Sometimes the best way to really get to the heart of a place is by heading to a local market for a spot of shopping. Witnessing the various ways that locals try and bag themselves the best deals, with frantic arm waving and price haggling, is often something quite extraordinary. So, here are our favourite markets from around the world, where you can get yourself the best souvenirs and the freshest food around, as well as witnessing some brilliantly unique interactions.
Grand Bazaar - Istanbul, Turkey
Barter your way around one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world: the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, where you can find everything from jewellery to ceramics. This market is more than just 'Grand', as it features more than 4,000 shops, multiple fountains and hammans and a mosque, making it more like a city within a city. It's so vast you never quite know what you are going to find around the next corner, so you can spend hours happily getting lost down its many alleys. Even if you don't back your haggling skills, you can enjoy just exploring.
Pike Place Market - Seattle, USA
The iconic red neon sign reading 'Public Market Centre' marks the entrance to the 110-year old Pike Place Market. This is where most Seattle locals head to buy their fresh goods, so make sure to stay out of the way of the 'real trade' going on while you are busy taking it all in. The fish market is one of the most popular areas and is known for the tradition of fishmongers throwing fish at totally unsuspecting customers. If the potent smell of fish becomes too much, head over to the flower stalls, where you'll find row upon row of colourful blooms.
Nizwa Livestock Market - Nizwa, Oman
The ancient town of Nizwa bursts into life on Fridays for the weekly livestock market when farmers and traders travel from all ends of the country to trade their animals, much as they have done for centuries. While you're unlikely to actually be purchasing a goat or cow to take home with you, you only need to walk around this market to soak up its atmosphere. And it's not just livestock that's up for sale here, wander to another corner of the market and you might find yourself more tempted by some fresh honey, or perhaps the Omani textiles.
La Boqueria - Barcelona, Spain
La Boqueria covered market, found right in the centre of Las Ramblas, is unmissable on any trip to Barcelona. You can find almost any fresh food under the sun here, including a mix of delicious cured meats, a colourful array of fruit and vegetables and a mouth-watering selection of sweets and chocolates. Head to the fruit section and sellers can make smoothies right in front of you using whichever ingredients you choose. When the chaos (and your hunger) gets too much, head to one of the many restaurant stalls at the back and sit down to enjoy some deliciously fresh tapas for lunch.
Pisac Market - Pisac, Peru
Pisac Market, in the Peruvian Andes, is visited by tourists in their thousands each week. This is where to head to bag yourself some cosy alpaca jumpers and all manner of other knitted goods (poncho anyone?). The market is awash with bright colours, with reds and oranges dominating the stalls selling woven clothing, rugs and bags. This market isn't just for tourists though, as people from nearby indigenous Quenchua communities come here to buy and sell their produce weekly. Visit on a Sunday and the local sellers will set up on the floor in the main square in their colourful clothing selling their goods.
Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan
Tsukiji Fish Market is the world's biggest, and most likely busiest, wholesale fish and seafood market. This is one for the early risers as it starts at 3am, and if you want the chance to witness the famous tuna auction, you'll have to get there at around this time to beat the crowds. During the auction, huge tuna are laid out on ice before the frenzied fish selling begins and locals try to bag themselves the freshest catch. While it's unlikely you'll be making a purchase in this particular section of the market, there's plenty more to see here, and you can end the visit with some fresh tuna sashimi for breakfast from one of the outer stalls.