To your average person, a food market may seem like just a glorified grocery store. But to the adventurous foodie, food markets are the holy grail of traveling. In fact, food markets may be one of the best ways to experience a new city and delve into the culture.
These markets aren’t just individual vendors selling meats and cheeses; they are a microcosm of the city where you can experience both tradition and innovation. Full of so much life, color and flavor, I always make a point of checking out the local market wherever I travel and these ones here are the best of the best.
1. Borough Market, London
This market is one of the best places to sample all of the unique flavors that London has to offer. It’s hard not to buy anything after sampling some of the many stands selling fine cheeses, meats and bread. Don’t miss the stall with all of the cookies.
2. Central Market Hall, Budapest
Besides the many stands downstairs selling pastries and meat, the upstairs area has several restaurants selling some of the most classic Hungarian dishes. There you can find some of the best goulash, stuffed cabbage, and mulled wine in Budapest.
3. Mercato Centrale, Florence
Located right in the heart of Florence, this market not only sells the freshest produce, olive oil and cured meats, but also features a second floor food court for dining. Upstairs you can find everything from seafood, to crazy good hamburgers to even a mozzarella bar.
4. La Boqueria, Barcelona
Located right down Las Ramblas, this market is one of Barcelona’s top foodie destinations. Right when you walk in, you are immediately entranced by rows and rows of fresh fruit juices for only 1 euro. The best way to tackle this market is to dive right in and grab a bite at several stalls, sampling empanadas, smoothies, fried seafood and even baklava.
5. St. Lawrence Market, Toronto
Toronto’s unique melting pot of cultures makes for an excellent food scene. The St. Lawrence market always has the freshest stands and the best peameal bacon sandwich you’ll ever eat at Carousel Bakery.
6. Pike Place Market, Seattle
This market is a tourist classic, and the vendors are known for tossing freshly caught fish each day. However, even without the fish this vibrant market has an impressive variety of locally grown and made foods. Don’t miss out on the stall that sells only housemade Greek yogurt in flavors like passionfruit and chai.
7. Mercado Municipal, Sao Paulo
The diversity of foods found at this market are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. From exotic spices to crazy fruits and vegetables, this market captures the flavors of Brazil. You can’t pass up the famous mortadella sandwich.
8. Findlay Market, Cincinnati
This colorful and historic market is a great place to sample some of the best produce in the midwest or even grab a delicious bowl of pho. Celebrating the city’s German roots, the market also boasts a biergarten, selling a variety of local craft beers. Not to mention, their Belgian waffles are off the chain.
9. Kreta Ayer Wet Market, Singapore
Located in Chinatown, both locals and tourists alike can be found shopping for fresh seafood and produce here. The market also has a wide variety of Chinese herbal medicine. Try Yum Cha for some classic dim sum and check out these other foodie experiences in Singapore.
10. Viktualienmarkt, Munich
Not only does this market have stands selling spices and produce, but in classic Bavarian style, at the center of the market there’s a lively biergarten and stalls selling amazing German fare . The Viktualienmarkt is a must-see whether you’re looking to grab a fruit smoothie, or enjoy a timeless beer and pretzel in the sun.
11. Naschmarkt, Vienna
Being so close to the Middle East, this Austrian market offers a huge variety of flavors and ethnic foods. As you stroll down this beautiful outdoor market, make sure to grab a life-changing Doner Kebab or falafel.
12. Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo
Sushi lovers, this one’s for you. Fueling Japan’s massive seafood industry, this market is the largest seafood market in the world. If you get there early enough, you can even watch the live tuna auction. If you’d rather eat the fish than watch it, don’t worry, there’s also plenty of sushi counters scattered through the market.
13. Mercado de la Merced, Mexico City
Many locals come to this crowded market for the variety of fresh produce. Here, you can sample some real authentic Mexican food. Be sure to hit up the stands selling mouthwatering Mexican quesadillas or try some nutritious nopales (cactus pads).
14. Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech
Come during the day and you’ll wonder where the food is, but at night this square transforms into a giant bazaar with merchants, fortune-tellers and tons of hot delicious food stalls. This market is a once in a lifetime experience and is a chance to devour some insane moroccan street food, such as sticky and sugary nougat.