I love shopping! Whether I’m buying a new outfit, a gift for a friend or just to browse. I’ve become somewhat of an expert. Like in any modern city, you can find the usual brand names and designer stores. But here in Israel, there is just so much more than that…. Here you can find that special something in the shuk, discover some ridiculously trendy new Israeli fashion designer or just browse for some cool local souvenirs and lots lots more.
From art and antiques to fresh fruit and baked goods, you can find it all by exploring Israel’s many markets. Israeli markets are lively, colorful and full of wonderful finds. No trip to Israel would be complete without visiting at least one market, or “shuk” as it is known locally. This gives you a chance to experience a bit of Israeli culture while enjoying a taste of the Israeli lifestyle. Remember it’s the little discoveries that make us happy and lucky for you Israel has many little surprises to give you an amazing and unique trip. I have compiled a list of my favorite places that you must check out.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the city center up Agrippas Street to Machane Yehuda, this amazing outdoor market, often referred to as the Shuk, stretches between Jaffa Road and Agrippas Street. The shuk is lined with small and homey restaurants and there are many places that are worth trying out. With Israeli cuisine getting more and more varied as well as popular, there are some hidden gems that you absolutely must check out. One great example is an exciting little restaurant– Shuk Bites, which gives you samples of some of the markets best bites—and it will definitely take your taste buds down an unexpected road of pure delight.
Almost all people agree that the most famous tourist market in the Old City is the “Arab Shuk”, due its proximity to Jaffa Gate. The shuk is absolutely awe inspiring and the beauty of the street attracts a large and varied crowd. You may see Jews on their way to services at the Western Wall, Christian pilgrims proceeding to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Muslims going up to pray on the Temple Mount, and thousands of tourists and visitors. Let yourself get lost in the labyrinth of spice, clothes and jewelry stalls in this Arabian Night atmosphere.
The market has been around since the Ottoman Era and today features a paradox of traditional items and kitschy souvenirs. Not only is this generally the cheapest place to purchase gifts, but it is also the home to some well-known delicious eateries. Haggling is expected here, so this is a chance to practice your negotiating skills.
The Carmel Market, or Shuk HaCarmel, is one the most famous of Tel Aviv’s marketplaces. Recently, it’s even joined the ranks of Tel Aviv’s trendy spots for bars, restaurants, coffee shops and chef-owned food stalls. It’s no wonder Shuk HaCarmel is Tel Aviv’s largest and most-centrally located shuk. The variety of yummy goodies range from hand-made Jachnun, a traditional Yemenite dish, to boutique cheeses, all the way to one-off cotton clothes to designer threads.
Here is a good tip to keep in mind, plan your visit around your taste buds and food preferences – salted fish, cured meats or maybe you’re feeling like enjoying some Middle Eastern fare. Perhaps you’re craving some fresh baked French pastries at a local-roasted coffee?In the end why not top it off with some fresh-pressed fruit or vegetable juice to wash it all down.
Old Jaffa is a romantic place, particularly at night when buildings and the old port are illuminated and reflect in the waters of the Mediterranean. Its restaurants are a must see destination. For a superb view of Tel Aviv’s coastline, head to the top of the gardens in the middle of Old Jaffa, known as HaPisga Garden, or Peak Garden. The gardens themselves are nice and well-kept, and are well worth the climb to the top. As well as the beautiful coastline vista, you can also see across Jaffa and the iconic clock tower, the Old Jaffa port, out to sea and across the southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv. Don’t forget to take a selfie!
If you are looking for an authentic true Middle-Eastern shopping experience, head over to the Jaffa Flea Market (“Shuk HaPishpishim” in Hebrew) for the widest variety of one-of-a-kind items that you just won’t find in a shopping mall or a chain store. In my own experience, the best way to enjoy the Jaffa Flea Market is to come without an agenda but instead with a lot of curiosity. The shuk is an extremely compelling spot to spend your day, exploring antique furniture jewelry, hookahs, Judaica and vintage European fashions. It boasts a variety of color, smell, texture and taste. Some of the more offbeat things you can buy at the Jaffa Flea Market include a WWI British army uniform and helmet, a shot of vodka infused with a Persian lemon herb, life-size cartoon characters and musical bearded men made of clay.
Are you on the hunt for some awesome vintage and secondhand goodies? You have to check out the twice weekly Vintage Market in Tel Aviv and let yourself enjoy this one of a kind source of shopping. This market is chirpy and bustling with bargain hunters. You can expect to find a large collection of vintage goodies on sale, antique dealers and younger designers trying to make a name for themselves. The market is open on Tuesdays (10:00am-18:00pm) and Fridays (07:00am-16:00pm), the antique market is filled with a curious mix of trinkets and for those with a sharp eye, bargains such as antique watches, jewelry and table ware can always be found. Afterwards you can take in a film as the local cinema is just around the corner.
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Let us know in the comments how your personal shopping experiences went.