You can get a real feel for a place and have some of the best local experiences in the world’s top street markets. Street markets have been the center of commerce for centuries and offer an assault on all the senses. The sights, the smells and sounds of the best street markets around the world introduce us to the new, the old, the unusual, the odd, the familiar – things to sniff, things to squeeze and stroke, things to admire and of course, things to spend our hard-earned pennies on. Here’s just some of the top street markets.
When you think of top street markets, India is certainly one of the first places to come to mind, with Delhi playing host to numerous well-known markets. The most popular street market in Delhi, however, is Chandni Chowk, located in the neighborhood of the same name. The status of this outstanding street market stems firstly from the fact that it has existed for a number of centuries, and secondly, from the fact that you can buy basically anything there, whether it be clothes made to order or exotic foods. Let’s not forget this is Delhi, so don’t expect nicely laid out stalls and gentle shopping! Expect shambolic chaos which is completely amazing.
One of London’s major tourist attractions, the Camden Lock Market offers everything from furniture to clothing. Unlike most of the world’s other top street markets, however, Camden Lock Market sets itself apart by incorporating special events, such as art shows, comedy events and concerts into its annual schedule, with bands such as Mumford & Sons and Foo Fighters having performed there in the past. Sprawling around the lock’s moorings along the banks of the canal and overflowing antique buildings, Camden Market is one of the most colorful experiences in London.
Although a farmers market doesn’t exactly sound like it belongs on a list of the world’s top street markets, the Portland Farmers Market has certainly earned its place. This huge bustling marketplace offers just about every fruit, vegetable, meat and seafood known to man, including many that are normally extremely difficult to find. If you like your markets with more colors on display than NY Fashion Week, you’ll adore Portland and it surely is one of the best farmers markets anywhere.
As the world’s oldest market, the Rialto Market in Venice is without question one of the world’s best street markets. It is also said to be one of the most “atmospheric” marketplaces in the world and an absolute tourist “must do”; if only to see the stunning Rialto Bridge, which dates back to the 1500s. Visitors to the marketplace will be amazed by the quality and quantity of fresh produce and seafood on show, and may even see a few specimens that they’ve never seen before! Sprawling between cloistered walkways, and down stepped streets, you’ll even find produce available on moored gondolas, more akin to the floating markets of South East Asia.
The Shilin Night Market holds the prestigious title of being the largest of Taipei’s night markets, and has expanded rapidly in size in recent years, spilling further and further out into the streets. The main draw card of the Shilin Night Markets is said to be its large, lively food court, which serves everything from fried buns to bubble tea. Shopaholics need not worry, however, as the market also incorporates a multitude of non-food related stalls and shops.
La Boqueria Market in Barcelona is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most fantastic street markets from a food lover’s perspective. Foodies not only have the option of browsing and buying all sorts of food, but they can also learn to cook thanks to a fabulous culinary school, which is located directly on the market grounds. If food is not really a priority for you, however, the market is still worth seeing, if only to experience the amazing atmosphere it has to offer.
St. Lawrence Market in Toronto has to be one of the world’s most interesting and best street markets, owing to the combination of fresh produce, history, art and cultural exhibitions, handcrafts and antiques (just to name a few things that you could expect to see there). On Saturdays the market increases in size, with an exciting farmers market bringing in the bargain hunting locals and tourists alike.
Anyone who has ever travelled to Thailand can appreciate the amazing street market culture which exists there, with countless outstanding markets spread across the country. The largest of these markets (by a significant margin) is the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which caters to over 200,000 people per day on weekends. Visitors to the marketplace have the opportunity to buy just about anything under the sun, with everything from live animals to antiques on show. The only worry that travelers may have is finding their way out once they’re finished shopping, as the marketplace covers over 35 acres, all of which are filled with stalls, food vendors and displays!
The best street markets are scattered all over the world. Whether it’s your local farmers market in a car lot or a massive sprawl across city streets, there’s so much to see and experience. Where's your favorite food market?