Mexico City's top 5 public markets

From handicrafts, to good eats, to the occult, our expert picks highlight the best vendors and items.

Mexico City is a modern mega-metropolis with a vibrant contemporary arts scene and a thriving international business community. But for a window into Mexico’s diverse culinary and creative traditions, you can visit any of the city’s three-hundred-plus permanent public markets.

Exploring these markets can feel like a religious experience for the senses. As you stroll down a given aisle, you might smell the intermingling scents frying tamales and brewing espresso. You’ll likely hear a cacophony of shouting, laughter and mariachi music. Around and above you will be hundreds, if not thousands of brightly painted stalls. They might feature anything from overflowing trays of produce, a butcher preparing wild game birds or a fresh juice bar. Many even contain small hair and nail salons.

In the gargantuan Mercado La Merced, one could easily spend an afternoon without seeing everything. There are also many smaller markets specializing in a specific kind of item. At Mercado de Jamaica, for example, you’ll find extravagant arrangements of flowers, cacti and other Mexican decorative plants.

Whether a market is large or small, the crowds are often bustling. Fortunately, you will find your fellow shoppers are in good spirits. This is a highlight of their day, as well as yours.

We’ve chosen five of the city’s best markets, all located within city’s heart, El Centro Historico.

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