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Shopping at Flea Markets

Does anyone else enjoy shopping at flea markets when traveling? Where are the markets you have enjoyed? What treasures have you found? It's no secret I love to shop at flea markets when traveling in Europe. Some are better than others, but I enjoy each one. I find usable pre-owned items and have interesting conversations with many of the sellers. I was not good at haggling in the past but am much better now. I find browsing the stalls a look into history and the culture of an area.

Please share your experiences while browsing/shopping at flea markets.

Traveler Girl

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154 posts

P.S. I didn't know exactly where to post this on the forum. So I choose Money-Saving Strategies because I have saved a lot of money buying practical items I use in my kitchen every day at flea markets.

Traveler Girl

Posted by
5365 posts

My two favorites - Ljubljana weekly market (repeated with same vendors in Piran) near the bridge downtown; a village I will not name in Denmark. Both were great because I felt like I was getting bargains. The Danish flea market was extraordinary - oh the mid-century pieces for pennies.

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158 posts

Theres a big one in Geneva every week. I unfortunately did not find anything to bring home. But it was nice walking around for a couple hours.

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90 posts

One of the best ones we've ever been to was in Brussells: Marché aux Puces.
Over 100+ vendors, every kind of item you can imagine was at this place! I believe they are open 7am-2pm every day.

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7496 posts

The one in Rome, that stretches out from Porta Portese has a good variety, as does the one in Madrid, El Rastro. Of course there is also Portobello Road in London, less flea market, but lots of similar types of things.

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154 posts

Emily - Thanks for the info re markets in Ljubljana and Piran. l will plan to visit them someday. The nice thing about the same vendors at two different markets is if you pass up something at one market you can get it at the other one....if the item is still available. And finding bargains is so fun! My husband bought a pair of lederhosen at a market in Munich. There was a button missing. The vendor said he would be able to find one from another vendor. My husband did find one. The next day at another flea market he saw the lederhosen seller and cheerfully told him he'd found the button he needed. It was a great two days as we both found many "bargains". I am curious about the village in Denmark which shall remain nameless. But I respect your decision to keep it nameless.

lamb616 - I have such good memories of the flea market in Geneva. My husband's former company had an office there for many years. He traveled there once or twice a year. When I saved up enough pennies I tagged along. The market is on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I shopped both days. Most of my soup ladles are from that flea market, along with a collandar, garlic press, etc., etc., etc. I also bought a dozen very decorative old hankies and so many other items over 14 years I can't recall them all right now. We traveled to Switzerland in late April. I planned to visit the flea market but it was raining on the day we had available to go. Too bad. IMO, it's an excellent big market.

Steve - I'll have to add the Brussels market on my list of markets to visit. Several years ago I shopped the one in Tongeren. IIRC it was not as big as the Brussels market. It had many vendors in both indoor and outdoor stalls, but not 100.

Keep the flea market comments coming. I'm taking notes for future trips.

Traveler Girl

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5365 posts

I would note that Marché aux Puces literally translates to Flea Market.

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2025 posts

I love shopping these types of places and have since I was a teenager. The worst trip prep I ever didn’t do was learning what Marché aux puces meant until after 3 trips to France! We had been driving past scores of these signs over the years. I was honked. Interestingly in Japan when I had trouble finding such shops I was told the Japanese aren’t keen about owning second hand items. I consider some purchase there among the best deals ever…prices were super cheap. Safe travels and good shopping.

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411 posts

I have a very vivid memory of the outdoor public market in Salisbury in England. There were boxes and boxes of tea cups. They were 1 pound each. I bought all these tea cups for myself and for people back home. I believe they all had the same design--roosters. Not sure how I got them all back home unbroken--maybe in my carry on? That was 2000. Still use the one I got for myself.

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1912 posts

I love thrifting which includes flea markets.

I mostly cruise and unfortunately you do not have much time to thrift when you are on shore excursions. You would have to do so pre or post cruise.

However when I sailed to Bermuda, we spent two nights in port. I was able to go shopping. There was a shop that had received a lot of donations and had bagged them and put them out for sale. And oh how I love grab bags.

They were mostly costume jewelry and although I do not wear jewelry, I collect it.

So I bought several grab bags. Had no idea what I was buying but the bags were reasonably priced and like I said, I love grab bags.

I did not open the bags until I got home. There were some really beautiful pieces by some well known artists. I remember that one piece was signed and when I did some research, the piece was worth a little bit of money.

In October, I will be spending 6 days in London pre-cruise and 4 days in Lisbon post cruise. I am hoping to be able to thrift.

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3093 posts

Another thrifter here!
I have a lovely orange Made in Italy linen dress I bought for E10 in a vintage shop in Florence, a pair of sterling silver and moonstone earrings for E5 from the flea -type market near S. Ambrogio also Florence .
This year in Ortigia I found a tiny sterling silver brooch of a Viking ship in the street market.
In Arezzo, the Red Cross has their thrift shop set up in a crumbling Palazzo!
I like to pack thrifted clothing to wear when traveling, as European washing machines are brutal on clothing in rental apartments.

Bostonphil, there are a huge amount of charity thrift shops in London.
The seem to be on every street.
Just walk away from the touristy areas a bit.

