WHY I LOVETEL AVIV
- Its open-mindedness. Tel Aviv is just different. There is a reason why it’s called ‘Medinat Tel Aviv‘ -‘state of Tel Aviv’ – both in a good way and in a bad one. What differentiates it from any other town or city in Israel is the atmosphere. The FREE atmosphere. The ability to be who you are, to wear what you want, to hang out with who you want, do what you want.
- The good international and local food.
- The cultural events every night – theatre, music, etc.
48 HRS IN TEL AVIVSEE, EAT & DO
Start with a nice breakfast in one of the coffee shops in the north port of Tel Aviv Then hire a bike in one of the tel-o-fun stations and move along the beach promenade south to Yafo. Then visit the old beautiful town, and go for a stroll in the flea market – very hipster and cool.
Eat either in Yafo port in a seafood restaurant, the humus place inside Yafo, or in the market to taste some hip local cuisine with a nice cold drink. Around 4pm is the best time to go to the beach. It’s best to go to an official beach (almost all are) where there is a life guard, open showers to wash off the salt, and guys moving around to offer sun umbrellas and beach chairs for 10 shekels.
Go for drinks and food at one of the Hamara places down town – cold beer, arak shots and small dishes of fresh salads, meat, fish. This can open the opportunity for bar hopping of which Tel Aviv offers plenty.
Start with coffee in Rothschild Street, just next to Habima Square. Then a walk down the boulevard until Neve Zedek. Have an ice cream and wander around the pretty neighbourhood and the galleries that continue through Kerem Hateimanim, across Hacarmel market and join the art street of Nakhlat Binyamin.
From there walk through Sheinkin street and its parallel streets with the Bauhouse architecture, finishing for lunch back in one of the many eclectic and international restaurants in Rothschild. After lunch walk up Dizengoff street for some shopping, enjoying the work of many local designers as well as the big chain outlets.
When joining Nordoau Boulevard either go west for an early drink with the sunset view, or east to Iben Gavirol street to join some happy hour in a local bar. In the evening I would recommend enjoying the cultural opportunities that the city offers and find a gig, a play or a dance performance.
- It is much smaller than a tourist would think. All the people who say they live in Tel Aviv usually actually live in Ramat Gan, Givatiim, Herzeliya, Hulon. The rent and house prices are so high and the distances between towns so small that a lot of people live out but feel within.
- It is much closer to Jerusalem then a tourist would think. In 50 minutes drive you can move between the two main cities. The good thing about this is you can stay overnight at one and then explore the other one during the day. In Jerusalem I would start early at the Mahne Yehudi market (before all the tourists arrive and the chaos begins), go for a stroll at the art market in Bezalael street and finish with a big meal with the family.
- Tel-Aviv is an UNESCO designated site due to having over 400 Bauhaus buildings and international architecture from the 1930s.
Unfortunately there are very few good independent guides in English, but still:
- A good guide for all cities, but especially Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is City Mouse. It is written in Hebrew, but Google translate should work also. It’s worth trying as it has information on what’s happening in town right now.
- The official municipality tourist website is also quite helpful and up to date.
- So is TimeOut Israel which not surprisingly concentrates mostly on Tel Aviv.
Go to the beach with a cold drink – beer or fruit shake – and just relax.
Happy hours in restaurants, bars and pubs are very common. Between 6pm-8pm or even 5pm-9pm you can find 1+1 drinks or nice tapas or pub food with a 50% discount. Friday afternoon in markets and bakeries is also a good time for food bargains before shabbat comes in.
Accommodation-wise, a lot of Telavivians sublet their flats for a week or two or even more for good prices.
The best way to move around is by bus. If you download the app Move-It you can easily navigate your way around town (the free WiFi spread around the city can help with that). Another option is to use the tel-o-fun mentioned before, although beware that in summer time it can be quite unappealing to ride bicycles in the heat and humidity.
There are also the ‘Sherut’ taxies which are shared vans that cost as much as a bus and stop everywhere you’ll need. Cabs wouldn’t be too expensive but the traffic jams can change all that. In any case, don’t ever drive inside the town centre with a car. There is no chance whatsoever you’ll find a parking place.
South Tel Aviv – around the central station – can be dodgy at night if you walk alone. At the beach also be aware of pickpockets and jelly fish (and sleazy guys with bad chat-up lines!).
I think the bars along the beach are usually total tourist traps; even though they offer good views they lack the atmosphere of real Tel Aviv and they rip off the tourist. Definitely skip that.