Tel Aviv was founded as a Jewish quarter in the territory of the old port city of Jaffa, and later merged with it. It is the center of more than a dozen settlements that surround Tel Aviv. In fact, it is a real metropolis by the sea.
Tel Aviv is the second largest city in Israel and is one of the most attractive cities for tourists and locals alike. The city is located close to the international airport and only 60 km from Jerusalem. When staying in Tel Aviv, it is convenient to make forays around the country. At the same time, the city offers so many activities that the question arises as to whether should you go somewhere else.
Administratively, Tel Aviv is divided into 9 districts, but residents and tourists use historically accepted names. Therefore, no one maintains clear boundaries between regions.
The areas worth visiting in Tel Aviv
No tourist passes by the oldest city – Jaffa (south of the city). This is one of the oldest settlements in the world; People lived here all the time, and one culture replaced the other.
It is convenient and recommended to get to Jaffa from the promenade, in Jaffa you can find several inexpensive markets (including a flea and food market), many cafes and restaurants, and art galleries.
Of course, we will also recommend you to stay at least one night in Jaffa in order to experience it in all its shades.
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Historically, the first Jewish quarter adjacent to the city (second half of the 19th century), from which Tel Aviv grew. Now it is a small and respectable area with low buildings, designer shops, and cafes. Suzanne Dellal’s restored train station and dance center.
THE WHITE CITY
“White City” – a Bauhaus-style district of 2-3- houses with columns and gardens on the roofs (included in the UNESCO World Heritage List). Those houses are in the Florentine area, and this area is often compared to Soho in New York.
In the central and northern parts of the city (the northern port area, Tel Aviv University, and the Taman vineyard famous for its markets and graffiti) there are fewer historical places, but they are no less busy and full of tourists. Shops, hotels, sports clubs and nightclubs, and modern buildings.
Accommodation in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv has a wide variety of accommodation options, from low-budget campsites and hostels to luxurious five-star hotels. Most of them are located in the center of the city, in the tourist Dizengoff Square and along the coastline (Yarkon Street and Ben-Yehuda Street). Housing prices are high, for example, a double room in a 3* hotel will cost NIS 850.
Many of the accommodations have no rating at all, as there are a variety of apartments and rooms offered for rent. In rooms and apartments of this type, you can sometimes order breakfast separately, but usually, the room will have a kitchen, and if you feel like cooking, you can do so. Apartments in the center or by the sea will cost NIS 1200.
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Food in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is full of a wide variety of foods from a variety of ethnicities, say the locals. Here you can find restaurants with the most diverse cuisine – Middle Eastern, Asian, Eastern European, French, Russian and American.
Vegetarian/vegan cuisine is very popular in Tel Aviv. There are also many fish restaurants here. But keep in mind: since most Israelis keep kosher, seafood dishes are mainly for tourists.
For the tastiest hummus, it is recommended to go to the small cafe “Abu-Hassan” on Dolphin street in Jaffa. And to feel the special rhythm of Israel, you have to visit one of the authentic restaurants in the old city – Jaffa.
In these pleasant and noisy establishments, eating becomes a unique experience. Among the extensive menu, we especially recommend trying the local carpaccio.
Meat lovers should also order a beef steak (average price NIS 120-150). Kosher imposes its own limitations on the menu and stimulates the creation of new and unusual recipes. Therefore, 80% of Israeli cuisine consists of dishes that can only be tasted here.
For those who want to save on food expenses, and try national dishes, we recommend looking for cheap falafel stands. You can eat a meal in them for only NIS 40-50, and the “falafel” itself (deep-fried balls of chopped chickpeas) will cost NIS 15-30.
Full-fledged cafes and restaurants are suitable for connoisseurs. Prices here vary. You can have lunch at the Mantaray restaurant, famous for its excellent meat and poultry dishes, for 120-190 NIS, and dinner at the prestigious Catit restaurant in Tel Aviv will cost 500-1200 NIS.
Local bakeries offer fresh croissants and rolls, and the streets of Tel Aviv are full of cafes offering traditional Italian pasta and other European dishes. The average price is between 60 and 150 NIS.
