It’s often said that the best way to immerse yourself in local culture and get a feel for unfamiliar territory is to head to the nearest market. Wherever in the world you find yourself, the marketplace is usually a safe bet for picking up genuine street foods, artisan wares and colourful souvenirs. From the shores of the Mediterranean to the backstreets of East Asia, here are a few world markets that are worth the trip alone.
There are almost too many choices to be had in this much-visited archipelago off West Africa, but the Teguise market is worth booking a holiday to Lanzarote for. Central Teguise also owns the title of oldest and largest market on the island, spread over several hundred stalls.
Selling anything from handmade jewellery to leather goods on sale, it’s a good option if you’re only allowing yourself one shopping trip on your holiday!
Over on the mainland lies one of the world’s most sought-after market experiences, among the thrust and noise of the Marrakech souk. If it’s your first visit, prepare to be overwhelmed by the indoor-outdoor warren of stalls and stores hidden within the winding streets of this historic walled city. Buy your fresh produce, oils and souvenirs during the day, but visit the souk at night for the fragrant and mouth-watering food market.
This market in Delhi more than lives up to its reputation for selling just about anything but fortunately for the visitor, this means the best of Indian textiles, marble and silver, all in one place. Delhi’s old-town main street forms the spine of the market, off which you’ll find multiple narrow lanes, brimming with pashminas, hand-finished paper and paintings. Again, the night-time market warrants a trip for the electrified atmosphere and cooler temperatures.
A vast patchwork of stalls make up Chatuchak Market in Bangkok numbering close to 5,000 in fact across 35 acres of allocated market space. One of the must-see attractions for every traveller, this market contains everything from religious idols to local crafts and steaming food stalls to the odd exotic animal (or two). It’s as popular with locals as tourists though, so you’re likely to be sharing the streets with a 200,000 strong crowd.
Whether they come to view the palatial structure which houses Santiago’s Mercado Central or sample the delights of local cuisine, visitors are drawn here in huge numbers. Beneath the intricate cast-iron roof, bakeries, delicatessens and grocers alike all sell their wares and some of the country’s finest chefs serve national-standard dishes at countless eateries.
Of course, no list is long enough to include all the worthy entries and places like Santa Fe in New Mexico, Melbourne in Australia and the Turkish capital, Istanbul, all deserve a mention for their world-class markets. It pays to look out for the local fare and have a taste wherever you go; and whether mingling with the locals or stocking up on souvenirs, the marketplace has become a unmissable part of the holiday experience.