5 Reasons to Visit Jaffa
The ancient city of Jaffa has been folded into the modern city of Tel Aviv, but there are many reasons to make a special visit to Jaffa itself. The quirky, timeless port town offers plenty of fun spots and worthy attractions to spend a few hours during your trip to Israel.
A Timeless Fishing Port
Jaffa’s port is so ancient that it is referenced by name in the biblical book of Jonah. It was once the primary shipping hub in the Land of
Israel for trade and fishing. With the establishment of the State of Israel, the government built a modern port in Ashdod and transferred the international sea trade away from Jaffa. Fishing still takes place at the port, though, and small recreational and fishing boats do commonly dock there. Old Arab men in kaffiyehs hobnob with young Israeli hipsters and foreign tourists for an eclectic mix of people watching.
Gourmet Fish Restaurants
Thanks to the local fishing industry, Jaffa is home to a slew of high-quality fish restaurants. Choose from simple but delicious fare or more sophisticated chef-concocted seafood dishes.
Aladin is a romantic restaurant located in a 600-year-old building, serving fish, seafood and grilled meats. To eat your meal with the smell of the Mediterranean in your nostrils, check out The Old Man and the Sea at the Jaffa Port. Blackout is a truly unique experience; at this high-concept kosher restaurant, located inside a cultural center, you'll eat in a pitch-dark space to gain a sense of what it’s like to be blind.
A Colorful Flea Market
The Jaffa Flea Market, Shuk HaPishpeshim, encompasses a few blocks of mini-plazas, stores and stalls and features an extremely diverse mix of products.
Here you can purchase expensive original artwork and vintage imported home accessories or inexpensive clothing, scarves and bags. Second-hand clothes and junk vie with heirloom furniture and juice bars. If you’re looking for souvenirs that are more than a bit different, the flea market is a great place to shop.
Modern Art in an Old City
The alleyways of the Old City of Jaffa provide the perfect backdrop for the art galleries and artisan workshops that lurk behind doorways.
Many Israeli artists work and hawk their wares in the medieval walled city. Although you can research the many individual artists in residence here before you head out, the best way to experience the art galleries of Jaffa is by wandering freely and seeing what you discover.
Promenade Along the Coast
In recent years, the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa has constructed a scenic promenade which follows the magnificent Mediterranean Sea from south of the Jaffa Port all the way to the Tel Aviv Port. As you walk along the promenade, keep an eye out for grassy areas and benches where you can take a well-deserved break.
Bring your swimsuits and towels and take a dip in one of Jaffa’s free beaches. Don’t forget to look away from the sea as well, to enjoy views of bustling Tel Aviv from a different perspective.
As the primary hub of contemporary central Israel, Tel Aviv may get most of the attention, but when it comes to character and timeless flavor, Jaffa is a worthy destination unto itself.