Exciting Tel Aviv, Israel

01 of 14

Ancient Tel Aviv Is an Amazing City of the Future

Beach at Jaffa in Te Aviv
©Nina May/Flickr Creative Commons

Tel Aviv: a Thrilling City for the 21st Century

Most visitors to Israel come to see Jerusalem. But a Tel Aviv visit is a must-experience. This booming city, set along a Mediterranean beach, is Israel's hub of culture, commerce, and communications. Tel Aviv is an exciting city where you feel the excitement in the air. 

You'll Be Safe Here

Tel Aviv is set in the mid-point of Israel. Its only border is the Mediterranean sea. Visitors are as safe here as in any city today.
• Nevertheless, Israeli police patrol public areas to lessen any worries

Find Out More About Discovering Tel Aviv

• Good info on Visit Tel Aviv and on Go Israel
• A visa is not required for most visitors
• Instead of a passport stamp, you will get an exit voucher (don't lose it) 
• Want a free tour by a friendly, English-speaking local? Shalom, Tel Aviv Greeter program

02 of 14

Tel Aviv's Magnificent Mediterranean Beach

Mediterranean beach at Tel Aviv, Israel
©Visit Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv's Beach Is Better

If you've been disappointed by the rockiness of Mediterranean beaches, you won't be disappointed by Tel Aviv's beach. It is a white-sand beach that hems the length of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, for nearly nine miles . No rocks, no foot pain, no flipflop loss.

The Beach Is Tel Aviv's Ongoing Party

What Central Park is to New York and the Venice boardwalk is to Los Angeles, the beach is to Tel Aviv. This is where you go to relax, to exercise, to socialize, And of course to do beach things: swim, sun, splash with your kids or your dog.
• Facilities are available for your comfort and safety: lifeguards May through October, shaded areas, benches, bathrooms, changing rooms, water fountains
• The climate allows for beach fun in spring, summer, and fall

Forget the Hotel Gym...Come Sweat on the Beach Promenade

Tel Aviv's long beach promenade is a giant outdoor playground and gym. This is wher eocals come for all sorts of outdoor activities: Walking, running, biking, blading, skateboarding, beach volleyball, handball, and more. Lace up your sneakers and come on out.

To Each a Beach in Tel Aviv

Nine miles of beach means different crowds and scenes,
• Dolphinarium Beach attracts martial artists practicing (and showing off) Brazilian capoeira and Israeli Krav Maga
• On Friday evenings, drummers gather at a section of Dolphinarium to welcome the Sabbath with the beat of hundreds of drums; it's a fabulous spectacle
• Hilton Beach attracts a buff gay crowd, and also surfers
• Orthodox Jews have a gender-separated Nordau Beach, which is mixed on Saturdays
• Beach volleyball is big at Aviv and Gordon beaches, windsurfing at Dolphinarium, kitesurfing at Aviv

Still or Waves, Your Choice

Just like you can choose still or sparkling water in a restaurant, you can choose still water or waves no your Tel Aviv beach. Some beaches are protected by jetties, with water smooth as glass. Other beaches are open to the sea, with water currents enjoyed by surfers and air currents enjoyed by windsurfers. The water is swimmably warm from April through October

Find Out More About Tel Aviv's Beach

• All about Tel Aviv's beach; on TripSavvy, photos of 10 great beaches in Israel

03 of 14

Tel Aviv's Oldest Neighborhood, Bibilical Jaffa

Jaffa, the Old Testament city, is now part of Tel Aviv in Israe
©Wikimedia Commons

Jaffa, Tel Aviv's Ancient Port

People have wanted to live along the bay of Jaffa since prehistoric times. This beautiful port, once the home of the Hebrew tribe of Dan, has been a trophy for conquerors such as the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans, Assyrians, and Ottomans.

Today, Jaffa is the home of Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Archeologists like to spend time in Jaffa, too, discovering ancient docks, forts, and temples.

