By Austin Adventures /

Europe’s amazing markets satisfy all the senses

Fall is a great time to visit Europe. The crowds have thinned, the weather is crisp and cool, and you can access great harvest-season foods including, in many cases, farm-to-table meals that can only be enjoyed in the autumn months. Better still, it’s a great time to experience European markets that allow access to a riot of cheeses, meats, and succulent local foods.

We sat down with Adam Beecham, Austin Adventures’ European Operations Manager and got his suggestions for Europe’s very best markets.

The Grote Markt – Haarlem, Netherlands

Haarlem is a photographer’s paradise as medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and waterways await you at every turn. Haarlem features iconic cathedrals and, naturally, Dutch windmills. Cool, curious, and relaxing, Haarlem is also the heart of the bulb-growing district. One of Europe’s most colorful traditions, the annual, world-renowned Bloemencorso Bollenstreek (‘bloom festival’) is in April.

“During the spring they have an amazing market and parade each year to highlight the Dutch love of flowers,” notes Beecham. “Parade floats are completely covered in flowers with elaborate preparation and fun designs. The whole town comes to life during this event!”

The Saturday Market – Beaune, France

What better thing to do in Beaune, in the region of Burgundy, then to try the wine that is its namesake? You can pair it with astounding cuisines and sweets, all in one of the oldest wine regions in France.

Within its market, you’ll also find Charolais beef, Bresse poultry, blackcurrant, gingerbread, mustards and other gastronomic delights. There is also clothing, household linen, decorative items, jewelry, and more.

“Here you can find the most beautiful fresh vegetables and fruits, along with delicacies that only France could provide. Homemade cheese’s, jams, fresh bread, and of course regional wines from the hills of Burgundy,” says Beecham.

Mercat Encants Vells – Barcelona, Spain

If you enjoy art, and especially architecture, at all, then Barcelona should be on your ‘must see’ list. The Hospital de Sant Pau and Gaudi’s famous unfinished modernist basilica Segrada Familia and Avenida de Gaudi will provide you with truly stunning, cutting-edge, even surprising architecture. It’s a style that is truly unique to this one, exceptionally vibrant city.

If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, then all treasure hunters should head to Mercat Encants Vells, one of Barcelona’s largest flea markets. If you love bargains, second hand items, and antiques with a story, you may be overwhelmed here.

“This market, and others like it, really bring out the Spanish and is a great place to people watch,” says Beecham. “Haggle with a local vendor as you try to purchase that one of a kind antique item. Life is lived on the streets in Spain, and no more so that here in these markets of Barcelona.”

Tips and Advice

Beecham also offers some tips for market goers:

  • Note that some of these markets are seasonal. The flower market in Haarlem, for example, is understandably only held during the spring blooming season.
  • While some markets are open daily, others are limited to only Saturdays or Sundays. They also can have limited hours too, generally starting in the morning and staying open until the early afternoon.
  • Because of seasonality and variable hours, please plan ahead. As always, a great resource is an Austin Adventures team member, be it your contact in the Billings office, or your trip guide.
  • These markets are fantastic for photography. If you love to take photos, you’ll be able to capture real, authentic daily lives within these communities. And the markets are just filled with color, diverse products, and fascinating people.
  • And speaking of people, don’t shy away from the markets if you’re not a shopper because they are fantastic places to people-watch!
  • Also, use the markets to buy your own snacks or enhancements to your next meal, or purchase delicacies for friends at home.

Our Suggestions

Here are our recommendations for Austin Adventures trips that will bring you to these vibrant, eclectic, and colorful cities, and the sumptuous markets therein:

Maybe you haven’t seen these bucket list destinations at all yet, or maybe you want to see them now to include that local market experience in another European adventure. Either way, we’re happy to chat further and confirm availability for you. As a small, family-owned company, we’re always happy to chat with our friends (particularly about travel)!

See all European Austin Adventure tours: https://www.austinadventures.com/destinations/europe/

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