As you may or may not know, a while ago I got the chance to explore the city of Jerusalem.
I spent 6 days there to attend my first TBEX and I enjoyed every minute of it.
While there were loads of awesome experiences that I had in the city and there are plenty of cool places that are very worthy of being visited – there is one place in the city of Jerusalem that I loved the most.
And that was the Machane Yehuda Market!
Read More – An Itinerary For 5 Days in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is a city that’s full of great markets, or otherwise known as ‘shuks’.
The shuks of Israel and Jerusalem are a very quintessential experience that everyone should partake in if they’re visiting the country and city. A must-do if you’re visiting.
But in my opinion, the Machane Yehuda Market (also known as The Shuk) is the big daddy of them all and with good reason.
It takes the concept of markets to a whole new level with local restaurants and cafes interspersed between the expected stalls and vendors. The market covers 10 streets with numerous nooks, crannies and lanes to discover. And the different stalls all offer very good quality goods ranging from spices, produce, meats, clothes, jewellery, souvenirs, juices, baked goods and much more.
As a sucker for good markets, this was probably my favourite place to visit.
And seeing that I was lucky to have found a great AirBnb about 5 minutes walk away, I went to this market 5 different times in 6 days!
Being that I love this place a lot and have discovered how worthy the Machane Yehuda Market actually is of visiting, I decided to share all of what I’ve discovered in the form of a guide. Because to really get the most out of this shuk, you’ll want a good, helpful guide.
*Just so you know, if you’ve never tried Airbnb before but would like to give it a go, you can sign up with my link to get $35 off your first booking! This way both of us get to enjoy a little discount 🙂
How To Get There
Getting there is actually very easy, with the easiest way being via light rail.
The light rail operates with only one line and lucky for you, it takes you right to the shuk by stopping at the station aptly called “Machane Yehuda”. From the Central Station it will only take you two stops in the direction of Heyl Ha’avir, and from Damascus Gate it will only take four stops in the opposite direction of Mt. Herzl.
In addition, bus lines 7, 9, 17, 18, 19, 25, 32, 38, 45, 66, 74, 75 & 78 will take you right to the next light rail station “Davidka”, which is actually only 5 minutes walk from Machane Yehuda.
These buses and the light rail will take you to the entrance that’s located on Jaffa Street, but there are also about 5 entrances to the market on Agripas Street too (which is parallel to Jaffa St.).
When To Go
The official opening hours are as follows:
- Sun – Thurs = 8:00 – 19:00
- Fri = 8:00 – 15:00
- Sat = closed
During Sunday to Thursday, you’ll get to see the market at its calmest. Locals are shopping, bargaining and enjoying a more leisurely day as they get their shopping done.
During Friday, it’s a whole different ball game. It’s still mostly locals shopping and bargaining, but seeing as many people were working up until then and they need to get their shopping and preparations done for Shabbat dinner (a Friday evening meal that welcomes in the day of rest), it can make for some major crazy-making!
But trust me, it’s a lot of fun. I usually don’t like big crowds but I can wholeheartedly recommend you visit the shuk on a Friday morning because it’s then that it’s at its most liveliest and most interesting.
I also highly recommend visiting when the shuk is technically ‘closed’. To read why, scroll down to the “What To Do” section.
What To Eat
What to eat… pfft! More like what not to eat!
If there’s any section that you should remember from this post, it’s this one. Because whenever you go to the Machane Yehuda Market, your visit should always include lots of food.
So let’s break this down.
First off… Machane Yehuda Market has some of the most freshest fruits and veggies on offer and is actually where locals go to stock up their fridges.
And also to stock up their pantries with some of the best spices, dried fruits, nuts and herbal tea infusions.
But what you absolutely must eat, is one of the many baked goods and sweets that are on offer. These desserts are a must-try when you’re visiting and are very satisfying!
This next one has to be my favourite food discovery at the shuk.
Challah is a Jewish bread that is made for the Shabbat dinner on Friday evening, but someone had the genius idea of making one filled with chocolate! You can get one for 10 shekels or two for 15 so they’re of very good value. Just buy them on an empty stomach because these babies are filling!
