Best Places to Buy Souvenirs in Jerusalem

Travel Tips — By Judy Lash Balint on March 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm

While the latest luggage weight restrictions may keep your souvenir shopping down, most travelers still want to pick up a few mementos of their once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or bring something home for the kids, parents or good friends left behind.

Olive wood carving of the Western Wall

So what to buy and where, when you want to remember your visit to Jerusalem?

One good place to start is the Israel Museum Shop.  Add an extra half hour to your planned visit to the Israel Museum and browse the beautiful and non-kitschy items at the Shop. Prices are reasonable and many of the items are hand-made or are replicas of some of the interesting objects at the museum.

For the best selection of Judaica items, including tallitot, head to the shops in the Cardo section of the Old City. Here, in stores located in the same place that merchants sold their wares back in Byzantine and even Roman times, you’ll find knowledgeable sales assistants who can help pick out just the right gift.  Almost everything here is locally made—unlike in some of the stores along the Ben Yehuda Street Mall, where the Made in China label is found on many items.

For Christian souvenirs, try the stores along Christian Quarter Road in the Old City. It helps to know your stuff here though–some of the “genuine olive wood” items on sale wouldn’t pass the authenticity test.  You can pick up some gorgeous inlaid mother-of-pearl items, though.  Be prepared for some serious bargaining…

Store in the Christian Quarter, Old City. Photo: Judy Lash Balint

To bring a taste of Israel back home, consider the real halvah available from a couple of stalls in the covered section of the Machane Yehuda market between Jaffa Road and Agripas Street.  It’s nothing like the packaged dry stuff that passes for halvah back home.  A chunk of pistachio or chocolate chip halvah packaged in a stiff plastic box will stay fresh and makes a good gift.

Israel is renowned for its jewelery design, and some of the most popular pieces are available at the Michal Negrin store in Mamilla, or at several of the other boutiques lining the mall that leads to Jaffa Gate.


Tags: "Old City", Cardo, halvah, mamilla, Michal Negrin, shuk, souvenirs, tallitot