10 Food Markets From Around The World That Inspire Wanderlust

When you're exploring other countries, the local food markets are the perfect place to experience the bridge between culture and cuisine. Usually centrally located in a city or town, they're a great way to gather new recipes, learn regional culinary practices, and discover new-to-you spices, cheeses, baked goods, and seafood selections. You can also find souvenirs, handmade crafts, textiles, art, and jewelry. 

The world's food markets pay homage to a region's history through agriculture, art, and architecture. Wrought-iron structures, domed and decorative ceilings, bright stalls, and city-like set-ups accent indoor and open-air markets. These extensive culinary complexes sit on acres of prime property. It's easy to spend hours perusing the colorful and overflowing aisles, sampling regional delicacies, and picking out items to take home (or enjoy right on the spot). You're likely to be inspired to recreate authentic dishes at home or just infuse some of those local herbs and spices into your current culinary line-up. 

We've scoured the internet reading numerous review sites and articles to select 10 of the top international food markets in the word to inspire your culinary wanderlust. Although we can't guarantee a seat on a plane anytime soon, wherever you're flying to next make it a point to stop by one of these food markets. 

1. Castries Market, Castries, St. Lucia

From Food & Wine to National Geographic, Castries Market consistently makes the list of top food markets travelers should have on their radar. With more than 300 vendors, Castries is the largest market on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. In this vibrant and colorful market, pick up a bag of local fruits like guavas, papayas, coconuts, and bananas. Sample some fresh-caught fish like tuna, snapper, or mahi and find spices such as cocoa sticks, and vanilla essence — you might even want to try the local banana ketchup. You can also sample prepared food reflecting the African, French, and Indian cultures of the island, including specialties like the local stew (called bouillon) which comes with various meats, lambi (conch meat), and green figs and saltfish — the national food of the island. 

Built in 1891, Castries Market is open every day except for Sunday. You'll find it in the capital's city center near the cruise ship terminal at Castries Harbour. The market is covered, so those quick Caribbean afternoon showers shouldn't be a problem. Stop by after a day of hiking the Pitons, braving the drive-in volcano at Soufrieres, or lounging along one of St. Lucia's soft sand beaches. 

2. Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi, India

India's colorful and bustling bazaars are a cultural port of call whether you're searching for spices, fruit, or paneer. Chandni Chowk, built in the 17th century, is one of India's oldest and largest retail and wholesale markets spreading across many streets in Old Dehli. When you imagine a traditional spice market, this is the scene you're likely to picture. Open every day except for Sunday, Chandni Chowk is located near the Jama Masjid mosque, the historic walls of the Red Fort, and the Yamuna River.

Chandni Chowk features the largest spice market in Asia called Khari Baoli where cloves, turmeric, jeera (cumin) and mirch (made from red capsicums and red chilies) as well as fresh herbs like reetha abound. Take in the wide range of food vendors where you can try north Indian cuisine like parantha, ghee patista, lassi, and chicken mughlai. You'll also find clothing, designer fabrics, intricate lace and tapestries, silver jewelry, housewares, decorative lights and lanterns, cameras, and electronics.

3. Cours Saleya, Nice, France

The Cours Saleya located in the French Riviera city of Nice started as the first ever wholesale flower market back in 1897 and now combines multiple markets into one convenient venue by mixing the beauty and tradition of fresh-cut flowers with the colorful arrangements of local French produce. The Cours Saleya contains (among others) a flower market, a fruits and vegetables market, an antiques/flea market, a fish market, and a seasonal evening market. The antiques market is only open on Mondays, at which time the food and flower markets are not open. 

Walkways lined with flowers and striped awnings lend a vibrant accent to the colorful fruits and vegetables, which comprise the largest part of the outdoor market. Shop for honey, Mediterranean spices, French breads, olives, nuts, fresh fish, and more. The Cours Saleya is located near the bell tower and Baroque architecture of the 17th-century Cathedral Sainte-Répárte de Nice, the Museum of Photography Charles Nègre, and the golden sand beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.

4. KaDeWe, Berlin, Germany

If you're craving wurst, cheese, bread, or German riesling, you'll find all of it and more at Kadewe. Located on the sixth floor of a department store, the Kaufhaus des Westens (or KaDeWe), features food stands and vendors selling upwards of 34,000 items. Shop for lobsters, champagne, 1,500 varieties of meat, 1,800 kinds of cheese, jams, Kobe beef, macarons, and oysters. If you want to learn the differences between bratwurst, leberwurst, weisswurst, and oh, about a thousand others, this is the place to go. 

This extravagant food hall dates to 1956, but the department store has been around since 1907. Fun fact: KaDeWe is Europe's second-largest department store (after Harrods in London, of course). The seventh-floor wintergarten, a sunroom type of venue constructed of gleaming glass and steel, also offers a culinary scene of food stalls, restaurants, and cozy bars where you can enjoy authentic German dishes such as wienerschnitzel and Berlin currywurst. KaDeWe is conveniently near the Berlin Zoo, the Berlin Aquarium, and a short drive to the 18th-century Brandenburg Gate.

5. Mercado Central, Santiago, Chili

Opened in 1872 to replace a former wholesale market that was destroyed in 1864, Mercado Central is the place to sample Chile's wide variety of seafood. The fish market is the highlight of this festive indoor market, and you can find a variety of fresh seafood such as salmon, hake, and king crab. Located in downtown Santiago, near the Plaza de Armas and the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, Mercado Central serves as a good example of Chilean neoclassical architecture.  

