Food

These are the must-see food markets to visit on a European mini-break

Posted by
Gemma Crisp
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Eat your way around Europe’s best food-hall destinations, from Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel to Malmö’s Saluhall. Time to book that weekend break… 

Mercado De San Miguel, Madrid

Plaza de San Miguel, mercadodesanmiguel.es

Unlike some food halls which highlight global cuisine, this wrought iron and glass building, built in 1916, boasts multiple tributes to its country’s gastronomic art form: tapas. 

Start off sipping a vermouth on tap from La Hora del Vermut with a selection of banderillas (toothpicks laced with olives, cheese, sardines and peppers) then feast on perfectly fluffy croquettes from Croquetas Cart, pintxos piled high with cumulus-like burrata from MozHeart, al dente paella from Paella Y Olé and paper cones of freshly cooked calamari from El Señor Martín Fish Cart. While it can be a bit touristy, the atmosphere is ideal for people-watching.

Stay here: 7 Islas Hotel (rooms from £73, 7islashotel.com), 15 minutes’ walk away.

Markthalle Neun, Berlin

Eisenbahnstrasse 42/43, markthalleneun.de

Berlin has 14 food halls that were built in the 19th century, this was the ninth – as the name reflects. Considered the pioneer of Berlin’s street-food scene – the market is especially popular on Thursday evenings when street-food vendors cram in with their niche international dishes – it is also home to permanent food outlets like the acclaimed Big Stuff Smoked BBQ.

Unusual flavours are the order of the day, such as kimchi poutine at Bone and raspberry and basil ice cream at Rosa Canina. Fancy a tipple? Try the Thirsty Lady Pale Ale from on-site craft brewery Heidenpeters or choose from 30 wines by the glass in the 200-strong list at Weinhandlung Suff.

Stay here: Michelberger Hotel (rooms from £63, michelbergerhotel.com),
18 minutes’ walk away. 

Saluhall, Malmö

Gibraltargatan 6, malmosaluhall.se/en 

Malmö is gaining a reputation as Sweden’s foodie capital, and the 17 traders in this chic converted warehouse do nothing to dispel this. Carefully selected by siblings Martin and Nina Karyd, Saluhall’s owners, the outlets blend farmers’ market vibes with bijoux bistros. Cardamom buns from St Jakobs Stenugnsbageri are a must, as are the oysters and fish soup at Malmstens Fisk & Kök. 

The community vibe is palpable as stall holders often work together
– ice cream maestros Favvo Glass have collaborated with Tea Junkies to create a rooibos tea flavour, while Falafel & Burgers use St Jakobs Stenugnsbageri bread to house their sizeable patties.

Stay here: MJ’s Hotel (rooms from £80, mjs.life), eight minutes’ walk away. 

Torvehallerne, Copenhagen

Frederiksborggade 21, torvehallernekbh.dk

Spread over two minimalist glass- walled halls in a cobblestoned square near Nørreport station, Torvehallerne has more than 60 stalls, a lot of which sell fresh food for visitors to take home and cook. But there are plenty of ready-to-eat options too. Don’t miss the duck confit baguettes at Ma Poule (which defected from London’s Borough Market in 2011) or try a pickled herring open sandwich at Hallernes Smørrebrød, followed by something sweet from renowned chocolatier Summerbird. 

Stay here: Manon Les Suites (rooms from £154, guldsmedenhotels.com), 10 minutes’ walk away. 

Mackie Mayor, Manchester

Eagle Street, mackiemayor.co.uk

Described as the “spiritual sister” of the award-winning Altrincham Market (the same team are behind both), Mackie Mayor opened in the Northern Quarter’s 1857 Grade II-listed former meat market in October last year. Long wooden benches and low-hanging pendant lamps complement the soaring glass roof, and the open-plan space holds 500 people over two levels.

