TripAdvisor lists and guidebooks are great, but if you’re looking for the thriving heart of any new city, the stallholders bazaar is where to start. Markets showcasing local fare, souvenirs abound and tastes galore, it’s a hedonic shopping experience. Sure you may leave with arms full but browsing alone is most of the fun.
Whether they’re fleeting pops up or part of the local furniture, there’s something intimate about buying from a vendor. We’ve found the most captivating meccas of wares and flavours the world over, the very best markets you need to see yourself.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
Hidden beneath the city is a weaving maze of trinkets, fabrics, textures and tastes. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is certainly true to it’s name with grandeur. With over 4,000 shops come prepared to haggle, you’ll be able to procure quality leather, textiles and gold for the right price.
Borough Market, London
A foodie paradise tucked in the tourist centre of London town, but the treats are anything but tourist trash. Steeped in history and abundant in tastes, stallholders here each offer something different and wonderful. You’ll be captivated with every bite. Why not take your new found snacks and head to the Thames while you devour it, if you can hold off chowing down on the walk.
Chadni Chowk, Dehli
One of the oldest and certainly the busiest markets in India, this Dehli market is chaotic paradise. Saris blow in the wind, spices fill the streets and the laneways crowd with people passing. It’s as much about the sheer bustle as it is for the purchases.
La Boqueria, Barcelona
The pinnacle of food markets, where vibrant colours and loud tastes meet in pure Catalonian fashion. Freshly picked fruit, home-cured meats and ready to go meals lovingly crafted for you to eat as you wander. If wherever you’re staying has a kitchen be sure to do your groceries here, you won’t want to share your tapas creations they’ll be that sublime.
Kashgar Bazaar, China
Travel along the old silk road and you’ll reach Kashgar, known for it’s Sunday market extravaganza. It’s the key trade market in central Asia, where the wares of Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and China come to pass. Enjoy the fruit fresh off the truck from Saudi Arabia and bargain with vendors for the woven pashminas. The busyness is dizzying.
Chatuchak Market, Bangkok
The clock tower peers over this smorgasbord of shopping adventures, it’s the biggest weekend market in the world. Sorted into your sections for easy perusing, you’ll find antiques, flowers, fashion, food and all kinds of finery.
Tonala Market, Guadalajara
A Mexican village where the souvenirs you pay top dollar for along the coast are made, you’ll need an extra suitcase to fit all your finds. Custom made, hand painted, motif carved, you name it they’ll be tinkering away making it for you. For the sugar skull obsessed, you will be startled for choice. Souvenir and memory making heaven.
Rialto Market, Venice
Market culture is no bigger than here in Europe, but the seaside location is what makes Rialto truly spectacular. Gondolas glower past as you browse the local produce and fill your basket with glee. Expect to have a conversation or four with local purveyors, you can find out the lifecycle of each vegetable if you wish too. Italians take their cooking very seriously and that love starts with produce.
Johari Bazaar, Jaipur
A jewellers warehouse where trinkets hang from stands all around, but the shopping doesn’t stop there. You’ll find antiques, crafts and locally made fashion all under this collection of roofs. Precious stones entertain with traditional gold, the jewellers here are masters at wielding so why not get something custom made.
Souks of Marrakesh, Morocco
So much more than spice, the souks of Marrakech are pure pandemonium, a wonderland of choice. You’re likely to be overwhelmed, but embrace it and you’ll be able to wander carefree all day. Don’t let the salesman trap you, there are no free samples here.
Camden Market, London
A London explosion of bric a brac and crafty trinkets, no matter what you’re after you’re likely to find it here. Albeit under a pile of other things. Signs, vintage, one off wields, Camden is a treasure chest waiting to be unpacked.
Chichicastenango Market, Guatamela
On Thursday and Saturday the streets will fill with vendors and overflow with choice. Condiments, street food, animals, medicinal plants, craft to be sold, all under the heady waft of traditional incense. It’s madness so make time to see it all and savour.
Nishiki Market, Kyoto
In traditional capital Kyoto, you can taste and take home every Japanese wonder from then and now. An endless laneway of treats and flavours, just make sure to check exactly what it is that’s deep fried on a the stick. The sake on offer here is particularly wonderful with umeshu (plum wine) and infused sake on offer in giant bottles big enough to bring home.
Marché aux Puces, Paris
A crossroads where antique art sits beside olden day pottery, with local artisans catering to your every whim. Paris is a flea market in itself, where old meets new in the most charming of ways, but the marche is an explosion of local flare.
Mercado Central, Santiago
Skip the tourist traps and dine at the freshest place in town, Mercado Central is a fish market where the food comes from sea to plate. Chilean flavours and fine fare come together for the wiser of explorers to indulge in, make sure you’re one of the savvy ones.
Rose Bowl Market, Los Angeles
In a city known for it’s glamour, Rose Bowl Flea Market rejects that in every way. A meeting of vintage, knick knacks and homewares where you’re likely to find it all at a less than twinkly price. Ditch the well worn path of tourists before for a local favourite. It’s a celebrity haunt too.
St Lawrence, Toronto
Named the world’s finest food market by National Geographic, this Toronto icon is a world of tastes. Experience a little Canadian hospitality for yourself at this emporium of farmers produce. Locally grown fare stands beside worldly tastes, you may just need to return a couple of times to test it all.
Danish capital Copenhagen is home to Torvhallen, a foodie’s dream, where Michelin stars meet street food. Abuzz with hungry footsteps, the food hall is ablaze at peak times so make sure to set a little bit aside to explore. Nosh on fresh fish cooked the Nordic way or indulge in locally crafted chocolate truffles. It’s much more than groceries.
Portobello Rd Market, London
Pastel coloured houses dust the periphery of Notting Hill’s pride and joy, Portobello Rd Market is an icon of London charm. The colour of Notting Hill explodes onto the streets daily, but the biggest market day is Saturday. Vinyl, posters and every kind of music collectable is available here, along with vintage, crafts and tasty morsels to spur you along.
Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong
The liveliest market in Hong Kong, where instead of browsing for breakfast bites you can dig into a feast of evening delights. Neon glows throughout the streets as you pass, making for a mood lighting of a different kind. If you’re going to be adventurous here’s the place to do it. Haggling is standard here so come ready to barter for your finds.
Image source: Lonely Planet, Ciao Bambino, Flora The Explorer, Derigo, Suitcase Mag,Timeout, Imagine Magnetics, Civilian Global, Tuula Vintage.