The classic 1999 Notting Hill film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts helped make Portobello Road a household name, but its market has a rich history which can be traced as far back as the 19th century, and has been famous amongst Londoners for hundreds of years.
Stretching over two miles throughout London's West End, this massive open-air antiques market is the largest of its kind in the world, and over 1,500 dealers can be found here selling everything from vintage clothes and antique household items to electronics, jewellery, artwork, beauty products and delicious street food.
Originally, Portobello Market was just like any other market in London focusing on fruit and veg and other types of food; however, during the 1940s more and more vendors started selling wares as well as bric-a-brac antiques, and eventually these traders helped transform Portobello Market into what it is best known as today: The ultimate antiques market in London.
Furthermore, in recent years, young fashionistas and even rich celebrities have been venturing to Portobello Market to scope out fashionable items, and as a result more and more stalls have started selling a variety of cutting-edge and vintage clothing that you won't find anywhere else in London, not to mention a ton of different posters, ceramics, vinyls and so much more.
Not just limited to hunting around for bargains at the market's many stalls, visitors also head to Portobello Market to snap photos of the gorgeous and colourful Georgian architecture, munch on street vendor food, sip on drinks, or even just listen to some street artists performing throughout the different areas of the market.
Portobello Market Highlights
Out of all the areas of the Portobello Market, none are as famous and popular as the area between the Chepstow Villas and Elgin Crescent, which claims to be the market's main attraction. Located near the Notting Hill tube station, this half-a-mile of road is packed full of antique stalls, vintage household items, books and other collectibles.
However, because the Portobello Market is constantly changing and evolving throughout the days of the week, what you'll find at the many open-air stalls truly boils down to what day of the week you visit:
- Saturday tends to be the busiest day (as it is the main antiques trading day) and is packed full of tourists and street performers. On this day, you can expect to see a ton of antique stalls open between Portobello Road and Kensington Park Road, as well as other vintage clothing stalls in Portobello Green, and forecourt traders at the southern tip of Portobello Road.
- Fridays are the second busiest day for the market, with locations like northern and southern Portobello Road as well as Portobello Green selling all sorts of vintage clothing, antiques and accessories, while Golborne Road has more of a focus on bric-a-brac items, furniture and food.
- Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, on the other hand, tend to focus more on fruit and vegetables and household goods (between Elgin Crescent and the Westway, as well as Golborne Road), and there are also a few vintage clothing stalls scattered around as well.
If you want to purchase some fruit and veg during your visit to Portobello Market, then try to stick to Elgin Crescent and Talbot Road (where you can also find a handful of bread and cheese stalls as well as fish mongers). If you want to scout out some second-hand clothing, make sure you head to the area between Westway and Golborne Road, which is especially popular amongst locals.
- If you want to avoid the busy crowds, try to arrive before 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday. Also, by arriving early you'll be able to pick up some unique and one-of-a-kind antique or vintage items before they get snagged by other shoppers during the busier hours.
- Remember the market is divided into section by types of wares, so if you can't find what you're looking for, try walking a few streets further.
- With so many vintage and antique items, don't even bother looking around the “new goods” sections as they tend to be overpriced.
- Don't forget to haggle to get cheaper prices!