Tips for Visiting Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, Israel
No trip to Tel Aviv is complete without a visit to Carmel Market, an open-air market where locals and tourists alike shop for local goods and delicacies. The sights, sounds and smells make it the perfect place to truly experience hustle and bustle of authentic Tel Aviv. While overwhelming for first-timers, this market (aka Shuk in Hebrew) is one you don’t want to miss. To better enjoy your experience, I’ll share some tips for truly making the most of your time at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market.
Facts about Carmel Market
First opened in 1920, Carmel Market (also known as Shuk HaCarmel in Hebrew) is an integral part of Tel Aviv’s history. In many ways, it’s the heart of the city and the largest market in Tel Aviv. The market is located on one long street with side streets of hidden bars, restaurants, and smaller vendors.
The northern part of the market consists of fashionwear, electronics, and housewares. As you head further down, you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables, vibrant colors of neverending spices and local delicacies where the heart of the market truly begins. The sights and sounds of the market comes alive, buzzing with its true middle eastern vibe where vendors call out their goods, hoping for some good barter exchange between locals and tourists. Not to worry about the language barrier, most vendors speak English, and sometimes a local will also help with translation if a vendor doesn’t speak it.
↠ It’s free to enter, but come early before the crowd creeps in, preferably early in the morning.
↠ It can get very crowded, so be prepared to walk through a sea of people.
↠ Avoid visiting Friday afternoons unless you don’t mind the crowd. We went on a Friday, which was very busy at the end of the day as families were preparing for Shabbath (from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, businesses shut down for the Hebrew Shabbath -a day of rest and prayer). The market was overwhelming and extremely crowded on Friday afternoon, and I felt squished, making it difficult to stop at vendors to shop because the crowd kept me moving.
↠ If you have small children, I recommend holding their hands and keeping them close. I almost lost my family through the crowds.
↠ Keep your wallet and phone close to you.
↠ Check your change after a purchase.
↠ I recommend buying from vendors who have their prices on display. For those with no prices, bargain.
↠ Talk to the vendors and ask questions.
↠ It doesn’t hurt to barter or haggle with the price; we only did this with the box of baklava we bought and scored an extra container of baklava.
↠ Be sure to find a bank ATM for shekels, the money currency in Israel; some vendors accept credit cards, but not all.
↠ The language in Tel Aviv is Hebrew, but almost everyone spoke perfect English! And, if you stumble upon a vendor that doesn’t speak English, a friendly local is willing to help translate for you, which was the case for us at one of the vendors.
↠ Which brings me to my next tip, don’t feel intimidated, the market is overwhelming, but the people, the locals, are very welcoming and kind!
↠ While the market can be intimidating for newbies, a recommendation to take a local food tour may be helpful to make the experience less overwhelming.
↠ Enjoy the local middle eastern food and sweets; try as many foods as you can
↠ Finally, have fun and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the market; it really is an experience, and I loved the vibe of Shuk HaCarmel!
↠ Hours-open daily from early morning around 0800-evening; Fridays, the market closes early around 4pm for Shabbat. The market is closed on Saturdays for Shabbat.
Carmel Market occupies one street which runs south from the junction of King George Street, Allenby, and Sheinkin Street to the Carmelit Bus depot in the south. Don’t forget to venture into the side streets for hidden gems of bars, cafes, restaurants, and more vendors.
↠ You can find more info about Carmel Market here.
Don’t miss out on Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market. It’s one not to be missed. It may take a few moments to get used to the surroundings, but it’s an experience you won’t forget in Israel. So have fun, enjoy, and עד הפעם הבאה (until next time in Hebrew)!