Camden Market is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions because this bustling marketplace is packed full of trendy stalls, food vendors and photogenic street art.
Found in the heart of hipster Camden, this historic market started life humbly as just a few simple market stalls. Today you can find well over 1,000 different stalls and shops in this vibrant yet crowded part of London.
If you’re looking for vintage clothing, fusion street food and raucous nightlife, then Camden Market is the market for you. If you are searching for street art, funky restaurants and an atmosphere like nowhere else in the capital, then you have to visit Camden Market.
To help you plan your trip, here’s everything you need to know about Camden Market.
A Brief History of Camden Market
Camden Market has a long and fascinating history. Starting from small roots, over the years and decades it’s grown into one of London’s premier, alternative shopping and entertainment areas, while never losing touch with its humble past.
Camden Market has, for the most part, stayed true to itself, and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s become such a popular tourist attraction.
There have been small markets in Camden for centuries. Given its location on the busy Regents Canal, Camden was transformed into a flourishing trade hub that boomed through the Victorian era.
The market you see it today has more recent roots though; Camden Market began to really evolve into its modern self in the 1970s.
In 1974, a small Saturday market comprising just 16 stalls was opened in Camden Town. With Camden’s growing reputation for all things alternative, it proved to be the best location possible for a market place to grow and to evolve into a hipster setting at the forefront of all of London’s unique cultural scenes.
This was really just the beginning though. Camden Market would grow over the following decades into a marketplace housing thousands of stalls, shops and food vendors, and its story is far from over yet.
The market continues to be revamped and redesigned, and there are many areas such as Camden Lock Village, which have undergone massive regeneration projects to keep Camden Market at the forefront. These projects don’t lose sight of Camden’s ethos and history, and you can still find heritage and tradition everywhere you walk.
Where Is Camden Market?
Camden Market is a big and sprawling place to visit. If it’s your first time in Camden, then working out your bearings can be a challenge at first.
The market is technically several different markets and distinct shopping areas, but the majority of the stalls and vendors are found along Camden High Street, which then turns into Chalk Farm Road when you cross over the busy bridge spanning Regents Canal.
It’s a bustling place. To get here, you’ll want to arrive either by bus or by using the Underground, as there’s almost no public parking available and what parking is available will be short term and expensive.
The nearest tube stations are Camden Town and Chalk Farm, both of which are within Zone 2 on the Northern Line.
Chalk Farm Underground station is found at the northern end of the markets, while the Camden Town stop is more southerly. Whichever station you choose stations will bring you out into the heart of Camden Market.
There are also several overground stations, such as Kentish Town and Camden Road, although these are further away from the markets.
The markets are divided into four major areas, but with thousands of stalls, shops, pubs and restaurants, everything spills over into each other and it can be difficult to know exactly where you are at any one time, not that it really matters. The best way to get around Camden Market is to simply walk – or perhaps push – your way through the crowds and to lose yourself in the marketplace. A good idea is to get off the tube at Camden Town, and then simply walk along Camden High Street towards Regents Canal.
The three major reference areas within Camden Market are Buck Street Market, Camden Lock Market and Stables Market.
When to Visit Camden Market
Camden Market is open 7 days a week, even on bank holidays, and most stalls and shops will open around or 9 am or 10 am. The market stalls and shops generally stay open until around 6 pm, sometimes later, but you’ll find that the restaurants, pubs and bars are all open until much, much later.
Camden Market is one of London’s most famous tourist attractions and, unfortunately, that means that it’s always a busy place to visit.
Weekends and bank holidays are when the market is at its liveliest and there’s always something going on. However, on weekends, it can also be absolutely packed, and it can be difficult to walk around and even to find tables at restaurants and pubs. If you don’t mind pushing your way through tour groups and queuing to get into venues, then it’s an atmospheric if busy time to visit. In summer, things are even busier than colder times of the year, particularly when the sun is out.
If you want to enjoy Camden Market without the crowds, then you’ll need to visit during the week. If you want time and space to browse through the stalls and shops then you’re best visiting on Mondays or Tuesdays, as later in the week, it starts to get busier the closer you get to the weekend. In reality though, such as the fame of Camden Market, there are few times when it’s not a crowded place to visit.
Buck Street Market
On the corner of Buck Street along Camden High Street, Buck Street Market is an integral component of Camden Market, and it’s recently been totally redeveloped.
This is the area of the market that’s closest to Camden Town tube station. If you alight here, this is the first part of the market you’ll be exploring.
