Flea markets might seem like a thing of the past but, in reality, they're very much still a great pastime. Online shopping hasn't yet had its way with the notion of actually going to an open-air market and perusing each booth, and it's an experience that will likely continue for generations. Flea markets are also a universal language - around the world, the idea of shopping for something that could be special to a person will never become a lost art.
With that being said, no one country does flea markets better than the other. However, there are some countries that put together flea markets that are bigger than others, with the number of vendors totaling well into the thousands. If you're wondering how it's possible to shop an open-air market that big, then you're not alone. That's why people plan entire trips around the markets simply because of the fact that they're so unique and diverse.
Monastiraki Flea Market
It's not very often that you think of Athens, Greece, and then immediately think of a flea market, but that's exactly what Monastiraki is. The flea market comes alive on Sundays when the main shops on the road close, and the streets are flooded with unique wares.
There are some great hotels located around the center of the flea market, as well, so if you're looking to plan a trip, you're in luck.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
There are many places in Thailand that give travelers a thrill when it comes to shopping but perhaps none is better than the Chatuchak Weekend Market. This market takes up a total of 35 acres and is home to more than 8,000 vendors, which is almost hard to wrap your head around - but is seriously exciting if you're all about shopping.
This market does take a bit of haggling in order to navigate, though, as some vendors do overcharge and you'll end up overpaying if you're not paying attention.
Madrid is well-known for its biggest flea market which is called El Rastro, and it's open every bank holiday and Sunday. The market is located in La Latina and is also one of the oldest in Spain, so it's worth stopping by just for the history if you're not planning on doing some serious shopping.
The unique thing about El Rastro is that the main street fills with vendors as well as the side streets, so shoppers have the option to walk around both in order to find what they're looking for. While the main street will usually give way to clothing and other more common items, it's the side streets that hold hidden gems in terms of true flea market finds.
Germany is another country that one wouldn't typically associate with having one of the biggest flea markets in the world, but Mauerpark Flohmarkt is currently changing that. This Berlin-based flea market is an awesome stop to make during any visit because, in addition to shopping, visitors can also find some pretty great food and live music.
It tends to feel more like a festival than a flea market with a jovial atmosphere to match, and the flea market itself is full of unique and fun finds.
Feira Da Ladra
Feira Da Ladra is held every two weeks in Lisbon, Portugal, and it's one of the oldest markets in the country. This market has really come a long way since it was once only home to secondhand goods that didn't necessarily appeal to everyone.
Today, the market is still home to antiques but also includes wares from local artisans, bringing an air of local flair to the market scene. A word of advice is to get there early because when the crowds pick up, you'll have a harder time picking through everything.
Marche Aux Puces De Saint Ouen
Marche Aux Puces De Saint Ouen is said to be the largest flea market in the world, and the secret is that it's not just one market. A total of 12 separate markets make up this extensive shopping experience, each with its own timeline and history in the area.
Visitors to this market can find both vintage wares as well as local, artisan wares and art. Just make sure you carve out enough time to visit every part of the market you want to see because it can get overwhelming.
Portobello Market is in a beautiful part of London, Nottinghill. This market's claim to fame is the fact that it's home to a plethora of antiques, with more than 1,000 dealers showing up to show their unique finds.
Shoppers will also find fresh produce and other food at this market, in between various secondhand items and antiques.