When it comes to markets and shops in Bedford, you won’t be disappointed. With several shopping centres and arcades just a short stroll – or coffee stop – away from each other, shopping in town couldn’t be easier.

Shopping centres

With over 30 food and retail outlets, Harpur Shopping Centre is one of the leading retail destinations in Bedford. Spread over two levels, you’ll find everything from big-name brands like Topshop and Primark to more independent stores like health-food outlet Grape Tree. There are 92 parking spaces on-site for shoppers, with the centre open from 9am-5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sundays.

If you’re looking for something a little more alternative, walk around the block to The Arcade. With its glass roof – dubbed a Crystal Palace when it was built during the Victorian era – it’s a gorgeous shopping arcade full of natural light and some of the best independent and boutique shops in town. These include health food stores, record shops and even old-fashioned sweet shops.

Reopened in 2009 after a refurbishment, Church Arcade is home to some of the more alternative shops in Bedford and is literally over the road from The Arcade. There’s a butcher, baker and several jewellers, as well as Rollback World; a shop dedicated to roller skates, scooters, BMX bikes and skateboards.

Located out of town, The Interchange Retail Park is a purpose-built shopping space, home to 14 stores and food outlets, including Clarks, TK Maxx and Matalan. With hundreds of parking spaces and with stores open until 8pm during the week, it’s just a few minutes’ drive from our Bedford South (A421) hotel.

The Arcade

Harpur Shopping Centre

Designer Shops

Located in The Arcade, Maysons is one of Bedford’s leading men’s fashion stores. Stocking high-end labels like Armani, Y-3 and Versace, the store prides itself on its service and stocks everything from smart formal wear to trainers, hoodies and t-shirts.

Also found in The Arcade is Boutique Planet, a premium ladies’ clothing, footwear and accessories store. A boutique store that sells one-off pieces as well as stocking high-end labels like Great Plains and Superga, they’ve been dressing the best-dressed ladies in Bedford for over 20 years.

Another streetwear shop, Blue Inc stocks its own designs as well as those from Timberland, Levi’s and Kangol. Catering to men, women and children, the chain store is located in the Harpur Shopping Centre and offers good value for money, with regular sales throughout the year.  

Flea markets

A market town with over 900 years of history, Bedford boasts a wide range of markets, including several specialist ones. Bedford Charter Market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday in Harpur Square and is a traditional market, selling a wide range of products – haggle for fresh fruit and veg or stock up on clothes, personalised gifts and more.

If you’re looking for specific items for your house, the Home and Garden Market runs every Friday at Harpur Square, selling an impressive range of flowers, plants and household items, as well as more specialised garden goods.

Bedford Charter Market

Running on the second Saturday of the month from March to December, the Handmade Market – also held in Harpur Square – is your one-stop shop for arts and crafts goods. From calligraphy to artworks, and painting to pottery, you’ll find great gifts for birthdays and Christmas.

Looking for a hotel in Bedford?

Take your pick from any one of our three hotels in Bedford if you're interested in visiting this pretty riverside town. They're perfect for exploring Bedford's stunning green spaces, sampling its entertainment scene, and ticking off the town's top attractions.