Jaffa Will Conquer You, Too

Many Tel Aviv visitors find themselves wanting to make several visits to Jaffa. As a historic destination, it is off the charts. (You can actually walk through Jaffa Gate, cited in the Old Testament.) But there's a lot more to do here. Among them:
• The Jaffa Museum, for a quick ride through 4,000 years
• The Jaffa Flea Market
The Ilana Goor Museum: a Israeli's artist's work and collections of art and antiques in her incredible home
• The Grape Man, for tastings of the best of Israel's 300-plus wineries
• Funky restaurants like Dr. Shakshuka, serving traditional Israeli cuisine in a centuries-old building

Find Out More

• 60-second Jaffa background

04 of 14

Tel Aviv's Hippest Neighborhood: Florentin

Florentin in Tel Aviv's coolest neighborhood
©Guy Yechiely/Visit Tel Aviv

Call Them Hipsters, Artists, or Simply Interesting People: They Live in Florentin

OtherTel Aviv's Florentin neighborhood has been named the #2 Hipster Neighborhood by Thrillist. (What was #1? Williamsburg in Brooklyn, naturally.) 

But Florentin Is Real, and Far from "Gentrified" 

But if you didn't know this, you'd think that Florentin was simply a great urban neighborhood -- and an unpretentious one. It is still scruffy, dusty, and authentic, with more old shops and businesses than new ones.

But even Florentin's new cafés, boutiques, nightclubs, and performance spaces have an appealing hominess about them. Florentin has tons of character, and local characters, too. There's no glitz whatsoever in Florentin -- except for the theatrically dressed local characters,  most of whom are Israeli designers and performers.

Find Out More about Florentin

Visiting Tel Aviv? Consider taking Guy Sharett's Florentin Graffiti Tour; and  read more about Florentin.

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05 of 14

Tel Aviv's Outdoor Gourmet Paradise: Levinsky Market

Food truck at Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv
©Karen Tina Harrison

Here in the Holy Land, a Place Sacred to Foodies

Israel is a pilgrimage place of three religious faiths. And the Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv is a pilgrimage place for foodies.

Levinsky Market is much more than an outdoor market. It's a whole urban district devoted to food: buying and selling food and spices in wholesale stores and retail shops and stands, and eating food in scores of places to eat. Levinsky Market's dining venues cover restaurants, cafés, open-air stands, and food trucks.  

What Kind of Food Can You Taste in Levinsky Market?

The eats are mainly light dishes of snack foods: hummus, falafel, soups, pocket pastries. These dishes come from every historical stronghold of Jewish communities:
• Bourekas, baba gannoush, and more from right here in the Middle East
• Dei foods from Eastern Europe: borscht, chopped liver, challah bread, pickles
• Date-filled ma'amul from Spain
• Keftikes meatballs from Salonika in Greece
• Espresso coffee beloved throughout the Mediterranean

The Best Way to Experience Levinsky Market

Some visitors wander around, noshing. But there's a great way to get the big picture and varied tastes of Levinsky Market. You can take a semi-private tour led by insiders; the most popular are with Delicious Israel. Or you can purchase a book of tasting tickets for six different Levinsky vendors, including a DIY hummous bar (Garger HaZahav), Ashkenazic chopped liver (at Sender) and burekas (at Panso's).

06 of 14

Tel Aviv's Enthralling Carmel Market

Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, Israel
©Karen Tina Harrison

Calling Connoisseurs of Urban Street Market

If you're the type of traveler who loves to wander around with a shopping bag, taking in the scene and looking for interesting souvenirs. Tel Aviv is the place for you. It's filled with outdoor markets of all kinds: flea markets, food markets, you-never-know markets.

Carmel Market Is Everything a Bargain-Hunter Dreams Of

Carmel Market -- Shuk HaCarmel -- is one of those. It's so engrossing it would be easy to get lost in, except that it's one long street. So you can lose yourself in the vast array of merchandise. You can expect:
• Fresh produce and Israeli groceries
• Bakeries and shops specializing in halvah, the addictive sesame dessert of the Middle East
• Ice cream and smoothie stands (try an etrog smoothie, made from a Holy Land citrus fruit that figures in the Jewish feast of Sukkot)
• Judaica (Star of David necklaces, mezuzahs, menorahs, kippahs)
• Israel-made crafts like hamsa charms and candles
• Housewares
• Beauty products from the Dead Sea (including $2 packets of incredibly skin-silkening mud)
• New clothes, sneakers, and T-shirts and undies (look for those made of silken Israeli cotton)
• Snack kiosks and sit-down grills

