One of the best ways to discover a place is to wander around its local market, browsing the wares for sale, chatting to the stall holders and, hopefully, finding some hidden gems to take home as unique souvenirs of your travels. Spain is home to some spectacular street markets, so read on to discover which ones to explore on your next visit.
El Rastro, Madrid
Every Sunday and bank holiday morning, the streets of Lavapies, Madrid’s multicultural neighbourhood, throng with people browsing the more than 1,000 stalls of El Rastro, Madrid biggest street market. Expect everything from antiques, flamenco attire and old furniture to kitchen appliances, T-shirts and leather bags. One of the best parts of visiting El Rastro is popping in and out of the local tapas bars for a caña (little beer) or vermouth, alongside some traditional local tapas (pigs ears, anyone?).
Sundays and public holidays: 9am – 3pm
Mercadillo del Jueves, Seville
Every Thursday (Jueves in Spanish, hence the market’s name), the streets in the centre of Seville come alive with bric-a-brac, in a paradise for hunters of hidden treasures. The market, which contains over 100 stalls, is the oldest in Seville and is full of colourful characters. It sells everything from old cameras, paintings and postcards to vintage clothes, furniture and antiques.
Thursday: 7am – 3pm
Mercado de Motores, Madrid
It prides itself as the coolest market in Madrid, and the monthly Mercado de Motores, held in the atmospheric surroundings of Madrid’s Railway Museum, attracts stallholders who sell everything from beautiful illustrated prints to vintage clothing, accessories and vinyl. And in keeping with the location, there are also a number of stalls selling railway-themed paraphernalia. Don’t miss the food trucks either, selling a mix of traditional Spanish fare – including locally brewed craft beer – and international favourites. The market is held on the first Sunday of every month.
First Sunday of every month: 10am – 3pm
Els Encants Vells, Barcelona
The ‘Old Charms’ flea market is one of Barcelona’s biggest and most beloved, its rich history making it one of the city’s top sights. The setting alone is worth coming to check out: the over 500 stalls are set up under an open-sided structure with a mirrored canopy that reflects the stalls and crowds. The market dates back to the 14th century, making it one of the oldest in Europe. You can find everything under the sun here, from antiques, vintage clothes and books to modern appliances, underwear and tools. An interesting time to visit is between 7.30am and 8.30am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when public auctions take place.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays: 9am – 8pm
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Mercantic, in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Sant Cugat, is a vintage village: a permanent setup of around 80 stalls, selling their wares from cute wooden huts. The market, which sells everything from vintage furniture and antiques to quirky souvenirs, also hosts live music and food stalls. It even has its own art gallery. A great place to root, eat and hopefully score an unusual souvenir to take home.
Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 8pm, Sunday: 10am – 4pm
The Alcaiceria flea market in Granada was once home to the old Moorish silk market whose stalls filled the streets with fine silks, spices and craftwork. Today, among a host of souvenirs, the market still sells Arab craftwork, including painted ceramics (fajalauza), clothing and stained-glass lamps. Wandering around the stalls, you could almost be transported back to Moorish Spain, especially around the Plaza Bib-Rambla, where stalls continue to sell silks and spices to this day.
Monday – Sunday: 10am – 9pm
Plaza Redonda Market, Valencia
This beautiful round plaza is the setting for a weekly market, held every Sunday in the heart of Valencia since the 19th century. It’s a great place to pick up some local crafts as well as beautiful Valencian ceramics and authentic paella pans (Valencia being the birthplace of paella). Make sure to have a pit stop in one of the surrounding tapas bars, where you can enjoy some local favourites and a cold beer or a chilled glass of vino.
Sundays until 2pm