Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv (Hebrew: תל אביב, Arabic: تل أبيب) is the second largest city in Israel (after Jerusalem), and the largest metropolitan area. It is on the Mediterranean coast, about 60 km north-west of Jerusalem and some 100 km south of Haifa. The official name is Tel Aviv-Yafo (תל אביב-יפו), and reflects the fact that the city has grown beside (and absorbed) the ancient port city of Yafo (English: Jaffa, Arabic: يافا Yafa), to the south of the new city center, in addition to many other neighboring cities. Tel Aviv is home to most foreign embassies.

Districts

Tel Aviv is a rapidly growing city in the midst of an exciting transition from medium-sized urban center to bustling international metropolis. Its booming population, energy, edginess and 24-hour lifestyle give the city a cosmopolitan flair comparable to few other cities in this part of the world.

Tel Aviv is not really divided into districts, but rather into over 50 different neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods are really distinctive areas with different cultures (e.g. Neve Tzedek, Florentin, Ramat-HaHayal), while others are simply indicating a geographical area. Tel Aviv grew mainly from the south to the north so the further you go to the north you will encounter newer buildings and wealthier communities.

Districts of Tel Aviv
North
The wealthiest district of Tel Aviv and one of the wealthiest in entire Israel stretches from the north side on the Yarkon River. These neighborhoods have very few things in common with the rest of Tel Aviv and are partially treated as Tel Aviv's suburb rather than a part of the city. The entire district is very green in comparison to the rest of Tel Aviv and contains some big and important sites such as Yarkon Park, the Land of Israel Museum, and Tel Aviv University.
Center
The city's center contains "The Heart of Tel Aviv" and "The Old North". The main metropolitan area of the city contains tourists attractions, hotels, beaches and shopping areas. This is Tel Aviv as most people know it nowadays. The central area is confined by Yehuda Halevi and Harakevet streets from on the south, the Yarkon river from the north, and Ayalon Highway from the east.
South & East
The south is the poorer district of Tel Aviv but has been developing noticeably while conserving its style and history as many of its neighborhoods have become young and trendy. It is also home to many foreign workers and illegal immigrants from south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The east is an often-forgotten residential district east of Ayalon Highway. The two overlap in the southeastern neighborhoods. The New Central Bus Station and Hatikva and Levinsky food markets are located in South Tel Aviv.
Jaffa
(Yafo in Hebrew, Yaffa in Arabic) is one of the world's oldest ports. It was here that the prophet Jonah started the journey that left him in the belly of a big fish (not a whale as is the common misconception!) and Andromeda was tied to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster, before later being saved by Perseus. It was also here where Peter the Apostle received a vision marking a significant ideological split between Judaism and Christianity (Acts 10). This is where the Muslim population of the city is concentrated. Other than the port, main attractions are the Old City and a flea market.


Understand

Tel Aviv Port in the Yarkon River Peninsula
Yarkon Park

The smallish gulf of Jaffa was the site of a fortified port town for at least 4000 years. During the 19th century the town’s population grew from about 2,500 (1806) to 17,000 (1886). The old city walls could no longer contain the population, and they were destroyed in the 1870s. New, more spacious neighborhoods started to appear.

Tel Aviv (meaning literally "Hill of Spring") itself was founded in 1909 by a group of distinguished Jewish residents of Jaffa. They envisaged a European-style garden suburb, with wide streets and boulevards. Leaving Jaffa wasn’t, however, only a question of an upgrade in lifestyle. Moving out of the Arab-dominated town also represented their belief in the Jewish national movement, Zionism. Before being a city, Tel Aviv was one of the many titles of Theodor Herzl's utopian Zionist book - The Old New Land. Setting out with a grand vision, the 60 Tel Aviv founders started out by building the first mid-eastern urban center with running water, no small wonder in that part of the world in 1909. Houses from this period can still be seen in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood.

