9 Food Markets Around the World We'd Hop on a Plane For

August 27, 2018

There are, of course, so many sights to behold when traveling to a new place—museums, restaurants, people. Yet amongst all these attractions, there is one that consistently grabs my attention no matter where I am: food markets.

There’s something transcendent about the flurry of colors and smells, the cacophony of vendors and customers exchanging barbs, goods, and money. Dining in a restaurant can be a wonderful tool for understanding the way certain people eat, but visiting a local food market reveals something entirely different about a people, and a place, altogether.

So, in honor of these palaces of taste, we've compiled some of the best around the world. Obviously, there are soooo many more than the nine listed below, but we thought this would be a good place to start. Read on and try not to drool on your keyboard (I dare you!).

Nishiki Market in Kyoto, Japan

Don't just stop at the jaw droppingly fresh seafood and produce. This central Kyoto spot also has all the specialty kitchen goods you could ever dream of. Keep your eye out for samples and smaller bites to munch while you shop, like Kyoto's signature sweets and pickles.

Cara de no vender mucho

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La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain

It'd be hard to miss this world-renowned market. Not only is it huge, but it's also stuffed to the gills with all types of Spanish munchies. Go straight for the jamón and queso, but allow yourself to get distracted by everything else along the way.

Spice up yo life

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#paradise🌴 #laboqueria #barcelona_world #travellingthroughtheworld

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Marché Jean-Talon in Montreal, Canada

Tucked into the heart of Little Italy, this charming thoroughfare is brimming with a vibrant fruit and vegetable selection. If you stop by in the summer, revel in the foot traffic—from June to October, no vehicles are allowed into the market.

Torvehallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark

This Copenhagen market is super duper. Pop in for some groceries but leave with a belly (and a bag!) full of specialty chocolates and top-notch coffee. Don't forget to stop by Hija de Sanches for some of the best tacos around.

Beautiful danish market and farmer products at Torvehallerne Copenaghen 🇩🇰

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One final smorrebrod #copenhagen #opensandwich #smorrebrod #hugge #homenow

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Mercado Cardonal in Valparaiso, Chile

The produce displays dotting this marketplace are definitely worth a look, but the real magic happens on the second floor. The upstairs is surrounded by fish restaurants churning out local delicacies with only the freshest seafood.

En el mar la vida es más sabrosa 🌊

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Mercato Testaccio in Rome, Italy

Pop a squat and watch a Roman afternoon slide right by in this Italian marketplace. An espresso and panino will definitely do the trick...

Red Garden Food Paradise in Penang, Malaysia

If the name itself doesn't sell you, the food at this Malaysian night market will. The hawker food center is populated by locals and tourists alike who gather for live music and an even livelier atmosphere.

Penang food markets 🌶🥟🥡🍛🍻 #georgetown

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Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

It's hard to know where to look in this extravagantly beautiful Turkish marketplace—colors and smells and spices abound. Indulge in the wide variety of dried fruits and herbs while you're at it.

Spice market

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Mercado de San Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina

This old timey market is tucked into the city's oldest quarter. Meander amongst the fruit stalls before stopping to enjoy a choripán, which is a South American sausage sandwich, right around the corner.

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Lobsters worth traveling for

Do you have a favorite food market? Tell us about it in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Katherine
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    Sally Smith
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    deirdre mcnally
  • Faten Rafie
    Faten Rafie
  • LMGT
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Katherine September 4, 2018
Thanks for the inspiration - four down, five to go! I was surprised though that Borough Market in London didn't make in on the list??? A visit there is always a must when I'm in London...
Sally S. September 4, 2018
Marche des Lices in Rennes! Rennes in general is under the radar, but this market is the second largest market in all of France, and unlike the biggest, it ONLY sells food. It is about the size of 2-3 city blocks.
deirdre M. September 4, 2018
When in Melbourne Australia, the Queen Victoria Market is a must-see - wonderful local fruit, veggies and delis - all in a heritage-listed building.
Faten R. September 3, 2018
I'm surprised that Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakesh didn't make the list. It's even on the UNESCO Heritage list!

One more thing, I'm from Penang and I really wonder how Red Garden made the list, the place is practically unknown even amongst the local, which is a good indicator as Penang is really a foodie haven and the local just love sharing great food spots. If one place in Penang should make this list, I'd say it's the Gurney Drive Food Court, though technically it's an open air hawker centre and not a market.
LMGT September 3, 2018
Mercato Testaccio is fun but if I could pick only one in Italy, I’d go back to Porto Palazzo in Turin!
Rajen R. September 3, 2018
Very surprised that no Thai markets made the cut. Also, even the locals from Penang dont go to Red Garden. How did that one get in here??
Ellen L. September 2, 2018
Marche Provencal in Antibes, France is wonderful. Delicious prepared food as well as produce, cheese, spices, locally made soaps and more.
Marlene B. September 2, 2018
Carmel Market in Tel Aviv is a favorite. Love the spice blends their vendors sell.
stephanieRD September 2, 2018
Malaga, Spain- Mercado de Ataranzas is pretty amazing. Divided into sections with areas abundant in produce, seafood galore, meats, and food stands that serve up some amazing stuff. I ate there 3x in the 4 days I was there, also picked up some amazing seafood to cook in my suite one evening (salmon steaks and gambones).
susan H. September 2, 2018
the tuesday market in san miguel, guanajuato, mexico is impressive, with its gorgeous fruits and vegetables piled high on tables, and woven baskets for carrying them home.
susan H. September 2, 2018
and the spice market in marakech. yum.
Lazyretirementgirl September 2, 2018
The Grand Market Hall in Budapest is a delightful place to spend a morning. Thanks so much for this article. When I travel, I love to visit markets and explore, and you have suggested several new places for me.
Jerri P. September 2, 2018
I’m culinarily delirious💖 I must say for overall international groceries Dekalb County Farmers Market in Atlanta is amaz! I’ve lived in NYC, LA, Italy & Denmark - all having grocery shopping diversity to-die-for, but what Dekalb Market has under one roof blows my mind, especially for America!
Phildup September 2, 2018
Marche Victor Hugo in Toulouse, France.Wander the stalls getting hungry then go upstairs and have a great lunch on the cheap!
MarieGlobetrotter August 31, 2018
Glad to see my fabulous Jean-Talon Market in the list. Fantastic choice!
Maria August 27, 2018
I'm so surprised Shilin Night Market is not on this list - It's a must do when visiting Taiwan!