And although markets are known for having great stalls where vendors sell amazing produce – the Machane Yehuda Market also happens to have some great cafes, restaurants, juiceries and bars too. You can come to the market to have a proper sit down meal if you wanted one.
What To Buy
Other than the best of Israeli spices and some delicious baked goods, there are a lot of things you can buy at the market.
For instance, Machane Yehuda Market happens to be a great place to buy some cheap and light clothing, especially as the weather in Israel can get really hot.
And if you happen to be like me and are always scouring for some awesome souvenirs to take home with you, the Machane Yehuda Market is a great place to find cultural gifts for yourself and loved ones.
What To Do
This might come as a surprise to you, but there are actually a lot of awesome things that you can do in Machane Yehuda Market that aren’t the typical market experience of browsing and bargaining.
Participate in a Self-Guided Walking Food Tour
As you already know, the Machane Yehuda Market is a great market for a culinary experience. But participating in a self-guided walking food tour can elevate your culinary experience in the shuk even more so. How it works is that you download the BiteMojo app, you purchase the tour that you want to go on, and you let the app take you around trying the best bites in the area you’ve chosen. There are 3 different tours for the Machane Yehuda Market that go for around 25 euros, each with 5-6 bites for you to try.
What I think is the coolest thing about this tour, is that you get to learn the stories behind the bites, the chefs and the restaurants. Making the experience more interesting and rewarding. Go with an empty stomach because I promise you that it’s very filling!
Pepitos was a restaurant that I discovered while doing the Jerusalem Nightlife Food Tour. The vegetarian tortilla wrap was delicious!
Play a Competitive Game in the Shuk
For those of us who like to get competitive once in a while and love to step out of their comfort zone, I highly recommend participating in Shuk Dash. Shuk Dash is a game where people are split up into teams, and have to complete as many missions and tasks as possible before the time is up. All within and relating to Machane Yehuda Market. Missions include, ‘Find the most unique flavoured Halva’ and ‘Find a vendor who is originally from Yemen, Morocco or Greece’.
And as well as having to complete these tasks, you’re also required to document your viewings and answers and navigate your own way around the different lanes of the shuk. This was such an enjoyable and bonding experience for our group and is a very fun way of getting to know the people of the shuk and their stories.
Our mission in this next photo was to find a couple who were newly married – they had been married for 4 days!
Experience the Shuk’s Nightlife Scene
So the Shuk is technically closed at night. When night comes, all of the stalls and stands go to sleep and nobody’s buying their groceries – but the Shuk’s nightlife wakes up! Many cafes and restaurants stay open until way into the night and you’ll see many bars open up for business that weren’t open during the day.
The Shuk is actually a very popular place for locals to get together at night and it plays a very lively and attractive part in Jerusalem’s nightlife scene. Especially with those who want to drink a beer and socialise, rather than hit the dance floor and develop tinnitus. So go for a drink, socialise with the locals and experience a different side to the shuk.
If you want to explore the shake’s nightlife as much as possible but you don’t know where to start, I highly recommend participating in BiteMojo’s Jerusalem Nightlife Food Tour. It takes you around the shuk from a different entrance point and you get to try great samples of the market’s food and alcohol.
And for a special bonus activity…
View the Hidden Graffiti on the Stalls’ Shutters
This was one of my most surprising findings and one that I was very glad that I stumbled upon. As you already know, the Machane Yehuda Market (just like most places in Israel) is closed on Saturdays. But if you happen to be in the area on a Saturday and you want something to do, go ahead to the market anyway to catch some very cool graffiti on the stalls’ shutters!
The shutters of the shuk showcases the artwork of Solomon Souza, a British-Israeli in his twenties, who is a self-taught graffiti artist. The most common subject of his works are famous contemporary and historical figures. People such as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Golda Meir, Si Ali Sakkat and the Queen of Sheba. Saturdays are notorious for being quiet in Israel, with not many businesses open. So this is a great activity to do on a Saturday and it will give you yet another side of the shuk to see.
And there you have my complete guide for how best to experience the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem!
Hopefully you’ll find this guide to be very useful, because The Shuk really is an experience that you can’t miss. No matter how you decide to experience it.
Do you love to visit a good market when you’re travelling? What do you think of the Machane Yehuda Market? Feel free to comment below!
Be Brave & Be Kind,