A vendor peers out the window of his stall on Wangfujing Snack Street in Beijing, China.

10 great food markets around the globe

History, culture, and cuisine mix at these distinctive and tasty destinations.

A vendor peers out the window of his stall on Wangfujing Snack Street in Beijing, China.
Photograph by zechina / Alamy Stock Photo

Around the world, food markets create a place for community gathering and nourishment and they allow visitors to immerse themselves in the culture and history of their destinations, all while serving up delectable—and often adventurous—culinary treats. These 10 open-air markets, soaring food halls, and colorful bazaars are wonderful places to savor in local flavor and discover inspiring ingredients.

Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

Officially known as the Egyptian Bazaar, this centuries-old Istan­bul market is home to dozens of enthusiastic vendors selling exotic spices. Bring home lemony sumac and spicy Urfa biber, as well as other tasty souvenirs from tea to Turkish delight (lokum). 

Castries Market in Castries, St. Lucia

This colorful Caribbean market is filled with tropical fruits and vegetables, including breadfruit, jambu, and soursop, as well as island-grown spices. Coconut water straight from a young coco­nut is a particular treat.

Old Market Hall and Kaup­patori Market Square in Helsinki, Finland 

The vendors of Helsinki’s iconic Kauppatori Market Square serve up herring seaside as they hawk Finn­ish meat pastries. Nearby, inside the renovated Old Market Hall, artisan breads, smoked meats, and classic sweets are on offer.

Wangfujing Snack Street in Beijing, China

Packed with food stalls, souvenir stands, and candy shops, this narrow alley presents a dizzying array of popular snacks from all corners of China. Daring foodies can sample skewered scorpions, fried insects, and even seahorses.

Central Market Hall in Budapest, Hungary

The splendid architecture of Budapest’s largest market hall, open daily except for Sundays, is no rival for its selection of Hungarian classics—sausages, Tokaj wine, and paprika. There are three stories to explore; the second floor holds handcrafted souvenirs and a popular lángos (savory fried dough) stand.

Borough Market in London, England

London’s Borough Market traces its history back to the 13th cen­tury. Modern-day shoppers come for high-end produce and meats, storied producers like Neal’s Yard Dairy, and lunch options that range from Scotch eggs to paella to boureka (baked stuffed pastry).

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Canada

Saturday is farmers market day in downtown Toronto, a tradition dating back to 1803, held along­side 120 specialty food and craft vendors. Save room for a peameal bacon sandwich, a local specialty.

Ferry Building in San Francisco, California

You can make an amazing meal by grazing through the restaurants and gourmet food vendors of the Ferry Building every day of the week. But Saturdays, when the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market surrounds the building, offer the real feast.

Mercado de la Merced in Mexico City, Mexico

The first thing you notice at Mer­cado de la Merced is its size: the equivalent of about eight city blocks filled with chilies, cactus fruit, cha­pulines (grasshoppers), and innu­merable other Mexican ingredients.

Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo’s wholesale fish market— the world’s largest—has moved to the new Toyosu Market, but the bustling outer market at Tsukiji remains and is still a highlight for sushi lovers. Find freshly sliced sashimi among 300-plus shops and restaurants (generally closed on Sundays and Wednesdays).

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