The world’s best spice markets

Step into a world of colours, scents and flavours

The world's best spice markets

Posted on

31 Jul 2017

From India to Morocco, Turkey to Vietnam, spice markets are a popular sight all over the world. The hustle and bustle of an authentic market or souk can be overwhelming, as traders entice customers with tempting treats and deals. To help you narrow down your search, take a look at our guide to the world’s best spice markets:

La Boqueria

Barcelona, Spain

La Boqueria is one of Europe’s largest and most famous food markets but it’s relatively unknown as a spice market. Before lunchtime, the market is in full swing with hundreds of stalls selling meats, cheeses, dried fruits, fish, spices, sweets and more. It has a unique atmosphere as it is in the heart of Barcelona. Although it’s a far cry from the chaotic Grand Bazaar in Tehran, La Boqueria is exciting in its own way. Look up and you’ll see colourful structures overhead and detailed patterns from the market’s beams.

Dubai Spice Souk

Deira, Dubai

On the other side of Dubai Creek, away from the futuristic skyscrapers and malls, the district of Deira is home to one of the world’s best spice markets. Scents of cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and turmeric waft through the air at this bustling souk, making it difficult to resist picking up one, two or ten bags of delicious herbs and spices. As well as its myriad of spice stalls, the market is also home to the largest gold bazaar in the world. If you’re looking for an authentic experience during your cruise to Dubai, Deira is the place to go.

Khari Baoli

Delhi, India

Khari Baoil can be found near the iconic Red Fort in Old Delhi. Dating all the way back to the 16th century, the market sells spices, nuts and dried fruits from northern India and across the border in Afghanistan. As well as the prominent herbs and spices, Khari Baoli is an excellent place to pick up dried mulberries. Be sure to stop for snacks, as this is Asia’s largest wholesale market and cab difficult to navigate on an empty stomach. Don’t forget to stock up on treats to take home or to enjoy on your cruise.

Long Bien Market

Hanoi, Vietnam

Despite Hanoi’s Old Quarter getting most of the attention in Vietnam when it comes to spices, it’s worth taking a trip to Long Bien Market. Set on the banks of the Red River, the market starts at 4 am, so you’ll need to prepare for an early start. Unlike many of the world’s most famous spice markets, Long Bien is a working market and virtually unattended by tourists. But you can pick up fresh lemongrass, mint, ginger and many other herbs and spices and the experience is much more authentic.

“The Long Bien Market is a fruit and vegetable wholesale market in Hanoi,” Jessica from Independent Travel Cats told us. “It is located next to the historic Long Bien Bridge and is one of Vietnam’s busiest markets. In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can also find meats, fish, spices, flowers and other food goods. If you want to visit, you’ll need to get up early as the best time to get there is between 3 am and 5 am and by 6 am the stalls start closing down.”

Spice Bazaar

Istanbul, Turkey

Built in the 1660s as part of the New Mosque, Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar has deep roots in the city. The rent from the spice stalls funded the mosque’s upkeep and it was historically the final stop for camel caravans completing the Silk Route from places such as India and China. Today, as well as vibrant mountains of herbs and spices, the market is lined with stalls selling irresistible sweet treats. The only trouble you’ll have it trying not to eat all your souvenirs.

We chatted to Laura and Scott from Eat Your World, they said, “We just loved ogling the colourful spices and tasting all the goodies on offer, from local pistachios to stringy cheese. We particularly loved trying (and buying) the lokum, or Turkish delight, there - we were so surprised at the rainbow of colours and flavours available and how delicious it all was!”

Mahane Yehuda Market

Jerusalem, Israel

Best known as ‘The Shuk,’ Mahane Yehuda dates back over 100 years. More than 250 vendors can be found at this famous spice market in Jerusalem, welcoming locals and tourists to sample and haggle over produce. There are hundreds of herbs and spices on offer, so be sure to ask for recommendations. Sumac is an Israeli delicacy and would make a unique souvenir. If the thought of entering the market without a plan seems a little daunting, there are official tours available to help you find your way around. Eateries are dotted throughout the market selling traditional cuisine including falafel and hummus.

Rahba Kedima

Marrakech, Morocco

Known as ‘Spice Square,’ Rahba Kedima is the place to be to find authentic flavours of Morocco. Stallholders have created spice and herb blends for flavouring fish and meat, so be sure to ask if you’re eager to cook with these flavours at home. Expect piles of fresh cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and star anise but if you’re looking for the highest quality saffron, ask to see the fresh strands rather than the ground spice.

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