The sights and sounds of the shuk assail you long before you actually reach the main parking lot on Jabotinsky Street, down the road from the bus station. Every Wednesday, there, in front of the Humani Alush synagogue, come rain or shine, you will find the shuk. Open from 6am all year round and closing in winter by 4pm depending on the weather, and staying open until 6pm in summer, it's a delight to walk around, even if you don't buy anything.
Traders come to Safed from all over the north with everything from clothes and shoes to cantaloupes and seeds so you are bound to find something you like.
Be prepared to go through the security check at the entrance to the shuk, and make sure you bring a big enough backpack or trolley cart to carry home all those bargains!
If you've never been to Safed shuk before, walk around the whole site and familiarize yourself with the different stalls and their offerings before you buy. You don't want to run out of money before you get what you came for!
Near the front of the shuk you will find stalls with great fresh fruits and vegetables, and at the far end are all the clothes and chatskas. There are draperies and linens, pots and pans, herbs and spices, hats and scarves, and everything in between. Most of the traders come all year round, changing their goods according to the season. Their prices can be so low that you sometimes wonder how they can make any money at all. However, as in all markets the rule is "buyer beware". Not everything is what it seems to be: some things may be from fire sales and bankrupt stock, but some, well who knows? So although it's unlikely you will find a genuine pair of Nike shoes for 50nis, you certainly can buy something to put on your feet that are comfortable.
If you want to buy something you need to try on, and modesty prevents you doing it in public, most traders will exchange it the following week. You can even exchange household items that prove to be the wrong size or color for your living room, especially if you ask in advance if they will exchange.
It's worth walking around to check prices and quality before you buy and if you go to the shuk regularly you will get to know the traders. Their stalls are usually in the same place every week which makes it easy to compare quality and prices. Once you find "your stalls" you can build up a relationship with the stall holders and it's a great way to practice your Hebrew.
Many of the stall holders are from the nearby Arab and Druze villages so you can also try out your Arabic! As well as the regular traders, there are people who just come to try out the shuk and set up a stall on the ground.
Quality Or Bargains?
Remember for the best quality and choice come early, but if you want a real bargain on your fruits and veggies, go late. In the hour or so before the market closes, the stall holders are practically giving things away as they just want to get rid of their stock. However, if you do leave it until the last minute, don't be surprised if they've run out of what you want. Be prepared to bargain and don't be shy, and remember it never hurts to ask!