Tel Aviv is Israel’s second-largest city, known as the city that never sleeps. A mixture of cultures, attractions and cuisines, Tel Aviv has something for everyone, whether it be UNESCO-recognized architecture, delicious wine, winding bike paths, shopping or long stretches of sandy beach. You can’t leave Israel without spending time in its capital city, so here are the top things to do when visiting the Israeli haven of Tel Aviv.
Sip Israeli Wine
Israel is home to over 300 wineries. Although Jewish wine dates back to biblical times, the Israeli wine scene has really become up-and-coming just recently. If you can’t make a trip up to Golan Heights, Judean Hills or Upper Galilee to taste in some of the most popular wine regions, don’t worry. You can sample plenty of delicious Israeli wine right in central Tel Aviv. Wine Story is all about promoting the underdog, boutique wines. In contrast, Tasting Room loves to encourage visitors to taste Israeli varieties from their very own wine dispensers. For a unique tasting experience, sample a glass at the Chapel Bar, located in a restored church as part of the chic Jaffa Hotel.
Wander Through Jaffa
Jaffa is one of Tel Aviv’s oldest and most interesting neighborhoods. Start by seeing the Clock Tower, built in 1903 to honor the Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Then, pay a visit to the Shuk HaPishpeshim, the flea market. Locals have been bargaining their way through the dusty shops for over 100 years. From Sunday to Friday, you can join them, haggling for jewelry, artwork, furniture, clothing or simply enjoying a juice or a meal at one of the many cafes. Artsy travelers should also plan to wander through the many galleries, design shops and museums that are located in Jaffa. Winetraveler favorites include Ilana Goor Museum, Saga Design Shop and the Farkash Gallery.
Check out the Ports
As Tel Aviv is a coastal city, make sure to visit the two main ports. Eat fresh seafood at local restaurants and watch fishermen pull in their catch of the day at the Jaffa Port, one of the oldest ports in the world. On the northern end of the city, check out the more contemporary, breezy and spacious Tel Aviv port. Known as Namal Tel Aviv, the newly-restored port is now home to shopping, dining and nightlife spots.
Hit the Beach
One of Tel Aviv’s most prized attractions is the eight-mile stretch of sandy shoreline, featuring 13 official beaches. Plan to sun yourself, learn to surf or simply walk the promenade along the coast. Some of the best beaches are Hilton Beach and Banana Beach, both centrally located. Charles Clore Beach is at the southern end closest to Jaffa, and perfect for a long, romantic walk or a family barbecue.
Scoot Or Bike Down Rothschild
With over 85 miles of bike lanes which are relatively flat, Tel Aviv is already the ideal place to get around on wheels. And cruising down Rothschild, one of Tel Aviv’s most famous tree-lined streets, is an amazing way to get in a little exercise while also getting to know the city. You’ll ride past coffee kiosks, shops, restaurants, theatres and more, and make sure to take note of some of Tel Aviv’s most famous architecture (see below).
Explore the Bauhaus Architecture
Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can see over 4,000 different buildings built in the 1930s by German Jewish architects, all in the Bauhaus style. Bauhaus architecture is fairly simple: boxy, four-story buildings painted in shades of white. Make sure to look out for this famous style of architecture along the aforementioned Rothschild Boulevard.
Frolic in Yarkon Park
When you tire of meandering Tel Aviv’s beach promenade, visit the Yarkon Park. Located in North Tel Aviv, the green oasis has a lake, plenty of grassy lawn for a picnic and lots of trees and flowers. Once there, you can rent a boat or bike. Or, simply walk around and admire your peaceful surroundings.
Eat Israeli Food
Hummus, falafel, shakshuka and beyond…Israeli food is some of the most delectable in the world. For a finger-licking good falafel and hummus extravaganza, hit up the famous Abu Hassan in Jaffa. Be ready to wait in line, though. For a more high-brow dining experience, indulge in a tasting menu at Hasalon, where chef Eyal Shani creates his cuisine from the freshest ingredients. Reserve in advance though, as this spot is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Peruse Neve Tzedek
Neve Tzedek was the very first Jewish neighborhood built outside of Jaffa back in 1887. Originally built as a suburb, it’s now part of central Tel Aviv. Today, it’s one of the most charming areas of the city, with funky design boutiques and shops, food markets, and plenty of trendy restaurants with outdoor seating. It’s also home to the Suzanne Dellal Center and its beautiful surrounding square.
Take a Day Trip to Jerusalem
The Holy Land is just over an hour drive from Tel Aviv, making it easy for you to take a day trip to visit sites like the Western Wall and Temple Mount. Bethlehem is only a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem, making it easy to combine both cities in one day. When visiting Bethlehem, make sure to see the Church of the Nativity, which is where Jesus was believed to be born.