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Europe’s Best Food Markets

Food markets and dining halls have been a staple of European culture for centuries. While vendors have been selling delicacies on the streets since the days of Ancient Greece, the ornate covered markets and grand food halls we know today are a 19th-century phenomenon. 

These culinary institutions, from London’s Borough Market to Amsterdam’s Cuyp Market, have become sources of municipal pride, as well as a cultural melting pot where international cuisines from the cities’ immigrant communities take centre stage. They are also a vital part of Europe’s food and drinks industry, which turned over €1.1 trillion in 2023

But which of the continent’s great food halls and street food markets are the best? To find out, Radical Storage analysed more than 300,000 Google reviews and almost 1,100 establishments to determine which markets have the nicest food and offer the best value for money. 

Key findings:

  • London is Europe’s best food market city, with 33 markets across the city and an average rating of 4.5*
  • Köln’s Markthalle Körnerstraße and Barcelona’s CARMEN (avg rating 4.9*) are the best food markets in Europe
  • Spanish cities dominate the top 10, with four of the best locations for foodies
  • Birmingham’s Red Brick Market (avg rating 4.8*) is the UK’s best major food market
  • Copenhagen’s Tivoli Market is Europe’s most expensive city; a meal, beer and soft drink will cost an average of €49.96
  • Valencia’s Mercat Central is the cheapest market, at just €8.42 for a meal, beer and soft drink.

London is Europe’s best city for food markets

To work out which European city has the best food markets, we analysed all cities that have at least five food markets — variety is the spice of life, after all! We then created a simple index which takes into account the average Google Reviews rating of all markets within the city, and the number of markets in total.

With a combined score of 8.36, London takes the crown as Europe’s best food market city. With 33 markets and an average rating of 4.5 stars, the British capital stands above all others.

It’s no secret that London is a world-renowned food destination, with the city’s distinct international culture playing host to cuisine from across the UK and all over the world. Its food and market halls are also essential visits in their own right, from trendy upscale Camden to the city’s oldest space — Borough Market.

Locals and tourists alike love London’s food markets, giving them an average rating of 4.5 stars. Two hidden gem markets help it stand above the rest. Islington’s Junction Market and Southwark’s Tabard Street Market — both rated at 4.7 stars, embody London’s independent street food scene.

Four Spanish cities — Madrid (index rating 7.25), Barcelona (6.56), Zaragoza (4.86) and Valencia (4.59) all feature in the top 10, making Spain a must-visit destination if you’re looking for great street food. 

The country’s capital Madrid is another of Europe’s great foodie destinations with a thriving culinary scene that offers up the best of Spanish cooking. Yet hidden gem Understreet Market (4.8 star Google rating) appears to be the pick of the bunch with its variety of home-grown classics and globally-inspired food vendors.

Köln home to Europe’s best food market

When it comes to market food, we can’t forget about Germany. Currywurst, Döner Kebabs, Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) — all delicious staples of German food culture. While its Christmas markets are world-famous, our research shows it is also home to six of Europe’s 20 highest-rated food markets.

Cologne’s Markthalle Körnerstraße, an independent street food market located in the lively Ehrenfeld suburb of the city, is the highest-rated of them all. Körnerstraße is famed for its kebab Wednesdays, which regularly sees locals queuing around the block for its rotisserie meat.

Valencia’s Mercat Central is one of the five best markets in Europe. Its iconic early 20th-century Art Nouveau canopy covers one of Europe’s largest food markets. Renowned for its fresh food and produce, the market is also home to some of the city’s best tapas bars

London markets dominate British street food scene

With the UK’s capital standing above the rest as Europe’s best street food city, it should come as no surprise that its markets dominate the list of the highest-rated markets in Britain. Styled as ‘London’s Newest Street Food Hall’, The Junction Market is just a stone’s throw away from Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and is popular with football fans and Islington residents alike. 

With a rating of 4.6, London’s Borough Market is arguably the most famous institution on this list, and it has become an essential destination when visiting the capital.

With 70 different food vendors under the arches, our research defines it as the UK’s best street food market – its 4.6 star Google rating is a sign that fans the world over love its market stalls. Many of its vendors have been selling on the site for generations, from Nana Fanny’s Salt Beef to Richard Haward’s Oysters.

Glasgow’s Dockyard Social fits the trend of modern gentrified food halls, yet it has become highly popular with locals and shares its 4.6 rating with the longer-standing markets of London and Liverpool.

Cost of dining at food halls in Europe

Price is a major factor in the global popularity of food markets. They’re a great way to sample honest, authentic dishes for less than you’d expect to pay in a restaurant. But as higher rents and increased food prices across Europe get passed on to the consumer, are food markets still good value for money? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out.

Copenhagen is Europe’s priciest street food city

Analysing the average price of a main meal, a beer, coke and/or soft drink, we found that Copenhagen’s Tivoli Food Hall is the most expensive market in Europe. The average visit will cost just shy of €50 (€49.96). Denmark’s high-tax, high-income economy makes the capital a notoriously expensive city for foreign tourists. 

Hamburg’s Street Food Session market is the second-most expensive. Located in the famous St Pauli neighbourhood of the city, the weekly “Straßenmampf” market on Thursdays is a hit with locals stopping by the food trucks after work. 

Valencia’s highly-rated Mercat Central is Europe’s cheapest major market

Despite being one of Europe’s highest-rated food markets, Valencia’s picturesque Mercat Central is, according to our research, also the cheapest major food market on the continent. The average dining experience will cost just €8.42 – a fraction of the price of Europe’s more expensive markets.

Five UK markets also feature among the 10 cheapest in Europe. It would seem that Glasgow’s Dockyard Social offers high value for money, with its 4.6-star rating making it one of the UK’s best. A meal there will cost an average of just €14.03.

Methodology

Using a seed list of Europe’s 100 best cities sourced from worldsbestcities.com, we used manual research to find the most popular food markets and food halls in each city, using high-quality travel publications and official local tourist board sources. We then scraped Google Maps data to find the ratings for each market. Only markets with 100 or more reviews were included in the lists above.

We conducted manual research of each market to find out the cost of an average meal, a beer and a coke or other soft drink, combining each cost to give us a total price for the average dining experience at each market.

Food markets are defined by public markets where vendors sell food from stalls and where food can be consumed either off-site or in a shared area by vendors. Permanent restaurants are not part of this study. 

By Giacomo Piva

Giacomo Piva, CMO and Co-founder at Radical Storage
Giacomo Piva has worked in the travel industry since 2008 across multiple niches including tourist transportation, luxury travel, and ecotourism. He now focuses on growing the global luggage network, Radical Storage, which is currently available in over 500 cities, in the likes of London, Paris, New York, and Rio de Janeiro.
Giacomo has a bachelor's degree in Communication Science and an in-depth experience across travel marketing, especially in improving a brand’s digital presence within the industry.