Visiting local markets should be on the itinerary for every international trip. Strolling the stalls of any good market will take you on a sensory tour of the local culture—the scents, the sounds, the flavors, the overheard conversations. From quaint local markets selling farm-fresh fruit and veg to grand bazaars dating back centuries, explore these five incredible markets around the world.

Djemaa El Fna — Marrakesh, Morocco

Prepare to be entertained at the sprawling outdoor square known as Djemaa El Fna, situated in the heart of Marrakesh. This lively market was declared an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2001 and has served as a gathering place and market for a thousand years.

By day, vendors sell fresh orange juice, spices, traditional medicines, and snails. Snake charmers’ flute music floats throughout the square and henna artists tattoo intricate designs. By night, the market takes on a mystical atmosphere.

What to buy/try:

  • Grilled lamb
  • Spicy snails
  • Mint tea and fresh OJ

Amphawa Floating Market — Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok’s floating markets have been an integral party of Thai society for centuries, though today many of them are operated mainly for international tourism.

For a less touristy experience, visit the laid-back Amphawa Floating Market. Waterway trade is the foundation the Amphawa community and remains a staple to its residents. Along the roughly 30-mile stretch of the Amphawa Canal, locals and Bangkok weekenders shop for their produce, seafood, and an incredible variety of delicious street food.

What to buy/try:

  • Seafood, particularly mackerel
  • Traditional Thai desserts, like golden egg strips
  • Som Tam, a Thai papaya salad

Marché Monge – Paris, France

A quintessential open-air market in Paris’ Latin Quarter, Marché Monge offers a slice of everyday Parisian life. Just up the escalator from the Place Monge metro station, vendors have been selling their specialties here since 1921.

Among this tree-lined, cobblestone square centered around a bubbling fountain, you’ll find stands of fresh flowers, mountains of fresh bread, artfully displayed local produce, fine cheese, and charcuterie. Pretend you’re Parisian for a morning and swing by Marché Monge to pick up picnic supplies before heading to Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden just a few blocks away.

What to try/buy:

  • French cheese
  • Fresh flowers
  • Charcuterie

Grand Bazaar — Istanbul, Turkey

The world’s oldest and largest covered market, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a cultural icon covering 60 streets with more than 5,000 shops. Often referred to as the world’s first shopping mall, the Grand Bazaar was built in 1461 and steadily expanded, becoming the center of trade for the Ottoman Empire.

Today, the bazaar is one of the city’s top attractions, yet there are still outlaying nooks and crannies where you can get a glimpse of the real Istanbul. Bring your bargaining skills as you shop the bazaar’s offerings from carpets and clothing to art and chessboards, lanterns, cafés, and even two hammams (Turkish baths).

What to buy/try:

  • Carpets and kilims (flat-weave rugs)
  • Lamps and lanterns
  • Turkish delight sweets and spices like sumac

Christmas Markets — Vienna, Austria

Every year beginning in late November, Christmas markets start popping up all over the imperial city of Vienna creating a magical holiday atmosphere. The city’s most charming squares transform into fairytale villages and steaming mugs of Christmas punch (or Weihnachtspunsch) are held tightly in cold hands.

To get a taste of this magic, join Inspirato on its Christmas Markets in Europe Cruise in 2022 or Christmas Markets on the Rhine River in 2023.

What to buy/try:

  • Christmas punch (Weihnachtspunsch)
  • Handcrafted holiday decorations
  • Roasted chestnuts

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