There’s no better way to immerse yourself into Andalusian culture than to explore the local street markets. Mercadillos, as they are often known, are numerous and varied in this area and can occur weekly, daily or as part of a one-off cultural event.
The weekend markets are perhaps best-known. Within the city of Malaga itself, tourists and residents would be hard-pressed to miss the Muelle Uno’s artisan markets, which take place every other Sunday along the beautiful port promenade. The stalls are a great complement to the strip of shops and restaurants. Visitors can expect to discover a unique selection of jewellery, accessories and artwork as they wander along towards the beach. Furthermore, if the breeze of the coastline isn’t sufficient, the port is supplied with shades and dispensers that will regularly spray out a cooling mist of water.
Market-savvy readers with a knack for bartering should head to Fuengirola for the Sunday flea market. The fairground is the ideal location for this market, where, as the locals would say, “hay de todo”; this flea market has a little bit of everything.
Bargains are aplenty among the numerous market stalls which specialise in second-hand and vintage clothing, accessories, toys, furniture and antique artefacts. It’s like a weekly car boot sale, but with fewer cars and added sunshine (though the buildings that line the outside perimeter of the market also offer some much-needed shade).
Visitors can skip out their weekly supermarket shop as the market also boasts a wealth of fruit, vegetables, local cuisine, plants and flowers. It is open from 9am until 2pm every Sunday.
Those in search of a quieter or more low-key experience would do well to explore one of the Costa del Sol’s many mid-week markets.
Every Tuesday between 8am and 2pm, Calle Mirto in Nerja is transformed into a mercadillo that is available for residents and holidaymakers to enjoy while taking a break from the beautiful local beaches. Here, visitors will discover a mixture of second-hand clothing, cosmetics and novelty items. Refreshments are also available at Genesis cafeteria, to help fuel the hunt for bargains.
The ‘rastro’ second-hand market in Benalmádena is open every Wednesday. It is conveniently situated near the beautiful Paloma park and the Selwo Marina centre, so visitors could easily incorporate a visit to the market into an action-packed day out. This is a great place to search for hidden gems among the jumble of antiques and second-hand clothing.
The Muestra Internacional de Artesanía market in Puerto Banús, Marbella, offers a slightly more relaxed, glamorous affair, away from the bustle of the flea markets. Situated in Plaza Antonio Banderas, this chic, open-air market takes place every day during the summer months. It is comprised of 25 white, uniform stalls that sell a carefully selected mixture of artisan fragrances, handmade jewellery, glass artefacts, ceramics, vintage clothing and other accessories. It is open from 11am to 12am Monday to Thursday and until 1am Friday to Sunday.
Over the summer months, Andalucía is host to a number of one-off, themed and traditional markets. Many towns will acknowledge this area’s Moorish roots by setting up traditional bazaars, where visitors can sample Arab-style food and peruse the stalls for fabrics, jewellery, accessories and more. For an added sense of occasion and authenticity, many choose to attend in traditional (or not-so-traditional) costume.
The medieval markets will return to the various places in the Manilva area this summer. Alongside traditional food, tools, metalwork and leather-making, previous years have seen spectacular fire shows, falconry and bouncy castles.
As an extra note: readers should keep their ears to the ground for market events at La Térmica cultural centre in the city of Malaga. Their sporadic Red Friday markets feature a veritable bounty of second-hand books and records. What better way to spend a warm Friday evening than digging for gold among mountains of classic fiction and music? These events do not run on a regular schedule, so it’s best to pay attention to social media.
The mercadillos of Malaga will not disappoint any of their visitors this summer, be they life-long hunters of priceless antiques or simply sunbathers looking for a day off. There’s treasure here for everyone.