Local food markets are a must-see for any traveller, particularly if you’re staying in a self-catering holiday rental. Not only are food markets the perfect place to pick up fresh items for a picnic, or fresh ingredients so you can try your hand at making a local dish, but it’s also a great cultural experience. If you’re a foodie who likes nothing better than to treat your senses to a celebration of colours and flavours and aromas, then here is a mouth-watering guide to some of the world’s most marvellous food markets.
Located in Barcelona, La Boqueria is one of the most famous food markets in the world. This outstanding fresh food market has an amazing variety of seafood, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, spices, olive oil and other tasty treats. You can spend hours wandering through the hundreds of food stalls, and once you’ve worked up an appetite you can end your La Boqueria experience with a trip to a tapas bar.
Marché Bastille is the largest open-air market in Paris and an absolute must-see for anybody visiting the French capital. What’s not to love about the bustling atmosphere and colourful display of cheese wheels, sausages, breads, and every fruit and vegetable imaginable? Walking through Marché Bastille, you can’t help but be inspired by the sights and smells. If you smile and say “Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais?” you may even get a free sample for your effort and don’t hesitate to ask the sellers for advice on preparing dishes – they love sharing their expertise. The whole experience will leave even the most inexperienced of us feeling a bit like Julia Child. Explore this and other markets from one of our holiday rentals in Paris.
Djemaa el Fna
The bustling Djemaa el Fna market is located in the main square of Marrakech and is a riot of colour and noise. It’s a lively cultural experience that you won’t easily forget. Djemaa el Fna was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, and gives you a peek into the wonderful world of souks. You can buy everything from spices and fruit and vegetables, to gold, and hand crafted souvenirs. The open air kitchens offer Moroccan delicacies like roasted sheep, delicious kebabs and mint tea. When you’ve enjoyed a busy day of shopping you enjoy an evening of entertainment that includes Berber musicians, Arab snake charmers, acrobats, fire-eaters, fortune tellers and henna artists. Just beware of the grafters and conmen that prey on the unsuspecting tourists that visit this marvellous market.
Ben Thanh Market
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
The oldest and busiest market in Vietnam is home to more than 3,000 stalls that offer everything from coffee beans, fruit and spices to snake wine, leather goods and souvenirs. There is almost nothing you can’t find in this marvellous market and although it’s often advertised as a “fixed price market” you’ll definitely need to bargain your way to a good deal. The vendors are always looking to make easy money from tourists and are sometimes perceived as a bit aggressive, but if you stick to a firm “No thank you”, you shouldn’t have any problems. About 7 o’clock in the evening the market building interior closes, and night traders set up their open-air stalls. Sidewalk restaurants serve fantastic Vietnamese dishes that are excellent value for money. It’s the ideal place to try authentic local cuisine.
Unlike the other food markets on this list, the Maasai Market rotates between different locations in Nairobi. The best day to visit is on a Friday when the market is located at Village Market on Limuru Road. The vibrant market not only has a great variety of fresh foods, but there is also a fabulous collection of African arts and crafts like beadwork, hand crafted baskets, and wood carvings. Haggling is the name of the game at Maasai Market. Bargaining is expected here, so never settle for the first price vendors suggest, but when you’re haggling for a better price do keep in mind that goods here are reasonably priced, and this is their livelihood.
London’s centuries old Borough Market has over 100 stalls where you can find a wonderful selection of fruit and vegetables, meat, homemade confectionery, seafood, coffee, tea, wine, and every type of cheese you can think of. It’s an eclectic collection of goods that will delight your senses. The Borough Market has a handy map to help you find your way around, and there are even some great recipes on the website that you can try out.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest weekend market in the world; with 15,000 stalls spread over 35 acres. Food stalls are a large part of this offering. You can find very cheap local dishes, and if you’re the adventurous type you can even buy some fried cockroaches or grasshoppers. When you’ve got all the food you need you can browse the hundreds of stalls that sell pets, toys, jewellery, handicrafts and silk. If you’d prefer to visit a smaller but equally marvellous market you could visit one of Bangkok’s famous floating markets (‘talaat naam’) like Damnoen Saduak, Tha Kha, Bang Khu Wiang and Taling Chan. You can experience the traditional way of trading fruit, vegetables and flowers through vendors paddling colourful boats laden with goods.
Pikes Place Market
The Pikes Place Market in Seattle is America’s oldest continually operating farmers market where you can find an abundance of fish, fruit, vegetables and street food, as well crafts. The market is most famous for the fish that jovial fishmongers at Pikes Place Fish Co throw around. The “flying fish” of Pikes Place have been featured on television several times. You also don’t want to miss the tasty doughnuts, organic raspberries and honey for sell at Pikes Place Market. So where is your favourite food market?