8 Of The Best Flea Markets In Europe
Even if you’re not looking to buy, there’s something fascinating about visiting flea markets in foreign cities. Maybe it’s the window into local lives that makes it so moving and profound. They’re also great spots to pick up gifts and trinkets to remind you of your trip. Unlike high-street stores, there’s an authentic edge to most flea markets in Europe, where you can get true gems at bargain prices.
Flea markets in Europe
1. Braderie de Lille – Lille, France
Braderie de Lille may be one of the largest and oldest flea markets in Europe. This famous market dates back to the mid-1100s. Over the years it’s gone through several incarnations. It’s now firmly entrenched as a vibrant annual market that features more than 10,000 hawkers selling a range of items. The streets will come to a standstill on the first weekend of September as bargain hunters filter through the crammed aisles, looking for hidden gems.
How to get there by train: Lille is an easy 1-hour TGV train ride away from Paris.
2. Jeu de Balle Market – Brussels, Belgium
This Brussels market is open 365 days a year and sells a wide range of items. You’ll find everything from antiques to collectables, all in a typically welcoming Belgium atmosphere. Although it’s open throughout the week, you may want to go on the weekends if you want to gawk at high-end items. Many vendors tend to bring out their favorite items on Saturdays and Sundays.
How to get there by train: Brussels is easy to reach by regional train from most cities in the Benelux region. There are also high-speed trains Paris that take 1.5 hours.
3. Portobello Road Market – London, United Kingdom
The English capital is home to several popular markets. But if it’s antiques you’re after, look no further than Portobello Road. There you’ll find more than 1,000 antique dealers. This market is so impressive that many people make it the focus of their trip. And with easy access to London via the Eurostar, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same.
How to get there by train: There are regular connections to London from both Paris and Brussels via the Eurostar train.
4. Feira da Ladra – Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon’s most popular flea market, Feira da Ladra, stretches out over several city blocks. It has a slightly sinister past, when thieves would offer stolen goods for sale in these stalls, but these days it’s all above board. You’ll find a range of items for sale on both Tuesdays and Saturdays. Even if you don’t want to buy, it’s worth a visit for the history and atmosphere.
How to get there by train: Lisbon is a major rail hub in Portugal, and there are regular trains from both north and south of the capital.
5. Munich Flea Market – Munich, Germany
Munich is no stranger to regular flea markets, but it’s the annual Frühjahrsfest that gets most market fans frothing. The market takes place on the first Saturday of the Munich Spring Festival in April, on the same grounds as Oktoberfest. It’s a massive market that brings together thousands of exhibitors. You can pick up everything from clothes, furniture, military items, and even electronic goods.
How to get there by train: Munich is easy to reach by train from most German cities. There are also easy international connections from France, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
6. Puces de Saint-Ouen – Paris, France
As you’d expect, there’s a certain charm and class to most Parisian flea markets. The ever-present feeling that you’ll stumble across some rare French items simply adds to the intrigue. Although there are at least three popular flea markets in the French capital, Puces de Saint-Ouen is the largest, feels more local, and boasts the best atmosphere.
How to get there by train: There are eight train stations in Paris that receive trains from across France and Europe.
7. IJ-Hallen – Amsterdam, Netherlands
At times, exploring the stalls of Amsterdam’s IJ-Hallen flea market feels like a real-world treasure hunt. It claims to be one of the biggest flea markets in Europe, and you’ll find a massive selection of items for sale across the hundreds of stands. Whether you’re looking for clothing, jewelry, antiques, or even books, there’s a good chance you’ll leave with something truly unique after a morning spent picking through the piles.
How to get there by train: Amsterdam is a major rail hub in Europe. There are regular trains to the city from across the Netherlands and most neighboring countries.
8. El Rastro – Madrid, Spain
The Spanish capital has a fascinating history. It flows down its streets and appears in the most unlikely places, such as the popular El Rastro flea market. This is one of the oldest markets in Europe, and since medieval times its served as a destination to buy and sell used goods. Even if you’re not looking to add to your luggage, walking down the bustling aisles and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere is a thrilling experience.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Madrid from throughout Spain, as well as connections to neighboring countries Portugal and France.
Many markets are fascinating to explore, even if you don’t plan on adding extra weight to your backpack. But if you’re traveling with a Eurail Global Pass, why not pay a visit to one (or more) of these flea markets in Europe? You can get something small from each one – such as a thimble, ornate button, or an old postcard or two – that’ll forever transport you back to that moment in time.