When you travel, nothing quite beats the thrill of arriving home with a unique, one-of-a-kind souvenir or antiques bought at a reasonable price. Aside from the regular shops, the best experiences a travel lover can have are vintage markets that offer a true sense of the culture and identity of the country. There is a wide variety of these around the world, but here are 7 of the best and what to look for in each:

Birkelunden Flea Market, Oslo, Norway

Located in the Grünerløkka district, Birkelunden (“The Birch Grove” in Norwegian) is a public park where a flea market is held almost every Sunday at 12pm. During the weekdays the park is filled with locals walking and shopping at nearby boutiques, but once the weekends arrive the shops close for the cooler shopping. Here you can find one-of-a-kind items such as vintage clothing, furniture, and jewelry from the 1950s-70s. You can also find regular staples such as antiques, old vinyl records, and militaria. At Birkelunden, you will find lots of treasures here. A haven for antiques lovers!

How to get here:

Take the Tram No. 11/12/13 > Birkenlunden, where the park is located along the Grünerløkka tram rails and right Birkelunden tram stop.

Antiques displayed at Birkenlunden Flea Market

Photo: Geir Halvorsen via Flickr

Fall Flea & Fair, Wellman, Iowa

A one-of-a-kind experience that can only be seen at the Vintage Flea and Fair at the BARN. Twice a year the Barn is filled with vintage, chic, and hand-made items all around the premises. The Barn also includes new additions and hosts special events during special occasions, but is not open on a regular basis. They also feature onsite brick oven pizza and live music for their guests. The Fall Flea & Fair at the BARN is scheduled for Friday, September 22 with early bird admission from 12pm-2pm @ $10/person and general admission from 2pm-8pm @ $5/person and Saturday, September 23 from 9am-3pm @ $5 per person. Children under age 12 are free. This is a must-see for a lover of rustic, vintage items.

How to get here:

The address to the Barn is 3271 V Avenue Wellman, Iowa. The BARN offers free parking and golf cart shuttle rides for all its customers, which is located near Fall Flea & Fair.

Items at the Flea & Fair Market

Photo: Kelsie Berg Photography

El Rastro, Madrid, Spain

El Rastro (“The Trail” in Spanish) is Madrid’s largest and oldest antiques market featuring up to 3,500 stalls. It is open every Sunday from 9am-3pm. It is so large that it runs along two streams, Plaza de Cascorro and Ronda de Toledo. Here you can find lots of merchandise at bargain prices – antiques, treasure, collectibles, handmade items, and so much more. If you’re looking for unique discoveries, the best stores are located along the side streets. You’ll be carried along by the crowds and find a few surprises when you travel to Spain.

How to get here:

Take the Line 5 subway to at either the La Latina or Puerta de Toledo stations.

Antique trinkets displayed at El Madrid Flea Market

Photo: Jesús Ávila via Flickr

Feira da Ladra, Lisbon, Portugal

Fiera da Ladra (“Thief Fair” in Portuguese) is one of Lisbon’s most famous markets, which offers almost a little bit of everything you want to find as a travel lover. It is believed that it existed since the 12th century, but its name hasn’t been mentioned until the 17th century. Fiera da Ladra is open every Tuesday and Saturday from 6am-5pm in Campo de Santa Clara. Myriads of stalls sell all kinds of second-hand and new products, as well as other items such as hand-made artisan goods, books, stamps, antiques and furniture. At Fiera da Ladra, you can find something useful and unique for yourself to bring back home when you travel to Portugal.

How to get here:

Take Tram 28 to Santa Apolonia and head north until you see the market.

Vintage antiques displayed at Feira da Ladra Flea Market

Photo: Ju Figueiredo via Flickr

Porte de Clignancourt, Paris, France 

Porte de Clingnancourt is the most famous and largest flea market in Paris, comprised of 14 sub markets indoor and outdoor – almost like a small city! It is open every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 10am-5pm. Find almost anything such as funky art, vintage items, furniture, antiques and fine china. Each booth has its own unique set of items to sell, so you’re guaranteed to find something that suits your interest. You may feel lost wandering around the enormous alleyways, but the streets are brimming with so many vintage treasures and antiques that you’ll be wanting to stay here the entire day when you travel to Paris.

How to get here:

Take the metro to Porte de Clignancourt on Line 4 and follow the crowd.

Porte de Clignancourt Market where visitors look at antiques

Photo: ParisSharing via Flickr

Rose Bowl Flea Market, Pasadena, California 

The Rose Bowl is Pasadena’s most iconic market held every second Sunday of the month from 9am-4:30pm. It has a long running 45-year tradition in Pasadena. Being held at a stadium, there’s a $9 admission fee for regular admission, $12 for early admission, and $20 for VIP admission. Whether it’s new, antiques, or old stuff you’re after, you will be able to find something here. More than 2,500 booths dominate the stadium and sell various items such as vintage paintings, collectibles, prints, sculptures, and so much more. Whether you decide to shop or just browse the antiques, you will truly enjoy this travel experience.

How to get here:

There is available parking outside the stadium, but it’s best to arrive early for a guaranteed spot.

Rose Bowl Antique Flea Market

Photo: Kathryn Igarashi via Flickr

Portobello Road, London, United Kingdom

Portobello Road is the largest flea market in the world. At first, it was primarily known for its antiques, but nowadays vendors sell almost anything and everything. What is interesting is that every day of the week features something different on display, and you can even find arcades and vegetable stands. It’s open from 9am to either 7 or 8pm depending on the day. Some of the most famous finds here are the vintage clothes and accessories, bric-a-bracs, antiques, and music. It’s no wonder Portobello Road is the best-known in the world.

Goods displayed on Portobello Road

Photo: 5477687 via Pixabay

How to get here:

Take either the 7,12, 23, 27, 28, 31, 52, 70, 94, 328 & 452 buses or take the train to Circle and Hammersmith & City line.

Portobello Road in London with Antiques

Photo: Chris Ipadzwo via Flickr

Oedo Antique Market, Tokyo, Japan 

The Oedo is the largest outdoor antique market in Japan that is held every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the year from 9am-4pm. It takes place at the Tokyo International Forum, right next to Yurakucho Station on the JR Yamanote line. Up to 250 vendors here sell a wide range of traditional Japanese items, such as kimonos, trinkets, pottery, obis, and furniture. Oedo is a great place for visitors looking for traditional or unusual Japanese goods. It is best to arrive during the morning, as it usually gets crowded around lunchtime.

Goods at Oedo Antique Market

Photo: Guilhem Vellut via Flickr

How to get here:

Go to the D5 Exit of Yurakucho Station on the JR Yamanote line, and it is right next to the Tokyo Internation Forum.

Seller in Oedo Antique Market

Photo: Juancho Goldar via Flickr

How to shop like a pro:

  • Know what you want. Before deciding to impulsively purchase something that appears nice, research on prices and items that you are actually looking for. Once you arrive , you’ll know exactly what to buy and be ready for it.
  • Arrive early. It is best to arrive before opening hours so that you can get the best items before everyone else.
  • Inspect the items your buying properly before buying them. 
  • Get ready to haggle. Items sold at the antiques or vintage market are usually slightly more expensive than other places, so don’t be afraid to bargain!
  • Beware of pickpockets. These are common places for thieves. Always guard your valuables and wear your bag in front of you at all times.
  • Bring cash. Not all places will accept card, so be sure to bring along cash just in case. Also, make sure to keep it well hidden.

Also Read:

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