Looking to find the heart and soul of the city? Most of the time, your best bet is to head to a nearby market to experience how locals shop, gather, and spend their days. You’ll get a glimpse into local food, art, and culture so markets are a great place to head to as you get your bearings in a new city.
Though it’s hard to find a market we’d say no to (especially if food is involved), these top our list of the best markets around the world whether you’re looking for clothing, snacks, or home goods.
Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market
Source: Monsters with Flip Flops
If you’ve been to Thailand before, you can attest to the fact that there are a lot of incredible markets in the country. What makes Chatuchak stand out, you ask? Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s the largest market in all of Thailand. This market is home to over 15,000 booths (so forget about trying to visit them all!), and you’ll be able to find just about everything here whether you’re looking for food, home decor, or clothing. There are stalls upon stalls of everything imaginable so it’s easy to spend a half or even a full day here. Though it sounds like a lot to go through, the market is broken up into sections so you can head to the areas that interest you the most. The deals are great, and the vibe here is fun and care free.
Where: Bangkok, Thailand
What to buy: Anything you’d like! The market has it all and, for the most part, at very cheap prices. It’s a great spot for picking up inexpensive and lightweight clothes if you didn’t pack enough.
Istanbul’s The Grand Bazaar
Source: Gary R. Caldwell
One of the oldest markets in the world and located in Istanbul’s Old City, The Grand Bazaar is a sight to behold. The market is mostly covered so it’s easy to access and easy to spend time in regardless of the weather. It’s centuries old and an incredibly important landmark of the city. Remember, haggling is expected so don’t be shy about bargaining for a good deal.
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
What to buy: The rugs and textiles are especially beautiful here so we’d make a beeline for those.
London’s Borough Market
Source: Chrisgel Ryan Cruz
Across London, there are a great number of markets spanning the entire city whether you’re looking for clothing, flowers, or housewares. Among those, Borough Market stands out—and is the absolute best place to go if you’re a food lover. You’ll find every type of food imaginable here whether you’re looking for classic British fare or something a little more exoctic. There are bakeries, seafood, spices, cafes, and everything in between. The full market is open from Wednesday through Saturday so plan accordingly. It’s a great place to head to around lunchtime so you can snack your way through the stalls and then stroll around after to work off all that food.
Where: London, United Kingdom
What to buy: Food, of course! Sample a bit from the different stalls and be sure to take a baguette or some cheese home with you for later.
Barcelona’s La Boqueria
Source: Spain Attractions
La Boqueria is one of the most famous food markets in the entire world. This market dates back to the 1200s and is a cultural icon in Barcelona. Locals and tourists flock to the market daily, and it will likely be packed with crowds while you visit. Stop by during breakfast for fresh fruit juice or head over for lunchtime or dinner for something a little more substantial. The market houses a few different cafes and bars so you can still enjoy the scene even if you don’t want to purchase anything. While it’s a great spot to explore on your own, if you feel overwhelmed about where to start there are walking market tours available that also include food and drinks.
Where: Barcelona, Spain
What to buy: Fresh fruit juices, Spanish saffron, and as much food as you can possible stomach.
Castries City’s Central Market
Source: Meng He
The open-air market of St. Lucia’s Castries City contains a huge amount of quality food and goods as long as you look in the right location. Because cruise ships often dock at the nearby port, you will have to first dodge the tourist traps and vendors pawning off t-shirts before you make it to the true heart of the market. Trust us though, it’s worth it. We recommend you head to the northernmost part of the market to find more authentic goods than those closer to the port. Here you’ll find better deals and better souvenirs to take home with you.
Where: Castries City, St. Lucia
What to buy: Grab fresh fruit to snack on while you’re lazing on the beach. You won’t believe how fresh the produce tastes here! There are also some great hand crafted goods to snap up for friends and family back home.
Paris’ Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
Source: Huffington Post
Considered to be one of the biggest flea markets in the world, Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen is guaranteed to transport you back in time with its trinkets, stalls, and narrow streets. The market has become more popular in recent years, and while some of the cheapest bargains have disappeared, you can still dig deep to discover some great finds. The popularity of the market does mean that you will be able to find great restaurants, bars, and cafes nearby to sit down at for a snack while hunting for hidden gems. There are a lot of markets throughout this French capital city, but we love that this one is a little unique and still home to good deals (in a city that is notoriously expensive).
Where: Paris, France
What to buy: Trinkets, pictures, prints, and other flea market finds that you’ll be glad to have once your trip is over. Oh, and a cup of coffee to keep you going during your shopping spree!
Kashgar is at the center of Central and Western Asia and it represents the food, culture, and lifestyle of many different areas of the world in one location. Kashgar is essentially one gigantic market city, often referred to as the Sunday Market, mostly due to the large swaths of people who flock to the area to purchase a week of supplies on Sundays. Vendors here pile goods in tall mounds ready for you to puruse. Lonely Planet suggests you memorize the phrase “Boish-boish!” which means “Coming through!” or else you might get mowed down by a passing cart.
Where: Kashgar, China
What to buy: Kashgar has an abundance of hat vendors selling every hat you could imagine. Check out the variety and find something unique to bring home from your travels. Make sure to also shop the huge spice market to bring home some truly spectacular flavors that you won’t find at your local grocery store.