Shopping in Tel Aviv

Israel's cosmopolitan nerve center, the heart of its commerce, the focus of sea, entertainment and fun, Tel Aviv also is known for its broad and varied selection of shopping opportunities. Aside from antiques, upscale products for which Tel Aviv is well known include locally designed furs, diamonds - cut and polished in Israel - and leatherwear that is available at a wide range of stores.

There are several main markets in Tel Aviv, each with its own unique character, where you can find interesting food and other staples at true bargain price. The Bezalel Market is located in the heart of Tel Aviv near Allenby and King George streets; now that most of its landmark felafel stands have been uprooted to make room for what will eventually be upmarket high rises, it is of interest primarily for the clothing shops that offer great deals and surprising finds.

Located next to Bezalel, the Carmel Market, stretching westwards from Allenby Street towards the seafront, is the largest and busiest market in Tel Aviv - or in Israel, for that matter. Spices, pickled treats, fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, meat and fish, household goods, baking goods and more: quantities are enormous and the prices are low. Rub shoulders with a cross-section of Israel in this market's crowded and bustling streets and lanes; enjoy the stall vendors as they pitch their wares. You may not understand the language, but there's no escaping the exuberance. It is the essence of Tel Aviv's Eastern character and is also the place to find excellent bargains. Savor the noise, smell and excitement. The vendors are friendly characters who patter best in Hebrew and even sing the praises of their goods, but will also enjoy babbling in English if they notice a visitor. The adjoining Yemenite Quarter (Kerem HaTeimanim) offers an excellent choice of ethnic restaurants.

Also nearby is the Nachlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall, an old section of the city renovated and gentrified in recent years. A place to see and be seen, it is loaded with shops and outdoor cafes and features some of Tel Aviv's most beautifully restored old architecture. Look for the Bauhaus style in particular. Twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday, Nachlat Binyamin turns into an arts & crafts street bazaar. Craftsmen showcase their original works and you are certain to find special ceramics, leather goods or jewelry trinkets and souvenirs. To gladden the time even more, mall entertainment is provided by street musicians, clowns, magicians and mimes.


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