After Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is the second most populous city of Israel. Tel Aviv has a completely different vibe than the country’s capital. Tel Aviv is one of the most vibrant cities I have ever been to. A world-class nightlife, excellent cuisine, bustling culture and 14km (9 mi) of gorgeous beaches! Tel Aviv is liberal, social, cool and hip. In this article I will share 10 exciting things to do and see in Tel Aviv – an absolute must-see metropolis by the Mediterranean Sea.
Often Tel Aviv gets nicknamed White City, which name actually refers to a collection of >4,000 1930s Bauhaus style buildings in the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1: Eat delicious food
The Israeli kitchen has a lot to offer and it was at least as good as I imagined. A unique mix of spices and other ingredients makes Israeli food outstanding and tasty.Most restaurants in Tel Aviv are sophisticated and definitely not cheap. Going out for dinner can easily cost you 50-100 euro pp here. A few suggestions.
We very much enjoyed the atmosphere, terrace seating and mouthwatering small dishes at Santa Katarina. It is tucked behind the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv. We spent ILS 730 (EUR 191) for dinner for two people, but it was worth every shekel.
Eggs Benedict with avocado and hummus is a must-eat at Benedict – for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Pastel brasserie style, with indoor and outdoor seating, very centrally located on Allenby St.
Dok is the healthy sister of Hachim, on the other side of town. Small restaurant with many healthy veggie dinner options. Lot of local products are used, like cheese from farmers just outside the city. You can see the kitchen staff do the dishes. Open bar and small tables on the sidewalk. Our dinner at Dok was ± ILS 400 for two people, but less good than the earlier mentioned Santa Katarina.
Heading more south, Saluf & Sons is a small trendy restaurant near Levinsky Market in Florentine that serves Israeli Yemeni food. It was fully packed when we arrived for lunch. Simple food, young audience, indoor seating. Come in early or make reservations for lunch or dinner.
Riding around with our e-bikes through the gorgeous Jaffa, Basma Coffee was a lucky find we ran (or should I say cycled) into. Delicious hummus, salads, drinks, etc. Friendly staff. Seating in and outdoors. Located opposite the Smiling Whale and the fascinating Ilana Goor Museum.
For the locations of the above mentioned restaurants and more suggestions see the map below.
2: Drink cocktails at rooftop bars
Tel Aviv is known for its fantastic nightlife, which can easily compete with a metropolitan city like Barcelona or New York City. A major difference is that the nightlife in Tel Aviv takes place mainly during the week, or at least outside of Shabbat (Fri-Sat). So for example people go out on Thursday night or Sunday instead. But also Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday you will find numerous bars and clubs here open till late.
During our stay in Tel Aviv we visited many rooftop bars. See also the separate category for rooftops, clubs and bars in the map below for a list. We liked for example Poli House Hotel Bar with its panoramic modern style rooftop bar right next to Carmel Market. The menu includes a wide range of cocktails served by professional shakers and there is a pool!
Suramare was definitely our favorite rooftop bar in Tel Aviv. Excellent cocktails made right in front of you at the bar and delicious food! Yummy fish taco for example. Unique setting with a big olive tree in the middle and a fabulous city view. Don’t let the strange garage entrance downstairs scare you off. This place rocks! Cocktails ILS 55.
Brown TLV at Kalisher St. has a rooftop sundeck with lounge beds, comfy seating areas, a Jacuzzi tub and an open air rooftop bar with a fantastic city view. Caution: the rooftop bar is mostly open in summer and sometimes closed for private parties. So you might want to call in advance to check.
3: Hit the beach
The coast line along Tel Aviv is split in about 15 different beaches, which each their own unique atmosphere and audience. Some top beaches include: Hilton Beach, Gordon Beach, Bograshov Beach and Banana Beach. Hilton Beach for instance, named after the Hilton Hotel located at this part of the beach, is gay friendly and popular with water sports lovers. At Nordau Beach there are separate men and women days.
