Jaffa boasts a long and colorful history. A visit to the area would be incomplete without touring some of the main sites. In the middle of Yefet Street, at the northern entrance of Jaffa, is the Clock Tower, one of seven built in honor of Sultan Abdul Hamid II during the Ottoman Period. The tower was erected in 1903, and in 1965 mosaics depicting the history of the city were added. Within the Clock Tower Plaza are the ‘Kishle’ and the ‘Saraya,’ the old Ottoman police station and government house.
Stroll around the still-active harbor to get a taste of Jaffa at its heyday. Experience the neighborhood’s fusion of history and modernity by watching fishermen at work on their colorful boats as you weave in and out of various cafés, galleries and bookstores. To get in on the action, rent a kayak or sailboat and make your way along the coastline.
One of the more obvious destinations to visit in Jaffa is Shuk HaPishpeshim, which is well worth your time whether you leave with a shag rug, a new dresser, or empty-handed. The flea market is a lively scene of haggling and hustling, in operation for over 100 years in the same alleyways and covered streets. Though a trip to the shuk requires ample patience and a keen eye, if you are well prepared you will be amazed by what you can find: handmade ceramics, secondhand furniture, antiques, boutique clothing – the list goes on. Plenty of restaurants are scattered throughout the market if you feel the need to stop and refresh.
Time and time again, Tel Aviv has proven to be a feast for the taste buds, and Jaffa is no exception. A spot that must be mentioned in any thorough guide of the neighborhood is Abu Hassan, arguably the best hummus joint in the country (though beware, expressing this opinion publicly will lead to another battle in the eternal hummus debate). Try the msabacha, warm hummus with tahini and fava beans.
Another contender for a finger-licking lunch is the iconic Abouelafia bakery, offering hot zaatar pita, potato and egg stuffed sambusac, and more. Those left with room for dessert should stop by Knaffe to try one of these spectacular, traditionally Arab treats, made of kadaif dough, warm goat’s cheese and rosewater syrup.
Abu Hassan Hummus, +972 3-682 0387
Abouelafia Bakery, +972 3-683-4958
Jaffa is home to over 50 art galleries and studios. Naming the best would be impossible, but a couple of great ones to check out include the Ilana Goor Museum and the Farkash Gallery. The renowned Ilana Goor Museum, located in an 18th century Jaffa building which Goor herself renovated, displays the artist’s creations as well as over 500 pieces of other Israeli, international and ethnic art.
The Farkash Gallery features the largest collection in the world of vintage Israeli posters, ranging in theme from the military, to advertisements, to Israeli film. Also included in the gallery are historical photographs and international art.
In addition to plentiful studios and galleries, Jaffa is home to a fair share of live arts and theater. Mayumana is a performance troupe that originated in Jaffa. Over the last few years the troupe has gone global, performing in North America and East Asia; however, shows still take place every weekend in the premier Jaffa location. Catch a performance by this eclectic, rhythmical dance group in the place where it all began.
Another option, both unique and inspirational, is to see a show at Na Laga’at, a center that puts on theater productions with a deaf-blind cast. Pair the experience with a dinner at Black Out, a restaurant in which diners eat meals served by blind waiters in total darkness.
Mayumana, +972 3 6811787
NaLagaat, +972 3-633-0825