The Mercat Central in the heart of Valencia is a whirlwind of colours and food and people, and although it is the largest and most popular of the markets, that does not mean it is the only one you should visit. There are several smaller and less well-known markets that attract fewer tourists and have kept their original atmosphere a little better. I want to show you where to find these markets, and what you can see there.
Cabanal is the area of Valencia right next to Malvarossa Beach, and also is the area that I have been living in for the last few months. It is an area of families and local restaurants and is one of my favourite places to see the real Valencia, away from some of the more touristy areas. The market in Cabanal is similarly local, and really is the hub of the neighborhood, where people come to buy beautiful fresh meat and colourful vegetables and fruit for the week.
Spain is regarded as one of the premier food destinations in the world, and you only need to spend 15 minutes in any of these markets to see why. In the Mercat Cabanal, you can see every type of ham product you could possibly imagine (and plenty that are borderline confusing), as well as every cheese under the Spanish sun. After living in the UK for much of my life, I have gotten used to eating relatively simple combinations of meats and cheeses, but in Spain, the sky is the limit. Every part of a pig can be and is used to make meat that is completely different in texture, flavour and cooking method.
This one is less of a market (although it used to be) and now is really a coffee and smoothie mecca, underneath the soaring blue metal arches you can see in the photo below. The architecture is absolutely remarkable, and the huge overhead spaces create a unique experience, especially with the slightly hipster coffee shops that have sprung up under the arches.
The Mercat Colon is also a fantastic place to find more specialized and less common items that are Spanish treasures. Some of the very best 'jamon' (cured and sliced ham) that I have had was in this market, and they have some expensive but beautiful shops here, owned by incredibly knowledgeable local Valencianos. The market is in a great location, slightly away from the centre (but very much still walking distance), as well as being just off the central Turia Park that runs the length of the city.
A good day out starts with an hour walking the carefully curated lawns and paths of the garden, before rising out of the old river bed to taste some ham and have a coffee under the green/blue metal structure. Enjoy Valencia's smaller food markets!
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