Best Markets in Israel
BY Lee Saunders DATE 14/06/2022
If there is one truly authentic experience in Israel that offers a glimpse into a nation’s heart, soul, and history, it is a visit to street markets.
A pivotal role in Middle Eastern culture for centuries, street markets are like open-air airports, a meeting place for different communities and cultures. From the charismatic stallholders to the often locally-made merchandise they sell, soak up the atmosphere at Israel’s best markets. Here are some of our favorites:
Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem – complete assault on the senses
No visit to Israel is complete without a trip to Jerusalem’s legendary Mahane Yehuda market, the city’s most prominent and oldest market, and a full-throttle assault on the senses. Less than 2km from the King David Hotel, head down there, weaving your way past local characters with a tale to tell, and take in the intoxicating fusion of colors, scents, and sounds filling the air. This is where you will find some of the best falafel, sweets, nuts, spices, and rugelach – a buttery confectionary originating in Poland’s Jewish community. Take a culinary tour of the market, and as the sun sets and the shutters come down, check out the creative genius of British-born street artist Solomon Souza, who has painted well-known faces from times past onto the market shutters staring back at you in glorious technicolor.
Zigzag through Tel Aviv’s Carmel market
If Jerusalem’s market displays famous faces, Tel Aviv’s world-famous Carmel Market, or Shuk HaCarmel, is all about the present-day personalities. Running south from the junction of King George, Allenby, and Shenkin streets and close to the Yemenite Quarter, the traders here alone make the experience entertaining as they call out for business. While the market is compact, there’s more to it than the main strip. Make sure you zigzag through intersecting streets to taste and smell everything from bourekas to hand-made jachnun, a traditional Yemenite dish, boutique cheeses to dates the size of golf balls, not to mention the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Rivaling the city’s trendy bakeries, bars, and restaurants, this centrally located market presents you with an abundance of delights amidst chef-owned food stalls and clothing bargains.
Unique Souvenirs at Nachalat Binyamin market
Adjacent to Carmel Market –surrounded by beautiful eateries – is the relaxing Nachalat Binyamin Market, the perfect way to spend some time. Open on Tuesdays and Fridays; this has been one craft market to admire since it opened in 1988. With many of the vendors selling their own creations – and happy to discuss their craft and inspiration – you are sure to find unique mementos and cherished souvenirs among the more than 200 stalls that showcase art and handmade products, including paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, soaps, mezuzot, puppets, games, and Judaica.
The scintillating scents of Levinsky Market
As you continue to head south in Tel Aviv, you will come across one of the other well-known markets in Tel Aviv: Levinsky Market or Shuk Levinsky. The market’s origins in this Tel Aviv neighborhood of Florentine are found in the traditional Spanishmerchant communities of Mizrahi Iranian and Iraqi Jews. Several younger generations of Mizrahi Jews have opened their own shops, adding a food lover’s flair to the mix, but it has retained its character and ambiance. Running the length of Levinsky Street in South Tel Aviv and close to the trendy Florentine area, Levinsky Market is smaller than its northern neighbor, Carmel, but is dotted with cafes, delis and stores offering dried fruits, olives, and the scintillating scents of cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and more, and is the perfect spot for an afternoon of people-watching.
Roam around Jaffa Flea Market
Further south lies Old Jaffa, home to a market culture for centuries. Today, the flea market – known locally as Shuk Hapishpishim – rolls out the Middle Eastern carpet for locals and visitors. Among the many vintage treasures and random bric-a-brac to be found, you will see artisanal Persian rugs and antique furniture, such as Ottoman-inspired brass lamps. Take a gentle stroll down from the Dan Panorama Tel Aviv to the Jaffa and work your haggling skills before settling down for some authentic street food and a blissful day.
Market in Old Akko is a national favorite
Enveloped by the stunning ancient architecture of the historic old city, Akko’s market has a beautiful selection of Middle Eastern goods, from fresh fish to buckets of spices to delicious Arab pastries and desserts. The Old City of Akko, with its narrow alleyways gives you that ancient feeling of being transported to another place and time. Try some of the tastiest hummus, knafeh, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert, or baklava,
Whether you crave sweet food or a sweet deal, Israel’s markets will leave you wanting more. Given the convenient and central location of Dan Hotels in Israel, they are an ideal starting point for your exploration.
Written by Lee Saunders