Top Five Open-Air Markets to Visit in Israel

June 20th 2012

Carmel Market in Tel AvivIsrael is home to incredible archeological and religious sites and breathtaking natural wonders. But for a glimpse into the daily life of Israelis, there is no better place to visit than the country’s colorful open-air markets. Every city has at least one, called a shuk in Hebrew, and it is here that you can find the vibrant heart of the Israeli urban experience. Each shuk has its own unique character that sets it apart and makes it worth visiting, for locals and tourists alike.

The most famous market in Israel, Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda is celebrated for good reason. After undergoing extensive renovations about a decade ago, the large, spacious shuk is now home to traditional produce and spice vendors, butchers and fishmongers, as well as to high-end food shops, boutiques, restaurants and cafes. One could easily spend a day eating and shopping one’s way through the windy side streets of Mahane Yehuda, all while picking up distinctive souvenirs in the process.

For some true local color, head to Jaffa’s Shuk HaPishpeshim, the lively flea market that is open six days a week. From restored antiques to modern sunglasses, it’s a thoroughly fun market to visit, even if you don’t buy anything. Vendors lay out their goods on tables or blankets on the floor, while enthusiastic treasure hunters sift through to find their prizes. Wonderful vintage clothing and furniture stores, as well as trendy cafes and bars, fill the surrounding streets.

Further north in Haifa, Shuk Talpiot has yet another feel. Here Arabs and Russian Jews mingle with the typical vendors, hawking a wide range of fish and produce. Located in the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa, which overlooks the port, Shuk Talpiot is a great place to find unusual produce and delicious pastries like baklava.

Hidden within the walls of a well-preserved crusader fortress lies the picturesque shuk in Akko. Admire the gorgeous produce, drink a glass of fresh-squeezed juice, and stock up on reasonably priced housewares while wandering through the beautiful arched stone streets. Some say that the best hummus in Israel can be found at Hummus Said, located within the shuk.

Whereas most of Israel’s open-air markets are operate six days a week, the shuk in the sleepy Galilean artists’ town of Tsfat sets up camp only on Wednesdays, making it all the more special. The usual selection of fruits, vegetables, dried fruits and nuts is available, as well as clothing, all manner of pickles, kitchen items and more. And all in the beautiful setting of Israel’s highest city.