London Travel Guide

How to Explore Portobello Road in Notting Hill

PHOTO: iStock/giorgiogalano

Find cult Spanish snack foods, discover designer vintage, dig for records, go gin tasting and more on Portobello Road.

Notting Hill’s most famous street is also one of its longest, with Portobello Road running nearly the entire length of the neighborhood, allowing for plenty of room to pack in a plethora of places worth seeing. Historically working class, the street retains a diverse population despite its transformation into the hip, affluent, yet reassuringly bohemian area it is today, thanks in no small part to the traditional market that has been selling assorted treasures since the rag ‘n’ bone men turned up with their carts in the 1940s. You could easily spend a whole day on this one road alone, in fact, you should spend a whole day on Portobello Road, enjoying the diverse joys of one of the most iconic thoroughfares London has to offer. Read on for what to see and do.

Shop for Antiques

Aside from the market stalls that fill the streets with assorted antiques at ranging price points, there are various shops on Portobello Road that can be relied upon for their eclectic stock of valuable bric-a-brac and desirable vintage goods. There’s Judy Fox Antiques for objets d’art and 19th-century furniture, The Portobello Antique Store for the finest in pre-worn Chanel and Rolex plus other aged luxury goods, and Alice’s, the famous Aladdin’s cave of a store that trades in anything from vintage toys to fine china and other curiosities. Fans of the recent Paddington movies will recognize Alice’s as Gruber’s, Paddington’s place of employment and should be excited by the fact that the real thing is just as nostalgic as its cinematic double.

Browse for Vintage

Vintage Fashion Fridays are the prime time to pick up the best vintage threads from the flea-style layout within a covered area of the market. The mix is exceptionally well-curated, so you never have to look too hard to find that super rare Japanese skirt or pristine French work jacket. Standards are high so prices are a cut above the average market rates but well worth paying for a one-off piece. If visiting Portobello Market on a Saturday head to the Westway section to discover a high density of fashion stalls through which to sift for gems. Look beyond the tourist shirts (“I went to London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”) and you can sometimes strike fashion gold (at lower prices than Vintage Fashion Fridays).

Eat Your Way Through a World of Food Stalls

Portobello is home to the world’s cuisine so come early and come hungry with room for at least a couple of dishes. In the market alone, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, you can dine on vegan steaks, artisan French cheeses, jerk chicken, paella, dhal, curries, bratwurst, and plenty more. The street food scene is forever changing on the market so each week you’re likely to find something you haven’t seen before. If you want our advice, start at Portobello Crepes with one of their amazingly light, sweet pancake wraps, something of a tradition when visiting the market on weekends.

Wander the Market

Without gearing up to scour for antiques, fashion or rare music, it’s one of London’s simple pleasures to just enjoy a wander through Portobello Market. Sure, throw in a little casual browsing here and there but don’t forget to just soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the prime people-watching opportunities.

See Contemporary Urban and Street Art in a Gallery

London’s street art scene has never been more popular and if you want to see the city’s urban works in their natural environment there are plenty of tours through various neighborhoods. If, however, you’re on Portobello and don’t fancy touring side streets for secret murals then Graffik Gallery is the ideal place to peruse artists from Banksy to Ben Eine in the comfort of its Portobello Road exhibition space. The gallery sells prints and original works and hosts graffiti workshops for anyone aiming to become the next Obey.

Explore Portobello’s Own Little Spain

Notting Hill is a diverse melting pot of different cultures, so it’s no surprise to find a little slice of Spain tucked away on Portobello Road, in the shape of the specialty supermarket, Garcia’s Food and Wine. One for the gourmands—or any expats missing their favorite regional brands—the shop stocks a wide range of Spanish branded food and wine from canned fish and chorizo, to squid ink and rioja. Even if you don’t plan on leaving with a leg of Iberico ham, pop in to browse the shelves for the curiosity of it all.

Take a History Lesson in London Gin

Journey into a world of boozy botanicals at The Ginstitute, a museum, tasting room, and distillery right on Portobello Road. Arguably London’s most famous tipple, gin—otherwise known as mother’s ruin in these parts—is at the peak of a ginaissance that has seen the traditional, Dickensian favorite become the chicest drink in contemporary liquors. The Ginstitute promises an experience during which guests will learn about the history of gin before tastings and blending their own drink and taking away a bottle of Portobello Road Gin.

Dig for Vinyl at Honest Jon’s Records

Record shops are hard to find these days in London, which is both a shame and something of a guarantee of quality when you do happen to come across them. An independent store that dates all the way back to 1974, long before Notting Hill was the bougie neighborhood it is today, Honest Jon’s Records is a Portobello Road institution. Visit for the exceptionally curated collection of reggae, soul, blues and world music vinyl and get digging in one of London’s most haloed record stores.

Pose with Portobello’s Insta-Famous Pastel Buildings

You can always find things to do on Portobello Road that doesn’t cost a penny but there’s nothing as simple as enjoying the facades of the street’s gorgeous pastel houses. Instagrammers come from all over to shoot the colorful homes along Portobello Road because nothing says “just a casual background to my London selfie” like pastel green, pink, yellow and blue terraced houses lined up in a row. #nofilter.

Retire to a Luxury Cinema

At the end of the day, retire to the comfort of the Electric Cinema, where you can reward your tired legs with a sit down in one of the theater’s reclining chairs. One of the country’s earliest cinemas, the venue opened in 1910 and has survived two world wars and a major fire and still retains most of its original architectural features, albeit with some luxurious updates. Cinemagoers should arrive early for screenings, ignoring the trailers in favor of taking in the beautiful interior and the original proscenium arch. After the movie, head around the corner to the Electric Diner, the cinema’s hip sister venue where you can dine in a setting of glorified Americana on burgers and waffles.