There are many beach bars which offer drinks, food and a great sunset view. On our last day we had lunch at La Mer on the edges of Bagrashov Beach and Frishman Beach. There are toilets and you can rent lockers and beach equipment here. For the equipment (like sunbeds) you can pay at machine with coins, bills or credit card. Ride your bicycle along the beach via the Shlomo Lahat Promenade. There are gorgeous view points!
The coastal waters of Tel Aviv are also popular for surfing, should the wind blow in the right direction. You can watch them from the beach or go surfing yourself?! We saw several short board surfers who hit the waves at Alma Beach and Charles Clore Beach. For locations see the map below.
4: Go wine tasting near Tel Aviv
With pretty much 365 days of sunshine, Israel has great circumstances for vineyards. Since biblical times wine has been produced on Israeli soil. Nowadays there are hundreds of wineries in Israel. We visited Bravdo Winery, which is one of the few wineries in the proximity of Tel Aviv.
Bravdo has excellent wines, based on a combination of science and passion, and is – as far as I could find – the most reasonably priced winery to visit from Tel Aviv without having your own car. In short: the wine and the time we spend here was great! I hope to find time to write a separate, more extensive article about it soon. Lovely people, highly recommended for wine tasting in vineyard.
Bravdo Winery is located in the triangle of the 6, 44 and 3 roads, accessible from the dirt road opposite Mata Zeitaim Karmei Yosef at the 44. The visitor center is opened every Friday from 11:00-14:00 for tastings and tours. ILS 50 pp. On other days you can get at 11:00h five wine tastings, with some bread, olives, olive oil and a platter of cheese for ILS 120 pp. Or start at another time as agreed; we got here at 12:30h, they close at 15:00h.
Please make reservations in advance. At the end of the wine tasting you can buy bottles of the wine that you liked. Cards accepted. Gett Taxi costs app ILS 120 (EUR 55, 35 min) one way from Allenby St in central Tel Aviv to Bravdo Winery. Better ask the winery to arrange a taxi back to Tel Aviv.
5: Admire the street art
Tel Aviv has quite a big street art scene. Especially the neighborhood Florentine, between the center of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, is known for its concentration of good street art. We enjoyed looking for it. There are a number of particular streets that are full of graffiti, some prettier than others I must say. If you like street art then you should definitely check out these streets and surroundings:
- Tsrifin St.
- Ha-Masor St.
- Ha’Shakh St.
- Hayyim Abul’Afya St.
- Shalma Rod.
This 1.5 hour Street Art Tour will bring you to places you would probably not be able to find yourself, and tell the stories behind the graffiti. Very interesting! You will explore either Florentine or Nahalat Binyamin, another colorful area of Tel Aviv. The small yet characteristic Levinsky Cafe 41 is often a logical starting point for guided tours.
Tel Aviv reminded me a bit of Barcelona – another vibrant, Mediterranean city. Tel Aviv feels more special though.
6: Rent an e-bike or e-step
Renting an e-bike is definitely a good idea in Tel Aviv. Especially when you plan to cycle through Jaffa, which is hilly. Or for example when you want to go all the way through Ganei Yehoshua Park HaYarkon, Tel Aviv’s largest park on the north side of the city. We did both and enjoyed it very much. It felt like an adventure to explore these depths of Tel Aviv, although the park was barren in October.
You can rent regular bicycles from secured bicycle stands out on the streets. Or search for a Tel Aviv-Yavo Bike Rentals machine. However, we wanted to rent e-bikes, which we did via Pole Position at Ben Yehuda 13. ILS 100 per e-bike for a full day (10:00-19:00h) or ILS 140 for the first 24 hours, and then ILS 20 for every extra hour or ILS 630 per week. Helmets will be provided by Pole Position.
Use your rental e-bike to explore the city. Rothschild Boulevard, Shlomo Lahat Promenade, squares, Bauhaus style buildings… See map below for highlights and other suggestions.
When visiting Tel Aviv, you will without a doubt encounter e-steps throughout the city, especially around Rothschild Boulevard. These e-steps in Tel Aviv are mainly from Lime, an e-steps specialized company from California I wrote earlier about in this article about Prague. Renting a Lime e-step works via the Lime app. Besides there are other e-step rental companies active in Tel Aviv, such as Bird and Wind.
