The Best Food Markets Around the World: Explore Local Cuisine and Flavors

There’s something special about going to a food market where you can really feel like you’re a part of a community. It’s not like going to one of the large grocery store chains where everything comes with fluorescent lighting and over-the-top packaging with prices that have been predetermined by someone in an office that you’ll never meet.

At food markets, you get to pick from the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and much more. With that said, many of the major cities around the world have at least a small food market that brings in locals and tourists alike, but not all of them are built the same. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best food markets around the world and what makes them so special.

St. Lawrence Market (Toronto, Canada)

In 1845, Toronto built a city hall but abandoned it at the turn of the century, allowing for the establishment of the world-famous St. Lawrence Market. With two floors and a massive renovation in the 1970s, this market sort of gives off the feel of a shopping mall except everything is fresh food. There are dozens of options and more than 111,000 square feet.

Mercado De La Merced (Mexico City, Mexico)

While La Merced Market is still massive to the point where it’s the largest retail market in the city, it one time took up an entire neighborhood. This market is a great place to get some of the best spices in the world and some of the best street food that anyone could ask for. Tourists tend to flock to La Merced when they want cheap food options compared to some of the pricey resorts.

Borough Market (London, United Kingdom)

London has a long history of food markets, and Borough Market is among the oldest that you’ll find in all of Europe. The history of Borough Market goes back to the early 11th century and it became more and more of a hub as the centuries rolled on. Though there was a decline in visitors and sellers during the end of the 20th century, Borough Market has been revitalized to its former glory.

Kashgar Market (Kashgar, China)

The only drawback of this market is that you can only visit once per week. Every Sunday, Kashgar Market sees thousands of people both locally and from the surrounding area come to purchase silk, livestock, jewelry, and much more. Kashgar Market is a true hub and has been one of the most important economic factors for the city as a whole. 

Union Square Greenmarket (New York City, USA)

As the largest city in the United States, there are plenty of options to pick from when looking for a farmers’ market, but the Union Square Greenmarket takes the top spot. Founded in the mid-1970s, Union Square is open four days a week and the number of vendors can reach well into the 100s during the busiest parts of the year.

Mercado Central (Santiago, Chile)

Santiago was once home to the world-famous Plaza del Abasto during the mid-19th century, but a fire left a gaping hole for a market. With that, Mercado Central de Santiago was opened in 1872 and still looks gorgeous to this day. With two floors that are open year-round, it’s home to some of the best options in all of South America, and in fact, is the only market from the continent on the list.

Or Tor Kor Market (Bangkok, Thailand)

Bangkok, like New York City, has a seemingly endless amount of markets to choose from, with Or Tor Kor Market being the top choice. This wet market has some food that brings in people from all over the country, and you better come hungry. The massive food court has so many options that you’ll want to sample them all, so it can be hard to knock everything out in just one day.

Rue Mouffetard Market (Paris, France)

The Rue Mouffetard neighborhood of Paris is one of the busiest on a daily basis, and the market plays a huge role in that. Open every day of the week except Mondays, the fresh food you can find in this market is some of Europe’s best, especially if you’re a cheese fan. That’s because Rue Mouffetard has more than 200 different types while offering a unique experience for visitors.

Spice Bazaar (Istanbul, Turkey)

Istanbul’s most beautiful market is the Spice Bazaar located in the Eminonu quarter. Originally opened in 1660, the Spice Bazaar has undergone a lot of changes over the centuries, and now has more than 80 shops that are dedicated to spices while there are others that sell fruits, jewelry, and much more.

English Market (Cork, Ireland)

Open every day except Sunday, the English Market originally opened in 1788 and has been regarded by many to be the best in all of the United Kingdom. Known primarily for fresh fish and meat, there’s a lot to choose from at English Market including bakeries, fresh produce, and wine.

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