Visiting farmers’ markets is a whimsical way to immerse yourself in a country’s culture while on holiday. If you opt for a self-catering trip, food from local farmers may be cheaper, more fun and more sustainable than visiting a shop.
Why not visit one to chat and barter with a destination’s homegrown producers? You could come away with some delicious and fresh local produce that local restaurants build their reputations on!
We’ve found the best farmers’ markets at home and in Europe, and given some pointers on each one’s unique character. We’ve also hinted at what you can learn about a country’s culture when exploring certain markets.
First, let’s start off with one that has ancient origins in London.
1. Broadway Market, England
Spending your staycation in London? Visit Hackney’s cosmopolitan farmers’ market…
Going way back to 1,000 BC, the name Hackney wasn’t known. It was just a busy trackway, which brought in a thriving settlement (now known as London) its vital goods and supplies from across the country. By the 18th Century, Broadway Market emerged and ran along Hackney Road until 1970.
Since its revival in 2004, this Victorian street market welcomes 150 traders each Saturday, with a diverse range of global cuisine on display. Each week Broadway Market is a sociable and fashionable shopping experience. Smell the aroma of coffee and taste samples from costermongers and greengrocers. Over 70 colourful shops line the streets, such as barbers and independent retailers, each well worth checking out. At Broadway Market, there’s something for everyone!
2. Edinburgh Farmers’ Market, Scotland
Edinburgh Farmers’ market is found at Castle Terrace. As the name suggests, it nestles under the imposing South West face of Edinburgh Castle. It’s an energetic place to find award-winning Scottish producers. Every Saturday, local specialities and seasonal produce are available to try and buy.
Artisanal bread, organic vegetables, and rich cheeses are on offer. If you really want to treat yourself take away some Scottish specialities such as venison, Scottish biscuits or special beverages made in an Edinburgh distillery.
As Edinburgh is a green city (and eco-friendly destination), it’s no surprise that an event called Slow Food Edinburgh is a regular feature. The event promotes a ‘Good, Clean and Fair’ message on the first Saturday of each month. The organisation believes everyone has the right to enjoy good food that is good for the planet, and good for the producers whose livelihood depends on it. At Slow Food, you can see local chefs showcasing the best locally sourced produce. They’ll also teach you how to create simple, delicious dishes with your goodies when you get back to your accommodation.
3. Farmers’ markets in Limerick, Ireland
Visit the medieval town of Limerick, where you can find the Castletroy outdoor farmers’ market. You may see and hear references to Limerick’s famous bacon industry. During the 19th century, several famous bacon factories existed, providing jobs for the locals and feeding much of Ireland.
Today, the locals who worked there are commemorated and the city’s food culture is celebrated at Pigtown Festival. Held in September and October, this festival (including a giant farmers’ market), organises a series of cultural events, such as cookery demos, food tours, and foraging walks. Plus, there are sustainable gourmet feasts run by farmers and chefs.
4. Traditional farmers’ markets in France
There are many farmers’ markets to visit during a holiday in France if you’re exploring by car, coach, train or even bicycle. Some excellent traditional farmers’ markets are within the Beaune and Chagny region, where you’ll find Burgundy.
Burgundy’s markets are supported by established chefs, alongside locals who like to celebrate their region’s gourmet heritage. The best examples include: Charolais beef, Bresse poultry, truffles, and Dijon mustard. Also, you can sample some famous ‘Burgundy’ wines such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
5. The Nienburg farmers’ market, Germany
For a fairy tale setting, stop in the enchanting town of Nienburg. Nienburg is in the Weser region, which is a wistful location for hiking and cycling.
In 2008, its weekly farmers’ market was named the most beautiful in Europe by the non-profit foundation “Lebendige Stadt”. Known as Green Market, it limits produce to only fruit and horticulture, agriculture and forestry, fishing, food, and raw natural products.
As you stroll around Green Market it’s not hard to see why it’s the most beautiful. Found within Nienburg’s historical old town, the quality of the surroundings are matched only by the goods on offer. To exemplify this, everything is presented in an attractive way. Visit in May/June to view a vast display of flowers, plants, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, and baked goods. Not to mention German specialities such as German sausages.
6. The Hague, Holland
Holland is where you can discover the biggest outdoor farmers market in Europe – The Hague or Haagse Mart. However you pronounce it, you’ll want to spend some time here. There’s a lot to see and you’ll find all the holiday essentials you need. No need to find a supermarket!
With over 500 stalls to wander around, you can immerse yourself in Holland’s culture. The market sits in between two multicultural districts, (Transvaal and the Schilderswijk) reflecting the city’s multicultural population. You can find contrasting goods such as Dutch cauliflower at one end and Sharon fruit on the other. As if that wasn’t enough there is an extensive flower market – perfect to add a splash or two of colour where you are staying!
7. Milan’s farmers’ markets
Some of the most popular Italian markets are in Bologna, Tuscany, Lake Como, Rome, and Verona. Yet, Italy’s more traditional farmers’ markets are in Milan.
Milan has a long farmers’ market tradition because of its close relationship with its surrounding countryside and farmers. This is the place to taste fresh Italian produce direct from Italian farms.
When farmers set up stalls across Milan they’ll have an array of high-quality products to offer you. If you visit an indoor market called Mercato Campagna Amica Porta Romana, you’ll find homemade pasta. Need cheeses and fresh vegetables to go with it? Everything you need is on hand.
It is the best place to try out speciality Italian goods like focaccia and preserves. These items are sure to be a hit with your travelling companions – if you choose to share!
Visit farmers’ markets on holiday
Have we inspired you to explore a farmers market on holiday? As you can see visiting an organic farmers’ market can enhance a trip to anywhere in Europe. However, don’t forget to take our Europe Travel Insurance to travel with peace of mind.