The Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, known in Hebrew as the Shuk HaKarmel, is one of the must-sees in Tel Aviv. If you want a taste of the real Israel, this is the place to go. It’s also an amazing place to visit, and the sights, sounds and smells make it a place you won’t forget in a hurry.
Carmel market is Tel Aviv’s biggest market (and one of FIVE Tel Aviv markets we highly recommend). It is very easy to get to (see below) and has pretty much everything you’ll ever need or want. They’ll spot your tourist dollars from a long way off and yes, you’ll likely get ripped off, but the prices you’ll get charged will still be the lowest in Tel Aviv (hopefully!).
Carmel market is moreorless split into two sections: the first section starts from Allenby Street and heads down towards Yafo and the sea. Here you can buy some of the cheapest clothes and shoes in Tel Aviv; you can also buy fake CDs/DVDs, watches and other electrical bits and pieces. The second section starts about halfway down, just after you get to the flower sellers. Here you can find a huge variety of food produce, from bread to cheeses to exotic spices to an amazingly colorful collection of fruits and vegetables, surely the freshest in Tel Aviv.
Meat is also aplenty, though you usually have to go off to the side streets for the real quality. My favourite is Itzik the Butcher. His shop has no name, just ask around and you’ll be sure to come up trumps in the end. Amazing kebabs!
Bear in mind that on certain days, such as Friday mornings when most Israelis are out getting their shopping in for the weekend, it is absolutely stuffed to the gills. Being basically a narrow alley with market vendors and their stalls on either side, Carmel market on a Friday can get a little crowded. It’s quite an experience hearing the vendors at work, but probably best tried during the middle of the week, when you can actually move through the market at your own pace.
It will take you a good hour or two to visit the Carmel market, depending a little on your negotiating skills and if there is a female or two in your party! And if you still have room for more, try wandering the streets and little alleys that run off Carmel market, including the neighbourhood of Kerem HaTeymanim (The Yemenite Quarter). And yes, here’s a guide to the underbelly of the Carmel market!
How to get there: The most common way of accessing the Carmel market is from Allenby Street, at the junction with King George and Sheinkin Streets. Any taxi driver will know the way and a good place to drop you off. You can also access the market from its other end, the food end, close to the Carmelit Bus Terminal. Any bus travelling along Allenby Street (in particular numbers 4, 1 and 2) will stop close to the Carmel market, while any bus going to the Carmelit Terminal, such as numbers 8, 24 and 25 will get you close enough.