Each of Tel Aviv's markets is a world unto itself, not only offering differing fare, but reflecting the locals who reside, shop, sell and buy there.
Tel Aviv's best known open-air shopping area is the Carmel Market, probably because of its proximity to the trendy Neveh Zedek quarter, with its cultural attractions, in the southern part of town. Carmel’s array of fresh produce, a feast for the eyes, is the place to bask in atmosphere while you buy the fixings for a picnic lunch at the beach, just a few blocks away, or stock up on fruit for your hotel room.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, a lively street fair blooms in the adjacent historic Nahalat Benyamin quarter. It features handcrafted jewelry, colorful wooden toys, boxes, glass and other items sold mostly by the artists themselves.
What about bargaining, the soul of the Middle Eastern market experience? Save that for the Jaffa Flea Market. You have to have an eye for hidden beauty to appreciate the wares here – gorgeous brass items might share a crowded shelf with a pile of old kerosene lamps, or fine amber beads among plastic distant relatives. Ceramic and glass items and second-hand, or shall we say vintage - clothing are all part of the pickings.
A word to the wise – the vendors know how to size you up in the blink of an eye as a serious shopper or...not. And beware of the question "how much do you want to pay." Wait for the seller to name a price, come back with about half, and have a meeting of minds at whatever the item is worth to you.
Shuk Ha'aliyah is in the Florentine quarter. This area has turned the corner of gentrification to become Tel Aviv’s edgiest zone, and comes alive at night with pubs that are a magnet especially for younger urbanites. But during the day, Shuk (which means market) Ha'aliyah, named after the street it's on, is one of the last places in Israel where you can still see craftspeople at work making the items they sell – metal workers and furniture craftsmen manufacturing items for the city's finest stores or for discerning clients who might want to commission a copy of an item in those same stores. Shuk Ha'aliyah is also famous for its Balkan cheeses, pickled vegetables and spices, and some interesting restaurants with menus ranging from no-frills Jewish soul food to Persian delights.
Shuk Betzalael, near King George Street is another interesting stop for visitors taking in the historic buildings of early Tel Aviv in the heart of town. It’s a favorite with locals for clothing, especially for name-brand seconds, many of which are now made with Israeli textiles.
Have fun with your market-hopping – the chance not only to make unusual purchases that create memories before they are even tucked away, but also to get to know a different side of Tel Aviv.
For more information log on to Tel Aviv-yafo's official website