While on my study abroad adventure this semester, I had the opportunity to travel to a lot of unique places. While I usually don't buy a lot when traveling, I love to visit different shopping areas and markets to see how products differ in each city or country.
I've had the chance to go to a few of the places on this list, and the rest are now on my list to visit in the future! Keep reading to see my top picks for the must- go alternative street markets and shopping areas all over the world.
1) Camden Market, London, U.K.
Since I lived in London for the majority of the time during my study abroad semester, Camden was one of the first places that my local friends told me to go to. Camden boasts an amazing punk scene, so this is a must- see if you are into platform shoes, totally cool hairstyles (that I would never be able to pull off), and edgy leather jackets.
Step into Camden Market and you'll be slightly overwhelmed with the amount of shops, food stands, and restaurants that surround you. But overwhelmed in a good way, trust me!
If you plan to visit Camden Market, keep in mind that the shops and food stands (which have everything from Brazilian street food to Korean burritos) close around 7 PM during the summer time, and a bit earlier in the colder seasons.
Make sure you head into the actual market, which is actually inside a series of buildings. You'll find every kind of store imaginable- from places selling vintage rock tees, to magic shops and street art stands.
Just a tip: try the orange juice stand right as you enter Camden Market- you won't regret it!
2) Djemaa el- Fna, Marrakech, Morocco
While I didn't make it to Morocco on this trip, the Djemaa el- Fna market in Marrakech certainly makes me want to keep it on my bucket list.
With hundreds (or thousands) of pieces of awesome homewares and decor like traditional tapestries, delicately painted pottery, and gorgeous accessories like silk scarves and handmade jewelry, it would be hard to leave here without a souvenir.
This market, like Camden, has a variety of shops and food places. Jemaa el- Fnaa is a large public square with a bunch of small merchants and entertainers, which makes it popular with both tourists and locals.
Also- it's open 24 hours, so you really don't have any excuse not to go!
3) St. Mark's Place, New York City, U.S.A.
Living in New York City for the majority of my current college career, I like to explore a lot of different areas. While the Lower East Side used to be the place that would freak your parents out, it's very up- and- coming, and particularly popular with the younger crowd.
A must- see shop on St. Mark's Place would have to be "Search and Destroy." This place has the weirdest- and coolest- mix of vintage clothing, dolls, shoes, and lots of questionable items.
The next store, Trash and Vaudeville, has actually changed its location recently. I first went to Trash and Vaudeville during my freshman year on an errand run to pick up a pair of shoes for a shoot.
Trash and Vaudeville was the first place in the U.S. to carry Brit- based brand Doc Martens, and used to be the go- to place for black skinny jeans.
While it's no longer located at 4 St. Mark's Place, it's worth the walk to go a couple of blocks to its new location at 96 East 7th Street.
4) Takeshita Dori, Tokyo, Japan
I'm determined to make it to the Harajuku area in Tokyo just to see the fashion alone. I love the super cute kawaii style - so much that it makes me wish I wish I had the time and patience to put on more than a t-shirt and pair of jeans on most days.
Takeshita Dori is located in Harajuku and is flooded with restaurants, shops, and people. It looks like an amazing place to roam and wander into the small shops to get some unique finds. If you're into Harajuku fashion, there's no better place to go than here!
But, if the super cute style of traditional Harajuku clothing isn't quite to your taste, don't worry.
At Takeshita Dori market, you can pick up more than the gothic lolita outfits, bright colored clothing and crazy hair accessories associated with the Harajuku style. Shop around for unique punk accessories and clothing with loads of buckles, chains, and embellishments to add some flair to your wardrobe.
LX Factory, Lisbon, Portugal
LX Factory is one of those places that looks like absolutely nothing from the outside, but is super cool inside. I took an Uber here while visiting Lisbon and from the street, LXF doesn't look like much. Step inside, though, and you're walking through a path of street art, shops, and restaurants.
Whether you visit during the daytime (most things open up around noon) or at night, there's no doubt that you'll have a ton of cool photo ops here. There are a bunch of cool specialty shops, which offer great souvenirs to bring home.
If you get hungry, I'd HIGHLY recommend a restaurant called "Burger Factory" for a good bite.
And of course, don't forget your camera when you visit LX Factory. At every corner, there is a different piece of cool street art that you'll definitely want to snap some photos of!
French Quarter, New Orleans, U.S.A.
New Orleans is one of those places that I've always wanted to go to because of the rich and varied culture. While this one isn't a specific market, the French Quarter in NOLA is supposed to be great for shopping and strolling.
The must- see places here (for me, anyway) obviously include voodoo shops! Shy away from the voodoo shops along Bourbon Street, as these are considered a huge tourist trap.
There are other voodoo places along Dumaine Street that are said to be a bit more authentic, and less crowded. Another recommended eclectic shop with some unique finds is called Yesteryear's.
Myeongdong Shopping District, Seoul
If you're up for some serious busy shopping, Myeongdong Shopping District in Seoul, Korea is for you!
This place always looks packed, but has a great mixture of mainstream stores and specialty shops. If you're into beautiful artwork then check out Sacksang. The owner of this store is artist Keum Dong-won, who creates beautiful scarves, bags, unique watches and other items all based on his own original art.
And, since you're in the city that has been called the 'beauty capital' of the world, be sure to pop into some Korean beauty stores and stock up on skincare and cosmetics that you can't find at home!
Which street market or shopping area would you like to visit the most? Let us know in the comments below!
Cover Photo Courtesy of Flickr