There’s no better way to experience a destination than to hit its street markets, where you can peruse local produce, see cutting-edge art and feel handmade wares. It gives you a glimpse into the city; in fact, the following street markets have played a vital role in their respected communities for decades. As the weather warms up, be sure to shop at these top markets.
La Boqueria Market, Barcelona
With an array of food and drinks, markets are a whirlwind of color, a trait La Boqueria proudly displays with its iron-gated entrance adorned with a stained-glass emblem. Once you cross the threshold, you’re bombarded with countess aromas — fresh fruit and vegetables, live seafood and cuts of many different types of meat (even a whole sheep’s head, for those more adventurous) are available among the impressive lineup of food stalls. Though stalls are primarily clustered by food type, with a central, circular group featuring seafood, visit the market’s website for an interactive map to plan out an efficient shopping route. The Monday-to-Saturday market also features cooking courses in its Food School. Events such as “Techniques for Making Mousses and Parfaits” (May 31) and “The Kitchen Through History: Roman Cooking” (June 8) will tempt budding chefs making the pilgrimage to La Boqueria.
University District Farmers Market, Seattle
When it comes to a hyper-local, conscious-consumer way of living, few places in the U.S. have it figured out as well as Seattle does. One of the city’s truest signs of its dedication to Mother Nature is in the number of farmers markets its has. While most people know about Pike Place, the city’s oldest and biggest market is this University Heights market. There, 60-plus farmers and artisan food producers showcase their goods every Saturday of the year. Come over the summer and you’ll see crowds of Washingtonians digging through just-picked snap peas, Pacific oysters or fresh flowers. Visit on June 8, July 6 or August 3 and you’ll also find yourself in the midst of an organic party commemorating the market’s 20th anniversary.
Camden Lock Market, London
Encompassing almost anything you could be looking for, Camden Lock Market bursts into the realms of fashion, music, art and more. Opening in 1973 as a loose collection of craft shops, the site has expanded into a hip and sprawling area with 280 stalls, 54 stores and four restaurants. Board games, custom-painted art, apparel and even hammocks can be found in the daily market, ensuring that repeated trips are necessary to explore every nook and cranny. Additionally, with famous patrons such as Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Giorgio Armani, there’s a chance you could be star struck while perusing the various aisles. And if you plan your trip correctly, you just might even get to double up the fun with a concert (Japandroids, July 17 and 18) at the onsite music venue, Dingwalls.
Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
Though the sheer numbers could scare off the average tourist — 35 acres, 15,000 stores and 200,000 daily visitors — the treasure-finding potential here far outweighs the negatives. One benefit of the busy market (which is affectionately called “J.J.” by most) is that it has just about every souvenir you could conceive under its roof. However, if your needs should exceed dainty wind chimes, puppets and ceremonial masks, there is an abundance of food outlets (everything from quail eggs to shrimp) to try as well. And if you should be inclined to look at live animals rather than merely consume them, J.J. is also known for its diverse collection of wildlife for sale, too. But we’re guessing a handmade tote bag will be easier to get through customs than a turtle.
The Rose Street Artists’ Market, Melbourne
While many of the globe’s best markets specialize in goods that you eat, this Australian treasure trove focuses on things that you wear, hang or collect. A combination vintage store, avant-garde art show and on-the-cusp designer’s trunk show, Rose Street has showcased the best in Melbourne creativity since its 2003 inception. The market has remained relevant over the years because of its eclectic offerings (everything from decorative spoons to all-natural shaving sets) and its fearlessness in featuring upstart artisans like illustrator Hanna Mancini. Though the 70-vendor market is generally only open on Saturdays, starting on June 2, it will be spreading its handcrafted love on Sundays as well.
Photos Courtesy of The Rose Street Artists’ Market