There are great outdoor markets throughout Europe excelling in items ranging from herring to Soviet-era memorabilia.
Amsterdam: Albert Cuyp Market is the city’s oldest, largest and most diverse. You can find everything from umbrellas to underwear here, though it’s best-known for food vendors. When the local herring is in season from mid-May to mid-July, this is the perfect place to taste it prepared in countless ways.
Details: On Albert Cuypstraat, between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat in the De Pijp area of the Oud-Zuid district. Monday through Saturday 9 to 5.
Berlin: Flohmarkt am Mauerpark, a flea market, is a great place to search for distinctive Soviet-era memorabilia and vintage fashion items, in addition to the usual knickknacks and housewares. The food stalls are quite good, too—have a sausage for lunch, then a waffle covered in applesauce or jelly for dessert. You can see the remnants of the Berlin Wall in the adjoining park.
Details: At Bernauer Strasse 63-64, Berlin Mitte. Sunday 8 to 6.
Madrid: El Rastro is perhaps Europe’s largest flea market, with more than 3,000 vendors. Many sell made-in-China junk, but there are plenty of interesting items, too. On Calle San Cayetano, you’ll find lots of art…and Plaza de Cascorro specializes in clothing. If you get hungry, try the spicy stewed snails at El Rastro’s Los Caracoles bar or one of the many excellent tapas bars in nearby Plaza de la Cabada and the surrounding streets.
Details: El Rastro sprawls across a large area surrounding Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Cutidores in central Madrid. Sundays and public holidays 7 to 2:30. www.ElRastro.org
Munich: Viktualienmarkt is the city’s most beloved food market, with more than 140 stalls and vendors. The aroma of grilled sausages fills the air of the nearly 200-year-old market. Fresh pretzels, artisanal cheeses and fresh produce abound as well. Don’t miss the chestnut-tree-shaded beer garden.
Details: At Viktualienmarkt 6, adjacent to the Marienplatz. Monday through Friday 10 to 6, Saturday 10 to 3.
Rome: Campo de’ Fiori is the best and oldest of Rome’s outdoor markets. Find fresh produce and meats, or take in the language and character of Rome as merchants and buyers haggle over prices. Interesting shops and restaurants line the square—try the white sauceless pizza (pizza bianca) at Antico Forno.
Details: Located in the Piazza di Campo de’ Fiori in Old Rome. Monday through Saturday 7 to 1.
Source: Patricia Schultz, a New York City–based travel journalist with more than 25 years of experience. She is author of the new second edition of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Workman). www.1000Places.com