London is home to the kitschy, vintage, retro, and perhaps a little bit weird Camden Market. Located and founded at the epicenter of London’s punk movement, Camden Market is like a time capsule providing a window into the punk golden era intermingled with unique and interesting vendors and delicious food. It is one of the top things to do in London with kids.
Why Camden Market?
We first heard of Camden Market from UK native, Helen Fletcher, who runs the family travel website Holidays with Hels and has helped guide us on all of our UK endeavors. She described walking up to the market perfectly:
The shop fronts on Camden High Street, leading up to the market compete for utter madness of spectacle – 10-foot elephant heads protrude from walls next to huge dragons.
You then inevitably pass a group of punks straight out of the 1970’s, with safety pins, Mohicans and DM boots – all very London, before arriving at Camden Lock and entering an Aladdin’s cave of small souks and market stalls along the banks of the canal.
Hundreds of stalls spread out over the maze of narrow alleyways and arched railway viaducts. On sale are trinkets, vintage clothes, gifts, ethnic lamps, and jewelry. Fashion fuses with art, music, and food. Chain stores are not permitted. Give the kids a fiver each and you can lose yourself for hours here.– Helen Fletcher
If this sounds like an attractive place to browse with your kids, you are not alone. On any given weekend, over 100,000 tourists visit Camden Market, making it one of the most popular things to do in London with kids. On a busy weekend, people literally spill into the canals with toes dangling in the water, making for an exceptional people-watching display.
Pro Tip: To avoid the crowds when visiting Camden Market with kids, come on a weekday. Not all markets will be open, but with the size and scope, there’s no way you would see everything anyway.
Camden Market History
Named after the first Earl of Camden, Charles Pratt, Camden’s development slowly began in the late 1700s. It was meant to be a lazy residential district for the wealthy, but with the construction of the Regents Canal in 1820 and the railway, Camden quickly blossomed into an industrial area of warehouses, factories, and the working class.
Due to this blend of infrastructure purpose-built for the elite and affordable accommodations surrounding the noise and steam, pubs around Camden welcomed folks of mixed social stature. This mix is how Camden’s history of no judgment began.
1976 is known as “year zero” for the UK punk revolution. It began at the iconic Camden venues the Roundhouse and Dingwalls that anchor either side of Camden Market. The American band, the Ramones headlined a show with the Stranglers on back to back nights that summer. In the audience were future members of The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Damned and Chrissy Hynde, all of whom defined the punk culture. Camden Market was in its infancy at the time, with the first pop up market appearing in March 1974. The explosion in popularity of the market paralleled that of the cultural and musical revolution that shared its birthplace.
Camden Market is actually divided up into several distinct markets, each with unique characteristics and vendors. In reality, they are all sort of retro kitschy and you can wander through each throughout the day without realizing it.
Camden Lock Market
The original market from the 1970s is located just north of the Regent’s Canal and is where to find clothing for both adults and children as well as handmade jewelry, unique gifts, and tasty international food stalls. Highlights include possibly the best place in the city to find unique second-hand clothing and some of the better street food in the city.
Camden Stables Market
Camden Stables Market offers a bit of a more vintage appeal although also known for its gothic clothing and accessories. The Stables Market has over 500 vendors including more food stalls with take-home cuisine from around the world. The market’s name comes from the fact that it once housed horse stables, horse tunnels, and a veterinary clinic. To emphasize the unique and mixed history, the market showcases a statue of Amy Winehouse, who found her voice in the nearby music halls.
Buck Street Market
Buck Street Market specializes in clothing and was previously entirely outdoors. Not quite as large as the other markets, but still not short on style, Buck Street Market recently opened 88 stalls housed in recycled shipping containers spanning three levels. The aim of this new space is to highlight sustainability and responsibly sourced food and retail.
Getting to Camden Market
When plugging into your GPS app, Camden Market is located at
London NW1 8AF
Camden Market is very accessible by public transport in Zone 2 with multiple options. The nearest stations are all on the Northern Line. In addition to being listed below, you can see location on the map below our list of top 5 children’s stores.
