A complete guide to visit Tel Aviv in Israel, a city that will surprise you with its huge buildings and always lively nightlife. What to see in Tel Aviv, activities in Tel Aviv, what to do in Tel Aviv, where to sleep in Tel Aviv, how to get around this cosmopolitan city, and much more.
- 1 A little bit of history about Tel Aviv …
- 2 Activities in Tel Aviv and what to see in Tel Aviv
- 3 Important information to plan your trip to Tel Aviv
- 3.1 Best time to visit Tel Aviv
- 3.2 How to get to Tel Aviv
- 3.3 What to do when visiting Tel Aviv
- 3.4 What to bring for your trip to Tel Aviv
- 3.5 Traveler tips for visiting Tel Aviv
- 3.6 How to move through Tel Aviv
- 3.7 Accommodation in Tel Aviv
- 3.8 Where to eat in Tel Aviv
- 3.9 Shopping in Tel Aviv
- 3.10 Scams and dangers in Tel Aviv
A little bit of history about Tel Aviv …
Tel Aviv went from being the oldest port in the world to a cosmopolitan city full of huge buildings and technology wherever you look. Here you will see history and modernity by equal portions.
In 1906, when Tel Aviv was founded, it had a population of 250 people and by 1926 there were already 40,000 inhabitants. Nowadays the population continues to expand more and more, reaching today 1.2 million people. Many people came here to live to escape from the second world war in Europe, and until today all Jews can return to Israel if they wish (the “Law of Return” of this country). Tel Aviv it is also known as the “White City” because of the color of most of the buildings.
Due to its importance as a city, it was included in 2003 by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. Visiting Tel Aviv is something you must do during your trip to Israel.
Activities in Tel Aviv and what to see in Tel Aviv
Jaffa Old City (Yafo)
In 1954 the municipalities of Tel Aviv and Jaffa became only one. From then on this old area of the city is being renovated. Artist loves it because of its vibe and history, so lot’s of them choose to live here. It is said that Jaffa is as old as history and was founded by Noah’s son. Its wall dates from 1800 BC.
I recommend you lose yourself in its intricate and small streets, but be aware of these unmissable things to see during your trip to Tel Aviv:
- A visit to the church of Saint Peter.
- The Bridge of Desires (legend says that if you touch your zodiac sign and ask for a wish looking at the sea, it will come true).
- House of Simon the Tanner: Saint Peter stayed here on the roof and the Holy Spirit appeared to him. Today is also the visitor center.
- Mosque of El Mamudiya: It gives an important contrast to this area.
- Jaffa flea market
- The stones of Andromeda: You can see them from here, they are located in the bay in from of Jaffa. Legend says that the princess Andromeda was tied to these stones to appease the wrath of Poseidon.
- Clock tower.
Old Jaffa Viewpoint or Yafo:
Walking along the beach of Tel Aviv, just before reaching Jaffa, you will find a viewpoint from which you can appreciate this part of the city. One of the best activities in Tel Aviv that you can not miss.
The city of Tel Aviv
The beaches and Tayelet (promenade):
Banana Beach, Frishman Beach and Jerusalem Beach are all next to each other. Almost impossible not to find this enormous beach going through all the coast. It is undoubtedly one of the main meeting and enjoyment areas for tourists and locals. Many hotels and restaurants flank the Tel Aviv coast.
Charles Clore Garden:
Ideal to visit at sunset and see the views of the Old City of Jaffa. The gardens are a meeting point for family and friends, a very quiet and beautiful place to see and enjoy.
This quiet area is very nice. It was the first Jewish neighborhood in the city. On Shabazi Street you will find many shops located in a beautiful and traditional surrounding with houses and balconies with flowers.
The cultural center of Tel Aviv. Here you will find the theater and the auditorium of the city. An ideal place to listen to classical music or just relax in its park.
An ideal visit if you want to know more about Israel and its history from the British mandate to the independence in an interactive format. You must take the ticket in advance and have your ID or passport with you to enter.
Yitzhak Rabin Center:
A museum dedicated to the 1st Prime Minister of Israel, who was assassinated in 1995. In it, you will be able to interactively view his story with videos, at the same time as they intertwine it with the history of the country and the most important events that happen here on the previous year. It is quite interesting.
Very large and with many green plains, ideal for cycling and having a picnic. There is a lagoon where you can rent boats for a ride.
The Great Synagogue:
A huge synagogue in the Rothschild neighborhood, and must to understand better the Judaism and Jewish people during your visit to Tel Aviv. The surroundings have a very nice architecture on a Bahaus style.
It owes its importance to the monument in honor of Yitzhak Rabin.
