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Tel Aviv (תֵּל־אָבִיב-יָפוֹ) is the second largest city in Israel, and the largest metropolitan area. The official name is Tel Aviv-Yafo (תל אביב-יפו), and reflects the fact that the city has grown beside the ancient port city of Yafo (English: Jaffa), to the south of the new city center, in addition to many other neighboring cities.
Tel Aviv itself was founded in 1909 by a group of distinguished Jewish residents of Jaffa. Setting out with a grand vision, the 60 Tel Aviv founders have started out by building the first mid-eastern urban center with running water, no small wonder in that part of the world in 1909.
Today, Tel Aviv-Yafo represents the heart of a thriving, Israeli metropolis. Tel Aviv is also known as “the city that doesn’t stop” and indeed you will find that the nightlife and culture are on around the clock. Giving Tel Aviv a well deserved reputation of being a party town it is not unusual to see the beach boardwalk bustling with people at 4AM and the clubs and bars usually pick up around midnight until morning.
Tel Aviv is a big place, and these listings are just some highlights of things that you really should see if you can during your visit.
Old Jaffa (יפו העתיקה) is located in Jaffa and a great place to visit. It is also one of the oldest ports in the world. Nearby is Jaffa´s famous Flea Market
Rabin Square. The biggest public square in Israel and site of PM Rabin’s assassination in 1995.
Azriely Lookout (מצפה עזריאלי), (by Tel Aviv Hashalom train station). Watch the entire Tel Aviv area from 200 meters high
Tel Aviv Port – a commercial area in Northern Tel Aviv with bars and nightclubs
Dizengoff Centre – Israel’s most iconic shopping centre with a very lively food market every Thursday and Friday
Neve Tzedek – an historical part of town with art galleries and restaurants
Tel Aviv University – Israel’s most lavish and beautiful university campus
Joshua Gardens – Tel Aviv’s central park
Eretz-Israel Museum. in Northern Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The biggest art museum in Central Tel Aviv
Museum of the Jewish Diaspora (Beit HaTefutsot בית התפוצות). located in Tel Aviv University in Northern Tel Aviv
Bialik Square – a beautiful Bauhaus Square with several museums to check out: Bauhaus Center Tel Aviv in Central Tel Aviv, Bialik House, The Museum of Town History, Rubin Art Museum Gutman Art Museum at Neve Tzedek
Just as there’s a lot to see, there’s also a lot to do in Tel Aviv. Just remember, the summers are hot and long. Be sure to drink plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty, and use lots of sunscreen.
The Beach. If you’re visiting Tel Aviv in the summer, you’ll have to check out the beaches, especially on Fridays, when crowds take in the Brazilian drums and the smell of barbecues as the sun sets. But be warned – there are jellyfish sometimes, ask the lifeguard or locals if there are any that day.
When going for a swim, stick to the patrolled beaches with lifeguards (look for the little flags and signs). Strong currents off the coast of Tel Aviv can pul you out without warning. Also, at the beginning of the summer, keep an eye out for jellyfish.
Amusement and water parks
Luna Park Tel Aviv is the main amusement park. While the rides it has can be found in other countries, it should still be considered for a visit. Especially by the kids (there is a large amount of child-friendly rides). It is located very close to the Meimadyon water park.
The Meimadyon is a large waterpark with a good variety of waterslidesfor everyone, including children. Summer vacations can get pretty crowded, so you may be standing in long lines – keep the sunscreen handy.
“Superland” is a name of an amusement park in Rishon Letzion (about an hour’s drive southeast of Tel Aviv). People from Tel Aviv often go there since the rides are bigger and built specially for thrill seekers. Oh, it does have a couple of rollercoasters.
Going shopping for dinner? Tel Aviv’s markets are the best in town, bustling all day long.
The Carmel Market – mostly fruits and vegetables
The Flea Market – some antiques
The Nahalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall – located behind the Carmel Market
Levinsky Market in Florentin — the best place in Tel Aviv to buy spices, dried fruits, and different kinds of legume. Just ten minutes walking distance from the Central Bus Station.