In cafes and restaurants in Tel Aviv and in Israel in general, it is customary to leave a 12% tip. When you don’t leave a tip, this is considered extreme dissatisfaction of the visitor.
Shopping in Tel Aviv
Urban markets are worth a visit if only for the atmosphere. The flea market in Old Jaffa is famous all over the world, it consists of several streets and adjacent shops, including secondhand.
There you can enjoy real vintage, and antiques that have changed several owners (tools, coins, women’s jewelry). The main thing is not to forget to bargain. Another local market, “Carmel” in the Kerem Hatimanim district, is a real oriental bazaar, flooded with tourists.
Souvenirs and spices in the Carmel market are cheaper than in most stores. The locals prefer to shop on Friday morning, before Shabbat, and the sellers don’t want to leave perishable goods until Sunday and are therefore willing to lower the price.
With the advent of shopping centers, most shopping moved from the main streets to malls. The Gan Ha’ir shopping center is distinguished by the number of premium brands per square meter – it is considered almost the most luxurious mall in Israel.
Ramat Aviv Mall is more diverse in terms of prices and brands, there are many brands and stores of Israeli-made jewelry. The Azrieli shopping center is located in the business center, but here it is easiest to find “sale” items and choose original souvenirs.
The largest shopping center is Dizengoff, which has more than 500 stores. From Sunday to Thursday the centers are open from 9:00-20:30-22:00, closed on Friday at noon, and sometimes open on Saturday evening.
The city’s shopping streets: Shinkin (souvenir shops and small boutiques – near the Carmel Market), Allenby (outlets), Nachalat Binyamin with its art fair (at the intersection of Shinkin and Allenby), and Dizengoff, where local designer shops are located.
Surfing and diving in Israel
Tel Aviv has excellent conditions for surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing. There are stations in the central areas (“Hilton”), in the north (“Tel-Baruch”) and in the south (“The Drummers” beach next to the dolphinarium). Beginners will prefer the last beach, as it is safer. The cost of an individual lesson with an instructor (total of 1.5 hours) – will apply from NIS 250.
Tel Aviv is also one of the main centers for diving in the Mediterranean Sea. Several clubs operate in the city, many of them branch of clubs in Eilat. Off the coast of Tel Aviv, there are several interesting diving sites at different depths (10-35 m) – from natural canyons, where there is a lot of marine life (turtles, rays, squids), to sunken ships. The descent is carried out under the supervision of a guide.
The most interesting diving sites are located north of Tel Aviv. Caesarea, which is 60 km from the city, as well as Naharia (more than 125 km to the north) – the city closest to the Rosh Hankara Caves and the Akziv Nature Reserve.
5 Must do things in Tel Aviv
- We highly recommend you not only to walk around Old Jaffa, but also to come to one of the open concerts.
- Be impressed by the non-urban life – and don’t be lazy to go on a safari in Ramat Gan. Only there you can see the wild animals so close to you.
- Tired of walking from beach to beach, go to the city park. Or you can enjoy a sunbed right on Rothschild Boulevard.
- Take a trip from the modern city to Caesarea National Park. Only a 45-minute drive, after which you will discover the Roman amphitheater in front of you.
- You will meet the sunrise or the sunset on one of the longest promenades in the world
Tel Aviv for children
The tourist city takes the children into account. The Maymadion water park has every kind of water attraction imaginable and a special children’s town (official website in English).
The large and family city park, Yarkon, is an excellent place for picnics, trips, and sports (soccer, basketball, mini golf, trampolines, climbing wall, kayaks). Beyond that, the park has a mini zoo, a rock and cactus garden, a tropical garden, and a bird park. This local equivalent of New York’s Central Park sits right on the waterfront here in Tel Aviv.
It is definitely worth going to the zoological safari center in Ramat Gan. In the central part of the park, pets move freely, among them you can find ostriches, zebras, elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and lions that walk right next to your car.
In the district of Tel Aviv (Gush Dan, the city of Holon) there is the famous children’s museum, where you can spend a whole day and your children could get added value from this experience.