Nowadays with the mall culture and so many supermarkets, the “open-air” market seems to be forgotten, at least to some degree.
However, if you want to see an authentic Middle Eastern retail option that has all the colors and smells as well as vendors shouting aloud while promoting their product, then Shuk Hacarmel, located in the heart of Tel Aviv, is where you want to be.
Before I continue let me clarify one thing. Shuk Hacarmel literally means "the Carmel Market" in Hebrew. And in case you want to use this word, Shuk (meaning "market") is pronounced shook. Some people refer to the Carmel Market simply as, "the shuk."
Now, what can you find at the shuk? Well, pretty much anything… Tons of groceries, fruits and vegetables (very high-quality ones), meat products, dairy products, fish, spices, pastries, clothing, souvenirs, Judaica, DVDs, watches, gadgets, jewellery and a bunch of other non-related items.
On Friday the place is full of shoppers – and I think that’s the best day to shop there (the market is closed on Saturdays). But the weekdays are cool too. The vendors are quite noisy with constant shouting – if you understand Hebrew it is really free entertainment.
If you get hungry while there take a chance on a Borekas (a filled salty pastry). Or check out one of the little Yemenite restaurants in the market.
And definitely treat yourself to an authentic Israeli freshly-squeezed juice.
The prices are very reasonable. Or, to use another term, it is dirt cheap to shop there compared to other places in the city! If you're a tourist watch out though and beware of getting ripped off – understand how much you are paying and what you are getting.
There are several Tel Aviv markets but to me Shuk Hacarmel is the best. So carve out a few hours and go check out this attraction.
Nahalat Binyamin or Nachalat Binyamin (same thing) is a great walking street right next to the shuk.
Most of the week the street is fairly relaxed and quiet, with numerous restaurants and, oddly enough, many fabric stores (catering to Tel Aviv's fashion and design industry).
But on Tuesdays and Fridays, something special can be seen here - the Nahalat Binyamin artist's market.
Local artists from all over Israel come out and exhibit their designs and artworks. You can find all sorts of unique, hand-made trinkets here - from jewellery to coffee coasters, sculpture to fashion. And very often some very practical works of art too!
The market has a great atmosphere and live performers (such as this street opera group) are often out and about entertaining visitors as they browse the stalls.
So, if you want to see some amazing local art while you're in Israel, Nahalat Binyamin is a great opportunity.
Take our advice - visit Shuk Hacarmel on a Tuesday or Friday so you can catch the artist's market too. Seeing the amazing local art will add a little extra to your trip around Tel Aviv and Israel, with a strong possibility that you can bring home some amazing little creations too. ;-)
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