The Ultimate Guide to Portobello Market
Do you ever wonder what it’s like to live in London and be British?
Do you ever wonder what it’s like living in the heart of British culture?
Do you love vintage, antiques and vintage fashion?
Do you love street food? Do you love street markets?
Most importantly, do you want to be in the set of Notting Hill the movie?
Then, you’ve come to the right place. This is my time at Portobello Market where, if you said yes to all the questions above, then Portobello Market is for you. Come and join in my adventure. The best day to go to Portobello Market is a Saturday. It can get busy on Saturdays but if you want to make use of the vintage, antiques, food stalls, second hand and bric en bracs, then, Saturday is a good day to visit Portobello Market.
Notting Hill Gate via the Circle and District Line
I got up really early at around 7 am and it was a Saturday. The sun was shining and I knew that on Saturday, Portobello Market is the main day that the shops, market stalls selling vintage, antiques, souvenirs and fashion would open at the same time. Other days, it would be one or the other opening. This was my chance to go there.
Portobello Road and Portobello Market
Where did I go? I went to Lancaster Road, a pretty street with different coloured buildings.
Who did I see? I saw tourists from all over the world coming here as I heard different languages spoken, mainly Italian and Spanish.
What did I see? British vintage souvenir shops, antiques ranging from pots and pans, maps, cameras and many more, vintage fashion, fruit and vegetable stalls, street food selling food from around the world, restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs.
How did I get there? I got there from Victoria Station and took the Circle and District Line towards Notting Hill Gate. It was a few minutes walk from the station and Portobello Market was signposted easily.
When was I here? Saturday morning till three in the afternoon.
Why was I here? Because I wanted to see the main day where they sold antiques, vintage, fashion, food, fruit and veg and souvenirs.
I thought that by going there early, I would avoid the crowds but I was wrong. At around 10 o’clock, it was already crowded with people, and I couldn’t imagine how busy it would get later on in the day. I was quite surprised with how busy it already was. As I stepped out of the Underground Station, it looked quiet, I saw people going in the same direction as me, the flow of the walkers were smooth but when I got to the main market, it was a completely different story. A lot of websites have said to get there early but 9 in the morning is when the market and shops open and when I arrived, it was already 10, and already busy with people. Any earlier you’d be hanging around before the shops open. The first few shops I saw were souvenir shops, vintage shops and a few pubs selling, you guessed it, fish and chips.
Notting Hill is the area Portobello Market is in. Iis famous for its bright coloured houses. Head to Lancaster Road where you will see Instagrammable spots to take pictures where you will see a row of coloured buildings to your left and right. I saw pretty, colourful, traditional British houses here. There were yellows, pinks, greens, blacks, purples, oranges and whites. A plaque that had George Orwell on one of the houses was hanging on the exterior wall of one of the houses in Portobello Road. That shows he lived here during the 19th Century. Someone who lives there now is one lucky person.
A few roads had off white coloured houses, pale pink, blue, white and cream all in a row too. These houses aren’t cheap, they can cost up to a million, even though some look small.
It was so colourful all around me. There were so many vintage and antique shops to choose from. I was in awe with how many products there were and felt I was in a treasure chest or Aladdin’s Cave. I love vintage and antiques. If I was a tourist, I would have bought the small London road plaque magnets that had Notting Hill, Portobello Road and Baker Street written on it. There was silverware, jewellery, vinyls, photographs and so much more hidden around the Portobello Road. I loved the silver teapots and pans, the giant red teapot hanging on one of the stores and vintage fashion stores, not to mention the colourful buildings and the British flags and banners that said “Portobello Road” hanging at the top of the market. Heck, I might as well say I love everything about this place.
In my opinion, nothing beats British markets like Portobello and Camden Lock. These markets are trademarks of what London is all about. Make sure you visit Alice’s where the seller would encourage you guys to buy things outside their store as well as Hirst Antiques where you can take advantage of vintage jewellery.
Alice’s have really nice British teapots in different colours and vintage bread baskets and signages standing outside the store. I wish I could buy everything in this store. Don’t forget to take pictures of Electric Cinema, a vintage cinema in the heart of Portobello. Opened in the 70’s, it still hosts a number of 21st Century films. The architecture is to die for, really. I didn’t go in but from the outside, it looked beautiful.
When you see Starbucks coffee in Westbourne Road, next to it, take note of people taking photos in front of the blue door number 280. No one lives there but it was the door to the movie Notting Hill’s character William lived in.
As I walked amongst the crowd, I kept bumping into people, even when I arrived early. I said to myself that I should take my time here looking at things. People actually spend half a day here, I spent half a day here too and everywhere I went, there’s Notting Hill signs in every corner, if not that, then it’s Portobello Road or Portobello Market.
I went straight back to the market and saw vintage cameras which you can’t really get nowadays as well as miniature toy soldier statues and toy cars for memorabilia if you’re into that kind of thing. At this point, I thought that I was in the heart of British culture. Nothing can compare.
In the middle of the market, after the vintage and antiques stalls, you will find the food market.
The Food Market
Further along this area of the market, stalls selling Spanish, Italian, Greek and other snacks such as cakes, pretzels, chocolates lined up along the street. There are many stalls you can take advantage of if you want to have breakfast and lunch. You can take a few cakes, biscuits and chocolates with you as you walk around. This is one of the reasons why Saturday is the best day to visit Portobello Market.
I was walking for half an hour before I ended up at Portobello Green shopping centre where they sold more antiques and vintage goods, then came across various stalls selling street food here. It was very colourful here too, you had a taste of the Caribbean, falafels, Greek, Afghan, Vegan, Korean, Chinese, cocktails, beers and a place to eat at the end of the market. You could also see the chefs cooking with their pans in front of you and I could smell different flavours.
