(Super)Market Sweep: the Best Markets in the World

(Super)Market Sweep: the Best Markets in the World

One of the best ways to get to the heart of a place is to head to a local market for a spot of shopping. There’s nothing quite like the spectacle of frantic arm waving and price haggling as locals try (and sometimes fail) to bag themselves the best deals. From handcrafted ceramics and knitwear to the freshest food around, there’s a market to cater for your every want and need. Discover our list of the best markets in the world for top-notch atmosphere, authenticity and everything in between…


1. Grand Bazaar - Istanbul, Turkey
2. Pike Place Market - Seattle, USA
3. Nizwa Livestock Market - Nizwa, Oman
4. La Boqueria - Barcelona, Spain
5. Pisac Market - Pisac, Peru
6. Tsukiji Fish Market - Tokyo, Japan


Grand Bazaar

Istanbul, Turkey 

Kicking off our list of the best markets in the world is one of the largest and oldest covered markets: the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Here, you can find everything from jewellery to ceramics in the 4,000-plus shops. The Grand Bazaar lives up to its name; it boasts multiple fountains, hammams and a mosque (making it more like a mini city within a city than merely a market). It's so vast you never quite know what you're going to find around the next corner, and you can happily spend hours getting lost down its many alleys. So even if you don't trust your haggling skills, you can simply enjoy 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 in Seattle. This is where most locals head to buy their fresh goods, so make sure to stay out of the way of the 'real trade' going on while you're 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 unsuspecting customers. If the potent smell of fish becomes too much, head over to the flower stalls to enjoy the floral fragrance and row upon row of colourful blooms.



Nizwa Livestock Market

Nizwa, Oman 

Next up on our roundup of best markets in the world is something a little different. The ancient town of Nizwa in Oman bursts into life every Friday for the livestock market; farmers and traders travel from near and far 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, you need only walk around this market to get a feel for 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. 

Image by Martin Sasse/LAIF REA


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, where sellers 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 

Nestled in the Peruvian Andes is Pisac Market, visited by thousands of tourists each week. This is where to head to bag some cosy alpaca jumpers and other knitted goods (poncho, anyone?). Pisac is one of the best markets in the world for the sheer expanse of bright red, pink and orange hues which dominate the stalls. This colourful market isn't just for tourists, however. Inhabitants from nearby Indigenous Quechua communities travel here weekly to buy and sell their produce (a testament to the quality of the goods). Visit on a Sunday to see the local sellers, adorned in their vibrant clothing, set up in the main square selling an array of woven clothing, rugs and bags. 



Tsukiji Fish Market

Tokyo, Japan 

Last but not least on our list of the best markets in the world is Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, the world's biggest (and most likely busiest) wholesale fish and seafood market. Starting at 3am, this is one for the early risers. 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 as locals battle for 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. We recommend ending the visit with some fresh tuna sashimi for breakfast in one of the outer stalls.  

Header image by Zoe Fidji