1. Cours Saleya in Nice, France
Located just a short distance from the sea, Cours Saleya in Nice features all your favorite French foods including crusty baguettes and goat's cheese with a healthy dose of brioche mixed in. The market is also famous for socca, a type of thin, unleavened crêpe made from chickpea flour. We rented an apartment when we visited Nice and enjoyed shopping for dinner supplies at the market and then going back to cook ourselves a lovely fresh meal.
2. La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain
Located just off Las Ramblas, La Boqueria in Barcelona is a riot of colors and sound. Fresh produce, juices, and sweets are of course on offer. I remember also being jarred when I suddenly rounded a corner and stood face to face (literally) with a skinned goat's head. You can find anything and everything in this large covered market hall.
3. Central Market in Riga, Latvia
The Central Market in Riga is located in a former airplane hangar. The setting is what makes this market truly special. On certain days, the goods on offer spill out of the building and all around outside. The market is located a bit away from the center of Riga but is definitely worth stopping by. Seeing grapes weighed out on an old-fashioned scale made me smile.
4. The English Market in Cork, Ireland
Despite the tortured history between Ireland and England, the market hall in Cork is called The English Market. Situated in an old Victorian building, you can find a bit of everything (including hardware and such). There is a small restaurant on the second floor that is worth stopping into for a bit of pie and custard while doing a spot of people-watching.
5. Central Market Hall in Budapest, Hungary
The Central Market Hall in Budapest can be a bit dark and feels like a hold-over from the communist era but that's just part of its charm. Grab a strudel packed with fruit and a glass of tokaji (the local sweet wine) and you're set for the afternoon.
6. Victor Hugo Market In Toulouse, France
One of our favorite markets of all is the Marché Victor Hugo in Toulouse. In addition to the usual fare (huge coils of local sausage, delicious breads, and decadent cakes), there is also a restaurant hall upstairs. It seems that most locals while away a Sunday afternoon here lingering over a delicious three course menu (with wine of course!).
7. Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta Market in Padua, Italy
Padua is an easy day trip to Venice and it's worth going on market days. The town turns into an almost continuous strip of vendors and it's easy to shop for hours. I recall sampling some of the sweetest tangerines I've ever tasted while standing next to a burbling Italian fountain. Fantastic memories!
8. Naschmarkt in Vienna, Austria
Slicing through the heart of the city and surrounded on either side by luxury apartment buildings, Naschmarkt in Vienna is magical to behold (particularly in the winter with a light dusting of snow; the market stays open year round). When we stayed in Vienna for Christmas / New Year's Eve, we stocked up on supplies at the market. The falafel and dips we brought back to our apartment rental made for a delicious and healthy dinner. Shopping at the market and renting an apartment also helped us pretend we were locals for those two weeks.
9. Fischmarkt in Hamburg, Germany
Every Sunday morning, the Fischmarkt takes over the banks of the Elbe in Hamburg, Germany. The market is huge and fascinating to wander around. We saw old ladies bidding for bags of goods off the back of a truck, the dancing coffee man, and fishmongers aggressively pushing their product. We managed to get a bag of 18 plums for a euro (wow!). Definitely try a backfisch (fried fish sandwich). There is no better breakfast in Hamburg after a late night out.
10. Die Kleinmarkthalle in Frankfurt, Germany
Another gem of a market hall in Germany is Die Kleinmarkthalle in Frankfurt. Shop for produce, tea, and nuts; have a hipster coffee; and then get above it all on the second floor for a glass of Germany Riesling.
11. St. George's Market in Belfast, Northern Ireland
We love St. George's Market in Belfast. It's tucked away in a lovely brick Victorian building. In addition to local jams and cakes, international fare, crafts, and produce, the market also features live jazz on Saturday mornings. St. George's Market, simply put, has a fantastic vibe.
12. Brick Lane in London, England
This last one is a bit of an unconventional choice. Brick Lane isn't a Farmers Market or Food Hall in itself but rather a vibrant street in London's Shoreditch neighborhood lined with fantastic Indian, Pakistani, and other ethnic cuisine. On weekends, outdoor stalls sell jerk chicken from steel drums, fresh squeezed juice and more. We also wandered into a market featuring at least 10 vendors serving up food from around the world, from Burmese, to Ethiopian, to Venezuelan. There are also a surprising number of crafts markets on Brick Lane, many featuring additional options for food and sweet treats.
I could have easily extended this list with several more choices (there are so many fantastic markets in Europe!) but I think I'll close here. What markets in Europe have you visited that you think justify a trip if only to take a peek?
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