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Shopping in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv shopping is hugely diverse. It ranges from traditional small backstreet workshops, such as skilled tailors, and tiny old-fashioned specialists like milliners and haberdashers to multi-storey modern malls and shopping streets where you can find the latest high-tech merchandise and the height of designer fashion.

Key areas

Designer names such as Gucci, Prada, and Versace are concentrated on the huge circle of Hamedina Square, while Sheinkin Street is the 'trendiest' street, where many fashionable Tel Avivians buy their clothes and go to hang out. The Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan is one of the world's principal marketplaces for diamonds and precious stones.

Markets

Visitors seeking a more unusual shopping experience should venture to one of Tel Aviv's daily markets. Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market) is a busy daily market extending along long, narrow HaCarmel Street and neighbouring lanes. Noisy with stallholders’ cries and a crush of shoppers, here you’ll find huge piles of fresh fruits, vegetables, olives, herbs, spices and meats for the lowest prices in the city. Jews from East European shtetls and the Jewish quarters of Arabia, sophisticated West European Jews, and raucous sabras (Jews born in Israel) are all pressed shoulder to shoulder. It’s especially hectic and colourful on Fridays, as people shop for Shabbat. A more sedate craft market can be found in parallel Nahalat Binyamin. Shuk Hapishpeshim, Jaffa's flea market, sells a fantastic assortment of second-hand items which it is hard to imagine anyone wanting - odd shoes, faulty electrical equipment, broken furniture and damaged jewellery! Yet among this eclectic collection, visitors may spot genuine antiques. Local gifts include hand-blown glass, ceramics, wood carvings and watercolour paintings.

Shopping centres

There is something of a struggle going on at present in Tel Aviv between shopping streets and purpose-built malls. Both Dizengoff Centre, which crosses the street in overhead walkways above Dizengoff Square, and the huge Azrieli Center provide extensive indoor shopping, dining and a cinema complex.

Opening hours

Most shops open Sunday to Thursday 0900-1900 (some close 1300 and 1600). Markets are open Sunday to Thursday 0630-1900. Both shops and markets close early on Friday afternoons (often 1400) for Shabbat, opening again on Sunday.

Souvenirs

Popular purchases include clothing, leather goods, souvenirs, artwork and paintings, fine silverware and jewellery, and Judaica and antiques. These are all easy to find on Ben Yehuda, Allenby and Dizengoff Streets.

Tax information

Value Added Tax (VAT), at a current rate of 17%, is quoted in the price of all goods and services. Tourists buying most goods at shops listed by the Ministry of Tourism (they display a sticker in the window) may be entitled to claim the tax back, provided the purchases at any one store cost US$100 or more, payment was made in foreign currency, and the items are exported in their entirety. Shoppers must obtain a special 'Tax Refund Invoice' at the time of purchase. The shopkeeper should place the goods together with the special VAT refund invoice in a sealed and transparent nylon bag. Note that certain goods, including food, drink and tobacco, are not included in the scheme. The form must then be submitted at the airport or seaport on departure and the refund is generally issued after you have passed through passport control.

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David InterContinental

A gargantuan 5-star hotel, much of the David InterContinental’s clientele are here for business, but don’t let that put you off – a night spent here feels surprisingly intimate. Just across the road from Charles Clore Park and the beach, it’s a few minutes’ walk from Carmel Market and the Yemenite Quarter. Good value, apart from expensive Wi-Fi.

The Rothschild

Housed within a gorgeous, buttercup yellow building that’s almost as old as Israel itself, The Rothschild is a real sanctuary thanks to its tranquil courtyard and sympathetic décor. Service is top quality, as is the food served in the restaurant. Elsewhere, the emphasis is on natural – including the toiletries.

Dan

The longest standing of Tel Aviv’s upmarket beachfront hotels, the Dan's unusual low-rise building and colourful exterior (on the beach side) makes an interesting change to the identikit high-rises that surrounds it. However, because of its age, some rooms seem to be at a lower standard than the price and reputation suggest.

The Diaghilev

This is a hotel where art takes centre stage. The décor combines white walls with bright furniture and even brighter artworks, all of which are for sale. Rooms are pleasant and comfortable and there's a restaurant serving excellent local fare on site. All the city centre attractions are close by.

Cinema Hotel

Formerly a Bauhaus cinema, this stylish little hotel is right in the city centre, just off Dizengoff Square. The comfortable, attractively furnished rooms have plenty of amenities, among them a fridge, beach towels and free Wi-Fi, and there’s a free sauna, rooftop terrace and business lounge too.

The Beachfront Hostel

A basic combination of hostel and hotel, The Beachfront is a little shabby and has amenities that some may find inadequate, particularly the dormitory-style rooms. But there’s hardly anywhere cheaper to stay in Tel Aviv, and it’s right on the beach. Breakfast is not included, but is offered at a restaurant next door.