If you know anyone that has ever been to London, chances are they have visited Portobello Road. This antique market is one of the most famous in the world and a buzzing hive of activity. Every weekend thousands upon thousands of tourists and locals descend into the trendy Notting Hill district to search for delectable antiques, exquisite vintage fashion, and the finest jewelry from over 1,000 dealers.
The startling array of items available at Portobello Road 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 barrow in Portobello Road. You’ll find what you want in the Portobello Road!”
When to visit Portobello Road
Portobello Road Market is open seven days a week. But it is at the weekend when the streets come alive with an estimated 100,000 visitors! A sea of people greets you as soon as you exit the tube station and you can find the mile-long strip of stalls, arcades, and shops easily by getting just carried along by them. When you are visiting with a group of friends, it is recommended to arrange a fixed meeting point in case someone gets lost. You won’t be the first person to be distracted by the multitude of exciting offerings and definitely not the last.
Monday to Wednesday the market is open from 9 am until 6 pm. Casual market days bring the fresh fruit & veg stalls along with general household goods and a scattering of clothing stalls. A peaceful way to take in the location and browse the various coffee shops in a relaxed atmosphere. Thursday is the smallest day of the week at Portobello Road, opening from 9 am until 1 pm with the same stalls open as the previous days but closing earlier.
Friday and Saturday buzz with energy and you certainly get a picture of why Portobello Road is one of London‘s most exciting and popular landmarks. This vintage bargain hunters dream opens its doors at 9 am and attracts thousands of visitors who will leave the market by 7 pm tired but perfectly happy. At the southern end of Portobello Road the antique stalls are located where beautiful old relics and ornate vintage furniture have you dreaming of redecorating your home. In the middle of the market, you can find the fresh fruit stalls, discounted new fashion, and essential household goods, often with a retro twist. At the north end of Portobello Green, there is a seemingly never-ending mass of vintage clothing rails to fight through alongside trendy new clothing designers and the finest hand made jewelry.
Saturday’s at Portobello Road is the jewel in the crown for this vibrant and bustling market place. Compared to Friday’s market, a specialist antique arcade is waiting for you as an added extra, 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 look for something unique, it is recommended to come early. From 11:30 onwards the streets are getting filled and are soon ready to burst at the seams.
Portobello Road offers a pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll. Most of the street stalls have gone and the arcade is closed. However, at Portobello Green there is a large vintage clothing market where you can find many items that are available on Fridays and Saturdays with a much calmer surrounding. Most cafes, bars, and restaurants are open all week, however, the market closes on all bank holidays throughout the year.
Portobello Road’s Famous Antiques
Antiques are the main attraction of Portobello Road, with a rich heritage dating back to the 1940s. Each vendor is a specialist in a certain field and together they have hundreds of items on offer, that reflect their deep passion for timeless artifacts and memorabilia. You are certain to find the experts selling exquisite ceramics with traditional designs, dazzling jewelry from around the world, and a mind boggling amount of gleaming gold and silverware.
Independent shops in the arcade deal in everything you can imagine, including African tribal art and jewelry, historical scientific instruments, and dainty Asian porcelain. Arriving at Portobello Road with a clear idea of what you are looking for vanishes very quickly as the monstrous selection available will rapidly change your mind.
Old? New? Or Simply Just A Bargain?
Portobello Road is not just a tourist hot spot, it serves thousands of local residents with their household needs. A glance 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 seasons’ makeup and fashion. We all know black eyeliner was ‘so last year’, and you can get it here for a fraction of its retail price.
The used clothing stalls don’t offer much in the way of classic vintage pieces but there is the chance to extend your wardrobe with some reasonably priced essentials to keep the cold weather out. For higher quality and more fashionable vintage, it is better to visit the numerous shops along Portobello Road which hosts some of the best dealers in London and has enough beautiful fur coats, stylish seventies dresses, and floral shirts to fill your luggage allowance five times over.
Portobello Road: Food And Drink
Fresh fruit and vegetables dominate a hundred meter stretch of Portobello Road and you can find your typical kitchen needs and exotic fruits from overflowing wheelbarrows and vintage crates never seen before. With prices starting at “£1 a box” it is the ideal place to stock up for creating your own unique smoothies.
If you are looking for a quick meal, there are plenty of street food vendors on hand allowing a casual break from the chaos going on all around. Crepes and Bratwurst stalls are an affordable and convenient way to replenish yourself for the second round of bargain hunting, whilst the many cakes stalls deliver the perfect reward for a long day’s work.
In and around Portobello Road there are dozens of high-quality cafes and traditional London bars to eat and relax in, however, on a weekend they tend to get full very quickly so finding a seat isn’t always easy. For the ultimate Portobello Road drinking experience, take a tour of ‘The Ginstitute’, Portobello Road’s own gin maker where you even have the chance to distill your own special gin to take home.