With so much hustle and bustle going on in its White City neighbor, sometimes people forget the beautiful gem of Israeli culture that exists on the southern port. From attractions that backtrack through years of ancient Israeli history to the most hopping bars and clubs for dancing in Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s older sister knows where it’s at. The sheer range of attractions in Old Jaffa is startling, from mosques and churches to ancient clock towers, wishing bridges, sculptures, yoga classes, museums, Israeli art galleries, trendy restaurants and the list of things to do in this new-old city is never ending. Throw in an impressive spread of authentic Jaffa street food establishments and a precious flea market and you’ve got enough things to do in Israel for a lifetime.
Time Out's area guide to Jaffa
Poor quality bric-a-brac lies alongside vintage treasures and antique furniture in Jaffa’s flea market. Of all the places to work your haggling skills, this is it. Even just wandering among the clothes stalls, traipsing around secondhand stores or grabbing some authentic street food is enough to make for a blissful day.
Take in the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean at one of Jaffa’s most beautiful spots as the lively Greek music transports you to the Aegean. The Mediterranean cuisine is livened up with Arab, Greek, Cypriot, Italian and Israeli influences. Inside, the best seats in the house overlook the water; call ahead to book them.
Don’t miss Abu Hassan, the go-to place for a plate of creamy chickpea goodness. Take it to go or eat in house; you won’t be disappointed. For a real local experience, order the ‘masabacha’—it’s another version of hummus, topped off with chickpeas in their juice and other trimmings.
No matter where you sit at Cassis, you're surrounded by a breathtaking panoramic view of the seashore and waves crashing in the background. With gorgeous modern design including turquoise-hued and white furniture, lit candle jars set the mood. The menu is composed of fresh treasures from the sea, such as golden paella with mussels, shrimp and calamari, and a symphony of salads and starters. It’s like going to a secluded romantic beach with everything ready and prepared just for you.
If you’re craving ‘malabi,’ a sweet custard topped with rosewater, you’re going to want to have it at this authentic spot. There’s nothing fancy here: just a delicious custard, the way it’s supposed to be. Finish up your dessert with a sip of the homemade ‘gazoz,’ a fruit-flavored soda.
Bino serves up the Israeli street food staple you've secretly been craving without even knowing it. Layers of lamb meat, veal meat and succulent lamb fat soak into their warm pitas creating a concert in your mouth. Peppered with secret seasoning, Shawarma Bino comes with a select number of additions, including chuma pepper, red eggplant salad and chopped onion. If you try to alter the order, be ready to receive the cold shoulder - and for good reason: the Bino Shawarma should be eaten exactly as is. If you choose to do otherwise - you'll pay the cost.
Come and soak in the sun at this hip restaurant hangout. Casino is a vibrant intersection of delicious food, eclectic music, and eye-opening art. The unique décor is a mishmash of plants, gems, and a giant flamingo, all combining to create a true Jaffa vibe. For the crafty, there are knitting workshops, drawing lessons, and many other get-togethers. The menu is overflowing with freshly vibrant ingredients, juicy hamburgers, and much more. Don’t miss the freshly squeezed lemonade in Mason jars spiced with celery and cucumber.
Jaffa Port, a renewed culinary, shopping and entertainment stop set in the city's ancient harbor, is home to various merchants and stalls that offer a vibrant and exciting experience inspired by the historical, cultural, and, of course, culinary legacy of its location. Take a stroll around the charming port, watch as elderly, weather-beaten fisherman hook calamari, stop off for an ice cream, or for a spot of live music at the Port’s Container bar. Jaffa Port Market combines traditional and ethnic elements with modern, urban touches. The 1,200 square metered area is set up like a race track, one path going through its entire length with shops, restaurants, galleries and booths on either side. Passageways peering into open-plan kitchens offer a carousel of tastes, smells and colors.