At the top of every traveller’s bucket list are impressive architectural monuments, historical landmarks and natural wonders. The best markets and bazaars around the world might seem underwhelming in comparison. But these buzzy shopping hubs are the unsung heroes of travel. No matter where you are, markets and bazaars are the most incredible way to immerse yourself into the local culture. So they should absolutely be on your bucket list!
Amidst the bustle of a market, travellers can rub shoulders with friendly locals, sample regional delicacies, barter for traditional handicrafts, or simply absorb the frenetic atmosphere. The number of these incredible shopping districts dotted around every continent is dizzying. That’s why we’ve curated this guide to the best markets and bazaars around the world. They are a must-visit for your next adventure.
Grand Bazaar – Istanbul, Turkey
This covered bazaar from the 15th century is glorious in its architectural detail. With domed ceilings and tiled walls, every step amongst the shops and mosques of the Grand Bazaar is a feast for the eyes. It’s no wonder that the 4000+ stores here attract up to half a million visitors each day. A sure sign that it is one of the best bazaars to visit.
Under the Turkish architecture, travellers can enjoy bartering for all manner of local treasures. Find rows of stalls offering traditional patterned rugs, a rainbow of filigreed chandeliers, and hand painted Ottoman ceramics. For the full Turkish shopping experience, travellers can expect to sip tea with shopkeepers who chat like old friends.
Experience the Grand Bazaar, one of the best bazaars around the world, with Trafalgar on the Best of Turkey tour.
Market of San Miguel – Madrid, Spain
The Market of San Miguel is one of the best markets around the world to experience cuisine from all corners of Spain. Located amongst Madrid’s famous attractions, this maze of Spanish gourmets is unmissable. Considered one of the best markets to visit in Madrid, the Market of San Miguel is not simply for grocery shopping. Spaniards and tourists alike come here to celebrate life amongst food and family.
Around every corner, thirsty travellers will find the best of Spanish bebidas (drinks). It’s the perfect excuse to down cups of zesty cava, fruity sangria and purple Tempranillo wine before noon. Foodies can spend the afternoon eating their way through the market, devouring tapas and pintxos at every turn. The flavours and aromas of melt-in-your-mouth Jamon from Galicia and salty Manchego will be too irresistible to avoid.
Jemaa, el-Fnaa, Marrakech, Morocco
Jemaa el-Fnaa is the first UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, a great indicator that it is one of the best of the markets and bazaars around the world. This crowded souk (marketplace) is the beating heart of the Medina in Marrakech.
With each step, a new marvel reveals itself. Down chaotic alleys, find colourful stalls brimming with traditional Moroccan rugs and glassware at rock bottom prices. The real treasure, however, is the ruby-red saffron. Finding a legitimate seller amongst the hawkers of faux goods is all part of the fun.
Seek respite from the hordes upon one of the many restaurant balconies overlooking the central plaza. Here, travellers can recharge over traditional Moroccan mint tea loaded with sugar. Then, as the sun goes down, watch as vibrant musicians and dancers light up the streets in an exciting cultural display.
See the chaos of the Jemaa el-Fnaa when you travel with Trafalgar on the Best of Morocco tour.
Munich Christkindlmarkt – Munich, Germany
The Munich Christkindlmarkt is one of the best markets around the world. It lies upon the medieval stonework of the Marienplatz, making it ideal for travellers who seek romance over adventure. In this central square, the tunes of carollers float through the air, and thousands of twinkling lights adorn a giant Christmas tree.
With a cup of Glühwein (German mulled wine) in hand, patrons flood the stalls searching for unique Christmas presents. The shops here are laden with artisanal wares and handicrafts in the German tradition. Popular items include hand-painted baubles and glowing paper stars. The Munich Christkindlmarkt is one of the best markets to visit for shopping alone. However, if all that present hunting works up an appetite, we recommend trying wurst. This savoury treat is a traditional German sausage grilled on a twisting Schwenkgrill, and it will quickly become your new favourite snack!
Enjoy the splendour of the Munich Christmas markets with Trafalgar on the Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland tour.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – Ratchaburi, Thailand
This floating market to the south of Bangkok is one of the best bazaars around the world! Instead of the typical stalls seen at ordinary markets, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a mishmash of narrow canals packed with boat vendors. In fact, the water network here is described as the ‘Venice of the East’ because of how busy it is.
At this lively market, travellers can observe and take part in the traditional Thai way of trade. Our favourite foods to buy on the water are the mini coconut pancakes and the richly flavoured boat noodles. If you prefer to eat on solid ground, small local restaurants line the banks touting piping hot pad thai.
Camden Market – London, England
Camden Market is an eclectic collection of six markets with a collective offering of multi-cultural delights and counter-cultural finds. Travellers on a tight schedule will want to make time for Camden Lock Market. Not only is it the best of the Camden Markets, but it is also the place where it all began in 1972.
The Camden Lock Market is characterised by independent artisans. Every seller in Camden Lock is unique. Within the market’s walls is a diverse array of handcrafted jewellery, accessories and fashion to suit every taste. The fun doesn’t end there, though; stalls sell anything from retro vinyl records to re-loved furniture are also present.
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Have you been to any of the markets and bazaars mentioned on this list? Which one are you most excited to visit next? Let us know in the comments! Or, head to our website so you can read more about how you can discover the best bazaars and markets around the world when you travel with Trafalgar.