For a lot of people, traveling is all about eating. Sure, seeing the sights is important, but there are few better ways to experience a new country and culture than by eating. Thankfully, there are lot of ways to stuff your face. You could hit up a bakery, go to a restaurant or grab a quick bite to eat at a takeout joint. One interesting way to satisfy your hunger and have plenty of photograph opportunities is to visit a food market.
There are food markets that are renowned all over the world because they bring together fresh ingredients, special producers and one-of-a-kind products. And the experience of rubbing elbows with tourists and locals alike makes the food taste that much better. Add these 18 food markets to your list of must-visit places.
18. La Boqueria, Barcelona
When people say that no trip to Barcelona, Spain isn’t complete without a visit to Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, they aren’t joking. Set foot in the La Boqueria food market and you might want to spend your entire time there. The public market showcases the best Spanish delicacies from chorizo to cheese to all of the freshest fruit and vegetables under the sun. The only problem is that you’ll want way more than what you can actually fit in your stomach — and bag. Just make sure you try some tapas. Many consider the food market as having the best in the city.
17. Torvehallerne Market, Copenhagen
Torvehallerne Market in Copenhagen, Denmark is described as, “not just a supermarket but a super market.” It might sound a bit cheesy but it’s true. The food market is a foodie’s dream because it serves up some of the city’s best cuisine. There are sixty stalls that give you plenty of options to eat your way from breakfast to supper with a few snacks in between. We dare you to do it. You won’t mind spending the day in the market thanks to the sleek glass building.
16. Union Square Greenmarket, NYC
Union Square Greenmarket in New York City might not have the lengthy history some of the other iconic markets on the list have, but do not underestimate it. Since it opened in the 1970s, it has helped revitalize Union Square and become a go-to destination for foodies. It continues to get bigger and better with varied producers that are all dedicated to delivering fresh, seasonal ingredients and products. Even if it’s raining, you will not want to miss out on the goodies at the open food market. Bring your umbrella and a big bag to hold your purchases.
15. Or Tor Kor Market, Bangkok
According to Bangkok.com, Or Tor Kor Market is ranked the world’s fourth best fresh market. Visit it and you might even give the market a higher score. It has everything from super fresh produce, meat and fish, to a food court where you can let someone else take care of the preparation for you. Use the opportunity to try some of the local specialties. Grab a curry then wash it down with a coconut ice cream.
14. Borough Market, London
There are a number of markets in London, England but Borough Market is the most famous. It has a long history that’s as interesting as the food that’s available. Whether you’re looking for something to cook, something to eat right away, a souvenir, or all of the above, the market has you covered. There are classic British items, fresh fruit, and vegetables along with international suppliers. Grab a coffee at the famous Monmouth Coffee then start perusing the stalls. Just make sure you’ve brought your appetite.
13. Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo
If you don’t like the look of fish, the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan probably isn’t the market for you. If you don’t mind the sight of lots and lots of fish, the wholesale market is a very interesting place to be. After all, it’s the world’s largest fish market and you get to see fish that you don’t see every day at your fishmonger. If you’re a dedicated fan, set your alarm and go for the famous 5:00 AM tuna auction. (Yes, it’s a thing.) If you go later, there will be plenty of interesting things to look at. Just don’t forget to try some sushi.
12. Orange Grove Organic Food Market, Sydney
If you find yourself Down Under, make sure that you plan a trip to Orange Grove Organic Food Market in Sydney, Australia. The Aussies are already known for their fresh, seasonal organic foods and the market shows why. You can just taste the difference in everything whether you’re tucking into juicy fruit or dried sausage. One thing you cannot leave without trying is the bacon and egg rolls from Bowen’s. They are the things of legends.
11. Noryangjin Fish Market, Seoul
If you’ve been to one fish market, you might think you’ve seen them all. That’s not so. The Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea comes with its own unique experience. It’s a wholesale fish market that boasts fish auctions every day of the week save Sundays and holidays. Visitors can choose their fish from one of the many stalls then have it prepared at one of the restaurants. Sushi and sashimi are obviously popular, but there are various cooked options. For the daring, there are some places that serve the fish with the tails still flapping.
