Union Square Greenmarket, USA
Open four days a week (8am–6pm), Union Square Greenmarket is a bundle of cute stalls that bring a taste of the countryside to the Big Apple. Farmers, bakers, grocers and fisherman sell their respective wares to chatty locals and tourists, who take serious pleasure in discussing the origin of their dinners.
St Lawrence Market, Canada
All-Canadian treats like peach pies, blueberry jams and peameal bacon sarnies bring the crowds to this wonderful farmers’ market on Saturdays (5am–5pm). Many merchants have sold their goods here over numerous generations, so you’re investing in heritage as well as quality when you take home that slice of strawberry tart or bag of freshly shucked oysters.
Kowloon City Wet Market, Hong Kong
The best way to start the day in Hong Kong is with brunch in Kowloon City Wet Market. Red bean coffee and satay beef slices with toast could be on the menu, while the more adventurous might try steamed hairy crabs on perilla leaves. Fancy a lie-in? Late afternoon is also a good time to hit up this bustling wet market, with market traders slashing prices of meats and fish – that’s dinner sorted, then.
Cai Rang Floating Market, VIetnam
Visiting the floating market in Cai Rang, southern Vietnam, is a must-do activity when in the Mekong Delta. A huge spread of produce is on sale from a fleet of brightly coloured boats, most advertising their wares from the top of a long pole attached to their vessel. The market starts early – 5am – and finishes by midday, so go in good time to get the very best goods.
La Boqueria, Spain
Just off Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s La Boqueria is surrounded by little tapas bars, where you can feast on tasty bites and throw back glasses of vino blanco. You’ll have a lively backdrop, too, as shoppers pick over piles of juicy fruit and crusty bread, drawing back, horrified, at the sight of skinned sheep and cows' eyeballs in the meat section.
Cours Saleya, France
Cheerful striped awnings line the length of chic Cours Saleya, Nice’s main shopping street, a quick walk from the sea. Along with flowers and lavender-scented soap, you’ll find a gorgeous spread of the very best produce from southern France, including croissants, spicy sausages, salty seafood and earthy mushrooms.
Tsukiji Fish Market, Japan
A strong stomach is a necessary attribute when visiting this pungent market in Tokyo, loaded with all sorts of marine beasties. If you can get in (tourist numbers are restricted or often banned altogether – check this before turning up), the live tuna auctions are worth witnessing. If not, one thing not to miss is a sushi breakfast – you’re in the right place, after all.
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, USA
The farmers’ market to end all farmers’ markets. Open three days a week in bustling San Francisco – Saturday is the best and busiest day – all produce is locally produced and organic, with great emphasis placed on sustainable agriculture and artisan recipes. The crowds queue up for fresh peaches, incredible jams, homemade chocolates and beautiful breads.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
A warren of 60 streets and over 5000 shops selling leather, jewellery, lamps, rugs and slippers, as well as exquisite culinary treats. Don’t miss the sweetie stalls selling sticky Turkish delight flavoured with rosewater, lemon and pistachio, spice shops piled high with yellow saffron, cinnamon sticks and fragrant mint, and you’re bound to find that archetypal Turkish snack, the kebab.
Borough Market, UK
It may heave with tourists (go early if you want to avoid the crush), but London's Borough’s market is popular for a reason. Housed beneath an attractive green building with open sides, the market is a who’s who of the best organic local suppliers and traders. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are sold alongside sweet pastries and strong coffee, while huge pots of steaming paella, hot pies and gallons of refreshing punch attract the lunchtime rush.
Mercado Central, Chile
This place is most definitely for seafood lovers. Chile’s long coastline yields incredible numbers of delicious fish and shellfish, and most species are on sale here in Santiago’s main indoor market. Slippery conger eels, silver sea bass, spikey sea urchins, iridescent abalone…the list of fishy treats is endless.
Kreta Ayer Wet Market, Singapore
Squeamish buyers look away now. Singapore’s Kreta Ayer Wet Market in Chinatown doesn’t just do inanimate produce…expect live eels, frogs and snakes among the melons and roasted pork. Upstairs, above the main stall area, is a hawker centre, where diners settle down over local delicacies – including those (now dead) frogs and snakes.
English Market, Ireland
A venerable indoor market dating from 1788, Cork's English Market is undoubtedly a tough cookie, witnessing – and surviving – famines, revolution, wars, fire and more recently economic decline. On offer today are delicious tangy Irish cheeses like Crozier Blue and Ardrahan, top-quality Irish meats, and the finest Irish salmon and shellfish.
Kauppatori Market, Finland
Helsinki’s cobbled square on the waterside hosts a bustling market, with wooden stalls heaving with local fish specialties like smoked salmon and pickled herring, fresh fruits including sweet blueberries and cloudberries, and the obligatory Finnish meat, reindeer. Just watch out for the seagulls, who keep a beady and somewhat menacing eye on tasty snacks clasped in your hands.