Red umbrellas, beachside bars and restaurants line the white sands of the Mediterranean. Tanned, young Tel Avivian men purposefully hit their paddleball in the direction of the topless sunbathers. Tunes blast chaotically from countless different speakers—a muddled mash-up of Arabic, Hebrew and American 80’s classics. As I cross the street to the beach, horns honk unremittingly through the clamorous city traffic and motorcycles weave through the narrow gap between cars. Modernized five-star resorts tower in the distance and baroque night clubs intermingle with tin sheet roofs and crumbling, graffiti-adorned walls.
Tel Aviv has evolved into a global metropolitan with food and fare from cultures all over the world. Beach bars and night clubs imbue a Miami feel in the “party city that never sleeps.” The modern Chelsea Market-type culinary innovations and Central Park-like running trails invite the sense of a stroll though New York City. First-time tourists exclaim, “This looks nothing like the Israel you see on T.V.!” As Israel is featured in its violence, not in Tel Aviv’s progressive art, culinary culture, and unique history. For those headed to Israel, consider this your guide to discovering Tel Aviv!
First order of business? To eat hummus, of course!
Though claiming a “best hummus” is nearly as controversial as West Bank policy, Hummus Asli off Dizengoff St. has our vote. Don’t judge the quality of the food by the hole-in-the-wall location. Hummus is taken seriously in Israel, and Asli does it right.
Take time to relax on the Mezizim Beach.
Mezizim Beach, in northern Tel Aviv, offers beachside bars, volleyball courts, soccer fields and beach umbrellas and chairs for an optimum seaside relaxation. It’s said that Tel Aviv never sleeps and at Mezizim Beach you’ll find folks out playing beach volleyball until 2 or 3 a.m!
Stay at the new Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv.
Opening this month, Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv is a branch from the original Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem. Abraham Tel Aviv is located at Rothschild and Levontin—the cool “up-and-coming” area of Tel Aviv. The lounge hosts a stage with weekly events, open mic nights, a tap bar and trivia. Pub crawls will sample Tel Aviv’s greatest nightlife spots and each Friday night, Abraham Hostel hosts Shabbat dinner where the guests all chip in to cook the traditional Israeli foods and partake in the Sabbath traditions. Guided tours are offered to guests or other travelers not staying with the hostel to Masada, Petra, the Negev Desert, and more.
Stay fit & sweat it out at Yarkon Park.
A river runs through Yarkon’s Central Park-like green space, serving as Tel Aviv’s picnic mecca. Pack some fresh fruit from the markets, a blanket and enjoy. This lively hotspot is in action 24-hours/day with endless running trails, pick-up soccer games, competitive basketball, trampoline parks, paddle boat and bike rentals, work out facilities, and playgrounds. There are even skateboarding ramps, a climbing wall and a water park. The running trails culminate at the Mediterranean Sea and Port of Tel Aviv restaurants and shopping. Jog to the end of the Yarkon River to reward yourself with a drink on the beach.
Enjoy the nightlife of a “world’s best” party city
Buxa is voted Tel Aviv’s greatest dancing bar with a trendy hipster vibe. Underground house music, crowded dance floors, electric lights flashing from the low ceiling. The Block is a favorite night club, as well. Just looking for a drink? Check out the “secret” Jasper Bar: a classy, romantic speakeasy where the fun seems to last until 5 in the morning and the cocktails don’t disappoint.
Visit the colorful Jaffa Market!
Jaffa was conquered by the King of Egypt in 1500 B.C., used by King Solomon in 1000 B.C., and has held Grecian markets, Crusades conquests and British rule. Now Jaffa is unified with Tel Aviv as one municipal entity. The old limestone, cave-like dwellings have been converted to art displays and shops with a great flea market nearby. The Jaffa Flea Market is great for unique jewelry, kerosene lamps, and a wooden camel to bring home for mom. Dust off your haggling skills to get the best price. Fresh juice stands and falafel and shawarma joints sweeten the deal.
An affordable option to sample Israeli cuisine.
You won’t leave Tel Aviv with out your fair share of hummus, falafel, or shawarma. HaMiznon, our go-to Israeli cuisine eatery, is more than just the incredible pita-filled creations. Menus are handwritten on brown paper bags and music blares through the fast-paced food assembly chaos. If you’re over on your travel budget, the gratis self-serve pita bread and sides could fill you up alone. Try the lamb, steak, or vegetarian options. As for Israeli dessert? Stop by a bakery for a nice chocolate bobka or baklava And sample the halva from the markets. You’ll thank me later.
Shop the Sarona Markets.
The new Sarona Market takes the cake—a modernized replica of Chelsea Market in New York with any kind of global cuisine at your finger tips. Wine can be dispensed and sampled from the wall, Belgian waffles decked in ice creams and toppings, killer steak burgers, bold coffee, decadent eclairs, and countless other options. Though the older, traditional markets surely can’t be missed. Shuk HaCarmel, becoming trendy due to its proximity to the Neveh Tzedek area, has been serving Tel Aviv fresh produce, meat, spices, cheeses, and breads since before Israel was even a country.
Tips on getting around Tel Aviv.
Use the sherut 5 to get just about anywhere in Tel Aviv. A sherut is a large yellow van that serves as a shared taxi. On Shabbat (Saturday) buses don’t run but this sherut will. A large number “5” featured on the windshield will indicate the route. The sherut can hold up to 12 people and runs the standard bus fare (6-8 shekels per person). Flag down the sherut from any spot along the route, take a seat and pass the money up to the driver. Sherut taxis generally follow public bus routes within the city and are identified by numbers that signify their routes. Route 5 runs from Tel Aviv Central Bus Station through Rothschild and Dizengoff up to Weitzman St. The bus number 5 runs the same route but more slowly and crowded. Although the bus goes all the way to Arlozorov Train Station, the sherut does not.
And don’t miss…
Vitrina for burgers.
Chateau Shual for wine bar and decadent chocolate.
JAVA for coffee.
Shila for upscale seafood.
Taizu for world-class, unique Asian cuisine.
Kulialma for an underground half open Bar that hosts great D.J’s.
Container for seafood and live music on Friday afternoon.
The Barmitzva for a chill beer and tapas.
Benedict for a good brunch option.
Are you headed to Israel this year? Have you been to Tel Aviv before? Share your thoughts, comments and best Tel Aviv tips below!