Tours and day trips from Tel Aviv
Day trip to Caeserea from Tel Aviv:
A small town north of Tel Aviv, located before Haifa. It was founded by Herod who made it the largest port in the east, providing it with aqueducts, roads and making it the capital of Judea. It is said that Saint Paul was imprisoned here in 58. In the south, there is a theater where there are vestiges that indicated that Pontius Pilate was there. You can take different routes through the town, taking from 2 to 6 hours depending on your time and interest.
Day trip to Haifa from Tel Aviv:
Haifa is the third most important city in Israel. It emphasizes that it is the center of the Bahai religion. The Bahai are still not very well known, but the religion already congregates more than 10 million believers in more than 80 countries of the world. In Haifa you can visit:
- The Bahai Temple: It opens from 09:00 to 12:00 pm but you can always visit the gardens of the compound. This religion was founded in Persia in the nineteenth century, although it has nothing to do with Muslims. The Baha’i believe in a spiritual unity that integrates Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism. They believe in the understanding of humanity from all gods and prophets.
- Wadi Nisnas or Arab Quarter
- The neighborhood of the German Colony: Here several Germans live. Almost all families were expelled during World War II when they were accused of collaborating with the Nazis by the British.
Important information to plan your trip to Tel Aviv
Best time to visit Tel Aviv
Given its location on the Mediterranean coast, the weather is quite mild throughout the year. The best time to visit Tel Aviv given the temperature and rain is between June and October. However, keep in mind that it is also the peak season for tourists, so the number of people on the streets and prices will go up.
How to get to Tel Aviv
For more information on how to get to Tel Aviv, please read our Israel post where we tell you more about immigration policies and procedures.
Ben Gurion Airport:
It is the only international airport in Israel, located near Tel Aviv. To get from this to the city we recommend the following:
- Train: A train connects directly from the airport exit to the city center in approximately 10 minutes of travel. The ticket costs 13 shekels and can be purchased directly at the ticket office.
- Taxi: Expensive, but for large groups, it may be more convenient. You should always demand that they use the meter. The price is approximately 120 to 150 shekels depending on the location of your hotel and traffic.
Train to Tel Aviv:
In Tel Aviv, the Savidor Center station connects directly with the Airport as well.
Bus to Tel Aviv:
Tickets can be purchased online or at the same bus station. Buses do not operate on holidays and Shabbat. In the map provided on this post, you can see the location of the main station of the city.
The sheruts are small buses or vans that belong to private companies or people. They charge a higher rate than the state buses but it can be faster and more efficient. Sheruts arrive and leave generally from the outskirts of the buses stations. You can ask at your hotel the specific location or any taxi driver will be able to take you there.
Parking in the city is difficult and expensive, especially in the areas near the beach. If you have no alternative but to arrive by car, try to find a hotel that offers free parking. What many travelers do is rent a car when they leave Tel Aviv and return it when they return to the city.
If you are interested in renting a car in Tel Aviv, read our tips on how to lease a car abroad. Please also note that in Israel the payment of insurance against damages to third parties is mandatory, so the price shown on the reservation pages can increase up to $ 15 per day.
What to do when visiting Tel Aviv
This is a cosmopolitan city. Yes, you can find some culture and history (there are many museums of the religious and political history of the country), but mostly you will enjoy leisure and shopping, the main activities in Tel Aviv. This is also a city widely used by travelers as a center point because from here all means of transportation depart to other areas of Israel. They sleep here, but they go out to other nearby cities during the day.
What to bring for your trip to Tel Aviv
The beach is the main activity in this city, so do not forget your swimsuit and sunscreen! There are public shadows in all of the beaches where you can protect from the heat of the sun for free.
- If you want some tips or data to build your suitcase better, you can read our post about it on this link.
- If you do not know whether to choose a suitcase or backpack for your trip; enter here.
Traveler tips for visiting Tel Aviv
Shabbat and other festivities:
From the sunset on Friday until the sunset on Saturday, Jewish people celebrate Shabbat: the day of rest and reflexion. During this day it is forbidden for them to perform any activity that interrupts their rest, which includes working and driving cars. Although in Tel Aviv not everyone respects it (the city is distinguished by being the least religious population in Israel) you will notice the decrease in traffic and people in the streets. The same thing happens with other festivities. You can find more information in our Israel post here.
How to move through Tel Aviv
Public transport in Tel Aviv:
The cheapest option. During the day it works very well but at night and especially on Shabbat public transportation can be very difficult because buses are scarce.
There is a rechargeable card to pay for public transportation in Tel Aviv called “Rav-Kav card” that you can buy from bus drivers or train stations. When paying with this, you have a 20% discount on the rate if you pay for each trip separately. The minimum load is 30 NIS and you can recharge it at any train station or on special machines located throughout Israel.
If you know that you will do multiple rides in a same day and in a specific area, there are daily or weekly passes that can be a better alternative.
As for the rates, in Tel Aviv, a ride costs approx. 5.9 NIS.
