Shopping in Israel
Tourism in Israel is not directly linked to shopping. However, it is difficult to resist some acquisitions, especially when the cultural differences between Brazil and that country are so great. Religious souvenirs (bottled water from Rio do Jordão is sold there), souvenirs and handicrafts are among the products most sought after by travelers. However, it is possible to go beyond the most common goods at fairs and shops in tourist spots.
Israel offers some local products that are unlikely to be found in Brazil. One of the most famous is the cosmetics line based on minerals present in the Dead Sea. Water, with medicinal healing properties, is a component of cutting-edge beauty products. Also very popular in Israel is the line of cometics for hair and skin based on argan oil. Despite its Moroccan origin, it is in Israel that many products are manufactured, including those of the famous brand Moroccanoil, found at lower prices than in the USA. Check abbreviationfinder.org for abbreviations and acronyms related to Israel.
Among the gastronomic delicacies that deserve to go in the suitcase, in addition to the infinity of spices, are olive oils and wines. Both are found in abundance and in very high quality thanks to the dry climate. For jewelry lovers, Israel shows itself as a paradise, especially for those looking for pieces designed with diamonds or with the incredible mixture of green and blue of the Eilat stone.
The best way to see traditional local products and still guarantee a good bargain is to visit one of the many street markets. The stalls are divided between typical Chinese products (from those found in all countries with only the name of the different city) to religious articles, especially Christian and Jewish. Among the most famous fairs and markets are Carmel (mix of gastronomy, clothes and souvenirs) and Shuk HaNamal (gourmet market in the old port), both in Tel Aviv; the Shuk HaPishpushim (flea market) in Jaffa; Mahane Yuda (gastronomic products) and the Arab Souk (Old Town market that sells everything), both in Jerusalem. If you see a market on the next street, be sure to enter. They keep the best surprises!
For those looking to buy clothes and electronics, the country offers many large malls along the same lines as Brazilians. Electronics prices are cheaper than in Brazil, but more expensive than in the United States. The same is true with clothing products. The store options are very familiar, since most are known internationally. Yet Israel surprises with local brands and charming and exclusive design products. Among the good shopping options in Tel Aviv are Azrieli, the most refined mall, with more than 200 stores and many options for cafes and restaurants; and Dizengoff Center, Israel’s first mall, with more than 400 stores and a huge variety of brands. In Jerusalem, the highlight is the modern Mamila. The mall operates in a beautiful open space.
In addition to the large shopping malls, other points concentrate interesting shopping options, combined with a good restaurant and a wonderful view. In the old port of Tel Aviv, where today there is a large leisure area, you will find several shops and restaurants on the edge of the Mediterranean. The historic city of Jaff offers art galleries and design shops that operate amid old buildings and attract many hip visitors. The mix of history and shopping can also be found at the former HaTachana train station and in Sarona, the former Templar village, both in Tel Aviv.
It is worth remembering that in Israel most stores and malls close during Shabbat (from Friday, from 2pm to Saturday evening). Only Arab establishments remain open. The normal opening hours are from 9am to 7pm.
VAT (Value Added Tax) in Israel is 17%. Purchases over US $ 50, made in foreign currency and in stores registered by the Ministry of Tourism, give tourists the right to a 5% discount + VAT refund at Ben Gurion airport. The process is simple, however, to get the tax refund, you must arrive at the airport well in advance. In order to receive the refund, it will be necessary to present the goods packed in transparent plastic and the purchase invoice at the service counter (search the airport for information about its exact location). The amount, if approved, will be refunded on the spot and in dollars.
HaTachana Old Train Station
The old train line that connected Jaffa to Jerusalem no longer receives wagons full of cargo. Inaugurated in 1892, the route replaced transportation that until then was still done by camels. There were more than fifty years of intense work, even when in 1948, on the eve of the War of Independence, the line was deactivated.
