Treasure finding with Emerald Cruises: How to get the most from Europe's best markets

Casual collector or antiques obsessive – Europe’s illustrious markets promise unique treasures of every persuasion.

There’s something wonderful about digging and delving your way through a local market, with no telling what treasures you might unearth. And things are made more exciting when you’re somewhere far-flung, in a place where antiques and objects are that much more unique and rich with character.

Exploring markets on the continent not only brings the promise of finding something you love, it’s a great way to get to grips with authentic local life. Whether in Lyon, Budapest, Prague or Nuremberg, an immersive and memorable experience awaits at Europe’s wonderful markets and fairs.

With all this in mind, here’s our guide to Europe’s best flea and antique markets, with essential tips on how to get the most from your experience.

Saint Ouen Flea Market, Paris

Paris flea market
Situated steps from the Sacre-Coeur in the dreamy enclave of Montmartre, the Saint Ouen Flea Market is Paris’ largest open-air market, with a wide variety of fascinating objects on offer. Originating in 1905, the market has a long and storied history, and this is reflected in the huge variety of colourful objects and bric-a-brac to be found here. Even if you’ve no intention of buying, Saint Ouen market makes for a charming and quintessentially Parisian experience, with antique sellers, book vendors and ‘biffins’ (Paris’ answer to ‘rag and bone men’), hawking their wares and bartering with the locals.

Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam

People gather at Amsterdam market
Wander beyond the inner tourist streets of Amsterdam, and you’ll stumble across the Albert Cuyp Market – the largest outdoor market in the Netherlands. Taking place over several streets in the heart of the De Pijp district, it’s a great place buy gifts, eat local street food and seek out rare finds at any number of kooky stalls and vendors. Curiously, like Saint Ouen, the Albert Cuyp Market has been in operation since 1905, and because it’s a daily market, you should always find the opportunity to visit. Be sure to buy a Stroopwafel during your visit – they’re a great snack to enjoy while you browse the stalls.

Flea Market at Nachsmarkt, Vienna

Vienna flea market
Billed as one of the biggest and best flea markets in Europe, Vienna’s Flohmarkt am Naschmarkt (Flea Market at Naschmarkt) welcomes some 400 vendors every week, along with over 15,000 visitors. The market is particularly well-loved for its antiques, furniture and jewellery. There are over 400 stalls selling a variety of quirky objects, as well as food vendors where you can sample local cuisine. Surrounded by elegant Art Nouveau buildings, this is among the most atmospheric markets on our shortlist.

 Trempel Market, Nuremberg

Trempel market nuremberg
Taking place just twice a year, Nuremberg’s vibrant Trempelmarkt completely transforms the old city. Virtually every street and square in the Bavarian city is taken over by market stalls, traders and street vendors, making for a wonderful and immersive atmosphere. As well as gifts, novelties and retro items, there are lots of genuine antique pieces to be found amid the 4,000+ stalls which line the city streets. Naturally, this being Bavaria, there’s also ample opportunity to do as the locals do and enjoy a glass of beer, with designated beer tents and food stalls set up to bring the market to life.

Mauerpark Flea Market, Berlin

antiques at a flea market in Berlin
Easily one of the best and most vibrant weekly markets in Europe, Berlin’s legendary Mauerpark Flea Market takes some beating when it comes to stall variety and atmosphere. Taking place in the district of Prenzlauer Berg every Sunday, this huge open-air market offers antiques, homeware, records, clothing, leather goods and bric-a-brac, so whether you want something for you or a loved one back home, there’s plenty to tempt your wallet. As well as things to buy, there’s also lots to eat, with a whole area of the market dedicated to street food. There’s even a performance and seating area, so you can relax over something tasty at the end of your visit.

Les Puces du Canal, Lyon

antiques at a flea market lyon
The French do flea markets better than anyone, offering unique homeware and spectacular antiques at affordable prices. What’s more, there’s often the option to have larger items shipped home, so you don’t have to worry about fitting extra luggage in your case. At the Les Puces du Canal antique market in Lyon, there’s a strong possibility you’ll be going home with something – be it a 60s coffee table or turn-of-the-century vase. The market takes place weekly and is considered the second-biggest in France, with some 400 vendors setting up shop for locals and visitors. Keep your eyes peeled for designer goods going cheap here.

Feira da Ladra, Lisbon

Lisbon flea market
Books, records and bric-a-brac are what you can expect to find at Lisbon’s charming Feira da Ladra flea market. One of the oldest street markets in Europe, it’s believed Feira da Ladra has taken place in Lisbon’s Alfama district since the 12th century, with its name originating in the 17th century. Rather charmingly, the name ‘Feira da Ladra’ refers to the Portuguese word for bug or flea – as in flea market. The fair takes place every Tuesday and Saturday from dawn to early afternoon, so get down quick if you want the best pick of wares; you’ll find the market on a square near Lisbon’s National Pantheon.

El Rapido Flea Market, Budapest

Budapest indoor market
Most of Budapest’s main markets take place outside the city centre, making them difficult to reach for the day-tripping river cruise visitor. However, the El Rapido Flea Market bucks this trend, giving you the chance to browse an eclectic collection of wares within the walkable limits of the city. El Rapido is itself one of Budapest’s foremost ‘ruin bars’, and hosts regular flea markets in its expansive half indoor, half outdoor space. Expect curious bric-a-brac, homeware and accessories, as well as fascinating antiques from Budapest’s occupation by the Soviets. The bar itself specialises in Latin American cuisine, so there’s the option to enjoy some lunch after your visit.

U Elektry Market, Prague

Central market in prague
It’s impossible to leave Prague’s U Elektry Market empty-handed, such is the wealth of unique items and cheap-as-chips prices to be found here. Named after the street on which it takes place, this is one of the biggest flea markets in Europe, covering an area of 50,000 square metres. Granted, it’s not the most organised of street markets, with piles of baskets containing all manner of curious items and antiques. But this is all part of the market’s charm, and many an hour could be spent rummaging through its intriguing bits and bobs. The market takes place weekly on Saturdays and Sundays, so why not schedule in a treasure hunt?

The Good Market, Bratislava

Market in Bratislavia
The Good Market may not boast the history or scale of others on this shortlist, but it is one of the most ethical to visit and enjoyable to explore. Launched in 2011, this urban market takes place in different locations around Bratislava, and is designed to showcase and highlight aspects of the city which may go unnoticed. The market is revered for its community feel, something it cultivates by offering affordable slots to local producers, creatives and farmers. Food and drink stalls can be found alongside regular antique sellers and book vendors, making it a great place to spend an afternoon in the Slovakian capital.

Essential tips for getting the most from European markets

If you’re keen to visit the flea, farmers, antiques and produce markets of Europe in search of unique items, a little preparation is essential. Below, we offer a few essential tips on how to get the most from your market experience.

Explore European markets with Emerald Cruises

Enjoyed this guide on Europe’s best markets? Perhaps it’s time to experience them for yourself? For a full collection of upcoming river cruises in Europe, visit the Emerald Cruises homepage or call our team today on 855 444 0161.