The North London home of alternative is in a league of its own. The busy streets, the clashing of music from every shop and the combined smells of street food all work in unexpected harmony to create a Camden-specific charisma.
The markets are what Camden is famous for, punks and Amy Winehouse aside. You will be initially faced with hundreds of fake branded t-shirts that you probably don’t want but head deeper through the stalls and you’ll find a hidden gem worth exercising your haggling skills for.
The Camden Market is a narrow market crammed full to bursting, and may be the best place to haggle for a bargain. Inverness Street Market gives you much more room to breathe, but there is less on offer.
Camden Lock Village lets you explore small shacks along the riverside for clothes and accessories, hair dye, and bits and pieces you didn’t know you wanted, but it feels like a spilled-over extension of its bigger and better neighbour, Camden Lock Market.
In Camden Lock Market, you can spend hours weaving in and out of stalls, down little nooks and up a flight of stairs discovering the never ending offerings. The food stalls outside in the courtyard are where I would recommend buying lunch. Try to resist places on the side of the high street or around the Stables if you can, because here is where you can find a spectacular range of food from across the world.
Across the way, you’ll find the Stables Market. The Grade Two listed building was once home to a stables and horse-hospital is now an interesting space for shops and stalls where chain stores are specifically not permitted, and statues and plaques ensure the equestrian heritage won’t be forgotten.
The Stables Market is a treasure trove for vintage clothing and more obscure, hard-to-locate items. If Oxford Street stores don’t cater for your niche sub-culture, be reassured that you’ve better chance at finding your daily uniform around here somewhere.
Jewellery? No problem. Find accessories here in silver, gold, glass, wood, plastic, or made from pieces of recycled computers. Find vintage jewellery, hand-made jewellery, personalised necklaces, organic bracelets, or rings made from gem stones with healing powers.
Decorate your home with wall hangings in poster, art, metal sign or fabric form. Wash with hand-made soaps, eat off vintage tableware, and play your Camden guitar by the light of a powdered, decorated, scented, or champagne-bottle-shaped candle knowing you’ve sourced everything from these humble, independent retailers.
In the centre of the Stables, you can visit the Amy Winehouse tribute statue before heading out the market and across the road to the pub where her career began, in the Hawley Arms.
Take out cash before you arrive, avoid those in costumes on the high street charging you for a photo opportunity, and try to stay patient in crowded areas. Camden is going to be busy, but for good reason.