Whether you’re after food, spices or clothes, as a Middle Eastern country, Israel has no shortage of markets, or shouks as they are locally called. From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, here are the best markets to visit when traveling in this country.
Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market is the closest thing to a Middle Eastern bazaar that Tel Aviv has to offer. With bustling fruit and vegetable stands, screaming fishmongers and all manner of butchers, Carmel is the market to go to to get lost, with dozens of new restaurants and cafes popping up along its side streets. Purchase a fake watch and cool souvenir and then head to the beach.
Open only on Tuesdays and Fridays, the Nahalat Binyamin Arts and Craft market sits next to the Carmel Market, and showcases the biggest small artisan talents in Tel Aviv. With all manner of toys and trinkets, Nahalat Binyamin’s paved street are a great place to find something quirky and enjoy the city’s streets.
Colorful trinkets made by colorful folks at Tel Aviv’s Arts and Crafts Market on Nahalat Binyamin | Israel Tourism, Flickr
Jaffa’s Flea Market
Now one of Tel Aviv’s hippest areas, Jaffa’s Flea Market is a mix of cool restaurants and strange antique stores. Though not cheap, haggling is expected, so for the brave and fearless negotiator, there are bargains to be found.
Mahne Yehuda Market, in central Jerusalem, is the only market in Israel that puts the Carmel to shame. Long and impressive, the market is the closest thing to a market from Aladdin that you can find. From amazing figs to strange dark tahini sweets, it’s full of surprises.
Jerusalem’s Old City Market
A mix of crisscrossing passages and side streets, the market of Jerusalem’s Old City is a Turkish-style bazaar of food and goods. Home to some of the best small Arab eateries, this is the market to go to see how the non-Jewish part of Israel lives, as many of East Jerusalem’s residents are Palestinians.
The coastal town of Acre, in northern Israel, hides one of the most beautiful old port cities in the world. Within the maze of streets and sea-beaten walls lies the Turkish Market, truly a sight for those unfamiliar with local Arab culture. It has everything you could hope for in terms of food and drinks, and is well worth the day trip up north.
In southern Tel Aviv, the Levinsky Market is the new kid on the block. Though actually one of Tel Aviv’s first markets, this food and spice market has recently sprung back to the forefront as this neighborhood became the city’s newest hotspot. It’s hard to navigate as it’s spread over a number of streets, but cool maps help you navigate. Head to Cafe Levinsky 41 for a homemade pop soda or one of the best coffees in Tel Aviv and pick up a free copy of Markolet, the Levinsky Market guide.
Tel Aviv has hosted a number of farmer’s markets over the years, but the new one in Tel Aviv Port rules them all. Set up in a specially designed hanger, the two-story market is a local version of New York’s Chelsea Food Market. Buy produce or have lunch at Yahaloma or the Food Market in the second floor; both are a bit pricey, but well worth it.
A lesser-known Tel Aviv shouk, the Tikva Market is a less cool but very convenient food market. Like the Carmel Market, it offers fresh produce and meat, but unlike the Carmel it is large, spacious and clean. It may not be an atmospheric Middle Eastern bazaar but it’s a damn good market and the prices are much (much!) lower than the Carmel. If it’s food you’re after, this is the place.