10. Lancaster Central Market, Lancaster
There’s no need to take a trip abroad to discover an incredible food market. The Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will likely have you smacking your lips. Until 2005, it held the record for being the oldest municipally operated market in the United States. What’s more, it still holds the record for being the U.S.A.’s longest continually operated market. It started in 1730. Today, the market boasts locally sourced cheese, meat, poultry and produce along with prepared foods from a host of vendors. If you have a craving for something, you can likely get it at the market.
9. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
A bazaar has to be on your travel bucket list if you head to Istanbul or its neighboring countries. The Grand Bazaar certainly lives up to its name. It’s one of the oldest and largest markets in the world. In fact, it boasts up to 250,000 to 400,000 visitors per day. For real. Don’t worry because there will still be plenty of food left for you. Update your spice collection with some of the markets specialties then try local dishes. If you want a break from food, the market has carpets, ceramics and other things that would make great souvenirs.
8. Mercato Centrale, Florence
Some might consider Italy one big food market. It’s true in some aspects, but do yourself a favor and head to the Mercato Centrale in Florence. It’s housed in a breathtaking building that is as photogenic on the inside as it is the outside. As for the food, the market is one of the best places to increase your understanding of Tuscan food and wine. You can see how the Tuscans do produce, cheese, meat, and much more.
7. Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio, Rome
Let us be honest: It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to get a bad meal anywhere in Rome. But, you still should probably make sure you check out the Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio. It’s a neighborhood market which gives you the feeling you’re shopping like a proper local. It moved to a new building a few years back so don’t go expecting to see 15th-century frescoes on the walls. Honestly, you won’t even notice the walls. You’ll be too busy taking in the sights and smells of the fresh food. Whether you go for wine, cheese, meats, tripe sandwiches or sweets, you can’t go wrong.
6. Marché Victor Hugo, Toulouse
Some might want to visit the Marché Victor Hugo in Toulouse, France because of the name. The market launched in 1886, several years after the French poet’s death. But, it dates back to 1827 when it existed with various names and guises. Today, the market will have many people drooling. It’s a great mix of produce to take home, restaurants, and places to grab a quick bite to eat. Some might be surprised to hear that the market is in a multi-story car park. It might not be how they did things centuries ago, but it’s convenient and it works.
5. St. Lawrence Market, Toronto
It doesn’t matter what the weather is like when you’re visiting the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Canada because you’ll be protected under the building’s giant roof. When you look at each food stall, you just might forget where you are. There is plenty of local produce, but there are also international stalls selling more exotic products that will transport you around the world. There’s something for everyone whether you’re a carnivore, vegetarian, or have a major sweet tooth.
4. Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris
No list of the world’s top food markets would be complete without one Paris food market. We could have an entire list dedicated to Paris food markets, but Marché des Enfants Rouges makes it onto the list. You’ll remember it because it’s the oldest covered market in Paris. It dates back to 1628. Pay a visit to learn the art of la gastronomie française. The food market offers plenty of atmosphere and has foods that extend beyond Parisian fare. Yes, there are plenty of sweet treats for patisserie fans.
3. La Pignasecca, Naples
La Pignasecca is the oldest street market in Naples, Italy. When you’re shopping, you’ll feel like one of the locals picking up the essentials for their supper. The street is overflowing with mouthwatering fish, vegetables, fruit, and sweets. It will be hard to move from one stall to the next because everything looks so good. If you can resist temptation, walk the length of the street to get a view of everything then try to narrow down what you want to eat. Good luck.
2. Mercado Central, Santiago
The Mercado Central (Central Market) in Santiago, Chile is known for being a fish market that dates back to the 1800s. You might go for the fish and end up staying for everything else. Don’t get us wrong, there are still some interesting fish stalls, but it might be the unexpected things that will make you drool. There are plenty of stalls, grab-and-go places and restaurants to satisfy your appetite. If you want to be traditional, go for the fish lunch.
1. Dal Lake Floating Vegetable Market, Srinagar
A floating vegetable market? Yes, you read that right. It might be a bit of a trek to the food market in Srinagar, India because you have to take a boat to get there, but it’s worth it. Where else do you find a market that moves on water? Just seeing producers hawk their wares from boats piled high with fresh fruit, vegetables, kebabs, and spices is interesting. But, it wouldn’t be a proper trip to the market without trying some.