It was many years before the old station was restored. Today HaTachana Old Train Station combines the history of Israel with the modern development of Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The place still shows the air of yesteryear. The well-preserved buildings reproduce the years that the station was active. The scenery is so beautiful that it even serves as a backdrop for albums of couples in love. To remember the past, the station offers an interactive wagon, where 3D videos tell the story of the place and even simulate the movements of the train.
Today the station works only as a leisure area. The wide open space receives artists who perform for the public. In the buildings there are excellent restaurant options, as well as design, clothing and cosmetics stores. The tour is worth not only for the beauty of the season, but also for a good wine at nightfall.
At the other end of the line, in Jerusalem, the station that received the Hatachana trains was also restored. The First Station works in the same way and is also excellent option to relax and enjoy a wonderful dinner in Jerusalem.
The modernity of the Mamilla Mall (despite the reuse of 19th century facades) is at odds with the historic environment of Jerusalem. However, it is among the favorite shopping malls of Jews living in the city. The atmosphere is all open, with wide corridors and stores well known among Brazilians. Some of the names found there are: Mango, Zara, American Eagle, Nautica, Gap, MAC, Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas and Nike. There you can also find several jewelry stores, it is worth mentioning that the Jews are excellent in dealing with diamonds.
The mall’s corridors are filled with street performers performing outdoors. The apparent informality is not reflected in the prices of stores, which offer products at very high prices. Still, it’s a great ride to get away from history immersion a little.
Arab Market in the Old City of Jerusalem
Don’t worry about looking for him. When you least expect it, the Arab Market in the Old City of Jerusalem (Arab Souk) will shine in front of you. Also known as Souk Khan Ez-Zheit, this market runs through most of the streets in the Arab Quarter and is often confused with the routes taken by pilgrims. Between one station and another on the Via Sacra, you will surely pass by shops that sell everything.
Prices are very similar between stores, but as Arabs love to negotiate, it does not cost to claim a discount. The place is especially interesting to buy all kinds of decorative objects and souvenirs that make reference to the Holy Land. It is possible to find from the most traditional spices to T-shirts that satirize famous characters in Israel.
Be sure to enjoy all the delights that are sold along the way. The face of the establishments may not be the best, but the food is divine!
Old Jaffa and Jaffa Port
The ancient city of Jaffa (known as Old Jaffa), founded 3,000 years ago, is out of touch with modern and bustling Tel Aviv. Despite having existed for 30 centuries, today what you see in Jaffa are the buildings of the Ottoman period. The alleys and houses built in stone give a charming atmosphere to the city that shelters － between excavations and historical discoveries － studios of artists and designers, delicious restaurants and some excellent shops. It is a place to stroll calmly and enjoy every corner and hidden corner.
From the top of Old Jaffa it is possible to have a beautiful view of Tel Aviv. Today the most modern center of Israel, the city actually originated in a small neighborhood founded in Old Jaffa. The two together form, since 1950, the metropolis officially called Tel Aviv-Yafo. The Port of Jaffa was once the largest and most important in Israel. Today disabled, it serves as a location for funky restaurants that offer, in addition to good food, a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Old Jaffa is also important in the Christian tradition. The place would have been founded by Jafé, son of Noah. Furthermore, according to biblical writings, the city would have been the stage for the resurrection of Tabitha by Peter at Simon’s house. Today it is possible to visit the Church of St. Peter in Old Jaffa, Simão’s House and some archaeological discoveries in Kedumim Square.
Tel Aviv Harbor
The old Port of Tel Aviv (Namal), bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, offers a delicious and relaxing environment for a stroll, especially in the late afternoon. The large deck along the sea allows for a great walk, with a beautiful view. In addition to the landscape being attractive, the place also offers good restaurants and bars, trendy shops and a delicious gourmet market.
For the liveliest, the Port of Tel Aviv offers various activities, such as concerts and artistic performances outdoors, especially during the summer and also on Fridays. The nightlife in the port is also lively. There are some of the most famous nightclubs and environments with live music.
To see the complete schedule for the period you are in the city, see the schedule on the official website.