Portobello Market is one of the most exciting markets to visit in the whole of London. Arguably one of the most famous street markets in the world, it is popular both locally and with visitors, not least because of its location.
Situated in Notting Hill, the area made famous by the Hugh Grant film and its annual Caribbean-themed carnival, is an exciting part of west London. It’s also a great place to explore in addition to trying to find an exciting bargain or something unusual, from fruit to antiques, fashion to second hand goods.
With the market itself stretching two miles along Portobello Road, it covers quite an area, so remember that some other attractions near one end of the market may be quite some distance from the other.
Kensington Palace and Gardens
The southern end of Portobello Road is within walking distance of Kensington Palace and Gardens, a royal residence whose inhabitants have included Queen Victoria in her childhood days and Diana, Princess of Wales.
In the former case, a statue of the famous monarch adorns the public entrance, while the Diana Memorial Playground and Fountain can be found in the adjacent gardens, themselves basically an extension of Hyde Park.
The house is open to the public from 10:00 to 18:00 from Mondays to Sundays, with great features including the orangery. Children under 16 go free and there are discounts for students.
Visitors should note the King’s State Apartments are closed until mid-December for renovation, but this is still a fascinating, elegant and historic national treasure, well worth a visit. As for the Gardens, these provide a fine pen space, with lots of greenery and, at this time of year, some lovely golden autumnal colours as the foliage changes.
If you have come to London to shop until you drop, Portobello market may not be your only port of call. The London Westfield Shopping centre is nearby in Shepherd’s Bush.
As its name suggests, this was once a place of worship, bit the red brick former church is now a performance space. Upcoming events include a Russell Brand gig on October 4th and the 6th biennial Steelpan Conference, for steel drum enthusiasts.
Local art galleries include the Portobello Arts Club on Portobello Road itself, and the Vessel gallery on Kensington Park Road. For outdoor art works, the Joe Strummer Mural is just around the corner on Blenheim Road.
The Electric Cinema
The Electric Cinema is one of the oldest working cinemas in the country and a superb, atmospheric movie theatre. Located on Portobello Road itself, the cinema dates back to 1911 and it has an opulent style far removed from the modern multiplexes. Inside are 65 armchairs with footstools and side tables, as well as three leather sofas and cashmere blankets.
If you are sticking around after the market closes, seeing a film here will be a unique experience. It almost doesn’t matter what’s on, although the cinema will still be showing one of the latest big hit films.
The cinema also has an excellent bar serving good food, and the Portobello Diner attached next door provides more great meal options.
Visiting Portobello Market and its nearby attractions is easy, with plenty of bus, rail and underground routes.
The latter is particularly useful because there are so many stations in the area. Ladbroke Grove lies near the north end of Portobello Road on the Circle and Hammersmith and City Lines (this being the part of the Circle line that is outside the circle). Near the southern end is Notting Hill gate, which is on the District line and the part of the Circle line that really is in the circle. All these lines provide easy links with central London and other parts of the capital.