Hatikva Market in HaTiqva — a good place for Jewish-Iraqi cuisine, in the south-eastern “Hatikva” neighbourhood.
Going to the mall in Israel is perfect since they’re air conditioned, and they are a good place for local entertainment. Tel Aviv has six malls and carry both international and local brands.
Azriely, the biggest mall, Dizengoff Center, the first mall and Gan Ha’ir are located in the center.
Ramat Aviv mall is a slightly more upmarket than your usual mall located in the north.
Central Bus Station is a huge, mostly bargain stores mall located in the south.
Ayalon mall is a mall located in the northern point of Ramat Gan, bordering with Tel Aviv. It has a large variety of stores and a big movie theater north.
In your activities, you’ll find that fast food places you’re familiar with at home are also here in Tel Aviv. But you can also get a decent meal, including falafel or hummus on just about every street corner, for less than $7. You can also find toast, sandwichs or some other snack at one of the cafes around the city. I put up a listing of some great restaurants in Tel Aviv on the post “Breakfast in Israel“.
Cordelia, Catit, Raphael andMessa are considered Tel Aviv’s elegant restaurants. They serve gourmet meals inspired by local and foreign cuisine. There are many good kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv including Lilliot, Meatos and Bruno.
Ice cream, anyone? Tel Aviv’s ice cream parlors offer much more than basic flavors, they also have Halva, poppy seed, and even a touch of alcoholic liqueurs in the ice cream. Which are the best ones in town? Here’s a website that lists them: http://www.telaviv4fun.com/icecream.html
The 11th Floor Restaurant, Crown Plaza City Center Hotel, Azrieli Towers, Tel Aviv. Here you’ll get views of the cityscape of Tel Aviv while dining. The dishes served from the kitchen are surprisingly creative. Chef Eitan Mizrahi has created an outstanding kosher menu.
ASIF, is a new restaurant offering different menus every week (Asian, French and Italian, etc.).
Tel Aviv has many cafés, which are a part of the city since its founding. Espresso-bar, Café-café and Arcaffé are some of the local chain-cafés. Aroma’s the biggest among them. Feel free to spend hours in a coffee shop – no one will try to rush you out or require you to order more stuff.
Most coffee shops and fast food places have free wifi, however, Israeli hotels can have extremely expensive Wifi service. Taking your computer or mobile device to a cafe may be the more inexpensive route.
Tel Aviv Doctor, Basel Heights Medical Centre, 35 Basel Street (on the square), +972 (0) 549 41 42 43. Tel Aviv Doctor provides English speaking medical services that can be claimed back from travel insurance companies.
Tel Aviv is a safe city to visit. The usual warnings regarding being alert for bomb threats also pertain to Tel Aviv – (beware of suspicious packages in public places (don’t over panic), and suspicious behaviour on the part of people around you, etc.). The local police are generally very friendly and many of the law-enforcers can speak understandable English. Be aware of pickpockets in the markets, central bus station, the beach promenade, basically where there are large crowds gathered. Even then, crime rates are much lower in Tel Aviv (and in all of Israel) than in most other cities of similar size.
Let them check your bag(s)
Security control checks are necessary when entering shopping malls, markets, the central bus station, and most hotels, cafes and restaurant. Let the guards look into your bag no matter how many times you are asked – this is a fairly common procedure that takes no more a few seconds and ends with a smile and a green light. Thanking a security guard for inspecting your bags will make things easier the next time they see you. And always carry some sort of identification documents on you at all times. You may be stopped and asked to see your identification. These checks are routine and random, so don’t think of them as offensive or intrusive – they are looking out for your safety.
The presence of military facilities, police patrolling, firearms carried in public by both servicemen and civilians are an everyday occurrence, so try not to be alarmed by this. Soldiers and home guard volunteers are required to keep their weapons with them at all times.
Despite the horrors seen in Hollywood and on TV, using a bus is a safe way to travel any time of the day or night. You can always approach the driver with any relevant question and passengers usually love to assist tourists.
Although street crime is rare, still keep your senses. Avoid walking in parks alone at night, or wandering alone in the southern neighbourhoods late at night. If necessary, a companion would be a good idea.