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Los 4 mejores mercados a cubierto en Medellín, Colombia

One of the best parts of traveling is exploring the local gastronomy. As you taste your way through typical snacks and dishes, you discover new flavors and textures. Although some ingredients may seem familiar, some might trigger your curiosity. And where best to nourish (pun intended) this curiosity than in one of the local produce markets?

Food Markets in Medellin, all year round full of colors. (photo provided by Real City Tours)

However, in Medell√≠n this may not be so straight forward. Among the city‚Äôs different indoor markets none is necessarily on the ‚Äútourist trail‚ÄĚ and you may even be told by locals not to go there. The reason for this is two-fold. In part, some of the local marketplaces still suffer from a stigma originating in the 80‚Äôs-90‚Äôs when they were dangerous due to various armed groups. And on the other hand, the warnings are based on the locations of the markets, which are often not in the ‚Äúbest‚ÄĚ parts of town (i.e. traffic, homeless, etc.).

We’re here to tell you that you should not be deterred and to give you some helpful tips in order for you to choose which markets to go to and how to get there.

General info

These kind of indoor food markets are locally referred to as ‚Äúplazas de mercado‚ÄĚ, or simply ‚Äúplazas‚ÄĚ. If you speak Spanish and/or have travelled around Spanish-speaking countries, this might seem confusing as the word ‚Äúplaza‚ÄĚ usually translates to square in the sense of an open-air public space. Both meanings apply here, although many of the city‚Äôs squares are referred to as ‚Äúparques‚ÄĚ rather than ‚Äúplazas‚ÄĚ. In any case, when you see the word ‚Äúplaza‚ÄĚ in the markets‚Äô names, you know not expect a public square.

All markets open very early and therefore tend to close by the early afternoon, so make sure to go in the morning. Also, while they tend to be open all days of the week, weekends and holidays can get busy so it’s best to go during the week.

Unless you can get there using the metro system, your best bet is to take a taxi. The markets are well known so taxi drivers will be able to find their way, and for the way back, it is usually easy to grab a taxi by the exits of the markets (most even have a taxi stand).

1. Plaza Minorista Jos√© Mar√≠a Villa (known as ‚ÄúLa Minorista‚ÄĚ)

Plaza Minorista - Typical products (photo courtesy of Medellí, Bureau de Medellín.)

Minorista market is easily our top pick.  It is accessible via public transportation (Metroplus bus, station ‚ÄúMinorista‚ÄĚ) and its medium size allows for a good variety in produce while being walkable. Also, although its surroundings are not the nicest, the food section is very organized, clean and not as intimidating as some other marketplaces. If you‚Äôre there around lunchtime, try the ‚ÄúSancocho de bagre‚ÄĚ (fish soup) at ‚ÄúLa Esquina de la Ricura‚ÄĚ, located in the fish section on the ground floor. Not exactly fine dining, but the food is delicious! And if you prefer to explore the market with a local and are curious to try some local exotic fruits, check out the Exotic Fruits Tour run by Real City Tours, the Medell√≠n ambassador of Free Tour Community.

2. Placita de Flórez

Placita de Flórez from its eastern entrance (photo courtesy of Medellí, Bureau de Medellín.)

Often misspelled Placita de Flores (with an ‚Äús‚ÄĚ) under the assumption that this marketplace gets its name from its flower section, its name is actually in reference to Rafael Fl√≥rez, who donated the land it is on. This is the smallest of the markets included in our post and although it might not be worth a visit on its own, its location close to the tram (Bicentenario stop) and the Memory Museum (Casa Museo de la Memoria) makes it a good option if you are already in the area.

3. Plaza de Mercado La América

Friendly vendors in Plaza de La América (photo courtesy of Medellí, Bureau de Medellín.)

If you are staying in or around Laureles and prefer not to venture out to other areas, you can check out the La Am√©rica market, located close to the crossing between San Juan Avenue (Calle 44) and ‚ÄúLa 80‚ÄĚ (Cra 80). The produce section is not necessarily a highlight, but what sets this market apart is that it has section dedicated to baskets and ceramics. Although this might not be the ideal souvenir, it is still nice to browse this authentic display of local craftsmanship. For plant-lovers, there is also a garden center which can be accessed from the parking lot.

4. Central Mayorista de Antioquia (known as ‚ÄúLa Mayorista‚ÄĚ)

All the green roofs are part of Plaza Mayorista. Drone view. (photo courtesy of Medellí, Bureau de Medellín.)

Whereas the other markets mentioned above are targeted more at retail, Mayorista is more for wholesale. This is where restaurant-owners go to buy in bulk. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the market‚Äôs size and set-up, which is designed more for cars/trucks than for pedestrians. So, if you‚Äôre looking to go on a bit of an exploratory stroll, this is not your place. However, if you are on a mission and looking for something specific or large quantities of something, Mayorista is worth a visit. Another reason to go is to satisfy your seafood cravings. This might sound strange considering Medellin‚Äôs geographic location, but the restaurant ‚ÄúAmazonas‚ÄĚ serves excellent fish and seafood dishes at fair prices (taking into account the generous portions). Lunch only, as they close at the same time as the market in the afternoon.

So, that’s our overview of some of Medellin’s best indoor markets. Hope you have fun exploring the local produce!

Article by Pablo Alvarez: Founder and guide of Real City Tours. The #1 free walking tour in Medellín for the last 8 years.

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