This covered food hall – housed inside a restored German Templar Colony – is a bit more upscale than the other markets on this list, which makes it a worthy spot for long lunches, casual dinners, and evening drinks. The choices are endless: New York-style carbs from Carmeli’s Bagels, slurpy ramen from Hiro or gigantic Bavarian sausages from Bayern, just to name a few. And don’t forget to pick up some goodies for later while you’re there – there’s gorgeous cheeses from Basher Fromagerie and delicate French desserts at Fauchon.
If eyeing up all that delicious food has you hankering for a proper sit-down meal, head to Claro just outside the market – this chic dining room in a Templar-style building serves knockout seasonal Israeli dishes made with ingredients from local farms. Or, if you’re up for sticking around the market, look out for live music in the eves and other seasonal events – workshops, screenings, and more
Levinsky Market's spice stalls are a fragrant rainbow / Image: Adobe Stock
Levinsky Spice Market
Located in Florentin – ground zero for Tel Aviv hipsterdom – this is the traditional trading market of the Mizrahi Iranian and Iraqi Jews. As such, you’ll find technicolour stalls selling mountains of fragrant spices all spilling out of giant canvas bags. It’s a fascinating spot to stroll around for its old-world atmosphere, relatively unchanged since the market opened in the 1950s. It’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s best eats, if you know where to look – crispy, flaky spinach pastries from Bourekas Penso and heavenly vegan malabi (rosewater-scented puddling) from Rachamim are two highlights. Stick around at the end of the day: the surrounding streets spill over with party-ready punters taking advantage of all the cheap drinking holes in the neighbourhood.
Quench your thirst with a refreshing glass of gazoz – this delicious fizzy drink is sold from a dinky truck in the middle of the market, and is infused with seasonal fruits and herbs. You’ll visit this spot and other gems on Delicious Israel’s Levinsky tasting tour, which is the easiest way of sampling the tastiest morsels from the market.
Find all the tat you need at Jaffa Market / Image: 123rf
Shuk Hapishpishim (Jaffa Flea Market)
Tel Aviv’s historic Jaffa port neighbourhood has a long, proud market culture, and this much-loved shuk has been around in its current iteration for 70 years. You’ll find all manner of tat here – from kaleidoscopic Persian rugs to obscure musical instruments and lovingly spun pottery. This is a place to bring your haggling A-game and linger into the eve – there’s live music and entertainment on summer nights.
Come in the morning to beat the rush. When the tourist mobs begin to descend, head to the nearby Greek Market – located at the edge of Old Jaffa and named after the Greek Orthodox monastery that oversaw its foundation in the 19th century, this outdoor market sells similar stuff to the main Flea Market, only without the crowds. And once you’ve thoroughly filled your bags, reward yourself at Jaffa Beach – it’s only a five-minute walk away.
Now Learn How to Haggle
Haggle to your heart's content at Carmel
In Israel’s markets, bargaining is king – but if you don’t get it right, you may be shooed away or saddled with a knick-knack that costs more than a night in your hotel room. The art of running down the price tag is just that – a delicate artform that bold, bellicose Israelis have expertly mastered.
A quick note: though it’s generally acceptable to haggle at most shuks, you wouldn’t want to open a negotiation at more formal markets like Sarona. Levinsky, Jaffa, and Carmel are all fair game, though, so dicker to your heart’s content.
Now here’s how to bag yourself a bargain: once you’ve identified your desired item, it’s all about feeling out your opponent (the stall-owner). Ask for a price, then counter with a lower number – but don’t go too low, or you’ll lose your cred immediately (a good rule of thumb is to offer half the original figure). If the seller comes back with a different price, then you’re off to the races. Stay steely but maintain a friendly tone, and don’t be afraid to walk away – often turning on your heels will be the clincher for getting your desired price. And always remember to ask if the price is in shekels, not dollars, as you could be arguing for way more than you’re actually willing to pay. Finally, don’t mess about – if the seller says the price is final, take them at their word.