A pork bao at K25 in Stockholm, Sweden, one of the underrated European food markets

We cannot overstate our love for, and reliance on, European food markets. We seek them out for people watching, beautiful food photos and when we just cannot agree on what to eat. When there are twenty-five vendors at our disposal, no one ever has to compromise.

Pasta for me, sushi for him. Story of our lives.

Nearly every major European city has a food market or two. You may have heard of a few of the most famous. La Boqueria, Barcelona’s homage to its food-centered culture, is certainly worth a visit, if only for the fresh juice stalls – photogenic and delicious.  And London’s Borough Market is deservedly well known, but it’s also insanely busy, thanks to its prominence in guide books.

K25 Stockholm

When we travel, we like to dig a little deeper, searching out small food halls that cater to the locals with a magical mix of tempting food and drink in a comfortable and usually funky setting. Over the years we’ve uncovered a few of the most well-curated, fantastic food markets around the continent, but we’ve kept them to ourselves.

We just don’t want these amazing spaces to trade their authenticity for traffic.

But, no more. Without further ado, here are the best underrated European food markets around. They get the official seal of approval from a couple of food obsessives, which is always a good thing.

K25, Stockholm

A bartender gave us the tip – the best food in Stockholm was not to be found in a grand restaurant on the waterfront but in a humble stall inside a food court. When we ducked into the dim light of K25, home to eleven vendors and space to seat roughly 250 guests, we were like two kids in a candy store. We raced up and down the hall, quickly assessing if we were in the mood for Thai curry, or Chinese buns or maybe a bit of Vietnamese pho. All three, it turns out. If we lived in Stockholm, we would come here every day. Full stop.

K25 Stockholm

Mathallen, Oslo

Food bloggers are a great source for market research and thanks to several tips we got reading blogs of enthusiastic eaters, we knew we were in good hands heading down a side street to Mathallen. Mathallen houses prepared food vendors as well as more traditional market stalls with fresh ingredients to bring home. And it’s pretty big, so we decided to divide and conquer, picking out the best bites for our lunch. A tasty fried chicken sandwich and a whole store selling mini pies (the sweet kind) are the best memories.

The Mathallen Market in Oslo, Norway, one of the underrated European food markets

Mercato da Ribeira, Lisbon

Ok, listen to this crazy story. The city magazine, Time Out, which publishes weekly in many cities worldwide, took on this project to revitalize one of Lisbon’s oldest markets. They asked many of Lisbon’s top restaurants to create mini versions within the historic building, and before they knew it, there were 35 vendors and a massive space for customers ready to take Lisbon’s food scene to the next level. It has been bustling ever since.

The inside of Mercado da Ribeira, one of the underrated European food markets

Testaccio Food Market, Rome

As one article puts it, Testaccio market is not just a practical spot to get your groceries, but also a staple hangout among locals. When the old Testaccio Market was moved and upgraded in 2012, it was done to the wary skepticism of locals. Fortunately, after a few early missteps, everyone seems to be on board with this lovely market, one of our favorites in one of the best food countries of all. There is a stall here known for its brisket sandwich, Mordi e Vai, and we stand by its popularity. It was amazing.

The entrance to Mercato Testaccio, one the underrated European food markets

Mercat Princesa, Barcelona

Down a side street in El Born, in the shadows of La Boqueria, Barcelona’s famous market, we found Mercat Princesa. It appeared innocent enough from the outside, an unassuming facade that we thought led to a single restaurant. Were we mistaken. The stone room opened up to reveal a virtual food heaven, 17 vendors selling everything from cocktails to burgers to tacos. No vendor veers too far from the traditional Spanish flavors, but if you like everything a little spicy and filled with chorizo (my single favorite Spanish ingredient of all time), you’ve come to the right place. We spent an entire night here and would do it again in a heartbeat.

A food display at Mercat Princesa in Barcelona, Spain, one of the underrated European food markets

Markthalle IX (Neun), Berlin

Who doesn’t love a Cinderella story? 120 years after its original opening in Kreuzberg’s Eisenbahnstraße, Markthalle Neun reopened in 2011 offering a wide variety of options for all kinds of Berliners. Six days per week, there are a wide variety of typical vendors – butchers, bakeries, pasta, fish and even handmade tofu. Three days a week, other traditional offerings join the party. Thursday nights are dedicated to street food, one morning a month is a Breakfast Market, and once a quarter the whole space becomes a full-on snack market. Side note: the big photo up top is of a steamed bun at K25 in Stockholm, but the most popular stall at Markthalle IX is also a bun stall. Buns for everyone!

A few of the many stalls at Markthalle IX in Berlin, Germany, one of the underrated Euroepan food markets

We didn’t get into our favorite London markets here because, frankly, we are sick of writing about them. If there is any topic we’ve officially exhausted, this is it. But, if for some reason you haven’t yet read our encyclopedias of what to eat at the best London food markets, you can find some here: Brixton Market, Broadway Market, Dalston Street Feast, Maltby Market, and Camden Market.

