The Ultimate Guide to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is the coolest city you’ll visit in Israel. It’s modern, vibrant, and full of character. It’s often referred to as the “White City” because of the color of Bauhaus architecture style buildings that dominate the cityscape.
Once you start wandering the streets of Tel Aviv, you won’t feel surrounded by white buildings. Street art is one of the main Tel Aviv attractions, aside from the beach. Yeah, you read that right.
The beach is a staple of Tel Aviv culture, and the climate of the city makes them a great place to spend your time no matter when you come. If you want to really experience what Israel has to offer, you can’t miss Tel Aviv. There are so many unique things to do in Tel Aviv, so it won’t take you long to fall in love.
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How to get to Tel Aviv
As tourism in Israel grows, flights are getting more affordable. If you are arriving from North America, it’s usually cheaper to fly into a major European hub and then take a connecting flight to Tel Aviv.
Ben Gurion International Airport is the only airport in Tel Aviv, but it’s actually located about 15 minutes outside of the city. Once you arrive, you can get to Tel Aviv via bus, train, or taxi.
Traveling by bus is really easy to do in Israel. In fact, public transportation is really developed as a whole in Israel. It’s important to know which station your bus will arrive at because some busses will stop at the Arlozorov Terminal instead of going to Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station.
The train is another very affordable option for arriving in Tel Aviv. All of the major cities in Jerusalem have train stations that can be easily navigated by foreigners. The train is also a great option for arriving from Ben Gurion International Airport to the city of Tel Aviv itself.
What to expect in Tel Aviv
Fortunately, English is one of the most common languages of Israel. This makes it much easier to navigate the country independently. Tel Aviv attractions typically have information for English speakers, but you will also find most street names and official signs have English translations.
Hebrew is the official language of the country, and you’ll hear it spoken everywhere. However, English is the second most spoken language in the country.
Also, Israelis are very helpful people. If you ever are lost, don’t hesitate to approach someone and ask for some assistance.
The official currency of Israel is the New Israeli Shekel, abbreviated NIS. There are ATMs available all over the place, and you can also use credit cards at restaurants, hotels, and other businesses.
Tel Aviv is a pretty expenvie place, but there are plenty of free things to do in Tel Aviv that you will want to take advantage of if you want to save money.
Tips are common in Tel Aviv, and most waiters and waitresses expect between 10% to 15% of the bill’s total. At some places the tip will be added onto the bill beforehand. You don’t need to worry about tipping anywhere outside of restaurants or bars.
How to get around Tel Aviv
Fortunate for locals and travelers alike, there are many different, affordable ways to get around Tel Aviv. Public transportation will help you arrive at all of the things to see in Tel Aviv.
One of my favorite ways to get around the city is the short-term bike rental program Tel-o-fun. There are stations all around the city and the bikes are available at all hours of the day. The bus is the most common form of transportation in the city.
You can purchase your ticket at central bus stations in the city or once you board the bus itself. If you need directions or are confused on which bus to take, don’t hesitate to ask the locals.
You can also use trains for the longer trips you have to make in or out of the city. In fact, the train is the most efficient way to arrive in Tel Aviv’s center from the airport.
Be sure to plan your trip accordingly, as the train does stop running on Friday night until Saturday night in observance of Shabbat.
Finally, you can use taxis or Uber in Tel Aviv. If you plan on using this option every time you want to visit Tel Aviv attractions, you’ll want to budget much more for your trip.
The best time to visit Tel Aviv
The weather in Tel Aviv does change fairly drastically throughout the year. The best months to visit are March, April, October, and November when temperatures are much cooler.
However, the summer months of May, June, July, and August are the best if you want to spend your time enjoying Tel Aviv’s beaches.
The winter months are not nearly as cold as they are in Europe, which is why many Europeans will come to visit Tel Aviv during those months.
While the average temperature of the winter hovers around 18 degrees Celsius, you’ll want to plan for a lot of rain during your visit if you come during those months.
Things to do in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv Beaches
Tel Aviv is one of the few major cities in the world that has a lively beach scene. Gordon Beach, Frishman, and Bograshov are the most popular beaches in the city, and deserve to be visited to see the magnitude of the city’s love for the beach.
Aside from the massive beaches though, there really is a beach for everyone in the city. For example, Jaffa beach is much more relaxed, but has massive waves that surfers desire.
There is also a gay beach wheer everyone is welcome. Metzitzim is a great beach for families because the water is much shallower and lifeguards are more vigilant.
Finally, a trip to the beach in Tel Aviv is not complete without playing matkot. This game, which resembles squash mixed with tennis, is heard all over the beaches of Tel Aviv. Be sure to rent yourself some paddles and a ball to enjoy it in the same manner as locals!