More About Carmel Market

* It's open every day except Saturday, and closes early on Friday
• A crafts market unfurls every Tuesday and Friday adjacent to the Carmel Market
• Many vendors are cash-only
• Some will negotiate; here's how to bargain in a market
• Carmel Market's English-language website

07 of 14

Tel Aviv's Exploding Restaurant Scene

Aharoni Ramen at Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, Israel
©Karen Tina Harrison

Tel Aviv Is the Mediterranean's Most Exciting Dining City

Certain creative cities around the world have become global hubs of food culture. This gourmet crown has been worn in recent years by Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Portand, Oregon.

One very happening food city right now is Tel Aviv. Here, a new generation of homegrown chefs is busy masterminding a new wave of Mediterranean cuisine.

Israel's Nouvelle Mediterranean Cuisine

Today's young Israeli chefs reinvent Mediterranean cuisine. They start with this classic cuisine's fresh seafood and olive oil. Then they add elements from the Holy Land's bounty and from Jewish culture. So you will see and taste Israeli ingredients like sesame, honey, and dates.

Your palate will be deliciously aware of exotic spices from the homelands of Israel's "Mizrahi" Jews: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, and even Ethiopia. You can also find Eastern European tastes from the Ashkenazic lands; Porter & Sons, a TripAdvisor superstar, is a pub that restaurant serves house-made sausages and beer.

Whatever You Want to Eat, You Can Find Here

Suppose you don't feel like Israeli food. In this international city -- full of expats with global tastes -- you can find whatever you crave. Every imaginable cuisine is represented, often by expat chefs native to that country.

Sarona Market: The World's Cuisine, in One Go-to Dining & Shopping Spot

Tel Aviv gourmets are gaga over Sarona Market, which opened in 2015. This indoor-outdoor marketplace features almost 100 food shops and dining spots. in a newly fashionable downtown area.

Food shops cover it all: bread and pastries, seafood, meat, produce, cheese, spices, oils, wine, beer, coffee, chocolate, deli-style prepared food. Some shops are international, like Fauchon from Paris and Max Brenner Chocolate. Restaurants focus on pizza, sandwiches and wraps, soups, salads, burgers, falafels, bourekas, Chinese and Indian food, sushi, and more.

The restaurants range from bistro-like to counter seating. Shown above: Freestyle Ramen by Aharoni, run by busy celebrity chef Israel Aharoni. Check the Sarona Market website.

08 of 14

Tel Aviv's World-Renowned Gay Pride

Tel Aviv's Gay Pride Parade every June attracts around 200,000 celebrants
©Guy Yechiely/Visit Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, Over the Rainbow

Tel Aviv may be geographically set in the Middle East. But its attitude toward personal choices is amongst the world's freest and friendliest.

Here, LGBT lifestyles choices and are more than tolerated. They are embraced and celebrated. 
• Gay-friendly and/or gay-owned businesses thrive in Tel Aviv
• You will meet and greet gay people everywhere in Tel Aviv
• Some popular places: the neighborhoods of Florentin, Neve Tzedek, ad Jaffa; Hilton Beach and the entire beach promenade

Tel Aviv's Gay Pride Weekend

The city rocks year-round with gay festivals and events. The biggest is Gay Pride Weekend, June 4 to 10 in 2016. In 2017, over 35,000 travelers arrived from around the world to participate. See a thrilling video on this page.

The Tel Aviv Pride Parade

The Tel Aviv Pride Parade is one of the world's biggest and most fabulous such events. It happens every June (in 2017, on Friday, June 9). It attracts tens of thousands of revelers (in 2016, over 200,000). Featured artists and personalities whip up the crowd (in 2015, the spangly Conchita Wurst)

Find Out More About Tel Aviv's LGBT Life

• And other joyous events during pride weekend, like the Gay Film Festival
• Visit Tel Aviv's info on the gay vibe

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09 of 14

The Dan Tel Aviv Hotel

The most famous hotel in town, Dan Tel Aviv, is right on the beach
©Dan Hotels

Tel Aviv's Most Famous Hotel

Every city has a grand hotel: the most famous hotel in town, the place with the stories and a see-and-be-seen lobby. The Dan Tel Aviv Hotel is the very definition of a grand hotel. It opened in 1953 in an exceptional location and soon became an enduring tradition for upscale Tel Aviv visitors.

