Tel Aviv is Israel’s cosmopolitan city situated along the Mediterranean coast. Tel Aviv is a liberal city with lots going on with lots of restaurants, bars, shops and plenty of world class nightlife. Tel Aviv is a 24 hour city which is always buzzing with something going on. The city makes a great holiday as it has the weather, beaches and lots to see and do in terms of culture. It really does have something for everyone!
I have been fortunate enough to travel to Tel Aviv on many occasions with the airline I work for, on some trips I have been lucky enough to get a decent layover with enough time to get out and explore what this cool city has to offer, and on other occasions I’ve had a minimum rest layover with just enough time to go out for dinner before bed. Tel Aviv is somewhere I would love to go on holiday and really delve into it some more.
Sights & Activities
Herzliya is a suburb situated to the north of Tel Aviv and is an affluent area set along the coast. It’s only a 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv but has a much more relaxed atmosphere than the hustle and bustle of the city. It has a gorgeous marina area with a good choice of up market restaurants and hotels. The beach is also really nice and clean, and always offers up the most stunning sunsets. Herzliya makes a great place to visit from Tel Aviv if you want a chilled out day by the beach then head down to Herzliya, just note that weekends can become quite busy.
Jaffa is my favourite area in Tel Aviv and also happens to be the oldest part of the city and was originally an ancient port which is where the city of Tel Aviv grew from. Jaffa has so much character and is full of authentic charm with narrow streets and alleyways. There are lots of places to eat and sample many Israeli dishes and plenty of traditional sweet shops. Shopping in Jaffa is also great and it is known for its flea market, and from that lots of galleries, boutiques and craft shops have opened up in and around it. It’s a great place to pick up a whole variety of items from home wares, jewellery and all sorts of trinkets.
The area is also quite artsy and has plenty of street art, studios and galleries dotted around. There are lots of sights to go and visit around Jaffa with its famous Clock Tower which is a good meeting point in the old town. St Peters Church is also a must visit, it’s a stunning church and monastery which was built in the late 1800s by the spainish government and is set overlooking the ocean.
Just by St Peters Church is also the Wishing Bridge which has all the star signs on the hand rail, and ledgend says that if you stand by your star sign and look out to the sea your wish will come true. It’s easy to get lost in Jaffa for the day as there is so much to see and do, and exploring the small streets is the best part to really understand the local culture, you will also find the locals really friendly and I loved talking to many of the stall holders around the markets they were all so welcoming. I would recommend basing yourself in Jaffa when visiting Tel Aviv as it’s full of original charm.
Food & Drink
Benny The Fisherman
Benny The Fisherman is my favourite restaurants I have been to in Tel Aviv. Set along the marina in Herzliya this restaurant serves up plenty of fresh and traditional Mediterranean food. The fish is meant to be incredible and fresh, I have been a few times to the restaurant and always order the salad meze and fresh bread.
The first time I visited I couldn’t believe how many dishes came out, there was such a huge variety of salads, vegetables dishes and dips all for approx £10 and if there’s a certain dish you like you can ask for more and they will keep refilling it for you.
Sit outside if it’s a sunny day as the views over the marina are lovely and with the fresh dishes it’s the perfect spot for lunch or dinner at sunset. You can also order plenty of grilled meats and a variety of fish, but if your vegetarian like me then the salad meze is more than enough and so filling!
Dr Shakshuka is an authentic Israeli restaurant located in the old town of Jaffa, this ramshackled eatery is tucked down an alleyway undercover in between some older buildings is always full of locals. The outside seating area set in a quirky square is a lovely place to sit for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There is a good choice of traditional Israeli food as well as the famous Shakahuka which is a North African dish of poached eggs in a tomato sauce, a couple of us ordered the dish to share and it was delicious along with the fresh bread and meze. If your in the old town this restaurant must be added to your must do itinerary.
Yam 7 is a chic restaurant set along the beach in Herzliya, this stunning restaurant has beautiful panoramic views of the shore and beach. Yam 7 serves fresh seafood and has a varied selection of food to choose from. It’s also a great place to come for cocktails at sunset. We had quite a large lunch so opted for a few side dishes and appetisers to share and watched the sun go down with some drinks which was amazing!
Transport & Getting Around
Tel Aviv is really easy to get around and there are plenty of options available. As I’ve only ever visited on layovers with work I have always opted for taxis as I’ve always been time constraint. Taxis are pretty cheap and not very expensive, and the drivers are always happy to provide lots of tips of things to see and do and provide information about the city. Taxis by law must always use their meters, just note that taxi tariffs go up by about 25% between the hours of 9pm to 5.30am on the night tariff, Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
Bikes are also a great way to get around and Tel Aviv has many bike paths, if cycling isn’t your thing then there are plenty of electric scooters too. If your prefer public transport then buses are regular and reliable. Trains are also available and you can get trains from one end of the city to the other.
I would recommend if your planning a trip to Telaviv then to allow for atleast 1 week to really explore the city and try and do a few day trips to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Tel Aviv also a has a great selection of beaches to choose from, and lots of places to eat and drink and its also know for its party scene, and also hosts one of the biggest gay prides in Asia. Tel Aviv is not at all how you picture Israel to be it has a very Mediterranean vibe to it. However when leaving the city ensure you dress respectfully especially if visiting any religious sites.