About flea markets in South Africa
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. This is never so true as when you’re talking second-hand stores and flea markets. While shopping is unlikely to be your main reason for travelling to Africa, it will probably be something that you indulge in once you’re there.
After all, local markets are great places to soak up local culture and colour.
There are very few things as exciting as walking through the street markets in any foreign country. This is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to get a first-hand experience in how the natives actually live and do business.
Explore the amazing opportunity to mingle with the most authentic locals. See some of the most indigenous products, foods and haggling tactics. You won’t find those anywhere else.
Flea markets in South Africa are usually outdoor bazaars that allow a number of merchants to sell their wide variety of goods. These include jewellery, clothing, food, mementoes, and other accessories.
In this article, we suggest some of the most famous flea markets in South Africa. Hopefully, your souvenir shopping adventure will be both successful and enjoyable.
Panorama Flea market
The Panorama Flea market is a previously converted drive-in movie theatre that has become a flea market. The market has grown over the years and has become a meeting place for the community to meet on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays to enjoy the live entertainment the market has to offer.
Rosebank African Craft Market
The African craft market in Rosebank in Johannesburg has turned shopping into a pretty unique experience. Particularly for visitors and tourists to the area for whom an introduction to the rather exotic art and culture of Africa is a new experience.
A range of arts and crafts is on display by skilled African artists. Those artists come from the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and the Congo, to name a few. The fare includes fabrics, clothing, jewellery and ceramics as well as interior décor bits and pieces.
The atmosphere is vibrant. Tour buses regularly arrive with their tour groups to experience the distinctive range of wares that represent the unique rhythm of the African continent.
What makes it worth the trip is that the market is bang up against the Mall of Rosebank. The Mall itself has a feast of shops and entertainment that includes a cinema nouveau for art movies. There, you will find an endless stream of excellent restaurants and coffee shops. You can also visit many different boutiques and major clothing chains and a supermarket.
You cannot visit Cape Town and not visit one of its oldest markets. Greenmarket Square is set on a cobbled square between Short and Longmarket Streets.
This is where locals buy their clothing, jewellery, sandals, crafts and nick-nacks for years. While the face of the market may have changed a little, there is still an exciting buzz as well as evidence of the city’s most colourful and eccentric characters.
While being there you have the amazing opportunity to find local art, crafts, fabrics and artefacts from almost every country on the continent.
Today, Greenmarket Square is bordered by a selection of restaurants and cafés that provide ample opportunity to people-watch and enjoy local fare. There are a few coffee shops, restaurants and hotels bordering on Greenmarket Square. It’s very convenient for customers who need to relax after shopping.
Victoria Street Market
The Victoria Street Market lies in the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets. Your visit will feel like stepping into another world, with its blend of all things Indian and African. Spices and incense rent the air in which more than 170 stalls display their wares.
The Vic, as the Victoria Market is now known, is set in a huge building that resembles something out of a Maharajah’s story. The ornate structure is a humming place where you can buy anything food-related. You will also find spices, and a fish market downstairs – a food lover’s delight.
Shoppers can choose from a wide variety of African and Asian artwork made from materials: stone, wood, brass and animal skins as well as fragrant spices and a wide variety of tobacco products.
Tips for when shopping in flea markets
First of all, make sure that what you buy is legal. Illegal items often make their way into Africa’s marketplaces, and knowing how to avoid them is important. Often, items aren’t illegal but should be avoided for moral reasons. These items could be shells and pieces of coral harvested from the ocean and furniture made from unsustainable tree species.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment while shopping for souvenirs. Try to keep in mind the practicality of carrying your purchases around Africa for the rest of your trip. Also remember the weight and size restrictions imposed by your airline’s baggage allowance.
Bargaining is commonplace throughout Africa, especially for souvenirs and curios sold in markets, medinas, bazaars, and souks. There’s a fine line between paying too much and getting ripped off and paying too little and insulting or short-changing the seller.
Time passes by quickly when you stroll around the flea markets. Keep your personal belongings close to you at all times, especially your mobile phone in case you get lost. Don’t forget to switch to a local SIM card while arriving in South Africa in order to take advantage of cheaper local tariffs.