- Camden Town – nearest to Buck Street
- Chalk Farm Road – nearest to Stables Markets
- Kentish Town – nearest to Camden Lock Market
A number of bus stops and routes surround the market. Our best advice is to use Google Maps or whatever local GPS app suits your fancy, but below is a list of bus stops nearby:
- Clapham Common: 88
- Elephant & Castle: 168
- Euston Station: 168, 253
- Kings Cross Station: 214
- Leicester Square: 24, 29
- Liverpool Street: 214
- London Planetarium: 27
- Marble Arch: 274
- Notting Hill Gate / Portobello Road: 27, 31
- Oxford Street: 274
- Tate Gallery: 88
- Trafalgar Square: 24, 29
- Victoria Station: 24
We advise not to attempt to park near Camden Market, but if you insist, car parks are available at St. Pancras Station and near the Regent’s Park. Street parking is technically available but incredibly difficult to find.
Pro Tip: Do not bring a stroller, (or a pram as the locals call it) to Camden Market because with the crowds, narrow passages, and sharp turns, it won’t be worth the troubles.
Pro Tip: The best and easiest way to navigate the city as a tourist is to buy the Oyster Travelcard from a site like London Pass. Here at FivePax, we have debated the utility of these city passes, but in the end, if you plan on visiting multiple attractions in a short period of time, we find them worth the bargain.
Camden Market Hours
According to the official site, the majority of markets at Camden Market are open every day 10 am until “late.” In reality, some vendors may not open until later in the day and a number of vendors are only open on the weekends. The markets are large enough, however, that there is plenty of variety any day of the week and any time it is open.
Best Camden Market vendors for kids
Camden with kids is cool and all, but because of its massive size, it is best to prioritize a bit and make sure that you hit up at least a few of the kid-focused stores.
Branded as UK’s oldest juggling supplier, at Oddballs you will find anything and everything you can imagine to throw, catch, and sometimes drop. The store has everything circus-related from yo-yo’s, slinkies, unicycles, to of course juggling supplies.
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Location: 200a-b Chalk Farm Road, London, NW 8AB
Dress Up Baby
Dress Up Baby has very cute outfits for the littlest of your little ones. They have a very fashionable and exceptionally cute selection of everything from knitted sweaters to tracksuits to dungarees.
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Location: 611 Stables Yard, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH
My Little Duckling
My Little Duckling is a clothing brand that extends beyond Camden Market but still has that cute and unique British style. They specialize in baby hats and sleep suits.
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
Location: Market Hall, Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AL
Village Games is a traditional toy shop that sells classic board games, puzzles, and hand made toys.
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5:30pm
Location: 65 West Yard, Camden Lock Place, London, NW1 8AF
Millennia Toy Shop
It’s unclear if Millennia is a bigger attraction for adults or kids because the merchandise is so cool. Enjoy your favorite sci-fi, comic book, TV, film and gaming knick knacks.
Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 9pm
Saturday – 9am – 9pm
Sunday – 12pm – 6pm
Location: 21-22 Stables, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH
Your Questions Answered:
The most kid-friendly time to visit Camden Market is the late morning on weekdays. On the weekends you may find yourself with a death grip on the little one’s hand as you navigate shoulder to shoulder passageways amongst occasionally odd-looking strangers.
It is best to allocate at least 3 hours in the market, including the time to eat. The food really is one of the attractions.
Most vendors are cash only, however, a number of the bigger vendors started accepting credit over the past few years. There are several no-fee cash machines throughout the market.
Camden Market is as safe as most other areas within London and is generally safe at all open hours. As always, as tourists, please be vigilant. Don’t make yourself a target by flashing cash or technology. Be aware of your surroundings and if something or someone doesn’t seem safe to you, avoid.
Sort of like the Kardashians are famous for being famous, Camden Market is famous for being Camden Market. It is a massive market that is an eclectic mix of crafts, fashion, culture, and music.
Camden Market is on the Northern Line. You can get off at either Camden Town, Chalk Farm Road, or Kentish Town, depending on which market you want to start at.
We hope you enjoyed our overview of Camden Market with kids. The market surely is one of the best things to do in Camden Town with kids, let alone all of London. Have you been to Camden Market? Let us know in the comments your favorite vendor, or most bizarre and interesting thing that you have seen in the market.