Visiting local food markets is a great way to get to know the culture when you’re traveling. You’ll be mingling with the locals for a better glimpse at what the people and daily life are like. Of course, you’ll also have opportunities for buying delicious foods and other items. Some markets are so good, they’re worth putting on your travel bucket list, including these.
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Pike Place Market, Seattle
The oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the U.S., Pike Place Market in Seattle opened in 1907 and is not a top attraction in the city. An open-air market, it features a wide range of fresh produce, flowers and seafood, along with underground retailers that sell unique goods, including vintage items, handmade arts and crafts and more. It’s fun to come just to watch the entertaining buskers and the fishmongers toss the fresh catch of the day to the crowd while cracking jokes.
Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco
One of the most scenic farmer’s markets, Ferry Building Marketplace features over 100 fruit and veggie growers and artisan food makers in San Francisco. They fill the stalls in front and along the south side of the Ferry Building three days each week: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Saturdays in particular, some of the city’s best-known chefs and most famous farmers can be seen here. In addition to fruits and veggies, there are herbs, flowers, meats and eggs along with regional artisan specialties such as breads, cheeses, and jams. On Thursdays, a variety of artisan street foods can be enjoyed as well, from tacos to wood-fired pizzas.
Halifax Seaport Market, Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is the most popular of all the markets in the city. It enjoys a fabulous location on the waterfront with a gorgeous rooftop patio and the largest selection of vendors in town. Many locals visit as a Saturday morning tradition, enjoying breakfast before doing a little shopping. There are almost always entertaining buskers to enjoy here as well.
Foodhallen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Always a buzz of activity, Foodhallen is jam-packed with delectable food options. It sits within a renovated 19th-century tram depot, for a fun setting to sample all sorts of local, regional and international fare. There are a wide variety of food trucks and stalls as well as several celebrated restaurants. Local DJs and live music performances are hosted here regularly as well.
Marché Raspail, Paris
Marché Raspail is a quintessentially French market, located on the Left Bank in Paris that oozes true Parisian charm. At the regular market on Tuesdays and Fridays, one can find several stands selling vegetables and fruits, numerous cheese sellers, fishmongers, butchers and more. Slightly more elegant than your typical European food market, you’ll be able to pick up staples like bread, cheese, and a range of local pastries. And, on Sundays, an excellent selection of high-end food trucks arrive serving especially delicious fresh meals.
La Merced, Mexico City
La Merced, or the Merced Market, is massive, about the size of eight football fields. One of the most wide-ranging food markets and one of the most impressive in the world, this market boasts dozens and dozens of yummy food stands selling quesadillas, tacos, tacos de cabeza, deep-fried tamales, quesadillas and more. There’s so much to experience it’s best to go with a local guide. The 150-year-old market houses a maze-like array of some 3,000 stalls packed to the rafters with every ingredient imaginable.
Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal
A traditional market and food court, Mercado da Ribeira, or the Time Out Market as it’s often called due to the travel publication that renovated the magnificent old building it sits within. A one-stop food shop when visiting Lisbon, you’ll find top-notch quality and reasonable prices on a wide range of delicious dishes along with the best chefs, restaurants, cultural events and cooking workshops.
Great Market Hall, Budapest
The Great Market Hall is the largest indoor and outdoor market in Budapest. It is a spectacular destination to visit for the architecture alone, set within an impressive 1897 building that feels like a train station. Many people head here to sample the famous Hungarian dish Lángos, but it offers nearly an endless list of all sorts of delectable Hungarian snacks, meals and drinks. You’ll find produce, meats, pastries, candies, spices, and spirits, fishmongers, butcher shops, picked vegetable stalls, tourist souvenirs and enticing eateries.
Borough Market, London
The oldest market in London, Borough Market dates back over a thousand years and continues to draw locals and visitors alike. Located near London Bridge, over 100 organic farmers and artisanal purveyors from near and far flock here on the weekends. Feast on hot gourmet dishes from the street food vendors and then browse the stalls that include everything from British fruits and veggies to delicious cheeses and beautiful patisseries, international delicacies, handmade chocolate truffles and raclette. It’s a nexus of hyper-local and seasonal cuisine. You can find unexpected ethnic foods too, like Balkan pastries, Spanish olive oils and Ethiopian spices.
Or Tor Kor, Bangkok
Often ranked among the world’s very best markets, Or Tor Kor is a true feast for the senses as one of Bangkok’s oldest and most impressive food markets. Just a short walk from the famous bric-a-brac stalls of the Chatuchak market, you’ll find perfectly immaculate fruits and vegetables in every color of the rainbow. Everything is so artfully arranged, from the mangoes and mangosteens to pungent durian that sits alongside freshly prepared curries, sun-dried fish and stir-fried noodles. There are ready-to-eat meals in all varieties, types and servings, including steamed fish curry and grilled prawns. One of the favorites among visitors and locals alike can be found toward the back of the market, a spicy green papaya salad topped with fermented fish sauce.
Union Square Greenmarket, New York City
Union Square Market in New York City is open all year-round on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Its sellers change regularly, making every visit an exciting one for discovering something new but on any given day you’ll find local farmers, bakers, exotic meat purveyors and more. There are nearly 150 vendors and 375,000 visitors during peak season, making it the largest and most popular farmers market in the city. Some of the favorites include Campo Rosso’s varieties of chicory and the water buffalo labneh at Riverine Ranch. Don’t miss NYC rooftop honey, which is made from bees raised here in the city.