Tel Aviv grew steadily under Ottoman law until WWI. By the end of the war the British took over the Holy Land: an event the Jewish community saw as encouraging, while the Muslim community viewed it as a turn for the worse after Islamic rule. It was also the site of many Palestinian villages and was seen to be a creation of imperialist rule seeing as it was developed as a symbol of a returning diaspora many Palestinians had never known in the countless generations they'd lived there. In May 1921, an Arab mob attacked a Jewish immigration center, killing dozens of Jews. Another group broke the windows of stores in the Jewish street in Jaffa, and a mob armed with knives and sticks made its way towards Tel Aviv. Before 1921 most Jews worked and lived in Jaffa; after the attack, thousands of the 16,000 Jews of Jaffa moved north to Tel Aviv. The suburb had become a city and within a decade, Tel Aviv had become the center of culture, commerce and light industry for the entire Jewish population of the country as well as the British soldiers. 1938 marked the opening of Tel Aviv port, an important milestone in the end of its dependency on Jaffa. By this time, Tel Aviv was already the biggest city in the country, with 130,000 residents. After Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, Jaffa became a district of Tel Aviv and the city's name was officially changed to Tel Aviv-Yafo.

Today, Tel Aviv-Yafo represents the heart of a thriving, Israeli metropolis - the greater metropolitan area comprises a number of separate municipalities with approximately 3.1 million people living in a 25 km long sprawl along the Mediterranean coast - with around 392,700 in Tel Aviv-Yafo itself making it the second largest city in Israel after Jerusalem(760,800 inhabitants). Bat Yam, Holon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Bnei-Brak, Petah Tikva, Rishon LeZion, Ramat Ha-Sharon, Rehovot and Herzliya are the other major cities in the coastal area commonly known as Gush Dan.

Whilst Jerusalem is Israel's capital city, where most government departments are located, Tel Aviv and its satellite cities form the economic and cultural center. It is known as "the city that doesn't stop" and indeed you will find that the nightlife and culture are active around the clock. In summer 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, giving Tel Aviv a well deserved reputation of being a party town. It is the pinnacle of secular life in Israel.

Tel Aviv is likely the most liberal city in Israel and in the Middle East - as it is no less liberal than Western Europe's liberally-inclined major cities. It has a bustling civil society and is home to many activist movements and NGOs. Its residents tend to have liberal attitudes towards gay and lesbian rights, and, in fact, Tel Aviv hosts the largest gay pride parade in Israel (the only country in the Middle East where homosexuality is not considered illegal). It is also a destination for gay Palestinian refugees, unable to pursue their lifestyle in the Palestinian territories. With its liberalism comes a dose of sophistication and some will say detachment, and Tel Aviv is often dubbed "The Bubble" or "Medinat Tel Aviv" ("The State of Tel Aviv") by residents and non-residents alike. Some ultra-Orthodox Israelis have even dubbed the city a modern day "Sodom and Gomorrah", due to its hedonistic lifestyle.

Tel Aviv "White City" was declared a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site

In July 2003 Tel Aviv-Yafo was declared a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site for the many "International" style buildings built in the city during the 1930s-50s (also known as Bauhaus after the German school it originated from). As this style emphasized simplicity and the white color, Tel Aviv is also called the White City.

Orientation

Tel Aviv lies alongside the Mediterranean coastline. With few exceptions, all points of interest for tourists are in the central district, a rectangle defined by the sea to the west, the Yarkon River to the north, the Ayalon highway to the east, and Salame Road to the south. Within the central district, most of the attractions are to the west of the Ibn Gabirol Street, starting from the Yarkon River in the north and changing its name to Yehuda Halevy in the south.

Tel Aviv developed from south to north. To the south-western corner of the rectangle you will find old Jaffa. To its north, is the first Jewish neighborhood outside Jaffa, Neve Tzedek (meaning "Oasis of Justice"). To Neve Tzedek’s east is Florentin, a 1920s light-industry quarter founded by Jews from Salonika in Greece that in recent years has turned into a trendy neighborhood for young people, albeit one with a large population of older and poor people; and then the Central Bus Station area, now home to foreign workers from around the world.

To the north of Neve Tzedek is "Kerem Ha'Temanim" (the Yemenite Vineyard), a crowded but picturesque neighborhood dating to the early 20th century and east and north of here lies the city center, a chiefly residential area built in the 1920s and 1930s, where the majority of Bauhaus ("International") style architecture is to be found. Further north and east, the "old north" (not to be confused with "the north" on the other side of the Yarkon), is a more spacious residential area built during the 1940s and 1950s.

