Old Jaffa, Israel

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The Old City of Jaffa (or Yafo, as it’s called in Hebrew) sits right next to Tel Aviv and the two share a municipality, making it, in effect, a part of the city of Tel Aviv, but the two are really as different as chalk and cheese. While Tel Aviv is young and modern Jaffa really is old, in fact, it is one of the most ancient sea ports in the Mediterranean Basin.

Despite her age, Jaffa is certainly not boring, and today she is one of Israel’s most alluring cities. You will first notice Old Jaffa, with its ancient buildings and the tall tower of St. Peter’s Church, while walking southward along Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade. The beauty of Jaffa’s signature stoned and domed architecture is a stark contrast to the modernity of Tel Aviv’s high-rises.

You’ll feel like you have stepped into another time as you stroll around the famous alleys of Jaffa. Take your time as you walk around, checking out the magnificent buildings and looking for Jaffa’s art galleries that are hidden away in the winding cobblestone alleys.

The Old City of Jaffa (or Yafo, as it’s called in Hebrew) sits right next to Tel Aviv and the two share a municipality, making it, in effect, a part of the city of Tel Aviv, but the two are really as different as chalk and cheese. While Tel Aviv is young and modern Jaffa really is old, in fact, it is one of the most ancient sea ports in the Mediterranean Basin.

Despite her age, Jaffa is certainly not boring, and today she is one of Israel’s most alluring cities. You will first notice Old Jaffa, with its ancient buildings and the tall tower of St. Peter’s Church, while walking southward along Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade. The beauty of Jaffa’s signature stoned and domed architecture is a stark contrast to the modernity of Tel Aviv’s high-rises.

You’ll feel like you have stepped into another time as you stroll around the famous alleys of Jaffa. Take your time as you walk around, checking out the magnificent buildings and looking for Jaffa’s art galleries that are hidden away in the winding cobblestone alleys.

While you’re there make sure you have some time just to sit and enjoy the stunning view of the Mediterranean Sea, with Tel Aviv in the background. Some consider Jaffa one of Israel’s most romantic spots, so if you’re looking for a little romance a sunset walk could be just what the doctor ordered.

You’ll probably see at least a couple of bridal parties walking around taking wedding photos against the romantic backdrop that is Jaffa. Now’s a good time to practice your Hebrew and wish them, “Mazal Tov.”

Jaffa Port

There is always something fun going on at the Jaffa Port. If you’re interested in fishing you can watch the local fishermen as they reel in the day’s catch.

You will also see lots of sail boats, and if you’re up for a short trip around the port you will almost always find a boat taking tours out.

The warehouses in the port have been renovated and now house restaurants, bars and shops. There is a lovely gourmet food market and on the weekends, during the warmer months there is always something going on like live music performances, arts and crafts for the kids and dancing. And, there’s always a new pop-up store or gallery to explore.

The Jaffa Port is also home to the Na laga’at Center (which means – please touch). It is a unique not-for-profit cultural and arts center for the deaf and blind community. The Center holds workshops, events, has a theater and a restaurant called “BlackOut” which is Israel’s only dark restaurant, and one of only 14 worldwide. An experience that you don’t want to miss.

St. Peter’s Church is very prominent, standing above the remnants of Jaffa’s crusader fort.

Don’t miss a visit to the Ilana Goor Museum. This museum is part of the artist’s private home that built 250 years ago and has been lovingly restored to its former glory by the artist. It was opened to the public in 1995 and has seen over 200,000 visitors.

Tours

When in Jaffa go to the Old Jaffa Visitors Center to learn more about the interesting history of Jaffa. What better place to discover the history of a site than in an archaeological excavation site in Old Jaffa’s Kedumim Square?

The Visitors’ Center can be contacted by phone 03- 603-7686 or by email: tourism@oldjaffa.co.il

 

What else is there to see in Jaffa?

If you leave the port area and move inland you’ll quickly find the town center. There you’ll see a clock tower in the middle of the north end of Yefet Street in Jaffa that was built in 1901 by the Ottoman Empire in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the reign of the Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid the Second. It is one of seven clock towers built in Israel. According to the local tale, the tower was built at the initiative of Yossef Moial, a wealthy Jew of Jaffa, who erected the clock tower in order to save himself pestering by pedestrians who would come in to his shop to ask the time on their way to the train station. Four clocks were installed in the tower – two of them showing the time in Europe, and two of them the time in Israel.

 

 The Jaffa Flea Market

Among Israelis Jaffa is famous for its colorful flea market (or shuk ha’pishpeshim). This trendy secondhand market, which is located right next to the old clock tower, is always full of locals and tourists. It’s worth having a look around you never know what you might find, the market is always full of treasures, and same trash.  The flea market, which used to be just a couple of alleys full of second hand clothes, jewelry and other objects, has been revamped and now covers are larger area and includes some vintage shops, boutiques, furniture shops, cafés and bars.

