While widely known for its historic and religious sites, Jerusalem also boasts some delightful shopping. In fact, several of the city’s most bustling drags – Ben Yehuda, Jaffa, and Hillel Streets among them – are known for their quirky knickknack stops, art stalls, cafés, and bakeries. There’s a lot to explore, so we recommend putting the highlights below on your itinerary, then visit other shops as time allows.
Jaffa Street meanders through downtown, stretching from Highway 50 in the northwest to the Old City in the southeast. It has quite the history, serving as one of the city’s first expansion routes out from Old Jerusalem. These days, it’s lined with plentiful landmarks – including the city hall and several prominent squares.
It also boasts some posh shopping. Case in point: Ophir Jewelry. Only a few blocks from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, this is one example of the countless fine jewelry spots that dot the downtown area. Unlike many of the other gold-gleaming shops on the strip, however, Ophir combines goldsmithing with unique designs to render exceptional pieces that boast a great deal of character. Rings, pendants, pins, and bracelets are only some of the items on display, each one showcasing handcrafted detailing, intricate designs, and vibrant colors. While the artistic elements of each piece lean heavily on Jewish culture and tradition, there is evidence of Victorian styles as well.
Several blocks northwest of Ophir sits the food-centric Machane Yehuda Market – a bustling warren of shops, stands, and restaurants with revelers busy haggling, sipping, eating, or simply people-watching. In fact, there are more than half a dozen smaller streets that make up this market, all nestled between Jaffa and Agripas Streets. This is actually a destination unto itself, as tours of every stripe are available (of area graffiti, of the best bars, and of top restaurants). Most of your time, though, will likely be spent in the Iraqi Market or the Georgian Market – the spots for premium spices, cooking workshops, grilled treats, and baked goods.
Ben Yehuda Street
Connecting to Jaffa Street just before it runs into King George Street is famed Ben Yehuda Street – famed for multiple reasons. Unfortunately, it was the target of bombings in decades past, owing to its heavy traffic. In the 1980s, the state converted the street to one of the city’s first pedestrian malls in an effort to cut automobile traffic. As a result, souvenir shops and the like sprung up – largely to attract tourists looking for authentic wares.
These days, Ben Yehuda Street is a great spot for listening to street musicians, enjoying an afternoon coffee, and buying a few tchotchkes to take home. If you’re after souvenirs, King David’s Treasures and Ora Gift Jerusalem are both popular spots. Judaica makes up the bulk of their inventory, but you will find sculptures, statues, and trinkets that are more symbolic of Israel as a whole – or its historic sites.
For more practical wares, head to Kento, a kitchen supply store that’s a perennial draw– even if it’s not quintessentially Israeli. There are actually some great deals here, so if you have room in your luggage, it’s at least worth looking around to find that one kitchen utensil you’ve been missing.
For designer homewares, Golf & Co is your go-to (and no, it’s not a golf supply store). We’d say the style here is akin to midcentury modern, but in reality, it’s its own thing entirely. Prominent glass, light woods, and pastels are common, and while everything seems to have a practical purpose, the designs are just fun to look at. For example: the Gilda Porcelain Ware. Mesmerizing!
Opposite Jaffa Street and half a block from Ben Yehuda Street is Hillel Street. In fact, the three form a triangle in the center of the city – a perfect route to walk, shop, eat, and relax. Hillel doesn’t boast the same notoriety of the other two, but just as well; you can focus on shopping.
To that end, check out Daniella Faye, right where King George Street meets Hillel. This clothing shop is frilly, fun, and fabulous – with styles that are slightly retro, but perfectly posh. Ladies will find vibrant slips; casual loungers; and elegant, flowing gowns – with just about everything in between. Comfort is key at Daniella Faye, so don’t worry about having to squeeze into your favorite blouse just for the look. The designs are meant to fit you, not the other way around.
If you’re a beer hound, you might be surprised to find one of the city’s premier beer supply stops right on Hillel. Biratenu pours frothy pints of all styles, from weighty porters to California-style pale ales – paired with food that’s just as eclectic. If you’re not in the mood to imbibe, grab a couple of bottles to go – along with some unique pint glasses as souvenirs.
For some fancy footwear, head over the Shesh Shoes – a popular destination for European styles. Hearty, thick-soled boots; trim, leather lace-ups; and sneaker-style canvas shoes are all on offer here, alongside some flowy dress wear that is perfect for warmer climes. Shesh also boasts some stylish bags and backpacks – perfect if you need an extra bit of luggage to take home all those buys.
Last but not least, if you need a rest after walking the retail triangle of Jaffa-Ben Yehuda-Hillel, stop into the Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art. The detailed exhibits blending classic Italian Renaissance styles with the artistic storytelling of Jewish artists yields inspired pieces. Take some time soaking this in; it’s truly incredible what the blending of two cultures yields, and really offer some cultural perspective.