Tel Aviv Holidays
“In Haifa they work, in Jerusalem they pray and in Tel Aviv they party.” So goes the saying, and Israel’s vibrant capital lives up to the billing. Tel Aviv is youthful, modern and hip, with a hectic nightlife, a funky food scene, white sand Mediterranean beaches and heaps of cultural attractions, festivals and events to keep the young and young at heart entertained.
There are also numerous museums and art galleries to explore, fascinating architecture, bustling markets and the neighbouring historic port of Jaffa (or Yafo), which dates back 4000 years and has a unique vibe.
Tel Aviv has 16 beaches, each with its own character. From Hof HaDati’im, a beach reserved for religious Jews, to the gay-friendly (and surfer-friendly) Hilton Beach, there is surely something for everyone. Beach season is April to October, though they’re open all year round.
Cultural highlights include the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Beit Hatfutsot, which tells the stories of the Jewish diaspora. Tel Aviv is flat, and most of its attractions are in a relatively small area, so it’s a great place to explore on foot or bike.
Keep an eye out for the Bauhaus architecture that gave Tel Aviv its nickname, “the White City”. Make sure you also have a wander around the alleyways, markets, restaurants and galleries of Old Jaffa, the ancient port from which Jonah embarked before being swallowed by a whale.
Eat and Drink
If you haven’t eaten falafel in Israel, you haven’t lived. Served on pitta bread with hummus and salad, it is simple and splendid. The falafel, and its meaty cousin the shawarma, is popular all over Tel Aviv, a city where the street food rocks. Try food markets such as the Carmel Market for fresh produce as well as local colour.
The wider food scene is eclectic, with the range of immigrants who call Tel Aviv home having introduced cuisine from around the world, including spicy soups from Yemen, tajines from Morocco and stews from Ethiopia.
Cocktail bars are plentiful, as are nightclubs. “The City that Never Stops” (another Tel Aviv nickname) comes to life about 11pm. You’ll find nightlife just about everywhere, with the busiest spots being the Tel Aviv port, HaYarkon Street and along the beaches.
Where to Stay
Tel Aviv accommodation caters for all budgets. The bulk of the hotels can be found on the beaches and in the centre of Tel Aviv. If you want to splash out, grab a room overlooking the Med at one of the top-end hotels. There are plenty of three- and four-star options in the heart of the action too.
Accommodation gets cheaper in south Tel Aviv. You’ll be further away from most tourist attractions but still have access to good nightlife, particularly in the poor but bohemian Florentin district. For character and ambience, try a B&B or boutique hotel in Jaffa.
Tel Aviv’s outdoor markets are great for bargains as well as atmosphere. Try the twice-weekly Nachlat Binyamin arts and crafts fair, or Shuk Hapishpishim, Old Jaffa’s flea market, which sells everything from Judaica (Jewish ceremonial art) to furniture.
The old train station, HaTachana, has boutiques, art and entertainment in a pedestrianised public space. Kikar Hamedina (State Square), in the north of Tel Aviv, is the place for upmarket designer stores. You’ll find fashionable clothing boutiques on Shenkin and Dizengoff streets, and the city has several malls
Tel Aviv Like a Local
The beach might be the tourists’ favourite spot to recuperate from a night out in Tel Aviv, but many locals prefer to do their relaxing in the park. Not far from downtown, Park HaYarkon is Tel Aviv’s “Central Park”. Covering hundreds of acres along the Yarkon River, it has six gardens, walking paths, lakes, outdoor concert venues, bicycle rental (including four-person family bikes), a water park, sports centre and petting zoo. You’ll also find thousands of locals enjoying the city’s green lung, especially on Saturday, the Sabbath.