Mercado Central is open every day, so there's always a chance to discover new flavors, fragrances, and textures of traditional Chilean cuisine. Check out small cafés, the fish market, produce stalls, and a crafts market while trying local dishes like locos (Chilean abalone), seafood paella, paila marina (a seafood stew), or au gratin razor clams. The lunch hour is usually the busiest, but what a fun way to experience a new culture among locals and other travelers. 

6. Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

One of Andrew Zimmern's Top 15 Food Markets Around the World, Pike Place Market opened in 1907 and sits on nine acres in downtown Seattle. If it's related in any way, shape, or form to the culinary world, you're sure to find it here. Farmers, crafters, and specialty food vendors sell flowers, fruit, vegetables, cheese, wine, gourmet popcorn, and baked goods. Pike Place Fish Market, home at Pike Place since 1930, offers sustainable Pacific Northwest seafood like king salmon and halibut. The spectacle of fish throwing, where the fishmongers throw frozen fish to each other while filling customer orders, is one of the more unique aspects of the lively market scene.

A wide selection of restaurants offer Chinese, French, Brazilian, and Mexican cuisine. Visit candy, chocolate, and ice cream stands for sweet treats. Along with the fantastic array of food and beverage choices, the lively venue features street performers, antique vendors, and souvenir stands with Washington state items.

7. Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, Australia

Opened in 1878, Queen Victoria Market is located in Melbourne's central business district near the Melbourne Museum, the University of Melbourne, and the Royal Exhibition Building. The open-air market has covered areas and more than 600 vendors selling flowers, honey, eggs, seafood, Italian sausage, Australian specialties, and local fruits and vegetables like apples, lychee, watermelon, and pears. Queen Victoria Market is open every day except for Monday and Wednesday (there is a seasonal market that operates on Wednesdays in the evening).

A newly renovated food hall offers choices such as tapas, oysters, coffee, burgers, Japanese savory pancakes, and kebabs. Check out the Italian, Mediterranean, and Parisian bakeries to get your fill of croissants, cannolis, and baklava. There's a Sunday wine market and opportunities to take cooking classes, food tours, and educational tours. Head to the night market, held in the summer and winter months, for live music and entertainment, pop-up bars, and outdoor seating.

8. Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Reading Terminal Market has been a foodieblog favorite in the City of Brotherly Love since 1893. Regional farms provide free-range poultry, eggs, milk, and organic meats while other vendors sell seafood, baked goods, and honey as well as jewelry, apparel, and houseware items. Enjoy prepared foods that make Philly famous, such as the Philly cheesesteak, the classic hoagie, and savory tomato pie. Chow down on Amish, Mennonite, and other Pennsylvania Dutch specialties like apple dumplings, scrapple, chicken and waffles, creamy mashed potatoes, or shoo-fly pie.

Situated on a slab of land between the Delaware River and the Schuylkill River, Reading Terminal Market is conveniently located near the Liberty Bell, the Museum of the American Revolution, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art where you can recreate Rocky to your heart's content. Reading Terminal Market is open daily, but the Pennsylvania Dutch merchants are only open Wednesday through Saturday.

9. Spice Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Known officially as the Egyptian Bazaar, Istanbul's Spice Bazaar is a dazzling sensation of color, fragrance, and lively ambiance. It was built in 1664 and is one of the most famous covered bazaars in the world. While you won't find a lot in the way of fresh fruit and produce, you will discover spices like saffron, star anise, pul biber (red pepper flakes), sumac, and sweat treats like lokum (more commonly known as sweet and colorful Turkish delight). You can also find dried fruits, jasmine tea, sea salts, caviar, and honey.

Popular among locals and travelers, foodieblogs can buy the seasonings needed to create authentic Turkish recipes like kisir, mercimek kofte, perde pilav, and hamsili pilav. Featuring Ottoman architecture, the famous Spice Bazaar is near the Hagia Sophia in the Eminonu District. This port city has stunning views of the Golden Horn, the largest natural harbor in the world, and the beautifully blue Sea of Marmara.

10. St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, Canada

The St. Lawrence Market is a must-visit culinary destination in Ontario, Canada. Established in 1803, it sits along the harbor of Lake Ontario near the CN Tower. Shop for baked goods, pickles, fresh fruit, tea and coffee, European-style bread, New Zealand honey, and Canadian products like maple syrup, mustard, and sausages. Monogram at the Market Kitchen features culinary classes and demonstrations. Sign up to learn about Tuscan, Thai, and other global cuisines.

There are three main indoor market buildings for all things cuisine. The South Market has more than 120 vendors selling fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and baked items. The North Market, which dates to 1803 when it first began hosting the Saturday Farmers' Market, is the place to shop for seasonal produce. On Sundays, it's an antique outlet. St. Lawrence Hall, built in 1850, features event space for weddings, receptions, and other special culinary occasions.

Methodology

We've perused the internet and scoured reviews to find globe-spanning food markets that feature a variety of cuisines, ingredients, produce, and other culinary-related items. We've also pored over our favorite travel sites to bring you these wanderlust-inducing foodieblog gems. We take all the credit, but none of the responsibility, for what this list might inspire you to do with your credit card. Bon voyage and, most importantly, bon appétit!

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