Top 10 food markets: World's most irresistible fresh food meccas

For a gastronomic adventure into the unknown, you can't beat a local food market., writes Ute Junker,

There are few quicker ways to get an insight into a city than to stroll through the local food market. From pyramids of glossy-skinned tropical fruit to roast guinea pig, you never know what you will find. Take a healthy appetite and a sense of adventure, and this may be the highlight of your holiday. 


Follow the scent of smoked meats and grilling sausages to the Viktualienmarkt, the city's centrally located open-air market. Its 140 stalls are piled with everything from fruit and vegetables to cheese and fresh juices. At the centre of the market is a popular beer garden shaded by 100-year-old chestnut trees. 


Don't let the ship-like exterior, complete with portholes, fool you - this Asian market is strictly old school. The first two floors are dedicated to the wet market, where fish and meat are sold. Upstairs, food vendors sell everything from steamed hairy crabs to red bean coffee. 


This is one-stop shopping in the heart of Montreal's Little Italy, with everything from snow crabs to fiddlehead ferns and duck eggs. The market is at its most glorious in summer, but also fun in winter, when you can buy fresh maple taffy, cooled on trays of snow. 



Along with conquistador cathedrals and Inca ruins, this central market is one of the highlights of this high-altitude Peruvian city. Food stuffs range from potatoes in a range of startling colours to pigs' heads and even frogs, reputed to have libidinous effects. If you find the sight of roast guinea pigs challenging, ask yourself if they are really so different from the tasty-looking roast suckling pig on the next stall over.


Get here early enough and you may spot some of Barcelona's top chefs picking out their ingredients for dinner. Later in the day, tourists and householders throng through this lovely Modernista-style building. Grab a seat at one of the handful of eateries to try Catalan favourites from percebes (gooseneck barnacles) and cargols (snails) to bacalla salat, or dried salted cod.



Tsukiji's live tuna auctions have become Tokyo's most unlikely tourist attraction, with people queuing in the pre-dawn hours to watch the spectacle. There is plenty to see later in the morning, too. The only thing more astonishing than the array of seafood on offer is how they keep everything so fresh without refrigeration. Finish your visit with a sashimi breakfast in one of the many on-site eateries.




During the heat of the day, Marrakech's most famous square tends to be hot and dusty, left largely to the orange-juice stalls and the water sellers. That all changes when the sun goes down. A hundred food stalls spring up like mushrooms after rain, and the air is scented by 100 grills all firing up at once. Grab a meal of sausages or snails and enjoy the smoky, raucous fun.


They are big on free samples at this market near the Thames, which may be one reason why it is so popular. Another is its astonishing array of provender, from organic bread to fresh roasted coffee and artisanal pastries. There are plenty of hot food stalls too, selling everything from gozleme to biryani to meat pies. Go on a weekday if you can; the crowds on Saturdays can be overwhelming. 



San Francisco is the spiritual home of farm-to-table dining, so it is no surprise that the vibe at this farmers' market – open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – is local, organic and sustainable. While some come here to shop, for others, it's all about the eating. Top pick for a sit-down meal is the superb Vietnamese Slanted Door; otherwise, try something woodfired from Bouli Bar. 



This pretty market hall by the harbour is, of course, the place to come for fresh fish; you can even buy fish sandwiches straight off the boat. However, there are plenty of other local favourites for sale, from cinnamon buns to reindeer and bear meat, sauna-smoked ham, and seasonal treats such as cloudberries. Beware of the cheeky seagulls lurking outside the hall – they have no hesitation grabbing food from the hands of the unwary.