While I didn’t find Tel Aviv to be as attractive as Jerusalem, I did love the urban, hipster vibe here. The city is Israel’s party capital, so there are plenty of bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs to discover. It’s also a very liberal place and beat New York to become the world’s best gay city in 2012.
Of course the big draw is Tel Aviv’s sun-soaked beaches and thumping nightlife, so it’s a great spot to visit if you want a beach holiday with lots going on. You’ll also find lots of impressive Bahaus architecture here, which is why Tel Aviv has been nicknamed “the White City”.
Here’s the lowdown of some of my favourite things to do in Tel Aviv, Israel’s bustling Mediterranean metropolis…
1. Hit the Beach
Tel Aviv has some fantastic urban beaches, with soft sands, beach cafés and Mediterranean waters. On a baking hot summer’s day, what better place to go than the beach?! All of Tel Aviv’s coastline is one long beach, which is divided into different beaches named after the hotel or or street nearby. Since the beaches face the West, you get some fantastic sunsets over the ocean.
If you’re wondering what to wear, generally women wear whatever is fashionable, so go ahead and put on your best bikini! The water can get pretty wavy in Tel Aviv, so go ahead and play in the waves! You’ll often see people playing “Matkot”, also known as “beach paddleball” next to the water.
2. Carmel Market
The busy Carmel Market is full of fresh produce and foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, candy, and tomatoes of all different colours! I bought a fresh fruit smoothie and some tahini to take home! Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s a great place to take a stroll and see a bit of local life. Nearby you have Nahalat Binyamin with the arts and crafts bazaar, where you can buy some beautiful handicrafts and jewellery.
3. Beer Market
Beer Market is a sweet spot next to the Carmel Market that serves all sorts of Israeli craft beers and tapas!
4. A stroll through Neve Tzedek
Neve Tzedek is one of Tel Aviv’s oldest neighbourhoods and its a really pleasant place with trees, flowers, gorgeous old buildings. It reminded me a little bit of the south of France, and it was a lovely place to take a stroll. There are plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants and this renovated area has now become one of Tel Aviv’s trendiest and most expensive places to live.
5. Coffee on Rothschild Boulevard
New York has 5th Avenue, Paris has the Champs Elysees, and Tel Aviv has Rothschild Boulevard. This boulevard lies at the heart of Tel Aviv and is a place where people ride their bikes, walk their dogs and enjoy a coffee on a relaxing afternoon. There are many cafés and bars on Rothschild Boulevard, and you’ll often see lines of people queuing outside! This is a great place for watching the world go by and is one of the best things to do in Tel Aviv.
6. Old Jaffa
Jaffa, which is located just south of the city, is a must-see when you’re in Tel Aviv. This 3,000 ancient city was built during the Ottoman Empire and is where Tel Aviv’s history began. If you walk around Old Jaffa you’ll find artists workshops, gardens and restaurants. I went for dinner at Abrage restaurant in Kedumim square and then admired the views across Tel Aviv. The flea market is also worth a visit and is the perfect place to purchase souvenirs.
7. The Port
Tel Aviv port has undergone a massive transformation into an entertainment area, and is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. Walk through the along the sea front promenade, then enjoy some lunch and a glass of wine in one of the great fish restaurants. I visited the port in the evening, where I enjoyed some fantastic seafood and lemon margharitas at Boya restaurant.
8. Shopping on Sheinkin
If you love shopping like I do, then you’ll find some cute boutiques on Sheinkin Street. There are also numerous cafés where you can take a coffee break before looking around more shops!
9. Sample the nightlife
Tel Aviv is one of the best party cities in the world. Israelis go out late, and stay out till the early hours of the morning. There are SO many bars and clubs so you will be sure to find something you like. While in Tel Aviv I spent a night touring numerous bars, starting at Nanuchka and ending up at Jimmy Who? on Rothschild Boulevard.
I was a guest of the Israel Ministry of Tourism on my visit to Israel. Opinions are my own.