Market day in Barcelona: four of our favorites.
Markets are a part of daily life in Barcelona, and if you venture beyond the city center, you’ll likely stumble across streets and squares lined with stalls creaking under the weight of local delicacies. Some markets, however, are worth planning your whole day around, and we’ve pinpointed four of our favorites which range from temples of fine food to bustling flea markets full of antique finds.
You’ll often find that the bars and restaurants that surround the markets are among the best to sample fresh local cuisine. If you want to guarantee the quality, simply observe which ones seem the busiest.
Best for: Fine Catalonian produce
Mercat de la Boqueria
Midway along La Rambla, on the right as you head toward the sea, is Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona’s most famous food market. It may be a popular tourist destination, but it’s also a working market, supplying the city’s residents and restaurateurs with seasonal produce galore, all while being home to a slew of cozy bars and restaurants. If you just want to wander around and snack, you’re sure to quickly find something that will please your taste buds.
It might be sacrilege to recommend Italian food in Spain, but for a quick bite, head to the center of the market behind the fish stalls. From a wood-fired oven, you can buy pizza by the slice. It is, we’re told, a favorite of El Bulli founder Ferran Adrià. boqueria.barcelona/home
Insider tip: The market still favors cash, so if you’re going there to buy, don’t take cards alone. It’s open from 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM, but you don’t need to go get there too early. Things only really start to get going around 10:00 AM and are at their busiest around 2:00 PM.
Best for: Finding a bargain
Mercat Del Encants
Dating back to the 14th century, Mercat Del Encants is said to be one of the oldest markets in Europe, which is difficult to believe as you browse the roughly 500 stalls set under a gleaming, gold mirrored roof. Like all flea markets, there’s a real mix of wares being sold, from second-hand books and records to fine antiques and collectables. If you’re prepared to spend an hour or two sifting through the wares of these merchants, you’re sure to find a gem.
It’s open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, while antique auctions take place from 7:15 AM until 8:30 AM Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They’re open to the public and it’s great to watch the bidding battles between local dealers. encantsbarcelona.com/en
Insider tip: The market is a short stroll from the Sagrada Familia, so many visitors combine the two in one morning. Alternatively, walk to Carrer d’Alaba for lunch by the sea.
Best for: Mixing with the locals
Mercat de Sant Antoni
Rising above the low-rise houses of the Sant Antoni district, Barcelonians are very proud of this octagonal steel-framed market hall designed Antoni Rovira i Trias in 1882. Having closed for nine years for extensive renovations, it has reopened the joy of the residents and food-focused tourists.
Divided into several clear sections, you can wander along aisles of fresh meat and seafood, flick through boxes of second-hand records, find literary classics, and pick up useful pieces of homeware. It’s busy all day, but never gets over-crowded and is open from Monday to Saturday 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. mercatdesantantoni.com
Insider tip: While you’re in the area, it’s a great opportunity to visit Montjuïc Castle and the surrounding botanical gardens. The views along the coast from its elevated position are some of the best in the city.
Best for: Packing a picnic
Mercat de Galvany
With its steeple roof, stained glass windows, and Greek Cross floor plan, it’d be easy to mistake this as another of Barcelona’s modernist church buildings. However, this temple to food was intentionally built as a market in 1927 and has been trading local delicacies ever since. If you visit, be sure you don’t miss the beautiful mosaic of food above the door as you enter.
Inside, it’s a cavernous, bustling space with stalls stacked with temptations like unique cheeses, specialty charcuterie, and fresh-baked goods. The market is open Monday to Saturday, 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM, with a late closing on Fridays at 8:00 PM. mercatgalvany.es/en/market