There is no better way to experience the authentic essence of a destination than to take in a street market where you can literally get a true taste of what it means to live there. In addition to introducing yourself to local cuisine, street markets offer unique crafts of artisans along with a vibrant bustling atmosphere that will awaken all your senses.
La Boqueria: Barcelona, Spain
Yes Barcelona is home to Gaudi’s masterpieces like La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell along with beautiful beaches, but head to its famous La Boqueria Market to experience real Catalonian culture and food.
Dating back to the early 13th century, the market is at its finest in the early morning hours when stalls are full and your stomach is empty. You will be tempted by every kind of food you can imagine including fresh eggs, meats, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables. Its daily squeezed fresh juices are quite possibly the best in the world.
The colours and smells will assault your senses as you try to make your way through the bustling crowds in order to get your share of the culinary delights. You 05/even rub shoulders with some of Barcelona’s top chefs as they frequent the market in search of the freshest ingredients.
Chatuchak Weekend Market: Bangkok, Thailand
You’ll need a lot more than “One Night in Bangkok” to explore this 35 acre monster of a market. Best of luck counting how many stalls you walk by, as they can number upwards of 15,000.
Quite possibly the largest weekend market in the world, it offers visitors the chance to buy just about anything. Art, books, clothing, food, handicrafts, and even exotic pets are all on offer. It is probably best to go in with no plan of attack as your plan will quickly fall apart as you get distracted and lost in the amazement.
Bring along a GPS, a hat, and plenty of water as you’ll easily spend hours shopping around or just trying to find your way out of the market. And it is probably best to keep in mind your luggage weight restrictions.
Grand Bazaar: Istanbul, Turkey
In what might have been the inspiration for the massive shopping malls of today, this expansive under cover market has been the centre for commerce in Istanbul for centuries. An almost unbelievable 100 million visitors make their way to the markets each year, while some single days are well on their way to reaching a half million customers alone.
Even if you’re not in the mood for shopping or find yourself all cashed out, the market is a photogenic cultural gem where you can take in gorgeous mosques, fountains, and music.
Tsukiji Fish Market: Tokyo, Japan
If you thought something seemed fishy about the Tsukiji Market, you’d be 100% correct since it is the world’s largest fish market dealing with nearly 3,000 tonnes of the finned creatures on a daily basis.
Along with around 400 varieties of seafood, the market hosts the popular tuna auctions. Watching the auctions takes considerable planning as spots are limited and one must book accommodation nearby in order to arrive for the early AM madness.
Camden Markets: London, England
The Camden Markets are made up of six distinct markets that showcase London’s alternative fashion and music scene. It is a multi cultural melting pot where stalls and the people that visit them add a pop of colour to the city.
Shopping combines with street performers, musical acts, and art instillations. What started as 16 stalls some 40+ years ago has grown to over 1,000, all offering creative and quirky fashions and style. Don’t miss the Camden Lock Market, the original Camden Market, for crafts and head to the Stables Market for great food stalls.
Pike Place Market: Seattle, USA
Make your way down winding alleys, staircases, and cobblestone in search of books, antiques, fresh produce, and the world’s first Starbucks coffee shop. Its lively daytime fish throwing market gives way to a vibrant nightlife scene with its craft beer bars, live cabaret, and stand up comedy.
Food lovers will delight their tastebuds at one of America’s first farmer’s markets as they taste artisanal foods, bakery goods, and great restaurants.
Marrakech’s iconic souks, or markets, have been made famous by many literary figures throughout the ages. Rather than a central marketplace, it is a web on interconnected alleyways. Be tempted by spices, rugs, and beautiful babouches (Moroccan slippers). You half expect to find a flying carpet or lamp containing a genie.
You 05/not come out the same entrance you went in, but you are guaranteed to be charmed much like the snake charmers serpents.
Before you go, make sure you have the right travel insurance lined up, so that if anything happens during your trip, you’re prepared. Check your policy carefully before you purchase it to make sure it covers everything you need.