Tel Aviv residents often speak of a north-south divide in Tel Aviv-Yafo. The north is usually associated with a continental, chic, and suburbanite lifestyle centered around Kikar haMedina and "Ramat Aviv". To the south, the city takes on a more working-class and eastern, albeit evermore trendy, urban feel. A crude divide would be that all neighborhoods north of the Yarkon River are considered "north"; the area between the sea in the west, Ayalon Highway in the east, Yarkon River in the north and Salame Street in the south is considered "central" Tel Aviv. The area south of Salame Street is generally south Tel Aviv, and Jaffa lies to the South-West. North Tel Aviv is generally more residential and family-oriented; central Tel Aviv is the hipper-younger area with many single people and couples in their 20s and 30s; south Tel Aviv is a rapidly gentrifying area with a mixed population - from older working-class people to artists to migrant African workers.

Get in

By plane

Ben Gurion Airport

Most international visitors to Israel pass through the Arrivals hall at Ben Gurion Airport
Tel Aviv HaShalom Railway Station

Tel Aviv's (and Israel's) main entry point for the international traveler is Ben Gurion International Airport (referred to by its Hebrew initials Natbag by locals). The airport comprises all the usual amenities expected from a first class airport and contains one of the world's largest duty-free shopping malls for an airport of its size. The airport is the hub for a number of airlines, most notably El Al. It's also one of the most secure airports in the world, given its location.

Even though the airport is called TLV it's not actually in Tel Aviv, but rather 15km away in the town of Lod. A further 20 minute drive is needed to get to Tel Aviv. This trip can be done by train or taxi from Ben Gurion airport. There is no direct bus or sherut taxi to Tel Aviv from Ben Gurion, although traveling by bus is possible.

By train
The airport train station is easily accessible at the lower level on Terminal 3 (one level below the arrivals hall). It offers good connection to many parts of the country, including the city of Tel Aviv, with a single-ride ticket to the city for only 13.50 NIS (roughly US$3.30). Buy a ticket from the cashier or from an automatic machine, and use it to enter the platform area. Keep the ticket for use to exit the electronic gate at your arrival station. The train service operates around the clock on weekdays, with 3 trains per hour most of the day and one per hour at night. On weekends, from Friday afternoon till Saturday evenings, it doesn't operate (As of January 2016, the last departure from the airport on Friday is at 14:36, and the first departure on Saturday at 19:28. In summer and spring during Daylight Savings Time trains run for an hour later of Fridays and start running 2 hours later on Saturdays). All trains stop at all four Tel Aviv stations during the day, while late night trains stop only at Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor station. The stations are, in order of arrival from the airport (south to north): Tel Aviv HaHagana (8 minutes travel), Tel Aviv HaShalom (13 minutes), Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor (18 minutes), Tel Aviv University (25 minutes). For most travelers, HaShalom or Merkaz/Savidor would be the place to disembark, being close to most hotels and sights. Most stations are suitable for non-Hebrew speakers, nonetheless, passengers will often be glad to assist.
By taxi
Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this is the most comfortable and expensive way to reach the city center, with a typical ride price of around 120 NIS (circa $35 US). If you travel with a friend or two, it can be a good idea to share a taxi. It is not inappropriate to sit in the front seat in taxis in Israel. Taxis are required by law to use the taxi meter, unless agreed otherwise by the passenger and driver, and a typical ride to the city center should not take more than 15–20 minutes, without heavy traffic. Be sure not to accept fix-priced rides with taxi drivers unless you're sure of what you are doing; you will usually end up paying more than you could have had you asked to use the meter.
By bus
This method and requires a connection and can often be more expensive than the train (depending on the exact destination and having a Rav-Kav public transportation card). It is not recommended to visitors without a command of Hebrew and a basic understanding of Israel's bus system. Egged's Line 5 shuttles passengers between the airport's two terminals, El Al Junction, and Airport City (a nearby business and industrial area). To get to Tel Aviv, the bus needs to be taken to El Al Junction and from there multiple lines travel to Tel Aviv. The last bus leaves the airport at 21:55 and in the opposite direction from El Al Junction—at 21:15 (estimated). When going to the airport, one needs to ask the driver for a ticket that includes access to Line 5 in order to avoid paying an extra fare for that line.

Sde Dov

Tel Aviv has another airport, Sde Dov (SDV). This is a primarily domestic airport, with frequent flights to Eilat (ETH) and Rosh Pina (Galilee) (RPN) .

By car

Tel Aviv is the hub of the country's modern network of freeways. The city is easily accessible from Ben Gurion Airport via the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv freeway (freeway 1), from the north by Tel Aviv–Haifa freeway (freeway 2), as well as from Beer-Sheva and the southern parts of the country (freeway 4). Freeways' speed limit is 110 km/h. On other intercity roads the limit varies between 80 and 90 km/h. On urban roads the default speed limit is 50 km/h.

