Seville is a bargain hunter’s paradise, with every possible kind of goodie 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 on 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 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 Andalucian capital and is 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.
Lonja del Barranco
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.
Mercado Lonja del Barranco, Calle Arjona, s/n, Seville, Spain, +34 954 22 04 95
Among the many delights of Triana, Seville’s gorgeous former gypsy quarter, is its 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 tasks into social occasions, it is also home to a number of superb little tapas bars. This market is an established fixture on the tourist map, yet it is still where the more discerning of Triana’s locals do their daily fruit and veg shop, making it a perfect spot for people watching as well as shopping: simply grab a bar stool and enjoy a sweet sherry and perhaps a little fresh fried fish as you watch the world unfold around you.
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 Ecarnacion 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.
For most of the week, the vast expanse of the Alameda de Hércules is one of Seville’s most popular evening hangouts, lined as it is with sleek tapas joint, quirky cafes and smart late night bars. Every Sunday morning at 7.30am, though – when the last of Saturday’s revellers are thinking of calling it a night – it morphs into one of the Andalusian capital’s most interesting arts and crafts markets. In addition to paintings and sculptures by local artists, the Alameda market also offers a huge range of trinkets, antiques and assorted nick-knacks that may be complete junk to some and the find of the year for others. But whether you’re buying or just browsing, the Alameda itself is a lovely place to pass a Sunday morning and offers the weary bargain-hunter every conceivable type of refreshment.