Seville is a bargain hunter’s paradise, with every possible kind of goody on offer on its chaotic streets and smart covered markets. Whether you’re after the best quality meat and fish, antiques, arts and crafts or simply looking to browse in the hope of finding something special, these are the places to head when in the Andalusian capital.
Every Thursday, the central thoroughfare of the Feria barrio (unsurprisingly called Calle Feria) comes alive with Seville’s largest and most colourful flea market. This hoarder’s paradise – the stalls of which are manned by characteristically loud and cheeky Andalusian vendors – has been a staple of the city’s street life for as far back as many locals can remember and is a great place to spend a Thursday morning (Jueves in Spanish, hence the market’s name), even if you don’t end up buying anything. Any attempt to describe Jueves’ offering is bound to fail, but to give you an idea: you can buy antiques, flamenco dresses, books, ornaments, paintings, toys, sculptures, plants, sewing machines, old barbers’ chairs, birdcages…. In fact, you can buy anything here – although in a very different way than you’re said to be able to buy anything at Harrods.
Market-lovers will find their heaven in and around Calle Feria: as if that street’s Thursday morning extravaganza weren’t enough, about halfway along its length is Seville’s oldest market, the Mercado de Feria. Situated right next door to a beautiful 13th-century church, Feria offers punters a comprehensive selection of fresh fruit, veg, meat and flowers as well as superb tapas bar, La Cantina. The fish tapas served here is some of the freshest and most delicious in the Andalusian capital and best enjoyed with a crisp, cool beer after a good morning’s haggling. After which, if there’s still time, you can wander onto Calle Feria’s street market and try and pick up a useless yet beautiful bargain before the vendors head off for lunch and a siesta.
There are few better places to take the pulse of Sevillano life than the Mercado Lonja del Barranco, a stylish food market on the lush banks of the Guadalquivir. Seville has a reputation in Spain for being pijo, (posh) and its locals are referred to (sometimes with amused affection, sometimes with disparagement) as pijos – a stereotype which a couple of hours at this sophisticated cluster of food stalls and bars won’t disprove. The food is inventive, modern and varied and can be enjoyed in one of several light and spacious seating areas within the market’s glass walls. Lonja is particularly enjoyable on warm days – of which there are a great many here – when the socializing spills out onto terraces on the riverbank.
If you’re exploring Triana, don’t leave without shopping, eating or drinking at its wonderful covered market. This joyful cacophony of fruit, veg and meat stalls was built on the site of an old castle – one wall of which still remains – and given Andalusians’ flair for turning even the most quotidian task into a social occasion, it is also home to a number of superb little tapas bars. Enjoy a sweet sherry and perhaps a little fresh fried fish as you watch the world unfold around you – an infinitely better way to experience Seville’s street life than jumping on the tourist carousel in the city centre, a world away on the other side of the Guadalquivir.
This covered market must have the fanciest roof in all of Spain, if not Europe. The giant wooden monument that towers over it was built between 2005 and 2011 and is known as Las Setas, or ‘The Mushrooms’, due to the fungi-like shape of its canopies. The space beneath is home to some impressive Roman remains that were discovered during the monument’s construction, as well as a superb food market selling a huge variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. That’s not really what you come to Mercado de la Encarnacion for though, it’s more about combining a little food shopping with a stroll around the rooftop walkway, which offers amazing views of Seville. Even better, a glass of prosecco is included in the price of your ticket.