By bus

The New Central Bus Station in southern Tel Aviv ("Tahana Merkazit") offers routes servicing most locations in Israel. It is located within a short walking distance of the HaHaganah Train Station. The building, which is a combination of shopping mall and bus terminal, is more than a bit confusing - in fact, it is almost unmanageable for the infrequent visitor; tourists might want to avoid it and instead take buses destined for the 2000 Bus Terminal (see below).

Several different bus companies operate urban and intercity buses in Tel Aviv: Egged, Dan, Metropoline, Kavim and a few smaller ones. Check the electronic boards in departure halls for info on destinations, platforms and coming-up departures. If this doesn't help, ask at the information booths. Egged and Metropoline have information booths on 6th floor. The Dan info booth on 7th floor (they also handle info on lines operated by Kavim).

Most inter-city bus lines depart from platforms on the north wing of 6th floor, except for buses to Galilee (Afula, Nazareth, Tiberias, Kiryat Shmona etc.) which are on the south wing on 7th floor (accessible by escalator from 6th floor). Most urban lines to Tel Aviv and its suburbs are on the north wing on 7th floor (which isn't connected to the south wing of the same floor), with several lines on 4th floor which is actually at street level (those are popular city lines no. 4&5. To get to Ben Yehuda St. from the Central Bus Station, head to the 4th floor and catch line number 4.

The fare is 6.90 shekels (Jan. 2016). Get off at the intersection of Allenby and Ben Yehuda to find a slew of hotels and hostels. A good marker to find your bearings is the Mercure hotel (big lit up sign) on Ben Yehuda, get off around there.

The Egged bus #405 from Jerusalem leaves about every 20 minutes, starting at 5:50AM and ending at 23:45 PM, from Jerusalem CBS and arrives at Tel Aviv CBS. It takes 56 minutes and the fare is 20 NIS (Dec 2011). Bus #480 leaves about every 10 minutes, starting at 5:45AM with the last bus at 23:45 PM, for Arlozorov. It takes 1 hour and costs 20 NIS (Dec 2011).

Several urban lines stop outside the station building on Levinski street (north side of the station), and some others a block away to the west on Har Zion street. Sherut taxis depart from Tzemach David street outside the east side of the station.

All people entering the bus terminal are subject to security screening. Be aware of your surroundings and keep and eye on your property while in and around the main bus terminal especially at night, as the area is a high crime area.

2000 Bus Terminal (AKA Arlozorov terminal), is a more user-friendly bus terminal and can replace the main bus terminal for and many metropolitan and several intercity destinations including Jerusalem and Haifa. It is located next to Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor Train Station, so it is a good place to make connections between train and bus. There are information desks and the platforms are all located in two areas and passengers can access them without security screening. This terminal and its surroundings are safe at all hours. North-bound buses stop at Namir Road alongside this terminal, but at peak times they might be full when they get there. Most south-bound buses stop at Holon Junction. The above warning is also valid there.

In general, buses obey the Jewish Sabbath, stopping on Friday afternoon, and only resuming service Saturday after dark. Some services, however, may start earlier on Saturday afternoon. Minor services may not resume until Sunday morning. Tickets can be bought from the driver (cash only, but exact change is not needed), or from the ticket counters in the main stations. Most fares in Tel Aviv are 6.90. For information, call +972 3-6948888, or *2800 from any phone within the country, .

A daily bus service is also available to and from Amman through the King Hussein Bridge. Call the operator (+972 4-6573984) for details.

By train

Israel Railways (information center: +972 3-5774000) operate train services within Israel. Train service has improved significantly during the last decade or so, and today they are a fast and comfortable alternative to buses for many destinations. Train services connect Tel Aviv to Haifa and Beer-Sheva, as well as numerous smaller towns whilst a direct train line connects Tel Aviv to Ben-Gurion airport.

Note that the train ride to Jerusalem follows the 19th century path and takes an hour and a half. This scenic route is worth taking at least once, even though taking the bus on the modern highway takes half the time. The train station in Jerusalem located far from the main bus terminal and city center.

Trains do tend to be crowded during rush hours, especially on Sunday morning, when soldiers return to their bases and students to their universities. Train service also stops on Friday afternoons, and resumes on Saturdays after dark, in observance of the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat).

