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World’s best vintage markets to source for precious antiques

Minimal homes with no clutter are great and all, but it lacks one very crucial thing: character. Sure, it may look great on Instagram but give yourself six months and you’ll begin to feel that things are starting to get rather sterile. A home should be an extension of your personality and tell the tales of your life — this means little bits and bobs that carry a history behind them. One great way to show that off is by picking up something during your travels, and where better to pick them up than at some of the best vintage markets in the world?

But wait — that doesn’t mean we’re giving you the green light to go all out and fill your home with bric-a-brac that you’ll never fully appreciate. These items that you procure need to spark joy within yourself, and just the right amount of stuff will give your home character instead of a feature on an episode of Hoarders.

Below is a list of the best vintage markets you need to visit around the world — if you happen to be in those cities. What better way to pick up the most unique piece of antique furniture or collectables than from a vintage market far away from home? Perhaps you might even come across an antique book which happens to be a collector’s edition or even find that rare vinyl record you’ve been wanting. When shopping at vintage markets, it’s all about chance — and you can only get it when you take the time to peruse. So go on and take your time at these best vintage markets in the world.

1
El Rastro, Madrid

If you ever happen to be in Madrid on a Sunday, you will need to pay a visit to the El Rastro flea market. Open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., El Rastro is Madrid’s largest and oldest antique market, spanning Plaza de Cascorro and Ronda de Toledo. Here you can find a neverending array of bric-a-brac, unique antiques and collectables, handmade items, and more. Be sure to explore off the beaten path — meaning stalls that are not on the main streets — to find even more rare items.

(Image: Getty)

2
Porte de Clignancourt, Paris

You can’t visit Paris without stopping by at some of their famous flea markets, with the biggest and most popular one being the Porte de Clignancourt. It’s open every Saturday till Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and comprises 14 submarkets with specialised categories. You can find just about anything, and then some more if you take the time to really peruse the stalls. Think art pieces, antique furniture, vintage items, and preloved designer pieces including some Chanel archival pieces. Start at the Porte de Clignancourt and make your way around the different submarkets.

3
Navigli Vintage Market, Milan

Time your visit correctly, because the Navigli Vintage Market is only open every last Sunday of the month. It apparently comes highly recommended by It style blogger Chiara Ferragni to source for cute vintage items. It opens from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and stretches over 2 km long, selling assorted vintage books, paintings, porcelainware, vinyl records, and more. It’s your chance to shop while exploring the oldest canal in Milan, the Naviglio Grande.

 

4
Oedo Antique Market, Tokyo

Closer to home, one of the best places to source for quality Asian antiques is in Japan. You’ll be able to find precisely that at the Oedo Antique Market in Tokyo, Japan. It’s the largest outdoor antique market in Japan with up to 250 vendors selling Japanese antiques ranging from kimonos to ceramics, furniture, and glassware. If you look hard enough, you might also be able to score some unusual finds, which will certainly make for conversation-starters at home. Find the market at the Tokyo International Forum next to the Yurakucho Station. The market is held every first and third Sunday of the month, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

5
Rose Bowl Flea Market, Los Angeles

Holding the title as one of the more known flea markets in the world, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is certainly not one to be missed if you’re in the area. It’s been running every second Sunday of the month for over 46 years now, from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. One caveat though — as it’s held in a stadium, marketgoers will need to pay admission fees: $9 for regular admission, $12 for early admission, and $20 for VIP admission. There are over 2,500 stalls in the flea market selling antiques ranging from collectables, vintage paintings, sculptures, and more — maybe even that elusive baseball card.

 

6
Williamsburg Flea Market, New York

With Brooklyn being the hipster hub of New York, would you even be surprised that the Williamsburg Flea Market is a must-visit to score some of the sweetest vintage items coupled with original artist creations? It was first established in 2003 and housed in an old warehouse — how hipster — but this hub continues to bring together the local art scene and vintage collectors, and is still running strong today with more than 75 vendors. Score fashion, vintage, and art pieces at this flea market held every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

7
Yoyogi Park Flea Market, Tokyo

Want to emulate the ultra-hip Japanese vintage fashion trends? Look no further than the Yoyogi Park Flea Market. If you don’t feel like going store to store in Shimokitazawa — home of many vintage fashion stores — Yoyogi Park Flea Market is a great one-stop location. Over 800 vendors resell secondhand fashion items with no shortage of Harajuku-themed styles. One interesting fact to note is that no professional sellers are allowed, which means that the experience is as authentic as it gets.

 

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.