The most comfortable and fastest way to get around Tel Aviv. A trip of about 3 kilometers, for example, can cost 30 to 40 sheckels, which is about 10 dollars. The most important thing if you decide to take a taxi is to demand the “meter” or taximeter to be used. Any negotiation that you make with the taxi drives for a fixed rate will always be worse for your pocket. If he refuses, simply ask the next taxi in the line. But, in general, they have no problem using the meter.
The parking lots and parking spaces are quite scarce, and in general, the prices in the tourist areas are really high. We do not recommend this alternative to move within the city limits.
The city is quite small, so cycling around Tel Aviv to any tourist spot takes 10 minutes at the most. There is a bicycle service called Tel-O-Fun with stations to pick up and drop freely throughout the city, they are easily recognizable and green. You can pay 17 NIS for one day of use, 48 NIS for 3 days and 70 NIS for one week. The use is maximum 30 minutes per occasion, if you overcome it there are extra charges depending on the time, but you can always return it and take another one a few minutes later to avoid paying more.
Accommodation in Tel Aviv
Most of your time will be spent on the beach and in the city center, so you can choose one of the following accommodation areas in Tel Aviv.
Near HaYarkon Street:
Here you can be a few blocks from the beach and at the same time close to the tourist sightseeing. We recommend you to look for “studios”, which are small apartments with some kitchen facilities and, in general, less expensive than hotels and of good quality.
It’s a good place to stay in Tel Aviv. Central in the city and with a variety of restaurants to eat at night without having to move so far. The area is located between downtown and Jaffa, so moving anywhere from here is relatively easy. In general, the values of a hotel or department in this sector are lower than near the beach.
An area with a lot of life and movement both day and night (especially in terms of gastronomy and commerce). However, you will be further away from the beaches and the city center of Tel Aviv.
Where to eat in Tel Aviv
Gastronomy in Tel Aviv
The gastronomy of Israel has been strongly influenced by cultures such as the Ottoman, Turkish and European. Among the most popular dishes that you can not miss are the Hummus (based on mashed chickpeas), the Falafel (chickpea croquettes) and the Israeli salad (based on tomato, cucumber and parsley).
The schedules vary from one place to another, but in general, this city is always awake. The restaurants serve food until around 00:00 and the bars close late at night. In this city, Shabbat in general is not something to worry about, although many places close you will still have many options to eat and have fun.
Streets with restaurants in Tel Aviv:
Here we leave some of the main streets where you can find a variety of restaurants in Tel Aviv for all tastes and budgets:
- Rothschild Boulevard: Ideal to enjoy especially at night, several bars and restaurants flank this avenue that fills with life at nightfall.
- Dizengoff Street: The youthful and backpacker vibe stands out on this busy street. You will find many bars and restaurants.
- Neighborhood of Neve Tdezek: In general the more “elegant” restaurants are in this area, you can find very nice places but the prices will be higher.
Markets in Tel Aviv:
Something that is very fashionable in the city of Tel Aviv is the markets, something similar to the “Food Court” of a shopping center, but with local delicacies and quality food shops, installed in stalls within the same warehouse or building, with tables where anyone can sit. The most popular are:
- Sarona Market: Many food stalls and live music make this market a very good place to hang out, eat and go for a walk. The stands are distinguished according to the style of food, you can find from Mexican food to Japanese and Italian.
- Rothschild Allenby Market: Opened in January 2017, has a younger vibe. In addition to food stalls there are also wine and beer stores with a wide variety of options for all tastes.
Shopping in Tel Aviv
Carmel market is a street market. Its very touristy but locals continue to value it thanks to the high quality of fruits, vegetables and other products. Here you can find everything from clothes to technology, passing by lots of stall with the inevitable souvenirs. You can not miss it when visiting Tel Aviv.
In this market you will find local products and crafts of all kinds: ceramics, textiles, glass, steel and whatever you imagine. Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Shabazi Street in Neve Tzedek:
Full of very curious shops in this trendy neighborhood, you can usually see independent design stores (both clothes and other items).
Right next to the marina where you will see the luxurious yachts of famous people that arrive to the city is this spectacular mall with more than 140 stores of famous brands and many jewelries for those who can afford them. There are some more accessible stores, but for the most part, it is better to look than buy.
A very tourist area where you will find several shops along the street, mainly souvenirs.
Scams and dangers in Tel Aviv
It is not unknown that Israel has suffered several attacks and has been the destination of missiles during its history. However, the country has an anti-missile system that can determine when one is launched and shoot down it before it reaches the ground. In this way, the dangers in Tel Aviv related to the holy war are greatly diminished.
Although it is not common if something dangerous happens alarms will be triggered on. This way, those who wish can seek shelter from the missile fragments that may fall after the missile is shot down. If this happens during your stay, stick to a local and ask them to guide you to the nearest shelter.
As in any city, you must be careful with your belongings. Thefts are not common in Tel Aviv, but it never hurts to be careful.