Even if you’ve never been to London before, the barrows, bars and famous blue doors of Portobello Road would be immediately familiar. You’ll have seen its market playing host to Hugh Grant, Paddington Bear and the cast of the 1971 Disney classic ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’, in which the street even got its own theme song. Portobello Road retains much of that magic, mystery and romance today.
Most famous for its half-mile-long antiques market (the largest in the world), the street is transformed every Saturday into a glittering treasure trove. Admittedly there’s quite a lot of trash too, and the tourist crowds can be overwhelming during the summer. But there’s something here for everyone, from pearl-handled Edwardian opera glasses – a snip at £3,000 – at the fancier Notting Hill end, to more interesting bargains and bric-à-brac up towards the Westway.
Despite having been heavily, heavily gentrified, the area still has plenty of character. Weirdos and eccentrics seem drawn here. Step into one of the many excellent pubs and you’ll probably find some once-famous punk rocker propping up the bar. At the very least, you’ll spot the walnut-faced dog man, a local icon who regularly walks the length of the street with his aged terrier perched, parrot-like, on his shoulder.
Poached eggs and baby spinach on an English muffin at the ever-popular Lowry & Baker café. It’s not the cheapest place around, but the eggs are to die for.
A flagon of wine at La Plaza, a buzzy Spanish tapas bar, which has outdoor seating on a small square overlooking the market.
A Peruvian smock, a Victorian frock coat, a pair of 1980s Levis, or almost anything else you can imagine from the vintage clothes market on Portobello Green on Fridays.
If you only do one thing…
By Charlie Gilmour, who knows the best way is the Westway.
Now discover more things to do on the best streets in London.