Kicking off a vacation with a food tour is the ultimate holiday hack. Walking helps familiarize yourself with a new location, tasting the local food is an accessible way to learn about a place’s history and culture, and you’re sure to walk away with culinary recommendations to see you through the end of your stay.
But culinary tours aren’t only for first-time visitors; they’re for return travelers and locals, too. That’s true especially in Israel, where there’s a huge variety of food tours exploring both on and off the beaten path. From Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market to Haifa’s Wadi Nisnas neighborhood, from Bnei Brak’s pre-Shabbat scene to foraging in the Jerusalem hills, these tours can take you all over the country.
While there’s no better way to explore Israel’s dynamic, diverse food scene, the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming. So we’ve made it easy for you: Here are the seven best food tours in Israel for every customer.
Note: For most tours, rates vary depending on the number of participants and if it’s a private or group tour.
Tel Aviv is the hub of Israel’s evolving culinary scene, with high-end restaurants pushing the limits of local cuisine; multiple markets selling seasonal produce and street food; and culinary institutions studying and advancing Israeli ingredients, technology and tradition.
Inbal Baum is the brainchild behind Delicious Israel, which paved the way for Tel Aviv’s increasingly active food tour field. Her growing team of guides lead a variety of tours around Tel Aviv and Israel. No matter how familiar you think you are with Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market (known locally as “the shuk”), Levinsky Market or HaTikvah Market, there are discoveries and delights in store. That said, HaTikvah is definitely the furthest from the beaten path. Tours range from 2-4.5 hours, Sunday-Friday and rates vary. Book here.
Asif describes itself as “a culinary center in Tel Aviv dedicated to cultivating and nurturing Israel’s diverse and creative food culture.” Inside the impressive, light-filled space, their cafe, deli and extensive cookbook library are open to all — but on Fridays, they run guided tours around the rest of the premises, which includes a revolving exhibition space, test kitchen and rooftop farm. Recommended for those seeking a deeper understanding of how culture, agriculture and technology influence the Israeli kitchen. Tours run 1.5 hours, with an English tour one Friday a month. NIS 40. Book here.
Explore an entirely different — and delicious — side of Israel in the haredi city of Bnei Brak, just a 15-minute drive from Tel Aviv.
Go-Tel Aviv Bnei Brak Food Tour
On Thursday nights, when residents begin to prepare for Shabbat, the streets are chock-full of people of all ages shopping for freshly baked challah and a variety of traditional Ashkenazi dishes that are typically hard to find in Israel, including vats of cholent and smoked and pickled fish. Guide Pini runs tours in both Hebrew and English that are 3-4 hours long and include four food stops. Book here.
The crazy, complex, completely intoxicating city of Jerusalem is home to a bounty of food traditions that span continents, religions, cultures and landscapes.
Fun Joel’s Shuk Tours
The only way to experience the Jerusalem food scene all at once is by visiting Machane Yehuda Market (again, known locally as “the shuk”). Joel Haber, who regularly shares his vast knowledge of Jewish and Israeli culinary history with The Nosher, is primarily an excellent culinary guide. “Fun Joel’s” shuk tours run about 2 hours, Sunday-Thursday, and include multiple tastings and immeasurable amounts of local knowledge. Book here.
Israel’s Foraging Adventures
Foraging is an ancient tradition in Israel, and continues today. Foraged za’atar and akkoub (gundelia) remain staple ingredients in Arab and Palestinian kitchens, purslane is sold in markets country-wide, and many other secret treasures remain hidden in plain sight — you just need someone to point them out. Enter Adara Peskin Shalem, who’s been foraging for edible and medicinal plants in the Jerusalem area for over a decade. Adara’s foraging tours run for 2-4 hours, available in Hebrew and English. Some include a dairy meal. Book here.
Israel’s bustling cities are only part of its culinary story. Northern Israel’s lush landscapes brimming with fresh produce enjoy a slower pace and diverse population that contribute to its varied, unique culinary offerings.
Galileat run “grassroots cultural experiences based around food” in the Galilee, including full-day culinary tours, cooking workshops and home-cooked meals by locals. From visits to 3,000-year-old olive trees and boutique dairies to lessons in stuffing vegetables and the perfect baharat spice blend, there’s an itinerary to suit anyone and everyone. Tours range from 2 hours to full days. Find out more here.
Shuk and Cook Haifa
Don’t sleep on Haifa’s food scene — even Israelis make the mistake of underestimating the city’s evolving mix of Jewish and Arab culinary influences, varied produce and fresh seafood. Let Sharon and friends introduce you to the delights of Haifa’s underrated Talpiot food market, from Central European pastries to the freshest ceviche; or the smaller, sprawling Wadi Nisnas market brimming with lesser-known local produce, handmade Arab sweets and freshly roasted black coffee laced with cardamom. Tours run about 3 hours, available in Hebrew and English. Find out more here.