One Man’s Trash: 17 Awesome Flea Markets

As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Here are 17 outstanding examples of just such trash heaps/treasure troves, around the globe.

Portobello Rd, London, UK
Portobello Road is a colorful stretch of shops and stalls selling bric-a-brac and antiques. Part trendy neighborhood, part flea market. On Saturdays, thousands of people flock there for bargains. I recommend going on a weekday. You can have the place practically to yourself to mill around. Grab fish-n-chips to go and find an authentic souvenir.
Olei Zion St, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
The ever-colorful Jaffa Flea Market, in operation for more than 100 years, inhabits a portside neighborhood of alleyways, covered walkways, and outdoor verandas. Wander the endless market streets to find restored antiques and handicrafts, Judaica and Persian tiles, as well as designer boutiques and art galleries. Even if you don’t buy a thing, it is the perfect spot to sample local fare. Once the sun sets, and the vendors head home, a food scene springs to life—a wonderland of twinkling lights with dozens of trendy restaurants, bars, and chic cafés. (The flea market is called Shuk Hapishpishim in Hebrew.)
Place du Jeu de Balle, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
After a March week that included a freak snowstorm, a windstorm, and pounding rain, we woke up to a sunny day in Brussels—a perfect day to explore the Jeu de Balle market. We walked by jumbles of scarves, old records, antique silverware, vintage postcards, and loads of ashtrays (the bane of any market stall, I assume, because really, does anyone still buy ashtrays?) When I saw these two older gentlemen playing backgammon in that rare March sun, I shot a quick photo to capture the serenity, brightness, and intensity of the moment. That was right before one of them stood up, and shouted what I can only assume were obscenities in the not-oft heard Bruxellois dialect. His partner followed suit, and soon a loud volley of words flew back and forth across the board. Seconds later, they both took their seats and resumed the game as though they had never even moved.
Calle Badajoz, 31, 28931 Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
One of the biggest flea markets that I have ever been to is located in Madrid, Spain. El Rastro is an old neighborhood that is teeming with activity, but the place really comes alive on Sunday mornings for the weekly flea market. You can buy just about anything that you can think of here. If you’re not in a shopping mood however, its great for browsing, photographing and even finding some fantastic Spanish food to enjoy while you breathe in the market’s atmosphere.
Seoul’s Folk Flea Market is a place where you can buy anything, I mean anything! This scary contraption looks like an invention of a comic book super-villain, but for the small price of 5 dollars you could be tightening those crow’s feet and zapping imperfections in no time! Huzzah! This is truly a special market—with more random wingdings than your grandparents’ attic. To get to the flea market, head to Sinseoldong Station on the light green line, Line 2. I recommend exit 10. After exiting, execute a U-turn, then walk straight for about 20 feet, take a right and walk straight for 280m. Along the way you will see vendors on the street and signage guiding you to the main building.
Bürkliplatz, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
One of the biggest Flea markets in Zurich is the one located in Bürkliplatz square. The market is opened on Saturdays from 6am to 4pm. May-October, so if you visit Zurich on Winter time, you will not find the outdoors traders. The market is well known for its fine China dishes.
51 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, USA
Brooklyn Flea has enriched the city landscape with a contemporary spin to the traditional concept of a flea market. Find beauty in unexpected places at the Flea. With a range of vendors of antiques and vintage clothing, a selection of jewelry, art and crafts by local artisans, as well as food, there’s something for everyone. It is open to the public outdoors from April through November, on Saturdays in Fort Greene and on Sundays in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and indoors from Thanksgiving to March.
7850 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
From fancy to funky to sometimes downright fugly, Melrose Ave. is a shopping mecca for all tastes and budgets. While tourists flock to this famous strip to browse the shops, locals know to show up on Sundays for the landmark Melrose Trading Post—more commonly known as “The Flea"—at Fairfax High School. Here, you can find hipster clothing necessities like vintage boots, faded tees, handmade dresses, charm jewelry, and an endless rainbow of colored jean shorts. Need to decorate a new apartment? The Flea is a one-stop shop for all types of stained-wood and hand-painted furniture, picture frames, and mirrors. For those final touches and crafts, you can find quirkier items like Bird and Feather’s miniature glass terrariums, Mostly Minerals’ rocks and gems, and even a pile of old black-and-white photographs of strangers from the past. No matter how random the items they sell, the majority of booths are of a quality that warrants their own storefront boutique. The Flea is more than a cheap and consolidated way to shop; it is a space to wander through while people watching, expanding your tastes, and stumbling upon items that make you smile: for instance, a map of Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods mounted to a piece of wood, which was my most recent takeaway from The Flea. What will yours be?
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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