By Natalie Austin, TWIP
As important centers for commerce, culture and local livelihood, Street Markets are the best activity for travelers looking to get a proper local experience. Whether you’re looking for authentic cuisine, unique souvenirs, or simply to immerse yourself in the local culture, street markets are sure to make you feel like a resident rather than a tourist. Here are some of the best street markets around the world for travelers who lust for simple discoveries.
La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain
Known for its beautiful colors, rich history and influence on Spanish gastronomy, La Boqueria is arguably the best market in Europe. Dating all the way back to the 1200s, La Boqueria has been an important culinary center and continues to be reference for Catalan restauranteurs. With hundreds of stalls of produce, seafood, fresh meats, cheeses and ready-to-eat meals, this market is the best showcase of ingredients the city has to offer. Having been awarded “Best Market in the World” by the World Markets Congress in 2005, it is a must-see spot for a trip to Barcelona.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
For a dazzling mix of color and chaos, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the perfect place to get lost in the rich culture of Turkey. This market has been an epicenter for trade since 1461 and receives up to 400,000 visitors each day. The Grand Bazaar is home to 60 covered streets with over 5,000 shops, making it one of the largest enclosed markets in the world. Known for its beautiful jewelry, handpainted ceramics, traditional carpets, a plethora of unique spices and countless antique shops, The Grand Bazaar has something for every kind of traveler. Venture down hidden streets, peek through back alleys and wander through exotic art displays to discover the unexpected.
Camden Market, London, UK
Between Regent’s Canal and the Roundhouse Theatre, discover the flourishing cluster of markets collectively known as The Camden Market. Home to independent retail stores, global street food, restaurants and bars, the Camden Market is an up-and-coming spot for trendy tourists in search of bizarre urban treasures. The market is made up of three individual markets: Union Street, Lock and Stables. Students and young tourists are frequent Camden-goers for their eclectic clothing stores and hip watering holes.
St. Lawrence Street, Toronto, Canada
Operating in what was once city hall, Toronto’s St. Lawrence Street Market has a long been an important center for commerce. This Toronto landmark is surrounded by the city’s most famous historical buildings, which is why a visit here is a must. Located in Old Town, St. Lawrence Street is made up of the South and the North Market, comprised of more than 120 installments of food vendors, artisans and merchants.The South Market is home to specialty food vendors and is often considered the best food market in all of Canada. Explore the North Market to experience the antique market, a tradition dating back to 1803.
Kowloon Market, Hong Kong, China
If there is one thing that’s taken seriously at Hong Kong’s favorite market, its freshness. With fish still in tanks, and food newly shipped in from surrounding farms, Kowloon’s culinary experience is like no other. Because of its devotion to freshness, the market is known as the “wet market” and was ranked 10th in CNN’s survey of the best quality fresh food markets in the world. Kowloon is also home to some unique Southeast Asian fruits popular to as it is the epicenter of Hong Kong’s Thai population. Over 581 stalls are located in this three-story building, reminiscent of a deconstructed cruise ship. If you consider yourself an Epicurean, it would be a sin to skip this unforgettable culinary experience.
Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is undoubtedly the fish capital of the world which is why this notorious fish market tops the itinerary for foodie tourists. As one of the largest fish markets in the world, travelers come from afar for live tuna auctions starting at 5:00 am, perfect for those with jet lag. Tsukiji was named the #1 things to do in Tokyo according to Time Magazine for its imperative role in Tokyo’s culinary world. Tourists are even encouraged to try sushi for breakfast! If you’re not a pescatarian, Tsukiji still offers a fascinating display of delectable underwater creatures; making this market one-of-a-kind.