1. Damascus Gate
This gate, on the fringes of East Jerusalem is the main entrance to the twisting and turning corridors of the Muslim Quarter. Outside the gate is the Peddler's Market where people sell vegetables, clothes, children toys, shoes and tobacco products. The items are cheap so deals can be made with ease. Heading down the stairs and into the gate the shopping market continues with people selling similar goods. Since Roman times it has been one of the main ways of access into and out of the city. Excavations under the present gate, built during the Ottoman period, have uncovered Roman remains, which include a large pillar that apparently lent the gate its Arabic name, Bab el-Amud ("Gate of the Pillar").
Address: Ha-Zanhanim Street Jerusalem
Opening hours: Market open morning until night Sun-Thu & Sat.
Neighbourhood: Old City
1. Sefarim shel Dani (Danny's Books)
In a city where new English books are overpriced and not available on a wide scale, second-hand book stores are a wonderful place to pick up reading material. Many short-term residents, lighten their suitcases before going home by selling on their book collections. This means that many contemporary titles in good condition are available at about two-thirds of their cover price. The first floor of Danny's Books is dedicated to new books (both Hebrew and English) and the second floor houses second-hand titles in both languages. The layout is a little like a jumble-sale with books hiding behind books on the crowded shelves, but there are some good finds with special sections for New Age books, thrillers and romances.
Address: 57 Jaffa Street Jerusalem
Opening hours: 8.30am-7pm Sun-Thu; 8.30am-2.30pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 2623 1203
Neighbourhood: West Jerusalem
2. Sefer Ve Sefel
Meaning "book and mug" in English, this bookstore alas does not serve coffee, however it is a treasure trove of new and second-hand English titles. Tucked away on the second floor of a house in an alleyway off Jaffa Street, the store's two levels are great for browsing and there is a plentiful supply of second-hand titles, in good condition, selling for about two-thirds of the cover price. Before entering the door, there is a large balcony area with a good noticeboard of events for English speakers, cards, posters, bargain second-hand books and old magazines. The ground floor has fiction along with new-age and Jewish/Israel related titles. The second floor has reference books, children's books and sections on self-help and cookery. The owners buy old books and will buy back their own stock, offering you either credit towards other books or a cash payment.
Address: 2 Yavetz Street Jerusalem +972 2524 8237
Opening hours: 8am-8pm Sun-Thu; 8am-2.30pm Fri.
Neighbourhood: West Jerusalem
3. Alloro: Handcrafts from the East
Tucked away in one of the oldest neighbourhoods outside the Old City walls, this craft shop offers uniquely designed fabrics, pillowcases and bedspreads. All goods are handmade and shop owners have travelled the world to obtain authentic and high quality textiles. This store also carries a wide selection of rugs, most notably from Iran, Afghanistan, Iran and Morocco. In addition, find comfortable linen and cotton clothing including silk from India for traditional saris and scarves. Everything in the store, including the antique, refurbished furniture is for sale and can be packaged and shipped overseas. Tourists receive a 15 per cent tax refund at the airport.
Address: 5 Nahalat Shiva Jerusalem
Opening hours: 9am-7pm Sun-Thu; 9am-3pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 2624 7372
Neighbourhood: West Jerusalem
4. Iran Bazaar (Ghatan Bros.)
As if it had been transported from Iran itself, this quaint little shop has a plethora of unusual artefacts, rugs and ornaments from Persia and the like. The owners specialise in importing antique jewellery, quality rugs, hanging plates, Egyptian furniture, as well as Persian coffee sets and hand-carved chess boards. Prices are never displayed and are likely to be subject to the mood of the owners. Albeit, prices here have been known to exceed hundreds of dollars.
Address: 3 Ben Yehuda Street Jerusalem
Opening hours: 8.30am-1pm & 4pm-7.30pm Sun-Thu.