Tel Aviv has four train stations, all along the Ayalon highway. All trains to Tel Aviv stop in all four stations during the day, while late night trains stop only at Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor station. List of stations from north to south:

Get around

Line 100 - a tourist bus line around Tel Aviv

By bus

Tel Aviv has a modern, regular, cheap and widespread bus network run mostly by Dan. Bus services start at 05:00 and stop at midnight, though some of the lines stop earlier, so do check. There are night buses that run until 3:30 (Thursday and Saturday nights all year, and in addition Sunday to Wednesday nights during the summer).

Single tickets within the city and the close suburbs (Bat Yam, Holon, Ramat Gan, Bney Brak, Givatayim) cost 6.90 NIS, around $2 US (as of January 2016). A daily pass called "Hofshi-Yomi" is also available, and cost less than the price of three rides. Note that this ticket is only valid from 9:00. Monthly passes ("Hofshi-Hodshi") are also available and offer cost savings per ride. People visiting the city for longer periods would find the monthly pass the most economic transport ticket.

There is also a Rav-Kav electronic card (free signup at central bus or train station required) whose "e-wallet" can be charged up by paying a lump sum of your choice on buses, and resulting in a 20% discount on each ride. Free transfers within 90 minutes are available when paying with the chip card.

Tickets can be purchased either at the driver of any bus line, or at the New Central Bus Station. Exact change is not necessary, but a driver may refuse payment by notes of 100 or 200 shekels.

Suburban lines are operated by numerous companies. Multi-ride tickets are not exchangeable between companies, but the chip card e-wallet is common to several companies in greater Tel Aviv and the 90-minute transfer can be used across most companies (the Ministry of Transport plans to include all companies in the future).

The most popular bus route in the city is bus route number 5, which connects the Central Bus Station (departure from 4th floor, westernmost platform) in the south with the Central Train Station. It goes through Rotschild Boulevard, Dizengoff Street (including the Dizengoff Center Mall), Nordau Boulevard, Pinkas/Yehuda Maccabi Street and Weizmann Street or Namir Road.

The number 4 bus is also convenient. It runs north from the Central Bus Station through Allenby road and Ben Yehuda Street.

Another popular bus route is number 18, connecting the Central Train Station with the southern neighbourhoods of Jaffa and Bat-Yam. It also has a stop in Rabin Square.

Like most Israelis, the bus drivers in Tel Aviv speak and understand English reasonably well, and in most cases will kindly answer questions about the destination of their bus and let you know when to get off, and other passengers are likely to be just as helpful.

By taxi

"Sherut" (shared taxi)

Common figure of "Sherut" (shared) taxi

The "Sherut" ("sheh-ROOT") are shared taxis, with 6-12 person van-sized minibuses that supplement some bus routes. This alternative is often faster, slightly cheaper, and more frequent than taking a bus, and they operate 7 days a week (on Shabbat too). If requested, the driver will stop outside the designated bus stops. Such service is available on bus routes no. 4, 5 (but note that these taxis don't reach the train station), 16, 51 and 66. You pay when you have found your seat, by passing the fare to the man next to you who will pass it along to the driver. If you sit up front be prepared to pass money to the driver and the change back to the passenger.

"Special"

Common figure of "Special" (on call) taxi

You can hail a taxi ("mo-NIT", מונית) in the street or call one (with extra surcharge, 3.30 NIS). Taxis are obliged to give you a metered ride unless you settle for a price, so insist that the driver use the meter ("mo-NEH" in Hebrew, pronounced like the painter "Monet"), unless you are sure what the price to your destination should be. And no, the meter is never broken. A local ride without meter should be 20-30 NIS in the downtown core, and up to 50 or 60 to the immediate suburbs. If you go for a price fixed in advance, haggle with your driver a bit, you can generally knock a few shekels off the price. Cutting a deal in advance is especially recommended on Friday night and Saturday and late at night, when there is a surcharge, and during traffic time, because if you get stuck in Tel Aviv's notorious traffic, you won't sit there watching your money tick away.

For inter-city rides, note that the Ministry of Transportation has issued an official fixed price list, covering many municipalities in Israel, if not all of them. These figures are also uploaded to the meter, and when coaxed, the driver will have to check his municipality code list and check the official fare. Note that these lists are only available in Hebrew, so check these prices in advance with the assistance of a Hebrew speaker.

