Eclectic funky Camden Market

If it's alternative, handmade, vintage, cool, antique, alternative, retro, funky or ethnic... chances are, you will find it in Camden Market.  It's the most concentrated place in London to search for original and unusual merchandise, and, according to Camden Market's official site, more than 500,000 Londoners and tourists head to Camden every week for a total immersion experience that borders on the wild side.

Between the eating (great street food), the people watching (definitely the place to see some crazy--looking people) and the shopping, let me just say that it would be pretty impossible to be bored here. 

From its original start in 1974, with 16 market traders, Camden Market has grown to more than 1,000 market stalls and shops in four main markets and small clusters of stalls, open 7 days a week, from 10am until "late".  The busiest day is Sunday.

The connected markets here are collectively referred to as Camden Market or Camden Lock. Each of the markets are supposed to have its own personality, but unless you are a purist, just wander from market to market and take it all in. The markets are located along Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road (which is the same street, changing its name after the railway bridge).

Since our starting place is the Camden Town Underground Station, we will first encounter all the funky street shops along Camden High Street. Camden High Street is lined with shoe stores, leather shops, vintage vinyl and tattoo parlors. 

There are loads of 3-dimensional displays hanging from the storefronts (think "The Haight " in San Francisco). As you travel, you will pass the Inverness Street Market and "The Camden Market" (also called Buck Street Market), which has the most narrow passageways this side of Istanbul, and is home to cheap tee shirts and sunglasses. 

We cant help but go into the New Rock boot shop and try on the expensive, over the top spanish made boots! Somebody may or may not have made a purchase- it wasn't me!

I personally like the Camden Lock Market and Stables Markets best, so we continue, crossing into the main Camden market at the train overpass. 

Here you enter Camden Lock Market, the location where the markets began. Stalls are clustered around the canal and the locks, which are the twin Hamstead Road Locks on the Regent's Canal. (actually, my favorite way to enter the market is via a Canal Boat from Little Venice--see my Little Venice Blog Post for details). This area is great for food stalls, outdoor eating, and watching the activity on the canal.  Make sure you check out the indoor areas, which are full of unusual gifts and jewelry. 

When you walk across the wide street on the backside of Camden Lock Market, across from the donut kiosk, you will see a passageway. 

Entering, you fill find  a warren of tunnels and backstreets, perfect for getting lost. This is The Stables area, and the heart of Camden Market, home for almost 500 shops.

Mainly unchanged since the 70's and 80's, this is good ol' London street style, with incense, leather goods, goth clothing, second hand clothing and antiques. 

Keep wandering and eventually you will enter Horse Lane. This area is named after a network of stable blocks, horse tunnels and tack rooms that once served the gin trade here. Be sure to look up at the old clock and the beautiful woodwork in the arches. 

Now continue outside, heading back the reverse direction (back to the Locks). There are many sit-down restaurants and more upscale merchants.

 Make sure you stop in Cyberdog, the ultimate retail nightclub, complete with go-go dancers and dj, this is the place to pick up a glow in the dark outfit for your club night out.  

And don't miss the outdoor statue of Amy Winehouse, who worked here as a teen.

Speaking of music, if you have the stamina after a day of battling for bargains, Camden is known for its nightlife scene,  with legendary clubs, bars and music venues all over the area. 

Among the performers who have played here are:  Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Barbara Streisand, David Bowie, Boy George and Paul McCartney.

One of London's most famous live music venues is the Jazz Cafe. If you book tickets, you can also have dinner in the balcony upstairs, and enjoy the music high above the crowds below. Also check out Underworld for live rock and Dingwalls, which has had live music and comedy since 1973. Other venues are: Brewdog, Blues Kitchen, Camden Assembly and Proud Camden. 

Note: Please be safe in this area if you are here after dark-- do not walk alone, and always watch for pick pocketers.

I hope you enjoyed your tour of Camden Market!

How to get there:

By underground TRAIN



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