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The best food markets in the world

Embark on a gastronomical journey around the globe

Best food markets in the world

Posted on

04 Mar 2022

Food is an essential part of every cruise and because food markets are often the hub of local communities, it has to be said that exploring them is an excellent way to really get to know a city and its people. From lively early morning fish markets in the heart of Tokyo to relaxed artisan fare in Copenhagen, here are the best food markets in the world:

Granville Island Public Market

Vancouver, Canada

Must try: Pies from A La Mode

Uniquely positioned on a peninsula in Vancouver, Granville Island is the place to go for artisan products and one of the best lunches in the world. Easily accessible on a cruise to Alaska, the island’s public market is iconic with stalls selling everything from delicious baels, fresh halibut and chips, pies and all the makings of an indulgent picnic.

One essential stop during your visit to the market is A La Mode - a pie shop selling tasty butter tarts and a selection of moreish pies. Granville Island Public Market is open from 9 am to 6 pm including holidays.

Mercado Central

Santiago, Chile

Must try: Seafood

If you’re a seafood lover heading to South America, Mercado Central is for you. Chile’s vibrant fish market is a haven for flavour with fresh clams, fish stews and seafood on the menu. As Chile has an extremely long coastline, seafood forms a huge part of the country’s cuisine. Oysters, scallops, mussels and razor clams are found in abundance.

The centre of the market is generally considered to be a tourist trap. Waiters will try to entice you to their restaurants with special deals but it’s important to head to the periphery, where the locals dine. Here, you’ll find tiny eateries with shore menus of local specialities. Look out for crab cakes, clams and even sea snails. Most importantly, if you don’t know what to order, see what the locals are eating.

Torvehallerne

Copenhagen, Denmark

Must try: Smørrebrod

In the centre of Copenhagen, Torvehallerne is a vibrant, contemporary food market. For anyone on a cruise to Copenhagen, the market is perfectly positioned to explore Nørreport Street and the pristine lakes. Denmark’s cuisine focuses heavily on fresh food and often features unique flavour combinations and textures.

One of Denmark’s most popular dishes is smørrebrod, a lunch dish that consists of buttered rye bread covered with a range of toppings like smoked fish and meat, mushrooms and cheeses. They are beautiful to look at and even better to eat! For dessert, try a romkugler, a delicious Danish rum ball or a classic Danish pastry. Torvehallerne is also the ideal place to pick up unique souvenirs, such as artisan food and beauty products.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tokyo, Japan

Must try: Sashimi

Tsujiki Fish Market is a large wholesale market for fish and fresh produce in the heart of bustling Tokyo. It’s undoubtedly the most famous of all of the city’s markets, handling over 2,000 tonnes of fish and seafood each day. Lively auctions and restaurants are a huge draw for tourists as well as watching local fisherpeople prepare gigantic tuna. Needless to say, it is the perfect spot for exquisite, fresh sushi for lunch during your cruise stopover.

We chatted to Drew and Julie from Drive on the Left, they told us: “Japan is a food lovers' paradise! We’ve read articles and watched TV programs extolling the quality of the food scene but we wanted to experience it first hand. Needless to say, it did not disappoint.

“Tsukiji is hands down the best fish market we’ve ever seen. The sheer size and scale of the operation is impressive but the quality is what really sets it apart. Perfect tuna, beautiful uni and live shellfish that were just plucked from the sea that morning. And for a fish market the size of Tsukiji, the lack of any strong smell is a testament to the quality and cleanliness of the fishmongers.”

Maxwell Food Centre

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Must try: Satay and laksa

Singapore’s food halls, which are also known as hawker centres, are the best place to seek out local food. With more than 100 stalls, Maxwell Food Centre is hugely popular among locals and tourists. The building is kept cool with powerful ceiling fans, whilst diners hustle to get their favourite dish. You’ll be overwhelmed by the huge range of traditional Singaporean cuisine on offer.

Laksa is one of Singapore’s most popular dishes. It consists of rice noodles in a coconut curry soup with shrimp, egg and chicken, created as a fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisine. For those not so keen on seafood, satay is commonly found throughout Singapore. This succulent grilled meat is traditionally served with peanut sauce, cucumber chilli relish and a rice cake.

La Boqueria

Barcelona, Spain

Must try: Jamon and squid

La Boqueria is always abuzz with locals doing their weekly shopping and tourists looking to sample some of Spain’s finest produce. The lengthy build of this spectacular market took place from 1840 to 1914 and today it is considered one of La Rambla’s prettiest buildings. Many of Barcelona’s top restaurants order their produce from La Boqueria, which is a testament to its outstanding quality.

It must be said, that while the market is well worth visiting during your cruise to Barcelona, you will have to fight through crowds. As such, it’s advised that you arrive as early as possible. Walking through the market is an assault on the senses but in the best possible way. If you’re stuck on what to try, look out for what the locals choose - after all, they know best!

“We have visited Barcelona a couple of times and we return for the food, culture and the market,” Jane and Duncan from To Travel Too told us. “We love the vibe of the market, the quality and quantity of what’s on offer. We have enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner and it never disappoints. We say you have not been to Barcelona if you have not visited La Boqueria.”

Pike Place Market

Seattle, USA

Must try: Pike Place Chowder and piroshky

For the best lunch in Emerald City, head to Pike Place Market. With its vibrant neon signs and eclectic mix of eateries, the market is so inviting and the friendly locals really make the experience worthwhile. If you’re craving something unique, try a Russian pastry from Piroshky Piroshky. This iconic stall in Pike Place Market is one of the most recommended by locals and tourists. Choose from a hearty savoury piroshky with cheese, beef and potatoes or a sweet option.

Another firm favourite is Pike Place Chowder, which serves exquisite New England clam chowder and succulent lobster rolls. Seafood fanatics can opt for the classic clam chowder sourdough bread bowl as well as crab rolls, salmon sandwiches and much more. For brave meat-eaters, a visit to Chicken Valley is essential. Fried chicken gizzards are the star of the show here, and although it might not be your first choice, locals believe the rich taste will convince you otherwise.

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