Travel

When in Spain, go marketing

Enjoy local cuisine while you take in the sights at two famous Spanish markets

Tourism in Spain has proven to be resilient, despite last month's terrorist attacks in Barcelona's Las Ramblas and Cambrils.

Growth in flights to Barcelona, one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations, dipped a little but has bounced back, said Spain's Tourism Minister Alvaro Nadal.

He told Reuters last week: "The initial shock is normal and always happens in these situations, but it has been much less than in comparable cases."

Cancellations have been isolated and Spain continues to be a top choice for holidaymakers from Singapore.

Tour firm Insight Vacations' travel director John Chappell recommends two of his favourite Spanish markets to sample the local culture and cuisine.

CENTRAL MARKET, VALENCIA

Market Square, 46001 Valencia

Open Monday to Saturday (8am to 3pm)

Closed on Sunday

Valencia's Mercado Central, or Central Market, strikes you with its impressive architecture. It is huge, has high ceilings and exquisite detail.

When in Spain, go marketing
There are about 1,000 stalls in Valencia's Central Market selling seafood, meat, vegetables and fruits, including Valencia's locally produced oranges. PHOTO: SPAIN TOURISM BOARD

It is one of the most visited buildings in Spain's third largest city and features ceramic-covered partitions, iron-vaulted beams and colourful stained glass patterns depicting Valencia fruit.

The Valencia fruit patterns signify the period when the city had a booming agriculture industry.

Valencia’s Mercado Central is considered Europe’s oldest continuously operating food market and the largest covered one.

Mercado Central, which opened in 1928, is considered Europe's oldest continuously operating food market and the largest covered one.

When in Spain, go marketing
There are about 1,000 stalls in Valencia's Central Market selling seafood, meat, vegetables and fruits, including Valencia's locally produced oranges.PHOTO: SPAIN TOURISM BOARD

It spans 8,000 sq m and is where both locals and tourists come to shop for fresh food and vegetables.

There are about 1,000 stalls selling seafood, meat, vegetables and fruits, including Valencia's locally produced oranges.

There is a ground floor and a basement, both of which are organised into straight alleys lined with food stalls.

There is also some international presence, with a Japanese stall and even one that sells beer, wine and spirits from around the world.

For those seeking authentic Spanish flavours, head for the coffee and pastry stalls for breakfast, or try the variety of cheeses or local cured Jamon ham hanging on display.

For a Valencian flavour, order an ice-cold Horchata, which is a great refreshing drink and a favourite among the locals.

MERCADO DE SAN ANTON, MADRID

Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24, 28004 Madrid

Open Sunday to Thursday (10am to midnight)

Friday and Saturday (10am to 1.30am)

Located in the hipster neighbourhood of Chueca, close to Gran Via (Madrid's main shopping street and the fashionable Fuencarral district), Mercardo de San Anton stands out with its sleek design.

When in Spain, go marketing
You can pick your meat in Madrid's Mercado de San Anton and have it cooked on the top floor.PHOTO: SPAIN TOURISM BOARD

It is spread across four floors and took five years to renovate before re-opening in 2011.

With 7,354 sq m of open space, one can find more than 20 stalls on the first and second storeys. It is environmentally efficient, with a central skylight that functions as a solar energy collector, and the floor is based on cast basalt, made from recycled materials.

This food haven offers free wi-fi and is more like a chic food court than a traditional market. The building is carefully curated so that the ground floor's gourmet market sells items such as cured meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables.

You can pick your protein here and head up to the top floor to have it cooked at La Cocina de San Anton by in-house chefs for four euros (S$6.40).

The second storey is a great place to sample a variety of cooked dishes, such as freshly cooked pasta, sushi, falafels, sweets and oysters. You can also find tapas from each region of Spain.

For a local experience, try the Pimientos de Padrón, small green peppers from the Spanish municipality of Padrón in Galicia. It's like a food lottery, where one in 10 is extra spicy and the rest are mild.

For a refreshing beer with a view, head to the rooftop terrace bar on the third storey where there's a trendy lounge area.

TourismSpainFood & Drink