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The Top Markets in Barcelona, Spain

Updated on July 11, 2018
aesta1 profile image

Mary loves to travel and has been in over 60 countries and writes about the most interesting attractions and points of interests visited.

La Boqueria
La Boqueria | Source

The Markets in Barcelona

Much of the world shops everyday in local markets filled with small stalls or even "barrows". In Barcelona, these traditional markets are still going strong. Buyers know the sellers and get their food everyday or so from the same families they bought from for generations. Discussions on items are intense. Provenance of each item can be crucial.

These markets which had been there for generations are the centres of daily life. Shopping is not just an exchange of money for products, it's a social experience of meeting friends and getting updates on the neighbourhood news and gossip.

They are not the cheapest way of marketing food but they ensure absolute freshness in a highly competitive environment in which one's spongy orange or mushy tomato can cost a merchant her reputation. These markets are noisy, they're smelly, and they can be chaotic but at the end of the shopping you leave with a smile on your face.

The locals say that there are about 40 markets in Barcelona. Each barrio or neighbourhood has its own distinct market reflecting their culture and lifestyle. Here are some of the top local neighbourhood markets in Barcelona you'll enjoy visiting:

  1. Boqueria Market
  2. Caterina Market
  3. Sant Antoni Market
  4. Mercadillo de la Plaza de Sant Josep
  5. Mercat de la Concepcio
  6. Fira de Sta. Lucia
  7. Christmas Markets

La Boqueria
La Boqueria | Source

La Boqueria

Just to show you how old this market is, it was mentioned as early as 1217. At first, it was just an open market with a few tables selling meat. It was not until 1826 when it was formally recognized as a market and only 1840 when the construction of a building started.

Today, it is as popular as ever especially in the summer months when Barcelona is inundated with tourists, so if you want to enjoy this market, visit in the winter and although there is still a crowd, you can easily navigate it and enjoy the freshest meal you can savour in Barcelona while satisfying your penchant for people watching.

La Boqueria is located right in the center of the city and you will definitely not miss its entrance as you promenade in Barcelona's most walked-in street, Las Ramblas. If you go earlier, you will find the locals buying the day's produce for their family meals but later in the day, you will find a throng of tourists sampling what Barcelona has to offer their palate. As with most markets, there are several Tapas stands and the food is fantastic and fresh.

You can sample in cone shaped paper cups some of Spain's famous jamon serrano, jamon bellota, jamon iberico, sweets, cheese, fruits and vegetables, fish and other Catalan specialties cooked from the fresh produce sold in the market. Just perch on a stool in one of the tapas bars, cafes or restaurants of which the market has several and try out the fried padron peppers or the baby squid. Some of the best meals we had in Barcelona was from this market. Below is a sample of the dishes we enjoyed.

Food in La Boqueria
Food in La Boqueria | Source
Jamon Stall in La Boqueria
Jamon Stall in La Boqueria | Source
Spice Stall in La Boqueria
Spice Stall in La Boqueria | Source

Santa Caterina

Just an easy walk from the Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona, this market is mostly used by locals. Its distinctive ceramic coloured roof imitating the flow of the waves is this market's artistic feature.

The best thing to do is to walk over there for lunch or coffee after a visit to the Cathedral and the Gothic area and enjoy the food prepared by some of the best restaurants and tapas bars in Santa Caterina from the fresh produce in the market. You can check out their selection of jabugo ham made from the village of this name in Huelva, a province of Spain.

The village of Jabugo is located in the northern part of the province about 658 meters above sea level. The pigs in this area feed mostly on a diet of acorns from holm oaks and forage in what the locals call the dehesa, large tracts of sparsely wooded land. This high acorn diet gives the ham its distinctive aroma, its soft fat marbling texture, and mouth watering flavour. To spot the jabugo ham in a store, they are distinctly long and slender with the V-shaped Serrano cut and a black hoof. The outer fat is softer and smoother in texture and you can see the brand mark on the skin. Remember, ask the stall owner. With a little effort, you can communicate.

Aside from the jamon, the market sells fruits, vegetables, fish and other meat products. Some of the restaurants serve not just Spanish dishes but also Mediterranean, Italian, Vegetarian and Asian. Hola....its great!

Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona
Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona | Source

Mercat de Sant Antoni

This was our neighbourhood market when we stayed long in Barcelona. It was being renovated but the market went on serving from temporay facilities. Because, we were there in the winter when there was less crowd, we could really enjoy a good banter with the sellers who are just too eager to tell us what's special about their particular product and often where an Uncle lives in our home city.

The other thing we enjoyed doing here was buying our fish. As they clean what we purchased, the stall owner started telling us about families in Toronto knowing we came from this city. After a few purchases, we became good acquaintances.

The ones using this market are mostly locals so we watch what they buy and try to sample some prepared dishes not familiar to us. We could really take our time here.

Sant Antoni Market in Barcelona
Sant Antoni Market in Barcelona | Source
Egg Seller in Sant Antoni Market in Barcelona
Egg Seller in Sant Antoni Market in Barcelona | Source
Bacalhau for Sale in the Market
Bacalhau for Sale in the Market | Source

Buying Fish in San Antoni

Below is a video of the fish monger in Mercat de Sant Antoni. Watch how he wields that knife as he gets you the cut just how you want it.

Buying fish in Mercat Sant Antoni

Mercadillo de la Plaza de Sant Josep

We just happened to stumble on this famous Art market in front of the Church Santa Maria del Pi. Artists set up tables and easels to display their art works and it is worthwhile going from one stall to the other. As you show appreciation, the artist opens up and tells you more of the paintings. There are cafes and stores in this square and you can also go in and explore the Church.

Mercadillo de la Plaza de Sant Josep
Mercadillo de la Plaza de Sant Josep | Source
Mercadillo de la Plaza de Sant Josep
Mercadillo de la Plaza de Sant Josep | Source

Mercat de la Concepcio

This market wants to recreate the traditional market feel in the city where people not only buy what they need for the day but also chat with friends and update each other on the latest news and gossip in the neighbourhood and the search for Catalan recognition. Located in the neighbourhood of Eixample, they have specials everyday and fun activities that you need to check out in their website.

Video of Mercato de la Concepcio

Fira de Sta. Lucia
Fira de Sta. Lucia | Source

Fira de Santa Lucia

Located just outside of the Cathedral in Barcelona, this traditional Christmas market is the oldest having started as early as 1786. The 300 or so stalls in this market usually sell the figurines you can add to your Nativity set or "Pessebres" as the Catalans call it. There are some unusual items we saw for the first time, the Caganer figurine and the "Tio de Nadal" or Christmas log.

Usually, the Caganer is perched on top of the tent roof of each stall with his partly naughty, partly guilty smile. For those of you who yet has to meet the Caganer, this is the Catalan addition to the Christmas Nativity Scene. The figurine is in the act of pooing and what is really funny is that the stores have done a figurine of the most famous people and celebrities in the same position. Take one home of Presidents and others as a conversation piece!

The "Tio de Nadal" or just "Caga Tio" is so much part of the Catalan Christmas tradition and in this market, there is a giant one that attracts many children. From the 8th of December, the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion, the children start to feed and pamper Caga Tio with sweets and other treats until it gets bigger and full of presents.

On Christmas Eve, the Caga Tio in homes is placed close to the fireplace and the children sing a song as they whip the log ending with a thumping for Caga Tio and a command to the log to poop out presents. Then, the children leave the room to pray for special presents, giving the parents time to put in sweets and a gift each. Then, the children come out to enjoy the pooped out presents. Caga Tio ends this pooping with a salted herring, a head of garlic or onion, or a pee leaving a bowl of water. for bad childrem!

In Fira de Sants Lucia, is a giant Caga Tio and kids come and whip him to poop presents. We usually found a group of kids gathered there with their sticks hoping for a sweet or two.

"Tio de Nadal" Christmas Logs
"Tio de Nadal" Christmas Logs | Source

The Caga Tio Song

Here's the English translation of the Caga Tio song:

Shit, log,
Shit nougats (turrón),
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don't shit well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Shit, log!

Christmas Market in Barcelona
Christmas Market in Barcelona | Source

Barcelona Top Christmas Markets

The Fira de Sta. Lucia is not the only Christmas market in Barcelona. They city is full of them during Christmas.

