Food markets are the easiest, tastiest and pocket-friendly way to get an instant flavor of your holiday destination. If you like to search for your short breaks abroad based on the taste experiences in store; follow my guide to Europe’s top 5 food markets – with a twist!
The posh one – Time Out Mercado da Riberia (Lisbon, Portugal)
Perfect for: travellers with a taste for haute cuisine
[responsive-image id=’2039′ align=’right’ caption=”]Lisbon’s Mercado da Riberia has been a living, breathing market since the 13th Century. Fast-forward to present day and the arrival of worldwide attractions guide, Time Out, who have transformed part of the space into a year-round luxury food market – complete with wooden tables and stools. Here, the capital’s most famous names in food and drink recreate their signature dishes for a fraction of the price. Visit at midday and dedicate an entire afternoon to the perfect Portuguese tastes: Ginja (wild cherry liqueur), gourmet hamburgers, a queijo da Serra cheese and Santini ice cream. Stay at: Guincho, Portugal (33 km from Lisbon).
(Time Out Mercado da Riberia, Avenida 24 de Julho 49, Lisbon. Open 10 am – 2 am)
The meaty one – Grillstock (Manchester, UK)
Perfect for: travellers who like their street food seriously filthy
[responsive-image id=’2037′ align=’left’ caption=”]Vegetarians: look away now. Grillstock is a food-meets-booze-meets-music event that celebrates American BBQ and its culture. The first meat-fest took place in Bristol in 2010, but it wasn’t long before Manchester sunk its teeth into things. At the centre of this holy union of meat and craft beer you can expect pimped out hot dogs (complete with swiss cheese and caramelised onions), pork scratchings by the cone, and endless racks of ribs – be sure to hang around for free samples! Last year, visitors chowed down on 9 tonnes of meat in two days – fancy helping make it 10 in 2015?
(Grillstock, Albert Square, Manchester. Sat May 30 – Sun May 31st 2015)
The spicy one – Spice Bazaar (Istanbul, Turkey)
Perfect for: travellers looking for a treat for all of the senses
The Spice Bazaar – Istanbul’s second largest market – is known locally as ‘The Egyptian Bazaar’; a name derived from the 17th Century shipping journey goods went on from India and South-East Asia to Egypt, before reaching Istanbul via the Mediterranean Sea. Your own food odyssey around the market will feature dried fruits, cheese, nuts, olives, Turkish delight and of course, spices. For a true taste of Turkish tradition, get yourself a cup of freshly ground Mehmet Efendi coffee, prepared the authentic way in a ‘cezve’ (small brass long-handled pot). Delicious.
(Ragip Gumuspala Cad. Eminonu/Cagaloglu, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey. Open Mon-Sat, 8 am – 7 pm)
The traditional one – Borough Market (London, UK)
Perfect for: travellers looking for exceptional quality and traders who know their stuff
[responsive-image id=’2038′ align=’right’ caption=’Photo credit: Matt Caville’]At over 250 years old, Borough Market is London’s oldest, and surely the most renowned when it comes to outstanding produce. The market employs a panel of food quality experts who regularly review the taste, provenance and quality of products on sale to make sure that a visit to this food market truly offers the best of British. Independent suppliers from across the UK sell their wares to the public from Thursday – Saturday and the market’s website has a handy ‘meet the traders’ section (ideal if you’re a clued-up foodie looking for something specific – wild boar from the Lake District, anyone?).
(8 Southward Street, London, SE1 1TL. Thurs – Sat 10 am – 5 pm)
The harbour one – Kauppatori Market (Helskini, Finland)
Perfect for: travellers who fancy a taste of the Arctic
If your next short break in Europe takes you to the continent’s northern fringe, don’t miss Finland’s capital Helsinki. Find your way to the row of brightly coloured tents on the city’s South Harbor and you’ll reach Kauppatori market. This is a good place to pick up obligatory souvenirs – think wooden reindeers – but the main focus should be filling your belly, not your suitcase. Traditional Finnish fare is on offer at every turn and you’ll be rewarded for thinking outside of the plate and trying something new: moose, reindeer or bear salami, followed by chocolate infused with salted licorice. If you’re visiting on a cooler day, take refuge in the heated café tent and sip on steaming coffee in between scoffing.
(Eteläsatama, 00170 Helsinki, Finland. Open Mon-Sat 8am – 4pm)
So there are my European food market recommendations all wrapped up! Which one are you most tempted to try? Tell us your food market favourites in the comments below and share this Top 5 with a fellow foodie!