Visit Local Markets
Walking around an Israeli market is an intense experience. You’ll see plenty of things that you’ve never seen before, along with tons of food you can’t help but try. In Israel, markets aren’t just for fresh produce.
You’ll find everything being sold here, antiques, clothing, flowers, and much more. Jaffa Flea Market is a place to go if you want to see people haggle. This place has all sorts of antiques and home decor that make great souvenirs from your trip.
Sarona Market is Tel Aviv’s largest indoor culinary market. If you want to sample some new foods in Tel Aviv, Sarona Market is where you will want to spend multiple meals.
It’s like a food court, so if you come with friends you can sample tons of different dishes. For fresh produce or other food products, Carmel Market is the best spot.
Historical Things to do in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv may not have the ancient history of Jerusalem, but it still is a great place to dive into history and culture. Just simple walking around, you’ll recognize the buildings to be unique. This is because Bauhaus architecture became really popular in the city during the 1930s.
In fact, Tel Aviv has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the prominence of the style and it’s impact on the country.
Another historical place to visit is Rabin square, named after the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was assassinated in the square in 1995 after a rally to celebrate the Oslo Accords.
This really was one of the first events to spark major violence surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict runs very historically deep, but there Tel Aviv is a good place to dive into it and try to understand both sides of the issue.
The city also is home to the Eretz Israel Museum. It’s one of the most impressive museums in the city where you can spend a whole day learning about Jewish history. Culture and history go hand in hand in Tel Aviv, and you will learn so much history by simply immersing yourself in Israel.
Although a large part of Tel Aviv’s population is very religious, there are still plenty of fun things to do in Tel Aviv at night. In fact, Tel Aviv’s club scene is one of the most renown in the entire world.
If you really want to have a good night out, try and sign yourself up for a Pub crawl led by locals. Tel Aviv Port and Lev Ha’ir are two of the best neighborhoods in the city for a night out.
Places to visit in Tel Aviv
Eretz Israel Museum
The Eretz Israel Museum is a comprehensive display of Jewish culture and history. Each pavilion of the museum is dedicated to a different archaeological subject.
If you have visited or plan on visiting Jerusalem during your time in Israel, this museum helps build context around all of the sites to experience there.
This is one of the most impressive Israel Museums in the world, and you don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the history.
Rothschild Boulevard is the principal street in the city of Tel Aviv. It’s a financial center, a culture center, and a commercial center. It’s also one of the oldest streets in the entire city.
Walking down this massive boulevard is a great way to spend the afternoon. Be sure to stop at one of the cafés or restaurants on Rothschild Boulevard or some of the side streets to take a break on your walk. You’ll need it!
This market is another main Tel Aviv attraction, and it is really emblematic of the city. It’s located right in the center of the city near Neve Tzedek.
So if you’re staying in the neighborhood, you can come hear to stock up on some fresh produce. The market doesn’t just sell produce however. If you’re looking for an ingredient or food to try, chances are you’ll be able to find it here.
Going to Old Jaffa feels like time travel. In fact, this area of Tel Aviv is often referred to as the Old City. This historic, walled neighborhood is home to art galleries, historic buildings, and the Jaffa Flea Market.
Old Jaffa meets the Mediterranean Sea at Jaffa Port, one of the oldest ports in the entire world. Old Jaffa is for true history buffs.
There is not only biblical history rich at this area of Tel Aviv, but also stories of Greek mythology take place on the port.
Jaffa Tales is an interactive tour that explores the history of Jaffa. If you really want to get the most out of this neighborhood, be sure to speak to locals or book a tour.
Chances are this will be the first neighborhood recommended to you when visiting Tel Aviv. The history of this neighborhood is rich, but it was recently renovated.
Shabazi Street is the main street to wander down in this area filled with boutiques, craft stores, and quaint cafés.
Neve Tzedek is full of character and is a true Tel Aviv experience. It’s also very centrally located, making it one of the most convenient places to stay in the city.
Spending time in Park Hayarkon is one of the romantic things to do in Tel Aviv. However, you don’t have to come here with a significant other to enjoy the green space.
Located in the northern part of the city, visitors to the park have the opportunity to see a side of Tel Aviv that they may not have seen otherwise.
The Yarkon River flows through the middle of the park, but there are also many other things to see. I highly recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens or Aviary in order to have an intimate experience with nature in one of the world’s coolest cities.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Come spend a few hours here if you a fan of art. It’s the largest art museum in the city and arguably the best in the entire country.
There are works by Dali, Picasso, Monet, and Cezanne housed here! Many of the exhibits showcase social and political commentary, making you a more informed Tel Aviv visitor.
The museum also talks a lot about the architecture of the city. Make this place one of your first stops in Tel Aviv!
