⏰ Mon – Sat: 7:30am to 3pm
📍 El Mercat neighborhood in the Old Town
The Central Market of Valencia (Mercado Central in Spanish or Mercat Central in the local Valenciano language) is a cathedral for the senses and a beloved shopping destination.
I usually purchase fresh ingredients from here at least twice a month. It’s my go-to place for a variety of seasonal fruits, vegetables, pickled olives, fresh herbs, and chufa for homemade horchata.
Valencia’s Central Market is the best (and best-known) fresh produce market in the city. It is centrally located in the Mercat neighborhood and is bustling with activity.
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In This Article
Brief intro to Valencia’s Central Market
Architectural style: Valencian Art Nouveau (Modernismo Valenciano)
Architects: Alejandro Soler March and Francisco Guardia Vial
Year opened: 1928
Area: 8.200 m² (88.265 sq ft)
No of stalls: 259
Best known for: Being the largest indoor fresh produce market in Europe. Also one of the most beautiful.
The Central Market was built on the same spot where an open-air market had been organized since the Middle Ages, making it one of the oldest markets in Europe.
The building is a masterpiece of Valencian Art Nouveau, with an iron framework, graceful columns soaring 30 meters (99 feet) high, and exquisite tile embellishments.
The market is flooded by natural light but the architectural elements that never fail to draw my eyes towards the ceiling are the two domes.
For a fun exercise, I challenge you to look for the two weather vanes, one representing a parrot and the other a fish.
The striking architecture of this market is reason enough to visit, but I’d argue that you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience it with all your senses. My recommendation is to visit it on an empty stomach so you have room to indulge in the cornucopia of delicacies on offer.
What to expect when visiting the Central Market of Valencia
The market is divided into two halls – the main one, where you can find an infinity of fresh produce, cheese, olives, spices, and charcuterie, and a smaller one, dedicated to fish and seafood.
One curious thing that took me a while to notice is that each aisle is named after a prominent local figure, such as Sorolla (Impressionist painter), Blasco Ibañez (novelist), and Benlliure (family of painters and sculptors).
Being Valencia’s best and most famous food market, Mercado Central is a busy place. Many restaurants and residents, myself included, prefer to buy their ingredients from here, as they are farm-fresh, locally sourced, and prime quality.
The market is also a tourist hotspot and many visitors come here to have a look around, admire the beautiful architecture, and take pictures. Some food and walking tours of Valencia also include a visit to the Central Market.
Due to the increased interest from tourists, some businesses have diversified their offerings to include fresh fruit smoothies or charcuterie cones, while others are now exclusively targeting visitors by selling turrón, takeaway horchata, and souvenirs. Some even offer wine tastings.
Rest assured though, Valencia’s Central Market manages to preserve its authentic flair. The majority of vendors continue to offer fresh produce and fish and there’s even a market stall selling snails (a delicacy used in paella). The main hall also hosts several butcher stalls all positioned along the walls.
During your visit, you’ll come across several vendors offering mouthwatering pastries, paella, and various other Valencian dishes that you can enjoy either on a nearby bench, in your hotel room, or in the park. Sitting on the market’s main stairs is not allowed, but Turia Park is only a short walk away.
Besides the exceptional quality and huge variety of fresh produce, which is impossible to come by in any supermarket, one other reason I love shopping here is the personal touch.
I find it is really easy to strike up a conversation with the vendors and I got countless tips for preparing local recipes this way.
Over the years, I’ve cultivated relationships with some of them, and it’s always heartwarming to see a familiar face in the bustling crowd.
Speaking Spanish always helps, but many vendors speak at least some English and make a genuine effort to communicate.
Fun facts and curiosities about the Central Market
1. Mercado Central was the first market in the world to accept online orders and offer a home delivery service, all the way back in 1996. It seems like a lifetime ago!
2. They ship fresh products anywhere in Spain and even other European countries. If you want to buy Valencian tomatoes, oranges, chufa, or rice from the comfort of your home, you might be in luck.
3. It has a bar owned by a Michelin-starred chef – Central Bar by Ricard Camarena. While you won’t see Ricard behind the counter, the food is prepared after his recipes and is delicious. Be sure to inquire about the daily specials.
4. The vast majority of vendors source their products from local farmers or Mercavalencia, the largest wholesale market in the region. But a select few are producers themselves.
5. One of the stalls has a vermouth tap. Vermouth is a sweet fortified wine and the stall is called Benvolgut Aperitivos.
My favorite stalls inside the Central Market
- Frutas Virginia – for fresh fruits and smoothies
- Marisa y Rafa – for high-quality veggies they grow themselves
- Frutos Secos Pepe y Pepita – for all sorts of nuts and candied fruits
- Moixamer – for pickled olives
- Show de Cacau – for empanadas (Spanish turnovers)
- El Rincón del Jamón – for dry-cured ham and other gourmet products
- Paco Roig – for bread
- Las Cervezas del Mercado – for local (and international) craft beer
My advice for experiencing the Central Market like a local
1. The market is at its busiest during mid-morning hours and on Saturdays. If you want to avoid the crowds and buy the most appetizing fruits and veggies, my advice is to arrive bright and early.
2. Many visitors are confused to see people waiting in front of a stall without any clear line. How do you know when it’s your turn? By simply asking “Quien es el último?” (Who’s the last one?) or getting a number from the ticket dispenser, when available. The vendor will then ask “Quien va ahora?” (Who’s next?) and you say “Yo!” (Me!) when it’s your turn.
3. You’ll notice that some products have price tags, while others may not. If something catches your attention, you can ask “Cuánto cuesta?” (How much does it cost?). Haggling is not customary here and I don’t recommend it. Vendors are often self-employed and deserve a fair income.
4. For hygiene reasons, refrain from handling the produce and allow the vendor to choose them for you. If you want a particular piece, simply point toward it. Periodic announcements are made over the speakers to remind customers of this.
5. Although the market is open until 3pm, many vendors start packing around 2pm. If you arrive just before closing time, expect a semi-deserted market.
How to get to Valencia’s Central Market
- Metro: Àngel Guimerà or Xàtiva
- Bus: 7, 11, 27 and 66
- Bike: There are docking stations nearby
- Car: Underground parking available but only low-emissions cars belonging to residents and those with temporary authorization are allowed in the Old Town.
- Train: North Train Station
Have you visited the Central Market in Valencia? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.