Virgin Atlantic is launching flights to Tel Aviv from London this September, which is exciting news for those of us wishing to explore Israel.
I first visited Tel Aviv in 2013 and had a great time – it’s a vibrant city that has that perfect blend of beach/city break. With a flight time of five hours it’s possible to visit the city on a weekend getaway, or you could stay a while and explore some more of Israel. There’s a lot to see and do in Tel Aviv, and with Israel being only tiny, you can use it as your entry point to explore other places such as Jerusalem, the Negev Desert, the Dead Sea and Eilat by car.
If you need some tips and advice for your stay, read my travel blogger guide to Tel Aviv:
Getting to Tel Aviv
Virgin Atlantic’s non-stop flights to Tel Aviv will commence on 25th September 2019. The airline is operating its flights with an A330-300 equipped with Club World, Premium and Economy Light, Classic and Delight offerings. so you have the choice of three different cabins depending on your budget. The flights are direct and will operate daily throughout the year.
When you land in Tel Aviv you’ll be issued with a small piece of paper called a gate pass, which replaces the stamp in your passport, so no worries about the stamp affecting your future travels to Muslim countries. To get from the airport to the city centre you can take a taxi, which will take about 25 minutes, or you can catch a train, which is cheaper and takes around 15-20 minutes.
On returning to the airport make sure you leave around 3-4 hours before your flight, since security is tight at Ben Gurion International Airport so it’ll take you a while to get through. When flying out of Tel Aviv Virgin Atlantic offers seamless connections via London to destinations throughout North America including New York, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Things to do in Tel Aviv
Hit the beach – Tel aviv has lots of great beaches, with some of the best ones being Hilton Beach, Gordon Beach, Banana Beach and Frishman Beach. When lounging on the beach you’ll often see Israelis playing “Maktot” – which is basically a game of paddle ball with two paddles.
Walk down Rothschild Boulevard – Rothschild Boulevard is the city’s main thoroughfare and has a pedestrian section right down the middle. Here you’ll see lots of people cycling, walking their dogs or enjoying a cup of coffee. Definitely worth a stroll.
Neve Tzedek – Built in 1887, Neve Tzedek is a beautiful neighbourhood with leafy trees and old buildings. I spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the quaint, narrow streets exploring the art galleries and boutiques.
Carmel Market – I love markets and Carmel Market doesn’t disappoint. It’s the largest market in Tel Aviv, selling plenty of fresh produce, halva and spices, as well as freshly squeezed orange juice. Just make sure not to visit on Shabbat as it will be closed.
Old Jaffa – You’ll often see Tel Aviv and Jaffa mentioned together – they’re both part of the same municipality but Jaffa is much older and dates back around 3,500 years. Located just south of Tel Aviv, Jaffa has a mixed population of Muslims, Christians and Jews. The old town is definitely a must-visit during your stay.
Dance the night away – Tel Aviv is known for having amazing nightlife and Israelis tend to go out late. I’m talking “set your alarm for midnight and stay out till sunrise” kind of late. There are loads of great clubs and bars, including Radio EPGB, Kuli Alma or Teder.fm. If you want to check out some funky, smaller bars, head to the area of Florentin St., a hipster area with graffiti and tattoo parlours.
When to go to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv has pleasant weather all year round although the best time to visit for sun worshippers is in summer (between May to October). Or if you prefer to enjoy the culture of Tel Aviv without the heat and humidity, try spring (March to April) or autumn (October to November). Winter (January to February) is still warmer than in London, although you’ll need a jacket and sweater as it can still get chilly at night time.
The Jewish weekend (Shabbat) starts on Friday afternoon and ends Saturday evening after sunset, so Sunday is a normal working day. Remember that many things will therefore be closed on Shabbat and there are no buses and trains. Take this into account when planning your trip.
Virgin Atlantic flights to Tel Aviv start at £289 return and can be booked here: https://www.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/destinations/israel/tel-aviv.html