Israel is a warm-weather country at the crossroads of many cultures, and many shopping opportunities reflect this. To be sure, there are modern shops and malls galore, but nothing's as fun as the great outdoor markets you'll find in places like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (and it's always easier to bargain in an outdoor market than at a mall!). Here's a roundup of the best markets in the main shopping cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv Port
The Tel Aviv Port, called Namal in Hebrew, is the ultimate un-mall. The vast decks are of bleached gray wood and in places are fashioned to look like sand dunes, their gentle curves forming a foreground to an aquatic orchestra of white-blue waves that tickle the railing. The promenade is lined with a cool parade of fabulous shops and restaurants, only a few of which are chains. There's also a great organic market.
Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem
Jerusalem's most famous outdoor market has been going strong for over a hundred years and still conveys a genuine sense of exotic Middle Eastern flavor. The fresh citrus and other products you'll find here are said to be the best in Israel, but you'll also find an almost bewildering array of spices and other food products as well as clothing, souvenirs and the like. The market is located between Yafo Road and Agrippas Street, Sun-Thurs. 10 AM-7 PM and Fri. 9 AM-5 PM.
Old City Souk, Jerusalem
The Old City Souk, or market, is the one that most tourists in Jerusalem will experience on account of its location within the walled old city. Every alley and pedestrian byway here essentially forms a part of the marketplace. At first glance, it may seem too touristy, and there are postcards and cheap hamsa hands galore, to be sure...but take the time to look at the fabrics, ceramics and more and there's no telling what you might find in the mix.
Bezalel Arts Fair, Jerusalem
While Jerusalem's best-known markets lean toward the traditional in terms of wares, the Bezalel Arts Fair gives them a more creative spin. You'll find local crafts, wood, and glassware, and some original clothing too, made by area designers. The fair takes place on Fridays from 10 AM-4 PM on and around Bezalel HaKatan streets.
HaCarmel Market, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv’s biggest open-air market, also known as the Shuk Carmel, fairly groans with more fresh Israeli-grown fruits and vegetables, fish, meat and more than a truckload of the most capable chefs could handle. When you spot that perfect watermelon, grab it – but don’t be afraid to haggle. Then, wander about the adjacent narrow, flower-filled lanes of the Kerem HaTeimanim neighborhood. At Allenby and HaCarmel streets, from Sunday to Friday.
Outdoor Craft Market, Tel Aviv
This fantastic market starts at Mogen David Square, on Allenby Street, next to the HaCarmel Market, wending its way down Nachalat Benyamin. It’s the best place in town for unique and reasonably priced handmade jewelry, as well as pretty Judaica and artwork. Get an organic watermelon shake to go from Loveat Café (near the square) and stroll; the market’s open Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until mid-afternoon.