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Things to Do in Tel Aviv: Visiting the Old Jaffa Flea Market and Port

Culture and historical relics are as free-flowing in Tel Aviv as the waves that crash upon its 15-km coast. From the golden brick walls above your head to the cobbled lanes under your feet, your eyes will never get bored.

Before COVID, 4.91 million visitors came to explore gems like the Jaffa Flea Market. With the pandemic ending and the borders fully open, Israel is again on every travel bucket list.

Wherever your adventure takes you in the capital, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience. But no trip to the region is complete without probing the old town with a camera in one hand and an on-the-go-friendly falafel in the other.

If you are licking your lips and thinking of sampling the ancient city, read the best things to do in Tel Aviv below!

Experience the Bustling Markets

Markets have a long and diverse history in the Middle East. Trading dates back thousands of years. Cities flourished and became an oasis in the desert for those on pilgrimages.

Tel Aviv’s Old Town has some of the most fascinating markets that are still as significant as hundreds of years ago. Luckily, you can walk the beaten streets of history at some of the best bazaars and markets in the country.

1. Jaffa Flea Market

Jaffa Flea Market is everything you would associate with a market in the Middle East. Vibrant colors, noise, energy, and antiques litter this stop sought-after by tourists.

From the moment you enter, you feel like you’re transported back hundreds of years. The space might only be a stone’s throw from the calming waters of the sea, but it feels like two worlds apart.

Unsurprisingly, the Flea Market is the first thing on everyone’s Tel Aviv itinerary. Nevertheless, consider coming back here at lunchtime. You can savor the delicious flavors of eateries and recharge for your day of sightseeing.

2. Carmel Market

Carmel Market, also known as Shuk Ha’Carmel, is one of the best things to do in the city. Thousands of residents squeeze their way through narrow lanes. Meanwhile, visitors try not to get lost in a daydream in the labyrinth.

The area rose to fame in the early 1950s due to its fresh products and local deals. When you enter now, you can smell the aromas of unnamed dining outlets and scents from local vendors.

If you enjoy people-watching, probe through the walkways, find a cafe, and make this your base for the day.

3. Levinsky Market

Levinsky Market is bursting with colors and filled with ancient spices. You can pick up some nuts, herbs, and dried fruits as souvenirs. Adding these to your meals at home will help you reminisce about what you can experience at this market.

This cluster of street stalls appeals to all of your senses. The endless shades awaken your sight, and the powerful spices liven up your smell and taste buds. Rubbing shoulders with locals and hearing the noise of business loud enough to wake the dead will revise your touch and hearing senses.

The culinary offerings here would impress even a Michelin-starred chef.

Educate Yourself at One of the Museums in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv only receives 413 mm of rain annually. But if you’re unfortunate to be here at this time, there’s no need to worry.

There’s an endless supply of museums for a rainy day that will suit everyone’s preferences.

1. Bauhaus Center

The Bauhaus Center is a unique museum that combines history and architecture. Asher Ben Shmuel, Micha Gross, and Shlomit Gross founded the space at the turn of the century. Their goal was to preserve documents and pass on knowledge of the famed architecture.

During the guided tour, you will discover several interesting facts about the architecture. Some include how Tel Aviv became “The White City” and how the cityscape is changing today. 

2. Tel Aviv Museum of Art

If you’re an art enthusiast, place the Tel Aviv Museum of Art at the top of your to-do list. If you’re not one yet, you only need a few minutes inside the gallery to become one!

The stylish exterior is just a sneak peek of what’s to come. You can explore two sides of its collection as contemporary art clashes with classical art. However, every visitor can agree that both sides are a sight to behold.

The Museum of Art warmly welcomes works from Israeli citizens and international artists. So look out for a piece created in your homeland.

3. Old Jaffa Museum of Antiques

Despite sitting in the heart of the Old Town, the Old Jaffa Museum of Antiques is overlooked by tourists. It is a secret gem, hidden in plain sight. Artifacts wait to tell you about some of the city’s history dating back to the Ottoman Empire.

The museum also sits a few meters from Tel Aviv Beach, making it a convenient place to put on your Tel Aviv itinerary. After you explore its cozy setting, you can relax in the picturesque garden. 

It is the perfect stop if you’re a history buff who enjoys getting off the beaten path.

4. Eretz Israel Museum

Over a million people flock to this museum annually. It is a historical and architectural museum that opened its doors in early 1953.

When you visit the museum, you can immerse yourself in a range of displays. The most beloved items include archaeological findings, traditional crafts, art, and historical documents. 

The Eretz Museum dedicates itself to preserving and sharing the story of Israel. Thus, it is a must-visit destination if you are interested in the region’s history and culture. 

It serves as a place where the past comes to life. Furthermore, it offers a glimpse into the unique tapestry of Eretz Israel’s history. 

Soak up Historical Landmarks

Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 along the Mediterranean Sea. However, Old Jaffa dates back to the 19th century, and the port is even older.

Many historians believe Jaffa Port to be the world’s oldest seaport. Thus, there is no better place to start your tour of historical landmarks. 

1. Jaffa Port

Believe it or not, being the oldest seaport in the world is not the most fascinating fact about this wonder. Alongside other historical milestones, such as the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion, Jaffa Port was also mentioned in the Bible.

In the modern day, you will find a sea of golden buildings perched upon a hill. This overlooks the glimmering Mediterranean Sea, home to dozens of fishing boats.

The area is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the region. It was even a standalone city until 1950 when it merged forces with the modern facilities of Tel Aviv.

2. Jaffa Old City

Jaffas Old City is like an open-air historical museum. Every nook and cranny holds a secret to uncover during the day and night.

With thousands of years of history, this historic district has well-preserved streets. It also has postcard alleys and a rich tapestry of cultural influences. They range from Phoenician and Egyptian to Ottoman and Israeli. 

Its charming architecture lives alongside contemporary art galleries, trendy boutiques, and hidden bars. So, this makes it a top spot for history enthusiasts and modern culture aficionados.  

The Old City’s charm, stunning sea views, and diverse population form a unique ambiance. As a result, this creates an atmosphere that gets you in the vacation spirit!

3. St. Peters Church

St. Peter’s Church is a historic and iconic building that holds great power in the region’s history. This beautiful church towers over the Mediterranean Sea in the ancient city of Jaffa.

It is known for its architecture, characterized by a distinctive blend of styles. The two most notable styles include Romanesque and Gothic elements. 

The church has a rich history dating back to the 17th century when it was first established. Since then, it has been a focal point for local Christians and tourists.

4. Jaffa Clock Tower

The clock, built from iconic limestone, stands proudly at almost 30 meters. Its visibility and historical input make it a starting point for Tel Aviv tours.

Construction started on this project in 1900 and took three years to complete. Today, you will find a plaque remembering those killed in the battle for the town in the Arab-Israeli War. 

Surrounding the tower are cozy eateries and quaint cafes. In a bustling city like Tel Aviv, this relaxing square is favored by citizens for a break from the stress of life. In the evening, friends gather at one of several tasty restaurants nearby.

Explore the Jaffa Flea Market, Port, and More

Tel Aviv is a city famed for its rich history and cultural scene. There’s much evidence of this stunning past, from the Bible to historical museums.

Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to visit this unmissable city. So, if you have the chance, make the most of it by exploring the Jaffa Flea Market, the ancient port, and more!

Your journey doesn’t have to stop in Israel’s capital. You can explore the most historically significant city in the past 2,000 years, Jerusalem. 

Learn how to get to Jerusalem and back in our extensive guide today!

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