Last Christmas, we were in Barcelona and enjoyed spending time in the Christmas markets. I always pick up a figurine or two to add to my Nativity set or to give away to friends. I never pass up on some of the traditional Spanish sweets. So, here's a list of some of these markets you can explore:

  • Christmas Market in La Sagrada Familia

Located right in front of the Church, this market opens 25 November to 23rd December from 10 in the morning to 10 at night. When we visited, the market was just opening and it was here where we had our first introduction to the Caganer.

  • Three Kings Fair in Gran Via

Starting on 19 December to 6 January, this spans the Gran Via from Muntaner to Calabria. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. As we stayed in Gran Via, we often strolled here and my husband bought a hat and I got our grand daughters some of the beautifully designed fashion jewelry.

There is orginal art, hand made items, beautifully designed jewelry, organic beauty products, artisanal products and toys. Many of the creations are influenced by Gaudi"s ideas. You can also find the "carbon de azucar" which is the traditional gift for Three Kings. Most gift-giving in Spain does not take place on Christmas Day but on the Feast of the Three Kings.

  • Christmas Market in Nadal de Sants

Located in Carrer Joan Guell - Placa de Sants from the end of November to the 23rd of December, this market is dedicated to artisans works. Again, the influence of Gaudi and Miro are evident.

  • Mercat de Nadal de Pedralbes

Located in the Plaza Monestir de Pedralbes, this is just a one day Christmas Market at the Pedralbes Monastery where you can enjoy a guided tour of the Monastery and listen to the beautiful Christmas carol singing. Usually on the first Sunday of November but check for the announcement.

  • Plaza de Catalunya Christmas Fair

On the Plaza de Catalunya, from 22 December - 4 January, this fair features Responsible Consumption promoted and organised by the Barcelona City Council and showcases sustainable gifts and activities encouraging responsible use of products and services. A whiff of sanctimoniousness as a balance to some of the extremes elsewhere.

Your Choice of Barcelona Markets

Which of these markets did you enjoy exploring in your last visit or will enjoy in your future visit?

See results

The Top Markets in Barcelona: Location and Opening Hours

Local Markets
Location
Hours
Boqueria
La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona
Monday to Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday: Closed
Santa Caterina
Avenida de Francesc Cambó 16
Mon, Wed and Sat 7.30am-3.30pm, Tues, Thurs and Fri 7.30am-8.30pm
Sant Antoni
Carrer del Comte d’Urgell 1
Monday to Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday: Closed
Mercadillo de la Plaza de Sant Josep
Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, 08002 Barcelona
Monday to Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday: Closed
Mercat de la Concepcio
Carrer d'Aragó, 313-317, 08009 Barcelona
Winter time - Since september 4th to july 16th Mondays and Saturdays from 8:00 to 15:00 pm Tuesday to Friday from 8:00 to 20: 00h Summer time - Since july 17th to September 3 Mondays to Saturdays from 8:00 to 15:00 pm
Fira de Sta. Lucia
Avenida de la Catedral
Daily from 10.30 to 22.30; Fri 24th November to Sat 23rd Dec
Christmas Markets
La Sagrada Familia, Santa, Gothic, Gran Via
Christmas Season

Tips to Make your Market Visit More Enjoyable

Traditional markets are the souls of neighbourhoods and for visitors interested in getting a feel of the city, these are the places to explore and hang around, taste some local dishes and have a glimpse of the local culture. In Barcelona, there are several where one can have fun in (especially if they follow these few tips):

  • Go early in the produce markets so you can hobnob with the locals buying what they need for the day. Have your coffee and breakfast there or if it is later, your lunch. The cafes there make the most tasty dishes from the fresh produce. In other words, plan your visit with a meal in mind.
  • For Christmas markets, go in the evening so with the lights on, you can really have a feel of the Christmas spirit.
  • Bring cash and small change as, sometimes, the stalls don't take cards.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes with a hat especially in the summer . Don't wear valuables and make sure you take care of your cameras and phones
  • Don't forget to bring cloth bags for your purchases.

Most of all, prepare yourself to have fun and not be bothered by the crowd or the heat or the small alleys or the unfamiliar language. Get into the spirit of the place and make it a far richer experience for everyone.

