CAMDEN ULTIMATE GUIDE
Retro or vintage, goth or steampunk…Whatever your cup of tea is, you’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy at the Camden markets.
The Camden markets consist of six distinct markets in and around Camden Town, which are located near Camden Lock. The Camden markets draw in 100,000 tourists every weekend (which makes it the fourth most popular visitor attraction in London), who venture to the area to find great deals on clothing, accessories and other handicraft items.
But believe it or not the Camden markets are a relatively new addition to London, as the area surrounding Camden Lock was used primarily for agricultural and industrial purposes since before the 1800s.
It wasn’t until 1971 when these deserted industrial buildings were sub-let to workshop owners, and a weekend market was soon established which focused on traditional crafts, antiques, clothing and food stalls. Locals began venturing to these markets, which were hailed for their good quality, and by 1985 three other markets were added either on or near Chalk Farm Road. During the 1990s, many of the old buildings at Camden Lock were converted into open market areas, and were soon renamed as Camden Lock Place.
Today the Camden markets are home to six different markets, each with their own distinct and individual characteristics. Whether you’re hoping to buy some hilarious t-shirts or London souvenirs, or even get a neck tattoo and a naval piercing (or both!), there’s no limit to what you will experience when strolling around the Camden markets.
Out of all the markets located in Camden, Camden Lock Village is perhaps the most famous. These covered markets are full packed full of all sorts of unique and handmade items, and are located alongside The Regent’s Canal towpath (near the north-eastern section of the road bridge on Chalk Farm Road).
From hot sexy fashion, to hip children’s clothing, there’s no telling what kind of fashionable items you’ll come across at the Camden Lock Market, which is located to the north of The Regent’s Canal. Not just limited to clothing, here you can also find food stalls offering food from all over the world, as well as handmade jewellery, second-hand clothing, books, and other random household items you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
For a more vintage or retro feel, The Stables Market (located to the north of Camden Lock Market on Chalk Farm Road₎, is considered to be the “oh so boho” of all the markets in Camden Town, and is known especially for its gothic clothing and accessories. With nearly 700 different shops to choose from, here you can also find vintage clothing, retro furniture and homemade crafts as well.
If you’re hoping to refresh your wardrobe, then a visit to the Buck Street Market is a must. This market is located on Camden High Street (a two-minute walk away from the Camden Town Underground Station), and specializes in clothing of all shapes, sizes and styles. Buck Street Market is entirely outdoors, and contains 200 stalls which are scattered throughout several narrow alleyways. Although this market’s primary focus is on clothing and accessories, you can also find vintage and handmade jewellery here as well.
To change things up a bit, be sure to check out the Inverness Street Market (to the west of the Camden Town Underground Station). It may not be as big as the other Camden markets but don’t let that deter you, as here you will find a variety of different specialty shops, as well as countless bars and restaurants. It is also a popular haunt among locals for its fruit and vegetable markets, which have been around since the early 1900s.
And although it isn’t technically a market, Camden High Street is a highly popular shopping area, and is packed full of independent shops, pubs and restaurants, many of which feature some interesting designs and logos on their facades that are worth taking a photo of. As a matter of fact, no Camden Town photo collection would be complete without a shot of the massive black and orange dragon at Max Orient (273-275 Camden High Street), or the brightly-decorated elephant at the Namaste Indian Restaurant (243 Camden High Street).
Always keep an eye on your belongings when visiting the markets, as the area is prone to pick-pocketing
If you want to avoid the crowds, try to come on a weekday or during the early hours of the morning (however some of the stalls may be closed).
Be aware that some shops try to rip-off tourists, or even locals when selling their products. Try and find yourself a good bargain with the seller, and if not, look around at the surrounding shops as you may be able to find a better deal on the same item elsewhere.
176-178 Camden High Street, Camden, London NW1 8NH, United Kingdom (See map).
The nearest stations are Camden Town (a two-minute walk away from the Inverness and Buck Street markets), Chalk Farm (a five-minute walk from the Stables Markets) Kentish Town (an 11-minute walk from the Camden Lock Market) or Mornington Crescent (just next to The Regent's Canal).
The nearest station is St. Pancras which is a 24-minute walk away).
You can reach the Camden Markets via routes 24, 29 and 134 (from London's West end).
If you want to visit all of the six Camden Markets, you’re going to have to know your way around if you want to see them all.
If you’re arriving at the Camden Town underground station, both the Inverness Street Market and the Buck Street Market are a two-minute walk away. After this, you can walk north up Camden High Street to cross The Regent’s Canal. At your left you will see the Camden Lock Market, and to your right the Camden Lock Village. From here, you can continue walking north on Camden High Street, and you will eventually stumble across the Stables Market.
During the weekends the markets can get incredibly busy, and as a result the Camden Town Underground Station has limited escalator services between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays. If you do arrive at this station on these days, access is via a spiral staircase, and on Sundays the station exit is only between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. In any case, if you do plan on visiting the Camden markets on a weekend, try to use Chalk Farm, Kentish Town or the Mornington Crescent tube stations instead.
The majority of businesses in the Camden markets are open every day from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. (although some traders may stay open later during the summer, or close earlier during the winter).
At Inverness Street, stalls are open every day of the year (except Christmas Day) from 8:30 a.m. to 5.p.m.
If you are checking out Camden you might also want to join any of the free tours that are available on offer.