Further along, I saw that they sold fruits and vegetables, pastries and cakes as well as doughnuts. I recommend coming here to get munchies and snacks in the morning before you head off exploring different parts of London. If you’re on a budget, there’s a Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco’s supermarket where you can get a bottle of drink, a packet of crisps or chocolate and a sandwich for under £5. Sainsbury’s and Tesco are in every corner of London. You can save £10 for lunch here.
I walked further on and saw various murals on the wall which I love. During this time, I heard many people speak in different languages which show that people from all over the world come here. I felt lucky to be living in London, it’s just like my back garden really, I can go to any attractions and areas whenever I like, rain or shine.
There’s also a Farmer’s Market every Saturday, open from 9am – 2pm but it’s not that big and just sells more veggies, bread and dairy which you can buy at the main market. There were around five or six stalls here, not a lot to see for tourists.
Take a note of Mau Mau Bar if you want to enjoy live music. I haven’t had a chance to go back there since university days but Mau Mau Bar is a recommendation from me. Very intimate, relaxed and vibrant at the same time. I also recommend going to Pepper Tree where you can buy nice vintage clothes.
At the end of the market, I ended up at Golborne Road where I fancied a nice cup of coffee and a chance to charge my phone. The coffee shop is owned by the Italians and when I was inside, I felt I was in Italy. Loved the decor and the paintings with a taste of Italian culture. I didn’t sit outside as everyone was sitting there. It’s nice weather outside, that’s why. I didn’t mind sitting inside as I had to charge my phone anyway. Around this area, Golborne Road sold second hand goods rather than vintage and antiques. This shows that you’d be at the end of Portobello Market and the stalls would end soon.
Along Golborne Road, you can see the Trellick Tower standing tall. It’s not really a tourist attraction but the history of it is that, in the 1970’s, back in the day, there were a lot of drug dealers and users, vandalism and petty crime, prostitution and rape, people were trapped in their flats and the social living was low back in the day. Since tenants had the right to buy council flats, now, a three bedroom flat will cost £700,000 or more. Although it does look shabby from the outside, it’s the inside that gives the flat the hundred thousand pound look.
As I walked further towards this road, I ended up at North Kensington. It’s a completely different story to Portobello Road and Notting Hill. There are many council flats all lined up in rows and around this area, there’s not a lot of tourists. More residents living here. There’s not a lot of tourists that come through this area but Kensington have a wealthy and a poor area. You can actually see the difference. I felt peace and tranquility just being here, a break from the hustle and bustle of Portobello life. There’s a small park where locals go to to take a break, walk past it and watch their children play in the playground. It’s very peaceful.
I headed to Ladbroke Grove where I can take a sneak peak at the canal on the Grand Union Canal. Ladbroke Grove is a few minutes away from Holland Park and Kensington Memorial Park. There are good eating spots here including restaurants and coffee shops from around the world. I didn’t spend my time here though because I wanted to take more pictures of pretty houses in Portobello Road so I headed back towards the market. Next time, I will spend more time here. I went through Westbourne Road to grab some coffee. It was already 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the market was already getting busy, a tiny bit busier than that morning, not much different though.
After snapping photos here and there, I came across St. Luke’s Mews where I saw another Instagrammable spot, the pink house with a bicycle outside. This is a scene from Love Actually where Mark declared his love with cue cards. This mew has cobblestones and pretty little houses (including the pink one), away from the hustle and bustle of Portobello Market. It was a pretty spot to take pictures. I headed straight back to Notting Hill Gate as I didn’t enjoy the crowd, it gave me a headache, so I went straight home.
Saturday is the best day to go to Portobello Market.
The weather was sunny yet cloudy so I advise on taking your raincoats, thick jackets and coats with you if there’s a prediction it’s going to rain. Summer I thought this year was very unpredictable, one minute it rains, the next windy, sunny then cloudy, then rain again.
Take your time here because sometimes, it can be stressful walking up and down. If there’s something you like, buy it. It is a little expensive here in Portobello Road but everywhere is more or less expensive around London. If you can afford to visit London, a few souvenirs from Portobello Market is not going to hurt.
Visit Alice’s vintage shop. It has been open since 1887.
Even though a lot of websites say to get there early, the crowd wasn’t really any different in the morning and afternoon. If you do want a quiet time, head to the market at around 4:30pm to 5pm where people would be packing up but selling at the same time. Often, products in the market would be cheaper because they just want to get rid of them as much as possible.
Go to Ladbroke Road and Portobello Road where you can take pictures of pretty houses and various mews including St. Luke’s Mews. Take a picture of George Orwell’s house. You can see his plaque on the wall.
If you spent half a day here, after, go to places such as Holland Park, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace or take the bus to Oxford Street, Hyde Park or Buckingham Palace and Knightsbridge.
I don’t know how many times I can write love on this post. Probably a million times. Portobello Market is a place to shop for vintage, antiques and street food. Even though it’s crowded, Saturday is definitely the best day to go to Portobello Market. After all, the crowd is what’s so good about the market.There’s nothing to hate about the place, even the crowd makes the place a plus but if it’s not nice weather, it’s not going to be a good day. That’s the only downside to it. The weather.
Portobello Market and Portobello Road are very colourful and it’s a very traditional British area. If you want to buy souvenirs here, now’s your chance but writing my post here in my room, I can’t find any faults to the place other than the fact it’s an expensive area for people to live in. There are a lot of council flats in North Kensington but other than that, it was an enjoyable day.
Every other day like Sunday, the market is not open except the shops and during the week, there are fewer things to see than the main day on Saturday. Saturday is the day you should go. I would visit it again and again and again and wouldn’t get bored. I rate it 10 out of 10.
So, if you are in the Notting Hill area, please visit Portobello Market, especially on Saturdays. It’s well worth the visit.