There are just six food vendors, many of whom are also at Altrincham, such as Little Window (the go-to for fresh, seasonal dishes), Honest Crust pizza and steak specialist Tender Cow. The latter have debuted a new sibling, Fin Fish Bar, at Mackie Mayor while Nationale 7 specialises in rotisserie chicken. If you need to quench your thirst, there’s an on-site microbrewery (Jack In The Box from Blackjack Brewery), wine bar and two coffee outlets.

Stay here: King Street Townhouse (rooms from £162, eclectichotels.co.uk), 12 minutes’ walk away. 

Hala Koszyki, Warsaw

Koszykowa 63, koszyki.com

Notoriously busy (despite being open 8am-1am every day except Sunday when it opens at 9am), the beautifully restored neo-gothic market hall from 1909 has 18 dining outlets and 11 fresh food vendors selling everything from chocolate to cheese. A popular spot is Restaurant Warszawski Sen (‘The Warsaw Dream’) by Mateusz Gessler, which serves up modern Polish dishes such as stuffed wild quail in caramelised cream with smoked plums. 

After something lighter? Order one of Weranda Bistro’s 14 salads – the restaurant is famous for its lettuce (really). Before you leave, nip upstairs to get a better look at the kinetic ‘Big Dipper’ light installation by Australian artist Michael Candy.

Stay here: Autor Rooms (rooms from £88, autorrooms.pl), two minutes’ walk away. 

Time Out Market, Lisbon

Avenida 24 de Julho 49, timeoutmarket.com/lisboa/en

The industrial chic vibe of this market in the buzzing Cais do Sodré area houses 24 restaurants, eight bars and scores of seating, but can still have lengthy queues. Some of Portugal’s best restaurants have created bespoke offshoots to showcase their signature dishes. Try bacalhau (salt cod) at Balcão da Esquina, mind-blowing sirloin at Café de São Bento and finish with arguably the city’s best custard tart at Manteigaria. Then taste your way through sour cherry liqueurs at Casa de Ginja (Stylist’s favourite is Espinheira).

Stay here: Memmo Principe Real (rooms from £200, memmohotels.com), 20 minutes’ walk away. 

Food Hallen, Amsterdam

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Bellamyplein 51, foodhallen.nl

Part of the larger De Hallen complex, which also boasts a cinema, hotel and indie fashion shops, Amsterdam’s first indoor food market, in a former tram depot in the Oud-West district, is eminently Instagrammable (open brickwork, jade green trimmings and hipster typefaces on the individually designed stalls). 

There are three bars (including one specialising
in G&Ts) and 21 food traders, serving up bitterballen (croquette-style meatballs, aka the perfect drinking snack) at De Ballenbar, bao and ramen at Baowowow (extra points for the name) and more. If the heaving crowd gets a bit much, there’s also a full service, sit-down restaurant called Kanarie Club.

Stay here: Hotel de Hallen (rooms from £89, hoteldehallen.com), 30 seconds’ walk away. 

Mercato Centrale, Rome

Via Giovanni Giolitti 36, mercatocentrale.it/en/rome 

Situated at the southern end
of Termini station and open from 8am to midnight seven days a week, the Rome branch of Florence’s Mercato Centrale is ideal for a final pitstop before you catch the train to Fiumicino airport. What makes it so good is that while many of the 19 outlets serve traditional Italian food (pasta, pizza, gelato, cheese), they are from some of the city’s best providores – all under one roof so you don’t have to traipse from one end of town to the other to try the best of the best. 

If you can’t bear another serving of cacio e pepe, there’s also burgers, sushi and ramen on offer. Housed in an ex-social club for railway workers, the Thirties architecture, bricked arches and gigantic grey marble exhaust hood over the central bar create a stylish, minimalist atmosphere. Stylist’s tip? Head upstairs for the best crowd-watching.

Stay here: Fifteen Keys Hotel (rooms from £100, fifteenkeys.com), 11 minutes’ walk away. 

Images: Claire Harrison