All of Barcelona’s vibrance seems to be encapsulated by its marketplaces. The smells of fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meat mix together with the barks of the stall vendors, the clinking of glasses and fizzing of beer in the background mixing with the subtle aromas of olives and calamari that wafts out of tapas bars.
Stay long enough and you start to see new details emerge: the young woman helping her grandmother shop for a Sunday lunch, or the cheerful banter between delivery men and stall owners. The marketplaces are the beating heart of the Barcelona neighbourhoods, and it’s here where you’ll get a true taste of life in the Catalonian capital.
Mercat de Santa Caterina
A perfect alternative to the famous but crowded La Boqueria, you can see the distinctive wavy and kaleidoscopic roof of Mercat de Santa Caterina from out the front of Barcelona’s gothic cathedral. Revamped in the early 2000s, the vivid architecture on show at this market is equally as fascinating as the fish, meat and vegetable stalls below it. Don’t miss Bar Joan inside, providing the perfect place to watch market life go by whilst snacking on tapas.
Mercat dels Encants
A market selling all kinds of trash, treasure, and bric-a-brac, Mercat dels Encants is Barcelona’s biggest flea market. Piled high across over 500 vendors underneath the large mirror-like roof is everything from antique furniture and clothes to old records, books and maps. Delve deep into this market to turn up a few bizarre Barcelonan treasures before heading up to the top level where a nice selection of food stalls will satisfy any appetite.
Mercat de Sant Antoni
The beating heart of the trendy Sant Antoni area, Mercat de Sant Antoni reopened in 2018 after extensive renovations restored this masterpiece of modernist architecture to its former 19th Century glory. Inside this iron and brick building are over 250 stalls, and on Sundays it spills out into the surrounding area with a large second-hand book market where you’ll also find rare comics, stamps and coins.
Mercat de Galvany
One of the city’s best kept secrets, Mercat de Galvany is found in the upmarket district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. This is Barcelona’s most deluxe barrio, and the market is one of the prettiest you’ll find with its brick façade and a soaring glass and iron interior. Inside the stalls selling produce are a bit more expensive than other markets around town.
Palo Market Fest
The first weekend of every month sees Palo Market Fest taking over an old factory complex in the Poblenou barrio. This street market is all about local design, live music, gourmet food, and creative workshops. There’s a small entrance fee, but once inside you’ll be able to browse the unique and retro stalls selling everything from handmade jewellery to bonsai trees, get a bite to eat from one of the many food trucks, and kick back to listen to some live music with Barcelona’s hipster crowd.