Spend some time exploring one of South Africa’s bustling street, craft or flea markets. Whether you’re a dedicated shopper or a casual browser, South Africa’s craft markets sell everything from traditional foods, to jewellery, sculpture and clothing. You’ll also enjoy the friendly sellers and colourful vibe.
The geometric designs of Zulu beadwork are used to express feelings and relationships as part of an intricate communication system.
Whether you are looking for bargains in a sprawling flea market or browsing through the stalls at an African fair selling art and craftwork from all over the continent, South Africa’s craft markets provide many hours of entertainment and lots of colourful encounters with crafters from all over Africa.
You will find a range of formal and informal markets in towns and cities all over the country. Some famous markets include the Rosebank African Craft Market in Johannesburg, Greenmarket Square in Cape Town and the Victoria Street Market in Durban.
While these better known markets draw bigger crowds, smaller markets around the country are also well worth a visit, like the Hermanus flea market and the craft markets close to the Kruger National Park.
Also look out for regular events that take place once or twice a month, such as the Irene Market in Pretoria, as well as seasonal markets that form part of a bigger event or festival, like the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival Market or the Mangaung Cultural Festival Market.
Many South Africans and other Africans make their living from this vibrant informal sector and the choice on offer at South Africa’s flea markets reflects South Africa’s multi-cultural identities. You’ll find Zulu beadwork next to Basotho baskets, Xhosa textiles next to fragrant Cape Malay spices, and Venda carvings along side sheep skin slippers from the Karoo.
When you visit a market in South Africa, you will also come across a variety of food stalls, each one more enticing than the next. Be sure to try some of the local specialities likebiltong, vetkoek or a sweet and sticky koeksister and take home a taste of South Africa in preserves made from local produce.
Once you are done exploring one of the bustling craft or flea markets in South Africa and think about your experience, you may find you have more than your bargained for – including some great memories of what is as much a cultural as a commercial exchange.