This is an outdoor market area, and it’s where you can find a few hundred stalls and vendors who are mostly selling clothing and accessories. While the goods for sale aren’t necessarily the most exciting part of Camden Market, it’s the perfect place to visit if you need a few new T-shirts during your stay in London!
In fact, there is a lot for sale here. You can find everything from cult TV clothing to knock-off designer brands. It’s a classic market, and you’ll find good deals and hidden gems stashed away amongst the stalls.
Buck Street Market also has a new addition in that many of its stalls were redesigned when large shipping containers were brought in to house new market stalls and to give the street even more food vendors. It’s an exciting time in Camden, and things are changing yet again.
Camden Lock Market
Continue along Camden High Street, and you’ll stumble upon Regents Canal, where you can find Camden Lock Market. This is the most famous area in Camden Market, and it’s the place that gives the entire market its name.
This was where the market began in 1974; since then it’s grown outwards, along the canal and down Camden High Street.
Nestled around Camden Lock, you can find hundreds of market stalls and vendors, and you’ll find a huge range of products for sale from T-shirts and vintage clothing to excellent fast food.
In fact, the street food is one of the best reasons to visit Camden Market and you can find some of the best near Camden Lock. There’s a truly international range of food available, and you’ll be tantalised by the vendors and cooks offering you tasters before you buy to entice you in. It’s loud, it’s noisy and it’s impossible to walk away hungry.
For sale, you’ll find Indian curries, burgers, classic fish and chips, huge boxes of Chinese food and cuisine from every country imaginable.
Stables Market is another part of Camden Market that was previously separate until it joined forces with Camden Lock Market to create a sort of super-sized market.
It was a good move and both markets have grown exponentially and essentially run into one another, as they merge and spillover on both sides of the canal.
Stables Market runs along Chalk Farm Road and, in a previous life, the area was a horse stables, hence its name.
The horses were there for use in Camden’s bustling industrial world and for use on the canal into the early 20th century. With the decline of horse transport, the stables became obsolete until it became the home of a new marketplace.
Today, there aren’t so many horses or stables around, but the Stables Market has become a legendary London attraction.
Here you can find an array of shops and market stalls both indoors and outdoors, and many are set up in the heritage-listed buildings that have been taken over by the retail and hospitality industry.
The most famous shop in the Stables Market is Cyberdog, a unique retail outlet that represents Camden’s alternative side. This is a shop for techno lovers, as you’re greeted by employees whose sole and singular task is to dance on a podium all day. It’s a strange and bizarre place and a tourist site in its own right.
New Developments in Camden Market
Camden Market seems to be constantly in a state of redevelopment, and given the nature of the market things are always in flux here.
Large parts of the market are scheduled for redevelopment, as Camden has become one of London’s most visited tourist areas in recent years. One area that is currently under regeneration is Camden Lock Village. This was once an integral part of the market, until a fire destroyed much of the area. It’s set to be turned into a swanky new development with shops and more market space, and will hopefully retain the character of Camden when it’s open.
Restaurants, Bars and Pubs
As well as the markets stalls and the food vendors, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and pubs to call into when you are visiting Camden Market.
If you’re looking for authentic British pub grub then there are plenty of classic Camden pubs to have lunch or dinner at and to enjoy a few pints of beer too.
At night, Camden comes alive with drinkers and parties, as Camden Town is well known for its excellent nightlife, bars and clubs.
Music and Artwork at Camden Market
Camden Town has long attracted trendsetters, hipsters, artists and musicians and it truly is one of the most eclectic areas in London. The markets are no exception. As you walk around and make your way through the crowds you’ll soon notice that there is a lot of street art and graffiti in Camden.
It’s one of the best reasons to visit too because the walls have even been used as a canvas by infamous street artists such as Banksy. You can find some of his most iconic pieces hidden around Camden Town.
You might also see a statue dedicated to Amy Winehouse because this was where the famous singer made a name for herself. Camden has a rich musical tradition and in many of the bars and pubs around the markets you’ll find plenty of live music events all through the week.
There are many legendary music venues to check out in and around the markets, and you can enjoy everything from jazz to punk, and all that’s in between. Classic venues include the likes of The Dublin Castle, KOKO and the Jazz Cafe, and all are places where you might just chance upon the next big act before they become super famous and make it onto the world stage.
This is one of the most happening parts of London. There’s always something going on in Camden. While you’re in town browsing the stalls at Camden Market, checking out the street art and sampling all that tasty street food, check out Premium Tours fantastic range of London tours to see the best the city has to offer.