Flea markets are basically modern-day treasure hunts, which is fun even when you don’t find anything. They’re also an affordable and exciting way to uncover unique stuff, whether it’s for decorating your studio or upping your Instagram OOTD game. If you love racing the rest of the crowd to swoop up the perfect vintage piece, you won’t want to miss some of the best flea markets in the world next time you’re on the road. So learn how to bargain, pack an extra duffel and scroll on for 10 markets that deserve a spot on your must-visit list.
1. Placa de la Seu, Barcelona, Spain: Forget going home with standard souvenirs or meaningless trinkets from a typical tourist stop. This Barcelona market, loved by Catalan locals, has an eye-popping assortment of treasures that range from rugs and clothing to relics of times past. Keep your eyes peeled for locally produced art, cool coffee table books featuring Picasso or Gaudí and unique beaded jewelry.
2. Brimfield Antique Show, Brimfield, MA: If you’ve ever picked up a design book or watched Flea Market Flip, you’re probably familiar with Brimfield Antiques Show, Massachusetts’ most adored market. Since the Northeast is known for antiques, this market is definitely the right place to go if you’re looking for a cool piece of furniture or vintage housewares. This show only happens a few times a year, so be sure to mark your calendars and plan accordingly.
3. Porta Portese, Rome, Italy: One of the largest open air markets in the world, Porta Portese (named for the neighborhood where it takes place) is a gigantic smattering of local vendors who sell everything from brand new video games at a discount to standard kitchenwares and totally random old stuff. You can also find some of Italy’s best buys — cotton clothes, leather bags and jackets — at super steep discounts. Don’t be afraid to offer a counter-price; it’s culturally accepted and expected.
4. Rose Bowl Flea Market, Pasadena, CA: Southern California’s wildly popular flea market draws an enormous crowd, rain or shine, on the second Sunday of every month. Said to be the “shopping place of the stars,” it boasts more than 2,500 different vendors who sell everything under the sun. Visiting this epic market is a super cool experience, whether your wallet takes a hit or not.
5. Alameda Antiques Faire, Alameda, CA: The Bay Area’s answer to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, the Alameda Antiques Faire is a massive monthly market, with more than 800 vendors that offer everything from homemade furniture to estate jewelry and vintage finds. Though the early bird entry costs slightly more at $15, the 6am wake-up call is more than worth it to get first dibs. Sweeping views of the San Francisco skyline are absolutely free.
6. Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, Paris, France: Founded in the late 17th century, this market on the outskirts of Paris is the largest flea market in the world. Known to locals simply as “Les Puces,” the word means “fleas” en francais. Shipping home furniture will be an enormous undertaking, so check out Marché Vernaison once you’re inside. Its winding alleys are full of smaller treasures that represent iconic French culture.
7. Togo Shrine, Tokyo, Japan: Near Harajuku street, a must-see when visiting Tokyo, Togo Shrine is a weekly market that takes place every Sunday. Though some of the other Sunday shrines are said to be losing their steam, this one is still really lively — and full of things to see, buy and experience. Look for home goods like china housewares, woven baskets, chests and vintage bento boxes. Chic storage has never been more unique or affordable.
8. Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, NYC: Hell’s Kitchen is go-to destination for the most talented hagglers, along with artists, celebs and tourists who are hoping to purchase something special. The market happens year round and is open on both Saturday and Sunday, with an ever-changing selection of furs, art, bags, shoes and other wares. Part of the Annex Markets, Hell’s Kitchen is next to the Chelsea Market, which is also open all weekend, year-round. If you’re down to seriously sort through the stalls, make a weekend of it and hit up both markets.
9. Randolph Street Market, Chicago, IL: This Midwest market is held on the last weekend of each month and features 100 vendors, who span eight acres of indoor and outdoor space. This mega market is full of the standard flea fare: trinkets, treasures, housewares, clothing and books, but since Chicago is known for amazing architecture, your chances of stumbling across some great books, maps and blueprints are extra high.
10. Austin Country Flea, Austin, TX: Do your Texan thing at this popular Austin market, which features live Tejano tunes and some of the city’s fave eats, like $2 barbacoa tacos, margs and more. Though this isn’t a good place to go if you’re set on finding antiques or big pieces, you’ll be in the right spot to snap up boots, cowboy hats, old records and wild airbrushed shirts.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever found at a flea market? Show us a photo on Instagram by tagging us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)