Latest update: 8 August 2022
Tel Aviv is barely a century old. That’s crazy, right? Only Jaffa, the old city, has existed since about 7500 BC. Tel Aviv is the first modern Jewish city in the world. The vibe? Think Berlin, but with Ibiza prices. This blog gives you 7 Tel Aviv tips for the perfect city trip.
The many faces of Tel Aviv
I immediately notice that Tel Aviv is a city in development: there’s a lot of construction work, with many cranes and jetties. I love how different building styles are used. Tel Aviv’s architects clearly love diversity. You see diversity everywhere in Tel Aviv. The city is known for its Gay Pride and LGBTQ-friendly climate. There is a place for everyone in Tel Aviv, regardless of your sexual preference, religion, clothing, wallet, or hairstyle. And, with my 7 Tel Aviv tips, you’re guaranteed a diverse weekend getaway!
Tip 1 – Start with a city walk
My friends and I start our long weekend in Tel Aviv with a free city walk. It is free, but a tip is expected. The New Europe Tours Free Walking Tour lasts approximately two hours, including a break. You can pre-book the tour online. The guide takes us through Old Jaffa and explains the rich history, the orange cultivation of Jaffa, and much more. The group is way too big if you ask me. We are on the road with at least 30 people. You have to get close to the guide with the ambient noise everywhere.
So next time, I would go for a paid city walk, like the graffiti tour.
Tip 2 – Visit the beach
The city is right on the beach. A stretch of 14 kilometers is waiting for you. I find the beach on the Jaffa side mediocre (too crowded, surrounded by construction), so I prefer to go further north to the beach. Each part has its own name and character. There is a gay-friendly beach, a religious beach, a beach for dogs, and many more. I have to admit that I don’t really see the difference from the sidelines. But I am especially pleased with the wooden structures scattered here and there on the beach. A little shade is very welcome!
Tip 3 – Hip Florentin neighborhood in Tel Aviv
While most blogs recommend Neve Tzedek or Rothschild Boulevard, I prefer to send you to the Florentin neighborhood. Not that you should necessarily skip the other two though. I just like Florentin a little bit more. There are many chill outdoor cafes, it feels less touristy, and if you explore a seemingly insignificant street, you suddenly find yourself in a street art Walhalla.
Tip! Also check my blog with practical advice about your visit to Tel Aviv. It contains helpful information to learn before departure.
Tip 4 – Eating and drinking in Tel Aviv
There are small stands everywhere where you can get fresh juices or coffee. In Jaffa, you will also discover many streets full of outdoor cafes en restaurants. You can either have a proper meal or try many, many drinks. It doesn’t really matter which spot you choose. The outdoor seats are often quite packed, so just grab the first available table. It always works out well for us, both for food and drink. Be careful of the prices, though. Tel Aviv is anything but cheap. For a beer in a club, you unceremoniously pay 9 euros, and at a simple outdoor cafe, you almost always pay more than 10 euros for a cocktail. Also, keep in mind that there is an additional 10% tip!
Salt and tomato sauce
In Tel Aviv, I discover (again) that I am not a big fan of dishes with tomato sauce. I forgot about that because it’s pretty easy to avoid at home, and it’s not that I think it’s gross. But in Tel Aviv, everything seems to be made with tomato sauce, so I can’t see any tomato sauce anymore after a few days. I also apparently have less enthusiasm for salt than the average Israeli.
I do enjoy the food though! It doesn’t really matter where I go, because every terrace is hip and fun. The chefs are very creative with vegetables, for example, at restaurant Abraxas (reservations can be made via Facebook Messenger). I have one of the best meals at HaBasta. It is close to the Carmel Market and is less known among tourists.
That Carmel Market (we naively call it Camel Market the first few days until someone discovered the ‘r’) is the largest market in Tel Aviv. You will find everything from sneakers to spices and from fruit to bikes. Unfortunately, it can get swamped, so I visit one of the nearby terraces to escape the crowds. Yom Tov is very nice and has delicious food, and Hamitbahon also has an excellent extensive menu and a beautiful overgrown terrace.
Shakshuka on doctor’s prescription
A mandatory stop is Dr. Shakshuka. You can eat shakshuka, which you see more and more on Dutch menus nowadays too. It contains tomatoes, garlic, egg, and spices, and it’s considered breakfast. That’s a bit too intense for us, so we make it a brunch.
Abu Hassan is the place to go for hummus. In Israel, you eat hummus in a hummus bar, not in a restaurant. Abu Hassan has made it to the number one the best hummus bar in Israel on many lists. Don’t expect a cozy atmosphere, friendly waiters, or beautifully prepared plates. It’s a madhouse. The staff talks loudly (or yells) and ‘throws’ the dishes on the table. People yell at each other over the plastic tables and chairs. You come here for a quick hummus bite and then catch your breath at cafe Alma next door.
Google Maps location Abu Hassan
Drinks and music
Would you like to drink some beers later in the evening? Then go to Teder FM, a vibrant courtyard. If you are still hungry, they have huge pizzas here. Also, there is regularly a DJ playing records. Super chill place if you ask me!
Tip 5 – Antique shopping in Tel Aviv
In Jaffa, on and around Olei Zion Street, there are dozens of antique shops. Great for a morning stroll. The shops open from ten o’clock onwards. There is also a small flea market daily. Especially on the flea market, they sell a lot of junk, but who knows, you might find something special.
Tip 6: Cycling in Tel Aviv
In theory, everything is within walking distance in Tel Aviv. However, in practice, the green bicycles are a better option. Tel-O-Fun is the name of the shared green bicycles. The parking facilities are in various places in the city. In total, there are 2,000 green bicycles in the city. There is a pole at each parking facility to buy a day ticket, 3-day ticket, or week ticket. This is a kind of starting rate. You then pay per use, but if you put your bike back in a Tel-O-Fun shed within half an hour, you don’t pay extra costs. Challenge accepted! Just find out where all the bike parkings are.
In most places, you cycle on the sidewalk. I’m not fond of that very much myself, but there is no other way with cars that are not used to cyclists on the street. There is a good cycle path along the beach. Would you rather do a bike tour? That is also possible, for example, with Baja Bikes.
Tip 7 – Day in Jerusalem
From Tel Aviv, a day trip to Jerusalem is within reach. The travel time is between an hour and an hour and a half, so you have plenty of time to visit the highlights of Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem is so different from Tel Aviv, I think it’s definitely worth planning a day for a visit.
Where to stay in Tel Aviv
My friends and I chose a lovely Airbnb in Jaffa. But unfortunately, it is no longer available. So start your search at Booking.com
More Israel inspiration?
Useful links for your Israel trip
- Travel guides. I recommend buying DIY Tel Aviv. It doesn’t have pretty pictures, but it does have insider tips. Nice to have next to your travel guide with beautiful pictures. Buy it at Amazon.
- Flights. Compare all your options! Transavia normally has good deals, but definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Transportation. Book bus trips, trains, and more in Israel via Busbud, Omio, or 12Go.
- Accommodation. All-time favorite: Booking.com. Book hostels via Hostelworld.
- Money. Your bank cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. Reserve a ‘free’ walking tour at Freetour.com or GuruWalk, and for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
- Attractions and museums. Get a 5% discount on museums and attractions via Tiqets with the discount code KIMOPREIS22
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have plenty of options. These are some for the Dutch among us: ANWB vakanties, Sawadee, Tui, D-reizen or Vakantie Discounter?
Or, what about a yoga retreat in Israel?
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First published: August 2018. The article has been updated since.