The Dan Tel Aviv's Rooms and Suites

Rooms vary tremendously. All are comfortable, subtly decorated in contemporary style, with very comfortable beds and plenty of closet and shelf space. 

The best rooms and suites have beach views and a patio or balcony. Guests in sea-view rooms and suites have access to the King David Crown Lounge, an excellent VIP lounge with all the lounge perks you expect.

Meet Me for Breakfast at The Dan Tel Aviv

This hotel is justly renowned for its buffet breakfast.
• You'll find Israeli delicacies like sesame halvah and shakshuka tomato omelets, plus traditional fare like bagels and lox, pastries, and yogurt
• Seveal rooms for seating mean you can have a semi-private nook or a buzzy table

Find Out More About The Dan Tel Aviv Hotel

• Hotel website and Facebook page

10 of 14

Tel Aviv's Thriving Cultural Scene

Tel Aviv Museum of Art's amazing design is by American architect Preston Scott Cohen
©Visit Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, a Global Powerhouse of Art, Music, and Dance

Israel teems with cultural institutions and happenings. The country's preeminence in the arts was kickstarted by the exodus of Jewish artists of all kinds who were able to escape the Holocaust.

Why Art Surrounds You in Tel Aviv: Artists Can Afford to Live Here

Today, Israel is a hothouse for young artists. Many of them are based in Tel Aviv. U nlike other global hubs like New York and London, is still affordable for creative people, so they make their art right here.

Tel Aviv's Cultural Powerhouses

Tel Aviv is a cit of educated folks with a cultural background that honors the arts. Here you will find: The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, featuring concerts, plays, ballets, and more at The Israeli Opera, the Cameri Theatre, and at outdoor performance spaces; dance of all kinds has a studio and performance home in Suzanne Dellal Art Centre (see a schedule); showcases for great Israeli jazz musicians: both established globetrotter and young "cats"; here's a roundup of Tel Aviv jazz venues.

Good Art in a Great Building

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art houses 20th-century art. The art is engrossing and excitingly modern, with masterpieces by Van Gogh, Kandinsky, and Jackson Pollock. See highlights of the collection.

But the building's cutting-edge new wing, opened in 2011, announces Tel Aviv's modernity to the world. The museum's Amir Building, shown above, was designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Some Israelis and visitors adore it, others find it cold. It's shown above. Do you like it?

11 of 14

Tel Aviv Is a Fashion Hub, with Its Own Style & Runway Shows

A runway show at Gindi Fashion Week in Tel Aviv
©Visit Tel Aviv

Come Here to People-Watch...Israeli Labels

Tel Aviv has emerged as a fashion hothouse with a unique style scene. But don't expect a place where everyone has the same look. People here are not interested in looking like everyone else. The best people-watching is in Tel Aviv's neighborhoods. not on its shopping streets. The style that characterizes Tal Aviv is simply individuality.

Come Here to Shop...But for Israeli Labels

The best shopping in Tel Aviv involves a hunt for unique Israeli fashion labels and designs. You'll find them at boutiques in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood and at Gindi Fashion Mall.
Sneak preview: lookbook of Maskit, Israel's best-known label.

Tel Aviv Even Has Runway Shows, at Gindi Fashion Week

Gindi Fashion Week, foundedvin 2011, spotlights Israel's top designers and emerging talent. The shows re held in October, and you can buy tickets.  Gindi TLV Fashion week website (with video clips of the runway shows).

12 of 14

Tel Aviv's Home Dining Inventiion, EatWith

EatWith, the home dining app, is huge in Israel

EatWith Is One of Israel's Now-Famous Apps

Israel is the birthplace of many of the most ingenious websites and apps. One of them is Waze, the genius talking GPS navigator.

Another is EatWith. Now a global phenomenon in over 150 cities, EatWith was launched right here in Tel Aviv.

EatWith Is the Alternative to Restaurants 

EatWish connects home cooks with adventurous visits. Using EatWith, you find and book private dinners at locals' apartments and homes. Most of the dinners are convivial gatherings of (typically) eight to 14 diners.

