We love fresh food markets. Lively, energetic, and full of new things to try, these traditional places let you buy the freshest goods directly from the farmers and craftspeople who produced them. You get high quality food and goods, the sellers keep all of their own profit, and you reduce your ecological footprint by shopping locally.
If you’re looking to take your market experience on a global scale, consider dropping by some of these amazing world food markets on your next vacation! From quick meals to fresh produce, local specialties and wines, these places offer endless goodies– and great atmosphere, too.
La Boqueria: Barcelona, Spain
La Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, typically referred to as La Boqueria, is an enormous public market in Barcelona. Though this area is a popular tourist destination, don’t let that scare you off! The market has been around since the 13th century and specializes in cured meats and Spanish hams. It’s a great tour of regional specialties, and the tiny lunch counters are perfect for a quick meal.
Mercado Municipal: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Housed in an eclectically styled industrial building, the Mercado has thousands of products for sale. From nuts to fresh meats, you can get almost anything you could possibly want. Though the neighboring area can be a little on the seedy side, the Mercado is a neighborhood staple that has developed its own distinct culture and specialties. Of special note is the enormous mortadella sandwiches, which are a meat lover’s dream. Don’t leave without getting something for lunch!
The Medina at Fez: Fez, Morocco
An intricate and ancient marketplace made of winding stalls and ancient buildings, the Fez Media is a treasure-hunter’s paradise. Located in Fez’s ancient quarter, this market is home to a mix of open stalls, small shops, and mosques. Though it’s a World Heritage Site and one of the world’s oldest markets, wandering the streets is an experience that’s full of life and energy. Fair warning: One of the charms of this market is the joy of getting lost in it, so keep a close eye on your group.
Union Square Farmers Market: New York City, United States
If you’re visiting New York City, don’t miss Union Square Farmer’s Market! With more than 140 regional vendors, you can buy pretty much any produce item in the world. Regularly scheduled events and school tours make this destination educational as well as delicious. It’s also an incredibly busy market that attracts up to 60,000 visitors on peak days, so we suggest arriving early.
Lancaster Central Market: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
If you want to experience a cultural legacy from the Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch, Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Central Market is the USA’s oldest continuously operating farmer’s market. The current facility is modern and clean without giving up that historic feeling you’d expect from one of America’s oldest cities. And, the market is really popular, both for locals buying produce and travelers stopping by. It’s a must-visit if you love handcrafted Amish goods and good old-fashioned American food.
St. Lawrence Market: Toronto, Canada
Oh, Canada! Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market is one of the best places in the area to get locally produced products, including Canadian specialties like locally sourced game and cheeses. When it was originally founded in the 1800’s, the market was one of the town’s major social hubs. That history lives on today with the friendly artisans and vendors who offer their goods for sale. It’s a sociable, down-to-earth market that you can visit year round.
(Related: See our Secrets of Niagara site for an insider’s guide to the Falls and the lively Niagara region)
Borough Market: London, England
With an emphasis on locally grown produce, the Borough Market is located in the Southwark neighborhood of London. It has operated in that neighborhood since 1755 and supplies fruits and vegetables to many upscale restaurants in the city. The market is open to the public on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Marché Provencal: Antibes, France
France is brimming with delightful fresh food markets, but the Marché Provencal in Antibe’s historic old town is a jewel of Provence. Mixing stalls with small, open-front shops, this market is full of produce in the morning and local artisans in the afternoons. If you get tired, sit down at a café for a coffee and a brioche. We especially recommend trying some famous Provence lavender!
Fair warning, the Marché has high-quality produce, and the prices reflect that. Don’t go to this one expecting cheap products.
Chinatown Wet Market: Singapore
If you want to get away from the tourist markets, Singapore’s Chinatown Wet Market is three glorious floors of meat, produce, and flowers. They have a huge variety of goods for sale, including exotic ingredients like live frogs and preserved eggs. Though vegetarians may be a little unsettled at the live produce, there’s also a big selection of tofu-based products. If you tire yourself out, head upstairs to the Hawker food centre for a great meal.
Haeundae Market: Busan, South Korea
Right along the coastline, Haeundae market is a beachy, laid-back market selling meat, fruit, clothes and other miscellaneous items. Fishmongers will prepare your fish right in front of you, giving you the absolute freshest fish you can eat. The street food is just as good as the produce, so come hungry and bring lots of small bills. If you get too hot, take a quick swim at the adjacent Haeundae beach.
Tsukiji Fish Market: Tokyo, Japan
If you want to go where the best restaurants in the world get their fish, then the Tsukiji Fish Market is your next stop. As the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, Tsukiji sells more than 400 types of seafood. If you like a good show, come to the market before dawn and watch the lively auction featuring the day’s catch of enormous tuna. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 may require the market to move in order to allow for road construction, so if you want to see it in its original location, don’t wait.