Top Open-Air Markets

J.L.Bulcao / Alamy

Peruse flowers, food and more at these wonderful alfresco shopping spots.

This is the season when everything is done better outside. Why have dinner indoors when you can eat on the patio? Why drive to work when you can bike? And why go to the grocery store when you can roam stalls of local foods and artisan-made products at open-air markets?

These shopping enclaves are a treat and have an earthy charm even when the weather is less than glorious. Buying apples directly from a purveyor feels natural—people shopped for centuries that way, after all. In a world where the product supply chain lengthens steadily, it is refreshing to meet the woman who spent her morning making your mozzarella.

Visiting a city’s best street market is also a reliable way to tap into a region’s culture. A tour of Borough Market in London, for example, will shed light on the city’s pastoral heritage (sheep’s milk, fresh cider, seafood from the coast) and show off its cosmopolitan side (French duck salami, Spanish chorizo sandwiches, mounds of Turkish delight). Or consider Mercado Ver-o-Peso in Belém, Brazil, a national heritage site, where visitors can admire and sample produce and fish sourced from deep in the Amazon—items that aren’t available anywhere else in the world.

From the far reaches of desert China to the misty climes of Portland, Oregon, here are markets that are sure to impress.