Telephone: +972 2625 5824
Neighbourhood: West Jerusalem
1. Old Bus Station Market (Shuk Tahana Merkazit Yahana)
This is probably Tel Aviv's cheapest market as it is situated in a poor part of town where the foreign worker population resides. The stalls, set up along the side of Har Zion Boulevard mainly sell fruit and vegetables, which are fresh and of a good quality. There are also stalls offering eggs, plants, bread, cakes, clothes and cheap music. You will probably not hear a lot of Hebrew here as the likelihood is that your fellow shoppers will be from Thailand, Ghana, the Ukraine or Moldavia.
Address: Har Zion Boulevard Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 9am-10pm Mon-Thu & Sun; 9am-7pm Fri.
2. Jaffa Flea Market
Run primarily by Sephardi Jews, Jaffa's famous flea market is a feast for junk and antique lovers. Festooned with rugs, furniture and antiques, this is one of the most colorful street markets in Israel, swarming with locals in search of bargains and tourists looking for antiques. A wonderful selection of junk, from obsolete Palestinian passports to second-hand books and guitars are sold in the backstreets of the market with some top-notch antique finds.
Address: Yefet Street (Old Jaffa) Tel Aviv
Opening hours: Dawn until dusk Sun-Fri
Telephone: Not applicable
1. Betta Books
There is a sign outside this shop saying that the stock is liquidated and has to go. According to locals, that sign has been here for years. The stock inside this small store is all English and includes magazines, second-hand books and new titles at discounted prices. Orderly, it is not. This is a place to search for what you want. To get upstairs you need slim hips as the staircase is very narrow. On the top floor there is box upon box of unsorted books with boxes stacked on top of each other. If you have the patience, to rifle through them there may be some good finds. More accessible are the well-thumbed best-sellers of the Jackie Collins, Mills and Boons and sci-fi nature which are on the shelves.
Address: 131 Ibn Gvirol Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 9.30am-6.45pm Mon, Wed, Thu & Sun; 9.30am-2pm Tue; 9.30am-3pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3546 2990
2. Book Boutique
This could be Tel Aviv's largest collection of English books. It should be mentioned, however, that in this case, quantity triumphs over quality. This is not to say that there aren't some good finds, especially on the recent arrivals shelf, and of course, with such a wide selection of obscure, mediocre books, the hunt is all the more challenging. The owner has a sense of humour, as evidenced by the placement of clever comments and cartoons with customised captions all over the store, and his penchant for telling anecdotes. Also, the classic literature section is good.
Address: 190 Dizengoff Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 10am-7pm Sun-Thu; 10am-4.30pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3527 4527
3. Galeria Katzman Books
This is an unlikely place to find such a high quality, albeit small, selection of contemporary books. With its street-side display case of books, it appears to be another hoary bookstore, whose inventory hasn't changed in decades. True, Katzman has many long-time residents on the shelves, but the new arrivals are worth inspecting. The owner has a discerning eye, and some sort of connection; these books appear to be right off the shelves of a Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately, the owner knows these are finds and charges exorbitant prices.
Address: 152 Dizengoff Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 10am-7pm Sun-Thu; 10am-4pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3523 5243
4. Halper's Books
Set off Allenby street some distance, Halper's Books' only beacon is a glass display case of English books. Given the scarcity of quality used English bookstores in Tel Aviv, the feeling of discovering a hidden treasure when entering the shop is appropriate. Considering oceans separate it from the nearest English speaking country, Halper's has managed to assemble a respectable collection. All the familiar sections are on the premises (literature, travel, etc.), including, appropriately enough, a rich supply of books concerning Middle East and Jewish matters, with most well-known authors and titles represented. The books are arranged in a small, labyrinthine space that, like any good used bookstore, is a pleasure to explore. The store also buys books.
Address: 87 Allenby St. Tel Aviv
Opening hours: Sun-Thu 9am-7pm; Fri 9am-3pm.
Telephone: +972 3629 9710
5. Kedemet Eden
This is a small used book and music store. The book selection is primarily in Hebrew, thought there is a small English supply, including comic books. Its main offering is a large selection of quality used CD's, with both popular and more obscure names represented. There is also an extensive vinyl collection, with, for those with a taste for classics, and there are some gems. There is even, for the die-hard cassette user, a small but decent collection of tapes.