Renting an e-step is very hip and happening in Tel Aviv, but be careful and smart. Get yourself a bike helmet to ride safely, for example from Decathlon. Helmet prices start around ILS 38 for adult (± EUR10). Warning for tall people: the bicycles in Tel Aviv tend to be small. And don’t forget to lock your bike!
Feel like a local riding a bike or e-steps on Rothschild Boulevard, the tree-lined big boulevard of Tel Aviv. There are also hammocks and boules courts at Rothschild BLVD!
7: Take Israeli cooking class
When making plans to finally visit Tel Aviv, I knew one thing for sure: I wanted to do an Israeli cooking class. Several top chefs come from Israel and Israeli food has a high reputation world-wide.
Two great options for cooking class in Tel Aviv at different price levels, both in an international group of people from all over the world:
1. Learn how to cook and then dine Israeli classic dishes like hummus and fatoush at a local’s home. Anat hosts classes and dinners at her cozy home in northern Tel Aviv. EUR 84 pp including cooking class, dinner and wine. Reserve in time, possible few times a month, also Shabbat dinner possibilities.
2. Join group cooking class and dinner at the communal kitchen of Abraham Hotel Tel Aviv. Not the homey setting as the 1st option, but at least as sociable, fun and a lot cheaper. Learn how to make the oven-roasted tomato-based egg dish Shakshuka. EUR 20 pp including cooking class and dinner, excluding drinks. Book this cooking class now.
Read more about my cooking class experience in the earlier article The 3 most memorable cooking classes around the world. By the way, the hummus in Israel tends to include a lot more tahini than I was used to in other Middle Eastern countries that I visited. Tahini is a beige colored pasta made from sesame seed and oil, Israeli love it!
8: Stroll around the market
Tel Aviv has several markets that are worth visiting. Already for the delicious street food, fresh fruit and juices. But also for cheap souvenirs, spices, sweets, clothes, art, etc. That beyond delicious so-called ‘sabich cigar’, a fried snack filled with egg, eggplant and potato, made us come back to Carmel Market over and over again LOL Yum! Carmel Market is the most well-known market, but not the biggest of Tel Aviv.
Try out your bargaining skills in the market, it is very common in Israeli markets to negotiate the price.
Markets in the center of Tel Aviv you may want to explore:
- Carmel Market (Shuk HaCarmel)
- Nachalat Binyamin Art Market (Tue & Fri)
- Levinsky Spice Market (daily)
- Jaffa’s Flea Market Shuk Hapishpishim (best before Shabbat)
- Sarona Market
- Greek Market (Jaffa)
- Tel Aviv Port Market Shuk HaNamal (covered, weekends busy)
This guided Street Food Experience will take you to in 2.5 hours on a journey of tastes. Try all kinds of authentic local dishes and drinks in unique areas of Tel Aviv. Visit Nachalat Binyamin Art Market, the Kibbutz-vibe Yemenite Quarter and the famous Carmel Market together with an expert guide who knows all the best picks and will tell you stories you would otherwise miss out on. Available on Sundays and Wednesdays at 11:00 am. I will share many more market pics on my Instagram account!
9: Explore Jaffa
Mentioned a few times already in this article (and the Bible), Jaffa (Hebrew: Yafo) is a special neighborhood you should definitely explore when visiting Tel Aviv. Jaffa has a long history that started more than 3800 years ago. Most famous for its port, flea market and unique historical atmosphere. Also on Saturday (Shabbat) Jaffa is open!
Most people will enter Jaffa at the Clock Square with its distinctive clock tower. Wander the Jaffa Flea Market and nearby art & design shops for art, antiques, furniture, carpets, records, lamps, etc. The red St Peter’s Church with its bell tower is a pretty sight. Great view from Ramses’ Gate. The Ilana Goor Museum is worth seeing, already on the outside, an 18th-century Ottoman building. Wander the cozy alleys of Old Jaffa.
