The Markets of Israel

June 10th 2012

Food lovers and shopaholics will rejoice at the outdoor food and shopping markets in Israel. Every city has at least one outdoor market, called a shuk, where visitors can get a taste for the local flavors, find the perfect souvenirs, and take part in everyday life. Visit Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market, Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market and Jaffa’s flea market to sample the best.

Jerusalem is steeped in history, from the Western Wall and the Old City to the Holocaust museum and memorial at Yad Veshem. But it’s also a thriving modern city, and there’s no better place to experience this than at the Mahane Yehuda Market. The vibrant market is a must-visit for anyone on a tour to Israel. Get a taste for all the cultures – literally – that make up the fabric of Israeli society with Turkish bourekas, Iraqi kubbeh, Yemenite goulash, Libyan shakshuka, and more in the 250-plus restaurants and stalls hidden throughout the alleys of the shuk.

The market will have you wishing you could shop like a native, with piles of the most gorgeous, seasonal produce imaginable. Even if you can’t stock up on fruits and vegetables, it’s a great place to pick up souvenirs. Food lovers will go nuts over the spices, coffee, local olive oil, freshly made tahini, and more to bring home. And visitors will be pleased to find that these days there’s far more than just food within the shuk. Find unique gifts and treasures, like handmade ceramics, locally crafted jewelry, stylish Israeli-designed clothing and kippot galore.

Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market is another favorite shuk in Israel and a must visit. Here, too, visitors will enjoy getting a glimpse at the local color while taking in the sights and smells of the typical Israeli market. Half of the main section of the market is made up of souvenirs, clothing, and other knickknacks, and is a great place to shop for fun items to bring home.

The rest of the market is dedicated to food, glorious food! Enjoy freshly squeezed juice and shakes, unique Druze wraps filled with labne (yogurt cheese), modern coffee bars, and authentic falafel. Get off the beaten path slightly by wandering into the adjacent Yemenite quarter, where you will find some of the most delicious hummus and soups in the shuk.

Just south of Tel Aviv lies historic Jaffa, which is home to the lively flea market, called Shuk HaPishpeshim in Hebrew. Here, Sunday through Friday, intrepid shoppers can sift through vintage housewares and piles of discarded items to find absolute treasures. Deals can be had for those willing to bargain, and it’s the ultimate place to find that unique souvenir. From antique chanukiot to vintage postcards, and from funky clothing to truly special furniture, there’s something for everyone at this fun market.