What I look forward to most on my travels isn’t the fact that I’m away from the 9-5, that I’m experiencing new cultures or that I’m wandering amongst centuries old architecture. No. It’s definitely the food. The minute I step on to that budget airline flight I’m already making a mental list of all the food I can eat whilst I’m away.
What I love about Europe is the rise of the covered food market – no longer do you have to choose between cuisines and bars and styles of dining. Oh no. You can now waltz into an often beautiful high ceiling building and satisfy whatever particular craving you might have that day.
I’ve managed to visit a food market on almost every city break I’ve ever been on, but I do have my favourites. Here’s a guide to seven incredible food markets in Europe I hope you get to try them all!
Markthalle Neun, Berlin
Located in those most hipster of all the districts in Berlin, Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg is full of food and drink stands where you could grab a slice of pizza from one place, a glass of wine in another and settle down in the middle for a good old fashioned feast. They also host a range of community events (we were sadly unable to make the excellent beer event they had going on whilst we were in Berlin), and had lots of places to pick up produce and goods for use at home too.
Markthalle Neun felt much more low-key than many of the other food markets we have visited in Europe, but that was part of its charm. It felt really local, and on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays there’s a traditional weekly market.
Location: Eisenbahnstraße 42, 10997 Berlin
Opening Hours: Varying times from Tues – Sat
Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon
Probably the largest and the most renowned food market on our list, the Mercado da Ribeira is better known as Lisbon’s Time Out Market. It’s a food + drink market run by Time Out like no other – we’ve visited many of these markets in Europe, and this one tops the lot. Within the market are loads of food stands serving everything from a quick snack through to Michelin star quality food, alongside bars with beer, wine, gin and cocktails. You grab your food and find a place to sit at long communal tables.
We did a couple of laps of the market on a busy Friday night before choosing a plate of steak, cured ham, sweet potato chips and egg from Cozinha da Felicidade. It was absolutely delicious, I think I wolfed it down in mere minutes and I would have been happy to go at it again, if it wasn’t for the fact that I knew I should pace myself.
Drinks wise, we sampled from Beer Experience Super Bock, Cinco E Meio (where the barman knocked up something amazing and lethal) and Gin Club by Schwepps. We settled in for the ultimate night of people watching. There were solo eaters, big groups of locals all tucking in to meals or basic cheese and ham plates with large glasses of Portuguese wine. We had the best fun, and I was sad not to be able to visit again.
Location: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-109 Lisboa
Opening times: 10am – 12am, open until 2am Thurs, Fri + Sat
Marche Saint Quentin
It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to try all the food markets and rank them in order. Luckily Food Hallen was one of my favourites. It’s an incredible covered market based near Amsterdam Oud-West with food stands, bars and communal seating. They had an amazing gin bar, and on the Friday night we visited the DJ was smashing out 90s RnB classics like it was no big deal.
This definitely felt like it attracted a much younger crowd, and seemed like a destination night out (we didn’t leave until after midnight). I grabbed a fancy hot-dog and some taqueiros, and washed it down with a couple of incredible artisan gin + tonics – but you could have had Thai, Mexican, dim-sum, burgers, cured meat, fish or pizza, and the main bar was fully stocked with wine, spirits and craft beer.
Location: Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 11am – 11.30pm, open until 1am on Fri + Sat
Borough Market, London
Borough Market is located in South London and is one of the premier food markets in the capital (which is saying something, as there are a lot of fantastic food markets in London). It’s also one of the oldest in London too, located underneath the arches of the viaduct close to London Bridge station. Starting off life as wholesale market, it now sells speciality foods to the public at a great rate, and is packed on Saturday’s and with workers at lunchtime during the week.
You’ll find everything from deli stands, cheesemongers, pastries and wine, as well as restaurants to eat in around the fringes of the market. My favourites include Arabica Bar and Kitchen and Roast which has beautiful views across the city.
Location: 8 Southwark St, London, SE1 1TL
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat 8am – 5pm
Mathallen is a diverse and lively food court housed inside a huge warehouse building close to the ever so hipsterGrunerløkka neighbourhood. Showcasing some of the best food and drink producers the Oslo has to offer, it also has a few bars and scattered seating. Whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner you’ll find something tempting, and the place is packed with cool locals and a great buzz.
We loved the beers and American sub inspired rolls at Hopyard, and the Cupcake & Pie Co for something deliciously sweet for afters. You can also pick up some excellent artisan cheeses, breads and some gorgeous chocolates you can save for later!
Location: Vulkan 5, 0178 Oslo
Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm or later Tues-Sun, closed on Mon
Mercado de La Boqueria, Barcelona
Barcelona’s famous Boqueria Market is a little bit more gritty than some of the other food hall style approaches, but that does’t make it any less serious about its food. Locals stream in from sun up to sun down to purchase a huge range of fresh produce and artisan goods such as wine and olive oil, and there are plenty of places to squeeze in and eat if you are hungry.
The vibe here is to sandwich yourself in between other hungry visitors up on a bar stool and tuck into fresh food – I enjoyed a delicious freshly grilled salmon, roasted vegetables and chips washed down with a beer. I could watch the market and I could watch the food being cooked right in front of me, and it was a perfect way to spend a lunchtime.
Location: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona
Opening Hours: 8am – 8.30pm Monday – Saturday