What to eat in Tel Aviv
The Israeli cuisine is hands-down one of the best reasons to travel to Tel Aviv. No matter what or where you eat, you can be guaranteed that the food is fresh.
There are incredible restaurants that serve authentic Israeli food, street stands with falafal and kebabs, and large markets where you can stock up on fresh produce.
The cuisine is a blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, but has deep roots in the Jewish culture as well.
Things like hummus, couscous, falafel, kebabs, and shakshouka are very common. No matter what you are eating, bread typically accompanies the meal.
It’s a misconception to think that all of the food you eat in Israel will be kosher. While you will see more kosher food here than any other place in the world, you will also see tons of places that don’t abide by the religious rules. For dessert, be sure to try kanafeh, a sweet cheese pastry.
Where to stay in Tel Aviv
Neve Tzedek – Neve Tzedek is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the Tel Aviv, but also is one of the most hip. You’ll feel at home here among the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways. It’s one of the more expensive areas in the city, but definitely worth shelling out for.
Many of the Tel Aviv attractions are a very short distance away and some of the best restaurants in the city are within the neighborhood boundaries. There are a lot of small boutique hotels in the neighborhood where you will feel right at home.
The Beach Strip – If you plan to stay in a larger hotel in Tel Aviv, come to the Beach Strip. There are plenty of 4 and 5 star hotels here, along with smaller, more affordable hotels.
If you plan to spend a lot of your time in Tel Aviv at the beach, this is the place for you. The downside to staying here is the commute you will have to make to get to other more popular neighborhoods in the city.
Flortentin – Florentin is where all the Tel Aviv hipsters hang out. 25 years ago this area of the city was completely transformed. What used to be a massive, industrial center of the city suddenly became a haven for artists.
The neighborhood is a bit grungy but is home to culture in Tel Aviv. If you are planning to spend longer than a week in the city, I recommend staying here.
Lev Ha’ir – In Hebrew, Lev Ha’ir translates to ‘heart of the city’. This neighborhood is a great place to stay for those who don’t plan on spending much time at their hotel. It’s filled with things to do, and you will never get bored wandering the streets.
Rothschild Boulevard splits the neighborhood also and is one of my favorite places to explore in Tel Aviv. If you’re an architecture nut and want to experience the best of the Bauhaus style, stay here!
Tours to do in Tel Aviv
This is really the most comprehensive tour of Tel Aviv. You’ll venture in some of the most popular neighborhoods in the city all while learning about the history of the city. Truly a must for those who want to be informed!
Tel Aviv Street Art and Graffiti Tour
While the Tel Aviv City Tour is for those who want to see the main sights of the city, this tour is more for those who want to explore the nooks and crannies.
Graffiti in Tel Aviv often has a political or social message behind it, but you may not be able to interpret it without a tour guide. After this tour, you’ll always be much more attentive to the street art in the city.
Rothschild Boulevard Pub Crawl
Experience nightlife like a local with this tour. It’s a great way to meet locals and other travelers alike. Rothschild Boulevard is much denser than it may appear, and taking a tour is the best way to get to know this famous street.
Day trips from Tel Aviv
One benefit of visiting Tel Aviv is the number of day trips that are possible to do from the city. Jerusalem is only an hour away, making it one of the more popular day trips to do.
Netanya is a resort city in central Israel that is also a nice place to spend the day. The beaches here tend to be better than those in Tel Aviv. There is also some interesting history to dive into in Netanya.
Masada and the Dead Sea is the most popular tour that people do when visiting Tel Aviv. Both of these places are among the most impressive sights in Israel, and both can be visited on the same day.
Finally, biblical buffs will find so many different places that hold religious significance near the city. You’ll never feel bored in Tel Aviv, but if you do, there are also so many places outside of the city for you to see.
- Recommend budget tours in Tel Aviv
- 7-Night Israel Highlights and Biblical Tour: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee and Optional Dead Sea Day Trip
- Golan Heights Day Trip from Tel Aviv
- 3 Day Jordan, Petra & Wadi Rum Tour from Tel Aviv
- Day Tour to Jerusalem and Bethlehem from Tel Aviv
- Tel Aviv and Jaffa Private Tour
- Full-Day Tel Aviv City Tour
- Self Guided Sunrise Masada, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and Dead Sea Tour from Tel Aviv
- Masada and Dead Sea Tour from Tel Aviv
- Jericho, Jordan River, Mt. Temptation, and Dead Sea Tour from Tel Aviv
- Vegan Food Tour Through Tel Aviv
- Tel Aviv Street Art & Graffiti Tour
- Pub crawl Rothschild blvd
- Nazareth, Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee Day Trip from Tel Aviv
- Jerusalem Half-Day Tour from Tel Aviv: Dome of the Rock and Western Wall
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