It was our last weekend in London and we were debating between visiting Stonehenge or the Camden Market. The feedback on our Facebook Fan Page was that the Camden Markets were fun, lively and had some great food and pubs. Our followers didn’t disappoint, London travel should always include a visit to Camden Town.
Camden Town, London
Camden Town is home to the Camden street markets, a highly visited tourist attraction in northwest London. The markets are easily accessible by both bus and the Tube (Underground subway system). Expect large crowds on the weekends, as tourists and young kids flock for shopping of all kinds.
High Street in Camden Town, London
As the main thoroughfare into the Camden Markets, High Street fills with crowds on the weekend making walking in opposing directions a challenge. The shops remind me of South Street in Philadelphia with art and design showcased on building facades.
Body piercing, tattoos, souvenirs, alternative fashions, music tapes and records, shirts, restaurants and pubs keep the crowds in line. I could spend all day walking up and down the street from the Tube station to the Camden Locks overpass.
You get a sense of excitement, feeling this is the place to be on the weekends. Let’s do some shopping, grab some food and people watch while having a drink near the canal.
Camden Markets in London
The area was first recognized during the development of the railways and also resides on the London Canal network. Today, it’s undergone a major redevelopment into a hip, mega retail tourist attraction. There are 6 markets that fill the area:
Inverness Street Market
At over 100 years old, this is the oldest, original market of Camden. Originally a small fruit and vegetable market, it has changed over time to now include stalls selling clothes and souvenirs. A few fruit and vegetable stalls exist today, but it’s not a major attraction in the area.
Buck Street Market
An outdoor market selling clothes. It’s one of the first markets you will see as you walk towards the Camden Lock Market and the overpass. The sign hung above this market reads, “The Camden Market”, which is quite confusing considering that market is further down the street.
There exists a lot of negotiating in this area. It’s mostly filled with overpriced printed t-shirts and women’s dresses. The market is small and crowded with minimal walking space. It’s okay for a browse, but nothing special.
Camden Lock Market
One of the first of the modern markets to enter the area, the Camden Lock Market began in 1974. As the area flourished, the market grew and so did Camden Town’s tourism value.
Second hand clothes, books, souvenirs, crafts and fast food stalls line an area next to the canal. The area is identifiable by a three-story indoor market hall designed by architect John Dickinson.
Camden Lock Village
The smaller Camden Lock Village resides on the banks of the canal. Stalls sell unique items often made by independent craftsmen and designers. It’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat while sitting on a scooter prop facing the canal.
Historic Stables Market
The Stables Market is the largest market in Camden Town, and one crazy maze of stalls. Aracely and I found ourselves lost most of the time.
It’s name describes the market’s design; it’s the actual horse stalls once used in Camden Town. Stalls still have original doors that are over 100 years old.
The Stables market sells a bit of everything. Antiques, retro clothes and collectibles, crafts, alternative gothic fashion and a plethora of international fast food joints.
Primarily made of up asian and middle eastern foods, I wasn’t impressed with the food stalls, because most of it’s fast food, which means it’s frozen foods that are fried or reheated for serving.
The biggest attraction in the stables market was the Cyberdog, which houses a huge range of cyber-style neon PVC and rubber clothing. One would think it’s a techno club from the outside. If you enjoy people watching, watch the folks coming in and out of this store.
With so much interesting stuff in this market you will probably spend hours exploring while calculating how much it will cost to send it home.
We didn’t visit the Electric Ballroom, it’s only open on Sundays. The stalls here focus on fashion from independent designers.
Enjoy a ride on the long narrow boats that cruise the canal passing through the locks. Boats offer meals on the canal and other entertainment.
We enjoyed a vegan meal and organic beer at inSprial Cafe that overlooked the canal across to the Camden Lock Village. It was a great place to enjoy a stiff drink, coffee or tea while watching the boats pass the crowds of shoppers.
Add the Camden Market to your list of things to do in London when enjoying London travel.