This Tel Aviv Jaffa Guided Bike Tour comes highly recommended. Definitely to make a pit-stop for a picture on the pretty steps at Kikar Kedumim Street. Getting a refreshing drink and some food at Basma Coffee (see #1 above) is also a good idea, just opposite the Smiling Whale. Raisa, Cafe Puaa and surroundings form also an excellent spot for lunch, dinner, drinks and people watching (for location see map below). Enjoy the sunset from the stone steps of Jaffa Beach.
10: More to see
Next time I would like to take more time to explore the artsy Neve Tzedek neighborhood and its cozy alleys and art galleries. And discover Sarona, a small area in Tel Aviv that used to be a German colony. In addition, I’d like to visit the interesting Eretz Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Bialik House.
So much to see, so little time… Four days is definitely too short to do and see everything. But at least a good start to get a taste of the vibrant Tel Aviv!
Another city I’d like to visit in Israel is Haifa, about 95 km north of Tel Aviv. To visit the Haifa Steps, Baha’i Gardens, Stella Maris Monastery and the nearby Carmel Mountain National Park for instance. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to visit Haifa on this trip, but it’s on the to-do- list for sure.
Map Tel Aviv
This map includes places and spots mentioned in this article (and more). This one is ‘smartphone friendly’; you can easily use it via the Google Maps app. Click the icon at the top left to open the menu and see the categories. To adapt the map to your own preferences and interests, (de)select a category. Via Google Drive you can copy the map to your own My Google Maps account.
Itinerary Tel Aviv 4-day visit
Nothing carved in stone and not necessarily in this order. Just to give you an idea of what to do when in Tel Aviv during 4 days (Sun-Wed). Enjoy yourself in the vibrant Tel Aviv!
- Flight to Tel Aviv and check-in accommodation (see below Where to stay)
- Discover Rothschild Boulevard, Allenby Street and surroundings on foot or e-steps
- Grab a cocktail at Poli House Hotel Bar for sunset
- Take cooking class with dinner (see #7 above)
- Visit Carmel Market on your own or join the Local Food Experience Tour
- Take the Tel Aviv Jaffa Guided Bike Tour or rent a bike yourself
- Cycle southwards on the Shlomo Lahat Promenade and explore Jaffa in the afternoon
- Dinner at Santa Katarina (see #1 above, make reservations in advance)
- Explore some rooftop bars for drinks/snacks before and/or after dinner (see #2 above)
- If you have a rental e-bike, explore Ganei Yehoshua Park HaYarkon in the morning
- Grab a taxi to Bravdo Winery for wine tasting (12:30-15:00h, make reservations in advance)
- If you did not visit Carmel Market yesterday or want to re-visit, grab your chance
- Dinner at for example Dok, Suramare or another restaurant of your choice (see #1 and map)
- Explore some rooftop bars before/for/after dinner (see #2 above)
- Visit Levinsky Spice Market and have (an early) lunch at Saluf & Sons
- Explore the street art of Florentine with guided Tel Aviv Graffiti Tour or own your own
- Go to the beach and enjoy some food/drinks at La Mer for example (see #3 above)
- Flight back home or continue your Israel trip to Jerusalem
How to get around Tel Aviv
From Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) you can easily travel by train to the city center of Tel Aviv. Buy a RavKav Card with sufficient credit at the airport before hopping on the train to the city. For more information on the RavKav Card and getting around see also my earlier article about Jerusalem. Please take into account that the trains do not ride during Shabbat (Friday afternoon til Saturday evening).
Get off the train at the train station nearest to your accommodation, such as Tel Aviv Ha’Hagana (one way ILS 13.50). Order a Gett Taxi via the app on your smartphone from there to your accommodation. Pricier but also more convenient is booking in advance a transfer from the airport to your accommodation or taxi (± ILS 120 one way).
In Tel Aviv you can easily get around on foot, by e-bike or e-steps (see #6 above), by Gett Taxi or public bus ride. For public transport like bus, tram and train you can use your RavKav Card, also for the train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There is also a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (line 405, ca 60 min, ILS 16, 6th floor mall). Traveling around by rental car could also be an option – if you have a driver’s license.
