrous selection available will quickly change your mind.
Old? New? Or just a bargain?
Portobello Road is not just a tourist hotspot, it also serves thousands of local residents with their household needs. Take a look at the opportunity to buy a dozen socks, toiletries by the gallon, and enough bleach to clean the Houses of Parliament. There are also fantastic bargains on last season’s makeup and fashion. We all know that black eyeliner was so last year, and you can get it here for a fraction of the retail price.
The secondhand clothing stalls don’t offer much in the way of classic vintage pieces, but there is a chance to expand your wardrobe with some reasonably priced essentials to keep out the cold weather. For higher quality and more fashionable vintage, head to the many shops along Portobello Road, home to some of London’s best dealers and enough beautiful fur coats, stylish seventies dresses and floral shirts to fill your checked baggage allowance five times over.
Portobello Road Market: Food and Drink
Fresh fruit and vegetables dominate a hundred-yard stretch of Portobello Road, where you can find your basic kitchen staples and exotic fruit from overflowing wheelbarrows and old crates you’ve never seen before. With prices starting at “£1 a box”, it is the ideal place to stock up for creating your own unique smoothies.
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If you are looking for a quick bite to eat, there are plenty of street food vendors to take a casual break from the chaos around you. Crepes and bratwurst stalls are an affordable and convenient way to fuel up for the second round of bargain hunting, while the many cake stalls are the perfect reward for a long day’s work.
In and around Portobello Road, there are dozens of quality cafes and traditional London bars where you can eat and relax, but they tend to fill up quickly on weekends, so it’s not always easy to find a seat. For the ultimate Portobello Road drinking experience, take a tour of The Ginstitute, Portobello Road’s own gin distillery, where you can even distill your own special gin to take home.