Some people choose to visit Jaffa only for a few hours or even a day while they’re in Tel Aviv. However, Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s old port city, has so much more to offer its visitors. There are bustling markets, beautiful alleyways to discover, tons of artwork, and some of the best food in the city! If you’re visiting Tel Aviv, we definitely recommend spending a good amount of time exploring Jaffa. Read on for our local expert’s tips for the best things to do in Jaffa.
Jaffa Flea Market
Aside from Tel Aviv’s colorful Carmel Market, there’s another hot spot nearby to find some fun treasures. Shuk Hapishpishim in Jaffa is a flea market chock-full of fantastic finds and lively Middle-Eastern vibes. This market is more for recycled second-hand items, and you’ll see a lot of locals shopping around to furnish their apartments. However, there are also some great vintage finds like jewelry and clothes. Grab a fresh juice from one of the nearby stalls, wander around the bustling market, and practice those bargaining skills while looking through all the interesting items.
One of the most noticeable landmarks of Jaffa is the tall clock tower that sits in the middle of the main square. Originally built in 1906, this late-Ottoman clock is made from limestone and is one of the most iconic spots of the city. It’s a great historical relic of Israel’s Ottoman era, and a fantastic place to begin delving into the atmosphere of the vibrant and bustling city of Jaffa.
If you’re looking to unwind and relax in the old city, head to Hapisga Gardens for some lovely greenery. After a short climb to the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with the best view of Tel Aviv. From this point, you can see the city’s long coastline as well as the skyline set against the clear blue sky. You can also see some important points in Jaffa, such as the port and the clock tower. It’s the perfect spot for memorable photos of your trip!
Also named the Mahmudiye Mosque, this mosque was built in the 19th century by Mahmud Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Jaffa and Gaza. The mosque was built in different stages throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Roman columns from Caesarea and Ashkelon were brought in to use in the church’s construction, however, the builders accidentally set them upside down, making the construction here particularly unique. The mosque’s tall minaret is one of the most noticeable parts of Jaffa’s skyline.
St Peter’s Monastery
For one of the best things to do in Jaffa, head to St. Peter’s Monastery, a towering iconic Roman Catholic Church from the 19th century. Together with Jaffa’s clock tower, it is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the area. It was built on top of a 13th century Crusader castle and an even more ancient acropolis. The church was named in order to honor Apostle Peter’s visit to Jaffa.
One of the best things to do in Jaffa is to visit the old port, the heart and soul of this city. This port has been in operation for hundreds of years and used to be the main entryway to the center of Israel. Today, you’ll still see hundreds of fishing boats crowding the marina. However, now the port is surrounded by shops and great restaurants where you can stop for some freshly-caught seafood and a beautiful view over the boats and Meditteranean sea.
Alleys & Galleries
Getting lost in Jaffa’s meandering alleyways is easy, getting back out is hard. Not because of the alleyways themselves, but because of all the fantastic art galleries you’ll want to pop into on your way. With over 50 different galleries to explore, this quaint and delightful area is an art-lover’s paradise. Head to the infamous Ilana Goor Museum from some beautiful art and exhibitions, including sculptures, structural work, ethnic arts, drawings, and much more. The building itself is a work of art as well, with its construction dating all the way back to 1742.
It’s no secret that one of the best things to do in Jaffa is to eat. Due to the heavy Arabic influence of the area, the food is a fantastic mix of traditional spices fused with new and exciting flavors.
If you’re around for breakfast, the place to be is the famous Dr. Shakshuka. Sample some of the best Shakshuka in the city from the expert himself. For a hearty lunch, we recommend stopping by the very popular Old Man and the Sea in the harbor. You’ll be greeted by dozens of delicious salads and dips and handmade pita bread, and then treated to some fresh seafood. For a trendy dinner spot, head to Onza for a new twist on local delicacies. Lastly, soothe your sweet tooth by going to Malabi Dajani. Get some of the best Malabi (a traditional Israeli milk pudding) topped with a variety of syrups and nuts. Don’t be put off by the long line of both tourists and locals, it’s worth the wait!
Wondering what else to eat while you’re here? Take a look at our post of food you must try in Israel!
If history’s more your cup of tea, then make a stop at Jaffa’s Visitor’s Center in Kdumim Square. Here, you can learn more about Jaffa’s historical significance, as well as admire the archeological discoveries from the area. It’s also worth stopping to see the audio-visual presentation. You’ll get a good overview of the town and important historical events that have happened there.
Whether you have a lot of time or just a half-day, visiting Jaffa is always worth the effort. We definitely recommend getting a guide in order to fully appreciate the town’s architecture and history. These are just some of the best things to do in Jaffa. There is still so much more to discover there! Let our travel experts help you plan your trip to this old port city so you can make the most out of your visit.