Where to stay in Tel Aviv
If you are going to Tel Aviv, I would strongly recommend staying at one of the fantastic Brown Hotels. They’re all great! There are also several excellent boutique hotels in central Tel Aviv, such as Fabric Hotel – an Atlas Boutique Hotel, Hotel Montefiore and The Norman. If you can afford it…
An apartment like Allenby 106 offers not only lots of privacy, stylish décor and a super central location. In addition, you also get a nice comfortable bed, spacious bathroom, small seating area with couch (or extra bed possibility) and – not unimportant – very reasonably priced for Tel Aviv.
When to visit Tel Aviv
We visited Israel end of October till early November, which temperature wise (ca 20°C) was great timing to do a lot of things. If you want to hit the beach for multiple days, I’d recommend late April, May, early June, September or early October.
The wine harvesting is already in August, so if you want to see that you should come in summer, although it can be quite hot in Israel that time of year. My parents went on their honeymoon to Israel in July and it was every day above 40°C, so not the best temperature for sightseeing. But that’s personal of course.
Tel Aviv means ‘Hill of Spring’ in Hebrew, the main language spoken in Israel.
When planning a trip, always take into account national holidays in Israel. For example Pesach, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur, Feast of Tabernacles, Simchat Torah, etc. Most of them are in April, September and October. On those days it is usually difficult to travel from A to B due to shut down of public transport and taxis charge double tariff. Google for a complete list and dates for the year you wish to go.
Also take into account Shabbat. From Friday sunset till Saturday sunset public life comes to a – more or less – standstill, restaurants close, etc. I would not recommend to avoid it if you want to travel around Israel, but to plan smart to get the most out of your trip. Just coming to Israel for a couple of days and planping to visit Tel Aviv only? Then I would suggest to plan to arrive after Shabbat (Sunday or later) and leave before Shabbat starts again (Friday).
For tips on spending Shabbat in Jerusalem, how to get to Israel and from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, renting a car, etc. see my earlier article Jerusalem: 10 things to see in the old city for a cultural journey.
Safety in Tel Aviv
We felt very safe in Tel Aviv together and solo in Jerusalem and surroundings. We (two females) felt perfectly fine to walk out on the streets at night. Don’t drink too much, especially when you travel solo.
Reality shows that there are bombings and such in Israel once and awhile. Two weeks after we arrived back home, a rocket was fired from Gaza on an Israeli highway that nearly killed a couple who was driving there in a car. Violence can happen any moment here. There is quite some security present, especially at the airport, train stations, etc. Enjoy yourself, but always stay aware of your surroundings. Carry your passport and embassy’s phone number with you at all times.
In case of a series of violent incidents occur in Israel, the security level rises. Then the chance that the travel advice from your Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives a negative travel advice for Israel also increases. Because of the short term nature of such situation, it is always smart to keep your travel plans and bookings for Israel as flexible as possible. I booked my Israel trip with the Dutch travel agency Travel Counsellor Jennie Visser. She is always ready to support in case something happens and/or re-arrangements need to be made change due to circumstances.
Tel Aviv vs. Jerusalem
Looking back, I think what makes Tel Aviv such a special and enjoyable place to me, is that it offers so many things that I love doing. The amazing culinary scene, nightlife, beaches, vineyards nearby, cycling, sunny weather, architecture… What more could you wish for? Tel Aviv might not have the great number of historical sights like Jerusalem has. But Tel Aviv has that vibrant, liberal atmosphere that I like. Jerusalem was impressive, but Tel Aviv stole my heart. It was even more fun than I could have imagined. Obviously that had to do with the great company (my friend Mirjam) as well. Take me back please!
Have you ever been to Tel Aviv or do you have plans to visit? I hope to have made you excited and inspired you to do so. Tel Aviv is a wonderful, vibrant city that I hope to re-visit and enjoy very soon. Do you have a 10th recommendation of things to do in Tel Aviv? Please share your experience or ask a question you might have via below comment box and I’ll reply a.s.a.p.
Interested to read more about Israel? Check out the Israel Blog Archive!
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Last Updated on 04/05/2021 by Elisa Flitter Fever