Looking for a first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? What about a Victorian necklace? Perhaps a long-lost vinyl record? Then head to London’s Portobello Road, the world’s largest antique market. Spanning nearly two miles, more than 1,000 vendors sell everything from movie posters to clothes, bric-a-brac and household goods in the markets four sections. There are around 100 antique stores, but coffee and fresh food are also close at hand if a break is needed from bargain hunting. Portobello Road is open daily, but Friday and Saturday are busiest, so arriving in the morning is a good idea.
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Rose Bowl Flea Market
Imagine an entire football stadium filled to the brim with people and things and you’ll have Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Flea Market. Running for over 45 years, this unusual flea market is held every second Sunday of the month and admission prices start at $9. There’s something for everyone from vintage merchandise to arts and crafts. Vendors start packing up from 3 pm, but last-minute bargain shopping lasts until 4:30 pm.
Brimfield Antique Show
America’s oldest outdoor antique market is a six days long flea market extravaganza. Held only three times a year, always in May, July, and September, more than 4,000 vendors and 50,000 buyers descend on Brimfield, about one hour drive west of Boston. Antique dealers and collectors travel from throughout the US and abroad to attend, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you’re not searching hard enough on the 20 individually owned show fields.
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Marché aux Puces
The name says it all as Marché aux Puces translates as “Market of the Fleas” (and it’s where the English term is derived from). A class of its own, the 150-year-old market is located in the north of Paris and actually comprises 12 separate markets that have grown together over time. In the labyrinth of alleys and stalls, you’ll find both old treasures and new French junk every day of the week. Marché aux Puces also offers a shipping service so you can max out your credit card and get that gilded mirror or Louis XIV chairs conveniently delivered home.
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Someone’s trash is somebody else’s treasure certainly holds true at the Mauerpark Flohmarkt where mostly private sellers divest unwanted stuff like crockery, shoes, toys, bicycles, old vinyl records, trumpery, and rummage. Open every Sunday, this flea market has a real local feel and you’ll have a great time haggling with students, artists and hip Prenzlauer Berg residents over old tat and genuine steals. Besides the treasure hunting, live bands and street food stalls will make you want to spend an entire day there.
Feria de San Telmo
Nestled in a bohemian barrio, the colorful Feria de San Pedro Telmo street fair (every Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm) has been drawing crowds since 1971. The entire fair, which consists of 270 stalls, stretches 13 blocks in the architecturally beautiful San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Treasure hunters pour into the cobbled streets in search of memorabilia from Argentina’s heady days, vintage clothing, and trinkets. When you’re done spending your pesos, grab some delicious local food and watch the quick-stepping tango dancers in the streets.
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Madrid’s oldest and biggest flea market is held every Sunday and public holiday. El Rastro features market stalls along the two streams, Plaza de Cascorro and Ronda de Toledo, which sell mostly new clothes while the stores in the side streets are reserved for antiques, collectibles, and handmade items. The shops are open during the week, but Sunday is best for the atmosphere. Wander up and down the streets, get lost, spot some treasure, then put your Spanish to the test and haggle for the best price.
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If you want to feel like Aladdin in The Arabian Nights, then head to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. In existence since the 15th century and one of the main attractions in the Turkish capital, you’ll find plenty of treasures like spices, traditional pipes, pashminas, carpets, silk clothes, lamps, ceramics, and of course, Turkish delights and other sweets in the bazaar. If you don’t know how to haggle, this is the place to learn (and best to learn quickly), as bargaining is part of the culture and expected here.
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When locals speak of the souks, they mean the markets in the heart of the medina just north of the Djemaa el-Fna. Originally dedicated to leather goods, there are now as many markets as there are items to sell (well, nearly). Creiee Berbere is the main carpet souk, Souq Haddadine is where you can see blacksmiths and other craftsmen in action. If you want to buy perfumes and oils, head to Souq el Attarine. The souks of Marrakech will stimulate your five senses with colorful displays, buzzing sounds, exotic materials, delicious food, and sweet-smelling spices.
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Hell's Kitchen Flea Market
New York is a fashion paradise not only on Fifth Avenue. At the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, designers, residents and tourists alike hunt for vintage clothes, home decorations and jewelry every weekend from 9 am to 5 pm. While the number of vendors is still small, there are unique items like vintage toasters to be found and the overall low prices make this is a real bargain hotspot. The market also gives 25 percent of its profits to a charity that helps artists in this increasingly costly neighborhood.
Promoted as “The World’s Longest Yard Sale”, this second-hand outdoor market runs for no less than 690 miles on US Highway 127 between Gadsden, Alabama and Hudson, Michigan. Held annually from the first Thursday of August through Sunday, locals rent their fields to vendors, set up stalls in their yards or use empty roadside buildings to sell their goods. You might only manage to drive part of the route, but this flea market is as much about antiques, junk, and bric-a-brac as it is about story-telling, people watching and Southern hospitality–so take your time!
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Located in the quiet suburb of Sant Cugat, Mercantic Barcelona is both an indoor market with around 80 permanent stalls in wooden huts and a flea market every Sunday. The best time for bargain hunting is the first Sunday of the month which is delivery day and when organizers put on live music, Catalan specialties food stalls, and children’s entertainment. From up-cycled or vintage furniture to artworks, books, and quirky souvenirs, this place is buzzing with energy. Drop into the ceramic, restoration, and glass workshops for a bit of inspiration to take home.
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