You’re on vacay (lucky you!) and you’re famished. You could a) hit the nearest restaurant, or b) stroll down the endless stalls of a local street market. Hmmm…. If you choose a restaurant, you more or less know what you’re getting yourself into. But a street market? That’s where adventure begins!. So, if you ask us, wellll… we’d say the best way to experience a foreign place is to find a local market and take it all in. Here’s our pick for the best street markets in the world.
The Magic of Street Markets
If you’ve ever been to a street market, you know what we’re talking about—they’re kind of magical. They’re opportunities for locals to share their art, crafts, produce, you name it. It’s also a place to hang out, relax, and enjoy the sunshine. There’s an energy on the street that exudes into everyone who pops in for a visit.
Strolling the stalls gives you a sneak peek into the microcosm of the country. The people, the culture, the food, the vibe, the life. You’ll have the chance to buy directly from locals and sample authentic local flavors.
The Five Best Street Markets in the World
For each of the best street markets in the world mentioned below, we’ll cover the basics of what you’ll need to know. You’ll get the inside deets on the location of the market (duh), a must-try food stop, and a sneak peek at what you’ll likely see/experience. Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?
1. Marché d’Issigeac: Issigeac, France
While your first thought when you hear France might be… Paris (you’re not wrong)… the best markets require strolling to a quaint village. Good thing for you, France is full of these. Our recommendation is to go to Issigeac, the most charming medieval village… ever. It’s in the Dordogne, a region of southwest France in between the Pyrenees mountains and the Loire Valley. Known for its gastronomic heritage and as France’s duck and truffle capital, the Dordogne is the perfect area to explore French markets. Find the famous Issigeac market on Sundays by wandering practically anywhere in town (because the market quite literally fills up the whole town!).
Eat: Fromage. And wine, of course
Experience: An ancient town filled with romantic passageways. (Btw, here’s why French wine is sooooo good.)
Bonus market: We just love French markets so much that we’ve decided to throw in an extra one for you: Eymet. Every Thursday morning, you’ll find a lively market where you can get your fresh baguette, then sit by the Dropt river to enjoy it on a blanket. And if that’s not enough, they also have an exciting night market on Tuesday evenings in July and August. Music, french food, good vibes. Highly recommended.
Next: Join the Travel Yogi France Adventure to experience both of these incredible villages and markets. Plus, you’ll go to a wine tasting, a wine pairing class, and local farm-to-table meals.
2. Mercado de Mariscos: Panama City, Panama
You might want to check out one of Panama’s best fish markets to visit. You’ll see it all: squid, shrimp, oysters, clams, octopus, and fish you don’t know the names of. We recommend giving one of those a try; they’ll even filet the fish in front of you and wrap it to go.
Experience: The busy bustle of fishermen selling the catch of the day.
Next: Join us on our Panama Adventure and we’ll taste our way through Casco and wrap it all up at the aforementioned fish market (bonus!).
3. Mercado Lucas de Galvez: Mérida, México
This vibrant, colorful market is located in Mérida, the epicenter of Mayan culture and history, and a must-see for anyone heading to Mexico. Sounds like one of the best street markets in the world? Yeah. We agree. For a chance to smell and taste all the amazing spices used in Mexican cuisine, take a stroll through the packed market with overflowing tables of habañero peppers and be wowed.
Eat: Panuchos, tacos pastor, and sopa de lima
Experience: Smell fresh leather as a shoemaker makes you sandals from scratch.
4. Reykjavik Street Food Market: Reykjavik, Iceland
This two-day food festival is held three times a year in the summer. It’s really popular in Iceland (like really popular… like sometimes 10% of Iceland’s population shows up). So it’s a great opportunity to attend a market that is filled with Icelandic society and culture (aka it’s not just a market for tourists). When you’re there, you’ll be surrounded by over 50 local farmers and fishermen selling traditional foods like Kleinur (Icelandic donut), pysla (Icelandic hot dog), and Hákarl (Icelandic fermented shark—say what!).
Eat: Flatkaka Með Hangikjöti
Experience: Speak directly with Iceland’s best chefs right after taking a bite of their specialties.
Bonus market: For a more regularly occurring market, check out the Kolaportid flea market (open on weekends). You’ll find dried fish, licorice products, and even antiques, vintage clothes, and used books.
5. Mercado San Pedro: Cusco, Peru
Alpaca sweaters, pig heads, and spices are just a number of things you can find at this Peruvian street market. Find everything you’ll need for dinner, souvenirs for friends, and maybe a few stories to bring home. The majority of the market is focused on our favorite thing (food for immediate consumption), and it’s where a lot of locals eat because the prices are excellent. The rest is the other good stuff, like groceries, crafts, and more.
Eat: Causa rellena
Experience: The thrill of a negotiation done well while surrounded by locals doing the same thing.
Where To Next?
Whether you’re stumbling through one of the best street markets in the world and trying the local bests, watching a colorful parade pass by as you listen to music you can’t help but dance to, or lounging by the beach with a margarita in hand—travel is where we relax, play, and embrace life.
If you feel stressed about getting it right—you know, with itinerary planning and making sure you have the best experience physically possible and everything—the Travel Yogi can help you out. We design the most beautiful, relaxing, and enriching adventures for those that like a little spice. Get woken up by geckos, and a lot more on our trips. Explore all of our yoga adventures and dream up your next travel experience.