Bilbao—the biggest, buzziest, and most cosmopolitan city in Spain’s Basque Country—hosts an assortment of well-stocked markets. From bazaars piled high with antiques and knickknacks to vast food markets where locals get their groceries, here are a few of the best places to shop in Bilbao.
Every Sunday, Plaza Nueva in Bilbao’s Old Quarter (Casco Viejo) rings with the din of bartering as treasure hunters trawl the stalls searching for collectibles and other items of value. The offerings at this flea market are diverse: On any given week, you might see used books, vintage jewelry, rare coins, and even live birds. It’s a must-do for anyone who enjoys sifting for bargains. The market is at its biggest and best during summer.
La Ribera Market (Mercado de la Ribera)
The mother of all Bilbao’s markets and one of Europe’s most famous, this huge indoor market spans three floors and hosts over 180 stands selling all manner of edible goods, from just-plucked-from-the-soil vegetables and fresh-caught fish to cured meats and cheeses. Best of all, the ground floor has a food court where visitors can stuff themselves silly with pintxos (Basque tapas), including crispy, creamy croquettes and slices of bread topped with meat and cheese.
St. Thomas’ Day Market (Mercado Rural de Santo Tomas)
This annual open-air festive market takes place in late December on Plaza del Arenal and Plaza Nueva. More than 260 sellers truck in produce from all over the Basque Country, with everything from vegetables and bread to talo con chorizo (corn tortilla with sausage) and txakoli (a lightly sparkling white wine) on offer.
Flower Market (Mercado de las Flores)
Taking place every Sunday in the old town’s Arenal Park, this fabulous flower market is one of the most colorful in the city. In addition to flowers, vendors also hawk houseplants, fresh herbs, and seeds. Even if you don’t plan on purchasing anything, it’s worth coming just to admire the displays.