Address: 40 King George Street Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 10am-6pm Sun-Thu; 10am-4pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3525 2142
This is a home furnishing store for those with tastes on the funky side of the spectrum. Most of the items come from the owners' collection of antiques: old tables, chairs, cabinets. The store is relatively large, without including the massive warehouse at the back where antiques are stored and refurbished. There are also quirky items, like old advertising signs, and toys. Along with the antiques there is an eclectic assortment of decorative objects, such as bowls, decorative globes, etc. These are designed by the owners, and manufactured in India.
Address: 11 Florentine Street Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 10am-7pm Sun-Thu; 10am-2pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3683 5001
7. Miki and Tal's
Tucked away just off King George Street, among small housewares shops, this is an unlikely place to find such a funky vintage store. Keep your eyes peeled for the mannequin with the football helmet, aviator goggles and roller skates, or a similar ensemble. There is a clothes room, and a non-clothes room, with a dizzying collection of small furniture, lamps, posters, telephones, and any other kitschy item that might spark a feeling of nostalgia in a 20 to 30-something-year-old. The clothes room is for those with a taste for retro-flamboyant styles: Puffy nylon vests, shiny warm-up suits with racing stripes, and, of course, hip-hugging bell-bottoms. Prices, as is the tendency with hip vintage stores, tend to be high.
Address: 13 King George Street Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 11am-7pm Sun-Thu; 11am-4pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3528 2848
8. Yad Shnia
As the saying goes, you can find bangles, baubles and beads here - not to mention everything in between! At this second-hand curiosity shop, you can finally find that red and black flamenco dress you've always wanted! Or, how about a sequined bustier? A "slightly used" wedding dress? If you're willing to spend some time sorting and sifting through the piles, you'll be rewarded. Most of the items are sold on consignment and there are plenty of items other than clothing available. Choose from porcelain figurines, a mini tea set, or perhaps even a chandelier! The small shop is filled to the brim, and it's '70s style brown and orange floor add to the flavour.
Address: 72 Ben Yehuda Street Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 10am-8pm Sun-Thur; 10am-3pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3527 6614
This small home furnishing shop is located in the heart of arty Neve Tzedek. The eclectic collection walks the line between upscale vintage and fine antique. The merchandise consists mostly of small items to add flavour to a room: ashtrays, desk lamps, vases, etc. There are some small furniture pieces as well chairs, coffee tables and the like. The owner/collector has a penchant for art nouveau and 50-60's lounge styles. All the items are in mint condition, and the prices reflect this. Also on display are some more affordable contemporary items: pillows, candles, etc.
Address: 8 Ahad Haam Neve Tsedek Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 11am-7pm Sun-Thu; until 3pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3516 4722
This store showcases the antique collection of Leora Ravitz, which she has painstakingly assembled in the course of many trips abroad, primarily to Europe. These aren't the musty antique heirlooms one might discover in an attic, but carefully selected machines and appliances, rarely more than 100 years old, that show exceptional design and, for the most part, still function. There are lamps, clocks, watches, photography equipment, etc. Leora's specialty is jewellery. This is not the place to find bargains.
Address: 31 Shabazi St. Neve Tsedek Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 10am-6pm Mon-Thu; until 2pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3510 1211
11. Michal Negrin
Bursting with colour and flowers, this boutique has the charm of Victorian style mixed with an innovative Israeli twist. The inviting, warm yellow interior highlights the sparkling and unique objects on display. Plump grapes are draped among the adorable, chubby imported angels the Israeli designer has decorated with shiny faux jewels. She has crafted a special line of jewellery just for brides, or you can choose from among the numerous examples of her artistry on display. She will custom style each piece with the colours of your choice. To staff, service is the number one priority and they are quite helpful. In addition to her detailed jewellery, there is a selection of imported antiques and "hamsas" (hand-shaped plaques to ward off the evil eye).
Address: 11 Sheinkin Street Tel Aviv
Opening hours: 10am-8pm Mon-Thu & Sun; 9am-5pm Fri.
Telephone: +972 3629 1499