Headed to London? Make sure to stop by Camden Market! You won’t be disappointed. This lesser known attraction is a hidden gem. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but the time spent here far exceeded my expectations. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to stay and enjoy all that there is to discover here. It’s definitely at the top of my list of things to do while in London, and a great alternative once you’ve seen the popular sights.
So, what is Camden Market?
Camden Market is a bustling collection of markets that run along Camden High Street in the northwestern London Borough of Camden. The markets form a maze of assorted vendors selling everything from cheap souvenirs to quality artisan products and services. The vibe is youthful, artsy, and punk-rock. Sprinkled in the mix you’ll find a wide selection of food options in the form of food trucks, restaurants, and bars that contribute wonderful smells as you’re browsing the endless goods on display. Live music venues set the tone and punctuate the buzzing streets. It’s an exciting place to spend the day, so expect to share space with the crowds while you browse, eat, and enjoy this unique side of London.
Camden Market is approximately 20 minutes north of central London, a short ride away from the popular sights located along the Thames River. Even so, the market is more than enough to keep you busy for a day, or a half day if you are on a schedule. Other nearby attractions are Primrose Hill, Regent Park, and The British Library. If you are looking to extend your day into the evening, there are also several event venues and clubs in the area. So make your plans and get your tickets before you arrive. To get there take an Uber, or ride the tube to Camden Town Station. A good place to start is at the corner of Camden High Street and Buck Street.
Browsing and Shopping
The obvious pass time is to shop, but browsing is just as much fun. I’m not much of a shopper, so I skimmed over the market at Buck Street (where the green Camden Market sign is located). The booths here are tightly packed and the merchandise didn’t grab my attention right away. Instead, I indulged in a warm crepe from a nearby food truck then headed north past the souvenir shops. My kids stopped in to buy a few things, but the really exciting stuff was across the bridge over the Regent Canal at the start of Camden Lock. The entrance here is announced with an industrial welcome sign.
The first booth we came to belongs to an artist that personalizes t-shirts and hats. My son purchased a hat featuring a favorite Pokemon character. He wore it proudly for the remainder of our trip. Another artist further down the line was busy hand-painting high top sneakers. We almost purchased some, but passed in the end.
Other items we purchased before our visit was over included: a small hand-held jeweled mirror, a heavy metal sign announcing the toilet, and several Banksy prints. The merchandise options seemed endless.
After getting through Camden Lock Market, we crossed into the Horse Tunnel and Stables Market. This market is especially interesting because as its name indicates, it used to be stables for horses. Vendors are setup in former horse stalls so it makes for an attractive rustic industrial backdrop. Here we came across a leather craftsman working on artisan leather belts amongst other interesting finds.
Eating and Drinking
After exiting the stables, we found ourselves in an open area surrounded by restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. One particular restaurant, The Cheese Bar, had an impressive line of diners waiting to get in. I was a bit intrigued and found out after a quick search that it used to be a popular food truck that had recently opened a permanent location. Still, I must confess I still don’t know what a cheese bar is.
Nearby there is an Amy Winehouse statue that we managed to miss. Make sure to take a picture before continuing on. My husband is a big fan, so he is going to be very disappointed when he finds out! Fortunately, around the corner we spotted more stalls and Banksy prints caught our eye. We bought several at this point, and then called it an evening.
Music and Entertainment
We didn’t get through all of the markets. There was still so much to see and do. Camden Market is also surrounded by iconic event venues, clubs, and bars. So if this is your scene, definitely take advantage while you are here. I’ve provided links below where you can take a closer look at what Camden Market has to offer including information on specific shops, restaurants, and events. Have fun and make sure to come back and tell us about your visit!