The flea market is open: Sunday to Thursday, 9:00-17:00 | Fridays 9:00-14:00.

Take a walk around the windy narrow roads and you will find some very interesting shops and galleries, and some of the less touristy restaurants.

 

Jaffa Beach

This beach is quieter than the more central ones, so if you’re looking for a place to soak up the sun and just chill, this is the beach for you. The beach is one of the favorites of local surfers because it doesn’t have any wave breakers.

 

 

Magical Jaffa

Jaffa is the proverbial melting pot. It’s a place where you’ll find people from all over the world, where Jews and Arabs live side by side and where the ancient merges with the modern.

The ancient port is the setting of many fascinating stories, it was here that Perseus, son of Zeus, rescued Andromeda from the monster, forming the famous sea rocks of Jaffa. It is also home to the house of Simon the Tanner, a sacred Christian site. Jaffa is also the site of the Ramses Gate which has survived 4,000 years since Egyptians ruled Jaffa, and there are plenty more stories about this captivating city.

 

Where to eat in Jaffa?

After spending a good few hours sight-seeing and bargain hunting in Jaffa you’ll probably want to enjoy a good meal.

Whatever the time of the day, whether you want to eat a large meal, a small lunch or even just a snack, there is always an abundance of amazing eateries open in Jaffa.

Jaffa’s two main tourist areas, the port area and old city and the flea market area are home to some of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv. If you want a romantic night out the old port makes the perfect setting.

If you tell an Israeli that you’re going to Jaffa they will probably give you a list of things to do and see, and we are sure that a visit to Abulafia Bakery will be on the list.

Abulafia Bakery, belonging to Jaffa’s Abulafia family is Israel’s oldest and most well-known bakery. Since 1879, when it first opened in spot where it is still located today, locals have been enjoying their freshly baked breads (baked in a coal oven, in front of customers) and sweets. They sell pita bread, bagels, breads, small pizzas, as well as baklava and knafeh.

The bakery is open all day long, and only closes on Passover and Yom Kippur.

Dr. Shakshuka, the restaurant that put the classic Libyan dish of poached eggs in a tangy tomato sauce is a classic. (3 Beit Eshel St., Jaffa 03-518-6560).

Some of the best hummus places are found in Jaffa, take Abu Hassan for example. And, if you have no more room to eat you can always pop in and grab some take-away for later. (1 Ha-Dolfin St., Tel Aviv-Yafo).

You can’t get much more “Jaffa” than Beit Kandinof. This restaurant -cultural center housed in an historical Jaffa building should not be missed!

Cassis offers diners delicious food with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean. (132 Kedem St, Givat Aliyah Beach, Yafo).

The flea market is home to some of Jaffa’s new and interesting eateries, for example, Ramesses  and Onza, where you can enjoy delicious food and Jaffa’s unique vibe.

Another Jaffa favorite is the Old Man and the Sea, (HaZaken VeHayam) a legend among Israelis and tourists alike.  The menu includes fresh fish and sea-food as well as meat and a huge selection of fresh salads, with unlimited refills, and freshly baked pita bread. The original restaurant is located at 101 Retzif HaAliya HaShniya St., Jaffa and there is a new branch at the Jaffa Port. Don’t forget to make a reservation because there is always a very long line of people waiting to get into this restaurant, 03-6818699.

 

Where to stay in Jaffa?

Jaffa has its share of hotels, ranging from luxury to budget.

 

Our choice of hotel in Jaffa:

The Margosa Hotel, in the heart of Jaffa, is close to everything. The guest rooms are designed in exquisite Jaffa-style. The breakfast is good and they offer free coffee all day long.

 

We recommend staying in a Tel Aviv Hotel and visiting Jaffa at least once during your stay, because it is just a short drive, or walk, back to your Tel Aviv hotel, and this way you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds.

 

How to get there:

It is easy enough to walk or cycle to Jaffa from Tel Aviv, just follow the coast line.

Take a Dan bus from Tel Aviv to Jaffa (there are several different lines from different areas of Tel Aviv). Don’t forget that you need a prepaid  Rav Kav bus pass in order to travel on a public bus.

You can also take a taxi from Tel Aviv to Jaffa. It is only a short distance, but the traffic and time of day will have an affect on the fare. You can check taxi fares in Tel Aviv-Yafo.

If you’re driving keep in mind that it will be difficult to find parking. If you find a spot with blue and white markings on the street you can park there, but you will need to pay a meter/internet ticket for up to three hours. There are also several paid parking lots in Jaffa.

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