By far the most beautiful, and one of the most vibrant traditional markets we have been to, the Mercat Central in Valencia is a must-visit stop for any food lover traveling around Spain. Inaugurated in 1928, Mercat Central is one of the oldest and largest surviving markets in all of Europe and it’s also one of the most progressive, offering an online purchasing interface and being the first market in the world to offer home-delivery service. Around 300 different vendors are housed within 8,000 square meters of modernist space, sitting under sparkling mosaic domes and surrounded by stained glass windows.
The market stalls are divided into sections separating different types of foods: fish from meats, meats from offal, fresh produce and baked goods from everything else. Spend a few minutes strolling thorough the pristine aisles and you will quickly realize how much pride each vendor takes in what they do. You’ll find that everything from seasonal berries to fresh eggs are displayed with care and you are likely to be offered samples of the goods if you decide to shop a little. If you have the time for a picnic, stock up on treats like jamón iberico, a huge variety of local cheeses, cured sausages, marinated olives, crusty breads and fresh fruits. Need ideas for gifts to bring home from your travels? You can get fantastic quality olive oil, saffron and smoked paprika for much less than you’d pay back home, and if you are looking for something really unique, pick up a mini paella pan. Whether you go to admire the Art Nouveaux architecture or to grocery shop, you won’t be disappointed by a visit to Valencia’s Mercat Central.