You can book weeks in advance; some dinners are available for same-day booking. You pay on the app, and it cost less than a restaurant meal. Wine may be included, or it's BYOB.  Many EatWith dinners are conducted in English (and most Israelis are English-speaking).

What Kind of Tel Aviv Home Meals Will You Find on EatWith?

This town is home to cooks of every cuisine. Whatever you're in the mood for, you'll find it: Israeli cooking, but also Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, Russian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, and more (including American).

Find Out More About EatWith in Tel Aviv and Elsewhere

Visit the EatWith website.

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13 of 14

Tel Aviv's Best Day Trip: to the Arts Village of Zichron Yaakov

Golan Tishbi, winemaker at Tishbi Winery in Israel
©Karen Tina Harrison

Zichron Ya'acov: Where Else to Go Besides Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

If You're visiting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem is no doubt on your itinerary. And no doubt on the way, you're going to stop at the Dead Sea to slosh in its healing mud, which will make you look nd feel t least five years younger).

But there's another destination you should visit. Rent a car for a day (Budget has a location next to the Dan Hotel). And ask your invented-in-Te-Aviv Waze app how to get to Zichron Yaakov. (Ir's pronounced Zee-crone Yah-ah-cove).

What's in Zichron Ya'acov?

This hilltop village has a fascinating pedigree. Its founding in was assisted by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, a French Jewish philanthropist. Originally a farming community, it is today an arts village. And its surrounding fields now grow grapes.

In Zichron Ya'acov you'll find Cafés, shaded benches, and other hangouts on Ha-Nadiv St. and Ha-Meyasdim St.; art galleries; two exciting museums about Israel's birth in 1949. And more...

Foodie Alert: Tishbi Winery Is a Must-Visit

On one of the main roads leading to Zichron Ya'acov you will find Tishbi Winery. Bring you appetite and stop here.

Tishbi Winery was founded in the 1880s by a Lithuanian family invited by Baron Rothschild to start a winery here. Their great-grandson, Golan Tishbi, is the winemaker and an overall visionary. Here's what you can do at Tishbi Winery.
• Taste, drink, and buy wine
• Shop for Tishbi-made delicacies like jams and olive oil and beautiful modern ceramics made by Golan's wife. a potter
• Tour the winery (one of Israel's busiest, producing a million bottles a year)
• Pair Golan's excellent wine with the world's best chocolate (Tishbi is Israel's importer of France's Valrhona chocolate)
• Dine in two wonderful indoor-outdoor restaurants whose Chef Gunther emigrated fro Austria and is now a proud Israeli
• Nosh in the winery's boulangerie, which bakes some of Israel's best French breads and pastries
 • If it's a Friday night, enjoy a barbecue dinner: it's kosher beef authentically made in a smoker that Golan imported from Missouri
Tishbi WInery website and Facebook page (with lots of photos)

Don't Worry About Driving Back to Tel Aviv After Tishbi Winery. Stay at the Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel

Luxury travelers can stay right in Zichron Ya'akov at one of the world's artiest boutique hotels. Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel is set within a music and art venue.
• The complex includes two performance spaces, galleries, restaurants, and more
• The complex's deluxe, modern boutique hotel has it all: serenity, great beds, fast and free wifi, indoor and outdoor pools, great gym, private garden, and more
Elma website 
• TripSavvy's page about Elma 

Find Out More About Zichron Ya'akov

• Info from Go Israel

14 of 14

Tel Aviv's Cat Culture

Feral cats in Tel Aviv, Israel
©Karen Tina Harrison

Tel Aviv Is a Furry Good Place to Live Outdoors

The bad news: there are legions of homeless in Tel Aviv. The not-so-bad news: they are cats. They keep comfy in Tel Aviv's Mediterranean warmth and sunshine. And they are loved and cared for by Tel Aviv residents, who feed them their table scraps and proper cat food. Animal activists can take the credit for Tel Aviv's recently undertaken spay-and-neuter program.

How Can You Help?

Feed the ferals! Think of the wild cats next time you don't finish meat, chicken, or fish dish you don't finish, cut it into small pieces, have it doggy-bagged, and feed it to the cats. Tel Aviv locals leave it in small piles so the cats don't fight over it. Find out more about Israel's feral cats.

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