No matter where I travel, I always end up in some sort of market. Whether it’s a weekend market or the kind that only begin after sunset, I’m in there. They’re the perfect place for discovery – to get a feel for the culture, interact with locals, pick up handmade goods, and try exotic foods. I’ve found that each market offers something unique and special and that’s why they’ll always top my itinerary. I’m shining the spotlight on these 5 amazing food markets in Europe and why I think you’ll love them.
FOODHALLEN – AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
While on the hunt for Dutch eats in Amsterdam, I noticed there was a lot of international fare. Turns out Amsterdam is one of the most multicultural cities in the world which would explain all the Indonesian, Mediterranean, and even Mexican restaurants on the scene. Check out Foodhallen, a huge industrial warehouse where you can sample dishes from all over the world. I’m not even ashamed to say I went to Amsterdam and ate Korean fried chicken. Keep cash handy, though, as they didn’t take American credit cards when I visited. My only complaint is that I didn’t eat enough food!
TIME OUT MERCADO DA RIBEIRA – LISBON, PORTUGAL
Mercado da Riberia is what happens when some of Lisbon’s best chefs come together under one roof. The whole concept of the market is to create a space where patrons can eat high quality food at low price-points, which I feel they definitely accomplished through communal seating and the 30+ food stalls. Whether you’re looking for spicy chicken and salt cod to espresso and Portuguese egg custards, Mercado da Ribeira serves it. In fact, the food was so good that I went twice in a row! The market has a pretty interesting history too – it used to be a premier fish market and is now owned by Time Out.
CENTRAL MARKET HALL – BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
I stumbled upon this Hungarian market after getting suck in a rainstorm. It turned out to be the perfect place to take cover. The first floor of the market is packed with vendors selling fresh produce, meats, pastries, paprika (a dominant spice in Hungary) and many other goods. I’ll admit, the smell is a little overbearing at first but you’ll adjust after a while. Just a level up, you’ll find tons of souvenirs and a few traditional restaurants. Though I prepared myself for overpriced mediocrity, Fakanal truly surprised me and I happily stuffed my face with some of the best goulash I had in Budapest.
MERCAT CENTRAL – VALENCIA, SPAIN
Mercat Central is one of the few markets that I’ve visited and felt like it wasn’t created just to draw tourists in. That’s the beauty of it. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth a trip to see locals carrying on with daily life – buying fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, seafood, and taking their pick of assorted meats. For just a euro, you can buy some ham to snack on as you walk around the market. Weather permitting, it would be the perfect place to pick up a few items to have your own picnic.
MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL – MADRID, SPAIN
The one piece of advice I’d like to give you before visiting Mercado De San Miguel is that you need to be ready to eat. The market is chock full of freshly prepared Spanish tapas and an expansive selection of drinks. Get your jamón ibérico fix, eat a few (or a dozen) stuffed olives, and order some paella. It can get pretty crowded, so try to go on a weekday for lunch if you want to grab a table. The atmosphere is casual and it definitely helps that the market is housed in a beautiful building in Madrid’s center.
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What are your favorite markets in Europe? Do you like to visit local markets when you travel?
Tiffany is travel + lifestyle blogger aiming to inspire globally minded millennial women to escape the mundane (if only for a moment), embrace their inner wanderlust, and to boldly live life on their own terms. You can find more of her tip and experiences on her blog.