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330 posts

Two of my hobbies collide in this thread - thrifting and travel. Here‘s a list of a few flea/antiques and collectibles markets I’ve been to since Spring 2022:

Nice - Cours Selaya Brocante, Monday
Berlin - Trödelmarkt Arkonaplatz, Sunday
Den Haag - Lange Voorhout antiques and books, Thursdays and/or Sundays seasonally
Aix-en-Provence - market day, lots of new goods and food, however I found area with antiques and collectibles, Thursday

I didn’t buy anything at any of the markets (I almost bought an enameled brooch in Nice though) however I really enjoyed browsing them all. I tend to prefer smaller markets but market day in Aix was worth the exception.

I’ve attempted the large markets in Paris but ended up feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume. Years ago, I was very underwhelmed by Puces d‘Aligre near the Bastille. Please tell me if I just went on an off day.

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2602 posts

I love funky old things, been an avid flea market/antiques market hound since I was a very small child...blame it on my parents! And there are fascinatingly different things to be found abroad, so the first thing I research when planning a trip is markets & shops. I always bring cash for the markets, and come prepared with tape and bubble wrap in case it's needed to get something fragile home--and those things always go in my carry-on...I routinely come home from Budapest's Ecseri piac with a good 20+ lbs of pottery :)

Re haggling: I bring cash as I consider it rude to haggle and then whip out a credit card. I tend to have a good idea of an item's value and if it's reasonably priced I do not haggle. Depends entirely on the item & situation--most things I have never seen before and likely never again, so if it speaks to me, I buy it. I also print out a purse-sized table of conversion if I am going somewhere with non-Euro or pounds currency, like Hungary.

My favorite is Ecseri piac in Budapest, a 30 minute bus ride from central Budapest. Saturday is best, get there early as they pack up around 1 pm. It's a crazy ramshackle place, not too big, never crowded, some fixed shops, some indoor, some outdoor. I collect 1930s Hungarian pottery and there's always plenty of it, plus a lot of other unusual vintage things. Sellers are friendly--one invited me to have gulyas at his mother's house--but though little English is spoken it's still possible to bargain.

On a trip to Paris in 2016 I did not get to Clignancourt but instead went to Porte des Vanves and absolutely loved it--all outdoors, just around the corner from the Metro, just the right amount of vendors, all wonderful old things, dealers were pleasant and open to bargaining.

In Amsterdam there is the IJ-Hallen flea market, accessed by a free ferry ride from the Centraal train station. It was a cold rainy day and I found acres of used clothing, shoes and purses and not more than a few rows of vintage vendors so I headed back to town and found an antiques co-op that was chock full of great things.

In Vienna I went to the Flohmarkt at the Naschmarkt--different sections made it easy to find just the vintage dealers, there were also clothing and new item sections. Super crowded and you need to be very mindful of your purse/wallet.

Portobello Road in London on a Saturday has an enormous market--starts with antiques, then food vendors, then a big area of used records and clothing, plus the street has numerous charity shops and I really enjoy them, found some great clothing over the years. It can get very crowded.

Munich had several markets and I tried to find 3 of them--only made it to one and I can't recall the name, it was just outside a U station and quite large--mainly clothing and household items. It was very hot and I was in terrible pain from a lower back flare-up so not my best day for riding public transit and finding flea markets!

If you ever get to the San Francisco area on the first Sunday of the month I am absolutely blessed to have a fabulous antiques market right in my town of Alameda--the market is called Alameda Point Antiques Faire and it's held on our old Navy base, usually 600-800 dealers--all vintage, including a good amount of clothing and accessories.

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1912 posts


Thank you.

I have heard about the charity thrift shops in London. In 6 days, I should be able to hit a few. Hope that I do not overdo it.

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357 posts

Many of my 'souvenirs' are from charity shops in the UK and Ireland. I've packed home china, rubber boots, clothes, puzzles, and books. Like Christa, I often pack a little bubble wrap and tape (and poster tubes) if I have room in my carryon. Two or three times we've found large, clean, soft-sided luggage to check on the way home (from charity shop £7 or £8) to fill with my goodies. Weightwise, we could've just checked our carryons, but I especially needed volume in Ireland and Scotland (this month) for woollen finds. This time, I lucked out in Dumfries with several woollen sweaters and scarves made in Scotland or Ireland. I also got a black wool/cashmere Irish-made cape for £12.50! It will be fun to dream of my travels when I wear these items. And, some of my best chats were in charity shops in Castle Douglas.

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154 posts

I have been very busy caring for my Mom who is on hospice and quite frankly had forgotten about this thread. I have enjoyed reading all your posts this afternoon. I will try to post on this thread again when I have more time. I had planned to go to at least two flea markets when in the Munich area and perhaps one in Innsbruck this month. However, we cancelled our trip due to my Mom's new illness. I am already planning for flea market browsing/buying when we are able to travel again.

Happy Shopping!

Traveler Girl

Posted by
1406 posts

Traveler girl, I also have done quite well w flea market and charity shops at home and abroad.

Thinking of your mom and all of your family as you navigate this hospice journey .