A Day Out at Portobello Market London
If you’re a vintage aficionado as I am, you’ll want to put visiting Portobello Market in Notting Hill on your list. I’d been hearing about it for years and knew I had to see it for myself, did it live up to the hype?
Perhaps the famous movie by the same name with Julia and Hugh may have put it on your radar too.
If you’re a Paddington bear fan (the best!) you’ll certainly recognize the vintage shop Alice’s at 86 Portobello Road, known as Grubers in the films.
Whether on your own or with a friend, there’s so much to browse and discover. Clothing to antiques, jewelry and food, it’s all a bit of a treasure hunt and makes for the perfect Saturday out. Is it a bit self conscious now that it’s famous? Most assuredly, but I still believe it’s one of those quintessential London neighborhoods you can’t miss seeing.
Why not make a day of it? Once you’ve done the market, there’s so much more to explore on that side of London. Here’s how to get around London like a local by the way.
Getting to Portobello Market
- Once you’re in central London take the Tube to Notting Hill Gate station (served by the Circle, District and Central Line).
- When you exit from the station onto Notting Hill Gate Road, walk up the station steps and then towards Pembridge Rd. Head west for less than a block and you should reach Pembridge Rd almost immediately. Turn right on Pembridge Rd so you’re heading north.
- Portobello Road forks to the left from Pembridge. Look for a well known pub called Sun in Splendor and turn down Portobello.
Portobello – What to Expect
As you walk down Portobello Road you’ll see interesting shops, but the market starts a bit further down the road.
In my opinion, the best bit of Portobello market is at the top of the road closer to Pembridge.
Chepstow Villas is the cross street where the market starts in earnest. As you get to the bottom of the hill, you’ll find more “High street” or chain retail stores, food and produce stalls.
The market is well worth a visit and a browse if you love to find a treasure on your travels. You’ll find everything from traditional antique stalls stocking silver and smalls, as well as a mix of the eclectic from fur coats to Scottish cashmere! Expect to see well known retailers mingling with new and unique traders.
Friday and Saturday are the main market days for antique dealers if that’s your interest.
Make a Day Trip: The Museums & Harrods
If you love browsing a world class museum or if the weather is a bit horrible, then hop back on the Tube to head to the museum district! Speaking of horrible weather… when is the best time to visit London?
Once you leave Portobello Road market, walk back to Notting Hill Gate tube station, take the Circle line south and get off at South Kensington.
Once you get to South Kensington station, look for signs to the museums.
There is a very clever tunnel to walk to the Victoria & Albert, Science and Natural History museums right out of the station. Another way to dodge bad weather!
You won’t miss anything but traffic and it makes it so much easier to get to the museums this way. The V&A (Victoria & Albert) is the first “exit” on your right. Be prepared to have your bag searched at the entrance. By the way admission is free unless you’re attending one of the special exhibitions.
Victoria & Albert Museum
If you haven’t been before, the Victoria & Albert museum is the worlds largest collection of decorative arts and design with a permanent collection of 2.27 million objects! Founded by Prince Albert, the first foundation stone was laid by Queen Victoria in 1899. There’s also a charming cafe here as well as those restrooms we’re always on the hunt for! It’s the perfect place to while away an entire day.
The Science and National History Museums
If you’ve got the time and energy, come back out of the V&A through the same exit/entrance you came in. The tunnel takes you right along to both the fabulous Science and Natural History museum entrances. Kids of all ages will be agog at the incredible exhibits!
Once again all these museums are absolutely free to enter, unless you’re attending one of the special exhibits that charge a fee.
Shopping and Lunch at Harrods
If you didn’t grab at bite at the museum cafes, and you’re still chomping at the bit for some world reknown shopping, then let’s go to Harrods!
If you exit the front of the V&A museum (instead of the tunnel entrance), you’ll be on Brompton Road. Turn left and walk down Brompton Road until you see the tall brown Harrod’s on the opposite side of the street. It’s a quick 10 minutes walk.
Cross over Brompton and walk through the hallowed doors of the world’s leading luxury department store. Be prepared to either be intimidated or enthralled by opulent displays of luxury goods from cars to jewelry.
I always make a beeline to the massive food hall in the center of Harrod’s.
Enter and and be amazed. A caviar bar, seafood bar and cafe will tempt you to stop and join the multi national throngs dining here. Keep going and you’ll enter a “self serve” section unlike any other you’ve ever seen. Here you can grab a unique bite to eat on the go, from pastries, sushi, sandwiches and drinks. Some will say Harrods is over-rated, but you have to see it at least once!
Had your fill? Ready to head back to your hotel and put your feet up for a wee restorative rest?
The Knightsbridge tube station (Picadilly line) is to the right of Harrod’s at the corner of Sloane St and Brompton Road.
However if you’ve grabbed some Harrods goodies and fancy eating them right away, Hyde Park is literally steps away. Look for the entrance to the park opposite the station. Once you’re standing at the front of Harrods you’re looking over to the park.
So there you go, a delicious dose of some of the best London has to offer…vintage, iconic and world class!
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