If you love using fresh, quality produce in your cooking, you’ll love shopping at the markets in Valencia. Not only will you find an abundance of the famous oranges as well as seafood, you’ll find rows upon rows of hanging jamons, colourful heaps of vegetables straight from the surrounding countryside, and charcuterie and cheeses you’ve never even heard of. The habit of buying fresh produce at the market, rather than at supermarkets, is still very much alive and well here, and there’s even an annual festival celebrating the city markets in September. They’re worth a visit even if you don’t have your own cooking facilities during your stay; wandering through the stalls is a feast for all the senses and a real glimpse into local life. You can also find occasional farmer’s markets held in squares around the city, usually on weekends – ask Tourist Information for details of markets being held during your visit.
An absolute must when visiting Valencia, a visit to this market is one of the top food experiences in the city. This enormous Art Nouveau building in the Ciutat Vella (Old City) area houses one of the oldest running food markets in Europe, completed in 1928 and covering over eight thousand square metres. But this is no dusty old relic or tourist attraction; every weekday and Saturday the market is packed with shoppers – many of them locals armed with shopping trollies, doing the weekly fresh produce shop. It’s easy to get lost among the rows and rows of stalls in this huge, usually very busy space, but that’s all part of the fun. The high dome is the centrepiece of the market’s architecture, while below you can spot the decorative ceramic tiles for which the area is known. You can pick up everything you need for dinner, or just stuff your face during your visit; sample the meats and cheeses at one of the many charcuteries, pick up some freshly-squeezed orange juice from the fruit stalls, or sample the local pastries at the bakeries. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle of locally produced wine to take home.
A short walk south in the trendy Ruzafa neighbourhood, you can’t miss the colourful square building around which all the nearby activity seems to be centred. Inside you’ll find the local market that, though much smaller than the central market, is said to have a more traditional feel. You’ll find the same excellent quality meats, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and seafood inside. Afterwards take the chance to visit one of the many cool, independent cafés nearby, many of which buy all of their ingredients from the market.
This beautiful building in the central L’Eixample district is no longer a working fresh produce market; the stalls have been replaced with rows of cute cafés and a pop-up event space. But it’s very much worth a visit to check out the architecture, the atmosphere and, of course, the coffee in this unusual space. If you’re lucky there will be some kind of event or musical performance on during your visit, too.
For anyone wanting to check out a smaller city market with a very local feel, this is an easy to find, central spot that’s worth seeking out not only for the fresh food but for the surrounding café-bars using market produce. It was built in the ’60s to meet the neighbourhood’s apparently insatiable demand for fresh goods. Don’t expect anything high end or tourist-oriented, but do expect lots of delicious flavours and friendly (if not always English-speaking) stall holders. It’s just a short walk from the Central Market and also an easy stroll to sights like the Torres de Quart and the IVAM.
While you’re visiting the pretty, atmospheric old fishermen’s quarter of El Cabanyal, directly behind the city beach, it would be a shame not to visit the small, lively neighbourhood market. As you might expect, seafood is the star of the show here, so it’s the ideal place to pick up a piece of fresh fish for dinner. Of course, you can also find the same great quality charcuterie, baked goods, fresh fruit and everything else Valencians expect to find at their local market hall.
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