Camden Town (and its markets) is one of my favorite stops for a London trip. I went on my first visit to London back in 2009 and simply fell in love. While most of London city has a beautiful uniformity to it—the long rows of mews, the symmetrical gardens—Camden Town is gleefully, whimsically unbalanced. The site was founded as a collection of gin distilleries (and you can still find stalls honoring this legacy with the sale of artisanal gin spirits). Parts of it later became a stabke and horse hospital, specifically for the horses that were helping to build the railways. A riot of color, sounds, smells, and sights, Camden Market should definitely be on your London sightseeing list.
5 Tips for Visiting Camden Market
Visit on a Sunday
Camden Market is busiest on Sundays. When I say busy, I mean there are sections that will drive a claustrophobe up the wall. You can visit other days of the week, but be advised that some of the stalls may be closed. The main shops are open, though, so you’ll still have plenty of reasons to open your wallet.
Camden Market is actually made up of six smaller markets: Camden Lock Market, which has lots of clothes, jewelry, and unusual gifts. If you’re a vintage aficionado, you’ll love Camden Stables Market. Camden Canal Market is one of the smaller markets. It sells fashion, accessories, and gifts, but note that it is only open Friday-Sunday. The Electric Ballroom market is also open only on weekends, and has vintage, goth, and funky gear, as well as the occasional film or music fair. Inverness Market started as a fruit and vegetable market, but now you can find bargain clothing, specialty shops, and souvenirs as well. Buck Street Market, commonly perceived as the main Camden Market, since it’s closest to the tube. It has around 200 stalls selling clothing, T-shirts, accessories and gifts.
But don’t flash it. Because most market stalls only accept cash, this area attracts a lot of pickpockets. Keep an eye (or hand) on your wallet or bag, especially in crowded areas, and don’t come with more cash than you intend to spend that day. You’re not legally obliged to carry any identification in Britain, so leave your passport at your hotel or lodging whenever it’s not needed.
In addition to all of the fashion and fun stuff listed above, the Camden markets are great places to get your snack on. An incredible diversity of food awaits you—from top-notch Indian street food to Instagram foodie-fodder (hello Cronuts) to fair-trade coffee and chocolate. My advice? Instead of grabbing a proper meal at one location, graze throughout your visit. It’ll give you a chance to try more goodies.
Give Yourself Time
If you’re thinking you can knock out this trip in an hour or two, reconsider. Camden Town has a ton of personality and is a truly unique cross-section of this sprawling city. You’ll be glad to spend a few hours people-watching, goodie-snacking, and treasure-hunting.