© 2018 Mary Norton

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    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      17 hours ago from Ontario, Canada

      Do enjoy your travel there in Peru and I look forward to your sharing your experience with us.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      27 hours ago from USA

      I love markets like this and would love to go to all of them! I’m in Peru right now and this afternoon spent a few hours at a local market bargaining my way through the aisles. I love the experience!

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Bede. Yes, it was an amazing cultural immersion. The voice in the video is my husband’s. He enjoyed going to that market and bought fish just for the fun of it. That was fried squid what we had, their version of calamari.

    • Bede le Venerable profile image

      Bede 

      3 days ago from Minnesota

      Mary, what a wonderful experience it must have been to have this cultural immersion. Is that fried calamari I see? Wow, it looks yummy! One more question: who does the speaking, your or your husband, or both?

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 days ago from london

      Thanks Mary.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'm sure, one day, you'll go.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, that market in Sagrada Familia is fun but I think next time you visit, behind the exhibity of chasubles, there's a small chapel just for quiet meditation. No cameras and loitering.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      We enjoyed the paellas, too. Shopping is great especially when you happen to be there for the end of season sale.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, Bill. There's always a market to explore especially in the summer when farmers' markets open. It's always fun to explore.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I would be there. I love to stroll through markets. It's amazing to me that around the world, markets are a constant. No matter the area you visit, you can always count on finding an outdoor market.

    • dredcuan profile image

      Dred Cuan 

      3 days ago from California

      I love shopping in Barcelona! Most shops that I've visited offer great choices at very affordable prices. Oh, I enjoyed their paellas too! Love Gustos!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 days ago from london

      The Caga Tio Song

      Interesting poem (smile)

      Quite a useful list, tips and opening times to peruse for the would be visitor. I explored the Sagrada Familia and its surrounding markets. Quite fun.

      Those Christmas logs are really interesting and Sant Antoni have a lovely design. This crowd in front of La Boguera looks like they are going to church. Lol. No, good food does cost a wee bit more, but is usually worth it. Great scenery, including the food. Peace.

    • profile image

      stephane zed 

      3 days ago

      i will like to travel for there

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Linda. They truly are interesting in that it gives you more insights into the local culture.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love reading about the places that you've visited. The markets that you've described sound very interesting. They look like great places to explore.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      That was what we often did so we could sample some of Spain's specialties.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, interacting with the artists in this market was really fun. You can get some original pieces at reasonable prices.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      There's always a second time and this time, you know what to do.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Eric. Your tipper is right because you can walk almost everywhere in and from that area.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      We did, too, especially the local specialties.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks GlenR. We enjoy markets as well and you are so right that the Log Song does not express well the local colour.

    • Mariaelizabeth profile image

      Maria Elizabeth 

      4 days ago from Cheshire/Greater Manchester, UK

      Lovely article Mary, intrigued by your descriptions and I’m rather tempted to try the regional tasters at the food stalls.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      4 days ago from Chicago Area

      With the plethora of food stores we have in our area, it's difficult to imagine shopping in a market environment like this. But it would be interesting to see this in action. The Mercadillo art market would be fun. Thanks for sharing!

    • CYong74 profile image

      Kuan Leong Yong 

      4 days ago from Singapore

      Great writeup, Mary!

      I was in Barcelona four years ago and because I was rushing to too many places, I only spent 10 minutes in La Boqueria. Now I wish I've been more sensible! :(

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      '72 met a Spaniard in a hostel in Lucerne who gave me the skinny on where in Barcelona to stay. He said the key was to get close to La Boqueria. And go at the crack of dawn for just food for the day.

      I loved this article as all of yours, thank you.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      4 days ago from United Kingdom

      These markets are amazing. I could happily spend my entire day browsing their wares. Lovely.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      GlenR 

      4 days ago from UK

      Great article, Mary. I love to visit the local markets when travelling and wrote about the market in Alicante in one of my earliest articles.

      The markets in Southern Europe are, as you say, best early in the morning during the hotter months - the fish markets, in particular, get smelly later in the day. The Log Song doesn’t translate into English very impressively LoL :)

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