From antique books, vintage clothing, old records and quirky trinkets, flea markets can be great for finding bargains. El Encants is one of Barcelona’s oldest, largest and most popular flea markets and it’s not hard to see why. The huge space, located on Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes (metro: Glòries) is home to around five hundred stalls, welcoming over a hundred thousand visitors every week. You will find everything from secondhand treasures such as vintage china and crystal lamps to brand new items such as bicycles and mattresses. So, if you fancy doing something a little bit different, or are on the hunt for some bargains, you should definitely pay El Encants a visit!
The market is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9am-8pm.
The market, also known as the mercat de Bellcaire, dates all the way back to the fourteenth century. The location of the market has changed many times over the years, most recently in 2013 to its new three-story modern structure opposite the Agbar Tower and not far from the DHUB Design Museum. The attractive and open-sided space is an architectural gem designed by Fermín Vázquez, with its mirrored canopy and multilevel platform. There is no need to buy anything while you are there, you can simply while away the hours wondering around the magnificent structure, exploring the stalls and soaking up the exciting atmosphere.
What you’ll find
With over 500 vendors, the market has a huge range of second-hand goods and brand new items. Some vendors have organised stalls and displays, whilst others throw all their items in a heap which you have to search through. On the bottom floor of the market, you will find vendors shouting about their best deals and on the upper levels you will find boutique shops filled with antiques and other collectables. Be warned; you will have to rifle through a lot of junk in order to find the quality items. Remember, haggling is perfectly acceptable and try to dress down as a smart tourist can be an easy target for a vendor.
The market can become extremely crowded, especially on Saturdays, so be prepared for some pushing and shoving. What’s more, Els Encants is a popular location for pickpockets so be mindful of your belongings.
Related article: Best flea markets in Barcelona
The public auction
If you want to get a real taste of the market atmosphere, visit El Encants on a Monday or Wednesday when a public auction is held between 7 and 9am before the market officially opens. Entire lots of goods, usually overstock from factories and department stores and goods from emptied houses are auctioned off. The vendors will then try and re-sell the items separately on their stalls to customers throughout the day.
Grab a bite to eat
When you need a break from bargain hunting, why not stop for a well-deserved drink or snack? The market has two sit-down restaurants and a ‘street food’ corner on the top floor where you can perch on a bench or gather around a table and sample some delicious tapas washed down by a cold beer for a reasonable price. Fogo de la Terra, serving elegant tapas and tumblers of cava, is always a popular choice with crowds of hungry shoppers congregating around the stand.