What is your favorite European food market? We are off on a big Europe swing this autumn and need plenty of recommendations! Drop us a note below…

6 Underrated European Food Markets

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  • July 23, 2016

    I loved how you said “the best food in Stockholm was not to be found in a grand restaurant on the waterfront but in a humble stall inside a food court.” We have found this to be true too. Food markets are amazing since they are helping local businesses plus there is such a wide variety of food everyone is going to be happy! I want to visit each of the food markets you mentioned above. They all looked and sounded amazing!
    Bryanna recently posted…Things To Do In Chicago With KidsMy Profile

    • July 25, 2016

      They are all delicious, guaranteed!

  • July 23, 2016

    My husband, daughter and I are also food market fanatics. Our #1 reason to travel is to eat and find the best food so food markets are tops on our must-do list. Love the Mercato Testaccio but haven’t been to any of the others listed her. Will have to add them to our long list of places to eat, thanks!
    Brenda Tolentino recently posted…Carving Out my PastMy Profile

  • July 23, 2016

    I fell in love with European marketplaces when first there long ago. Now the phenomenon has moved into the US, I don’t need a passport to indulge. However I look forward to seeing more and eating my way through some of these next trip across the Atlantic.
    Elaine J Masters recently posted…How to connect with the real Puerto PrincesaMy Profile

    • July 25, 2016

      its true…so many of these places opening across the US, which is great to see. Just means more great places to eat!

  • July 24, 2016

    I have been to Europe many times and have also lived there for considerable time in various countries but I have never seen any of these :(. The one in Lisbon looks particularly interesting.
    nisha recently posted…Flying business class with Singapore AirlinesMy Profile

    • July 25, 2016

      There are a ton of these hidden gems. Most are not midst of the tourist areas, so they are slightly harder to find, but totally worth it!

  • July 24, 2016

    This is a great list to bookmark for European adventures. I have the same issue when me and my partner go abroad, I love pasta, he loves anything meat (which is a bummer because I’m veggie!). Your photography is stunning by the way! My favourite has to be Lisbon, hoping to go there next year too so I’ll have to go check this one out 🙂

    • July 25, 2016

      Thanks for the compliment on the photos! Definitely check out the Lisbon market…super fun.

  • July 24, 2016

    I really need to try the place you mention here in Stockholm. I have never heard about it before 🙂
    Jesper, The Biveros Effect recently posted…Road Trip In Sunny Sweden – Let’s Go!My Profile

    • July 25, 2016

      Most definitely! Try a curry at Jim Lim, a Thai stall from the people behind the Thai restaurant Farang. Super delicious!

  • July 25, 2016

    It’s always so hard to keep wonderful discoveries to yourself. Like you said, you don’t want to tell anyone so that it remains authentic and less crowded. But at the same time, they’re just so damn good! The Testaccio market in Rome is the one I think I’d enjoy the most.

    • July 25, 2016

      The Testaccio one is especially good, and far fewer tourists as it is about a 20 minute walk south from the Colosseum.

  • July 25, 2016

    I love finding food markets when I travel and you’re right it’s often the best food in the area. Great to have these lesser known ones. There are more and more popping up around in the states and even my hometown is trying to get one going. Hope if they do it’s as good as these look.
    Megan recently posted…A Weekend in Anderson Valley Wine CountryMy Profile

    • July 25, 2016

      Yeah, we wanted to share some of the more interesting places, rather than the super well-known spots that are already extensively covered. And trust us, they ARE as good as they look!

  • July 25, 2016

    We always love food markets! They are perfect for us because we always seem to be craving something different! We loved Mathallen in Olso, but haven’t been to any of the others on your list. We are heading to Berlin later this year, so we will definitely have to check that one out. Thanks for the suggestions!
    Jenna recently posted…Kayaking on Mirror Lake in WisconsinMy Profile

    • July 25, 2016

      There is nothing better than a good market! Plus, you often find interesting food for a reasonable price, something that is nice to have in expensive places like Stockholm and Oslo!

  • July 25, 2016

    I enjoy eating at food markets locally so I am not exactly sure why I haven’t extended this to our travels. Thanks for the tips. I will keep these places in mind when we are in Europe.
    Christina recently posted…An Epic 14 Day Iceland Itinerary in PhotosMy Profile

  • July 26, 2016

    I love markets and I’ve only been to one of these places on your list. The market in El Born, Barcelona was great. I loved that whole area. I will definitely keep these places in mind when I go overseas. Thanks for the tips
    Kate recently posted…Top 5 Things To Eat in MontenegroMy Profile

    • July 29, 2016

      There are so many great markets across Europe…hard to go wrong!

  • August 15, 2016
    Kirstine

    I can strongly recommend Copenhagen Street food on the Paper Island in the center of Copenhagen Harbour. Here you will find about 38 internatinal food trucks and containers. Concerts and exhibitions are often held here as well. The place is rustic, and the atmosphere great. Here you can get a cheap and tasty – organic – meal.

    • August 16, 2016

      Thanks for the tip! We hope to head to Copenhagen again soon…we’ll definitely check it out!

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