By bicycle

Tel-O-Fun - a bicycle sharing service

Given Tel Aviv's flat and coastal geography, mild weather, and a growing number of bicycle paths throughout the city - bicycle travel in Tel Aviv is an ideal way to get around. Several shops throughout the city offer bicycle rental, and cheap Chinese made bicycles can be purchased for several hundred shekels on longer stays. A bike rental service called Tel-O-Fun is available in Tel Aviv. Tel-O-Fun offers hundreds of bikes for rent, at rental stations across the city, in a simple and convenient manner using a credit card. Tel-O-Fun An English language Google map of docking stations is available. Be sure to lock your bicycle at all times and don't leave it outside at night, even proper locks get cut by electric cutters in under 15 seconds.

By car

Ayalon Freeway (freeway 20) runs north-south and is the main artery of the city. It is best to avoid commuter traffic in and out of Tel Aviv and its surrounding cities during rush hours (Sunday to Thursday, 7:00–9:00 and 17:00–19:00); especially to be avoided is the entrance to Tel Aviv via Ayalon Freeway in morning rush hour. Also, it is important to note that Israeli drivers are considered aggressive in comparison to their Western European or North American counterparts. Signage is in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Navigation is difficult without GPS, and parking is expensive. If possible, avoid using a private car in Tel Aviv and use public transportation.

Israeli highway police are strict and speed limits and driving laws are strictly enforced. All in all, driving conditions in Israel are much better than in the rest of the Middle East.

Parking in Tel Aviv is very hard to find, and proves to be a challenge even for the locals. Parking lots are available, but expensive (usually around 25–30 NIS an hour during the day), and can also be full around busier times (i.e., a parking in a central area could be full on a Friday night, when everybody in the area goes out to eat and drink in the city). Parking in the street (if you can find one) is allowed where there is no marking (grey) for free, where there is blue and white marking ("kachol-lavan") for an hourly fee (cheaper than lots) generally between 9:00-19:00 (street signs indicating that are usually just in Hebrew), and there are usually no parking meters, meaning you need to get parking cards to put in your window in advance (usually in a kiosk). Also, some areas of blue-white are reserved for locals with a zone sticker at certain times of day (mostly 17:00 to 09:00). It is forbidden to park where there are red and white or red and yellow markings, though sometimes only in certain hours, as indicated by signs (but those are usually in Hebrew only as well). The inspectors in Tel Aviv are everywhere and merciless, beware as you can get a fine of 100-500 NIS! There are generally more parking spaces in the south and the north (north of the Yarkon river that is) than there are in the center.

See

Eretz Israel Museum (Land of Israel Museum)
Tel Aviv Bauhaus Museum

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. The complete listings are found on each individual district page alongside many more things to see in each district.

Attractions by area

North

Center

South

Jaffa

Museums and exhibitions

Do

Azrieli Center towers; for a good view of the city, climb up to the circular tower observatory
Small section of the beach at Tel Aviv
Luna Park Tel Aviv amusement park
Israel Trade Fairs & Convention Center

There’s a lot to do in Tel Aviv. For the biggest selection, check out the individual district articles. These are some of the highlights.

Amusement and water parks

Performing arts

Tel Aviv has the widest selection of performing arts in Israel.

Fans of classical music might enjoy Israel's Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Israel Opera.

The Barby (52, Kibutz Galuyot st., +972 3-5188123), and the Goldstar Zappa (24, Habarzel st., +972 3-6499550) present Israeli (and sometimes foreign) rock daily.

For more alternative and indie music with occasional jazz shows and electronic parties, head to Levontin 7 named after its street address or The OzenBar.

Tmuna Theater (8, Shontsino st., +972 3-5629462) alternates between local acts, both famous and unknown, and fringe theater productions in Hebrew.

Dance can be enjoyed in Suzanna Dellal Center in Neve Tzedek.

Theater is mostly performed in Hebrew, naturally, but English interpretation is available is some of the shows for extra-fees in Habima National Theater (+972 3-6295555) and HaCameri Municipal Theater.

Fans of jazz can find great shows at the Shavlul club in the Tel-Aviv harbor, with jam sessions every Monday at 10:30PM.

Sports

The match between Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv is a major event in the city as the teams are as huge rivals as they come.

Festivals

Tel Aviv hosts many festivals and events. Something is going on almost every weekend so make sure you're updated!

Learn

Buy

Markets

Carmel market

Tel Aviv's markets are the best show in town, and they're bustling all day long. A Middle Eastern mélange of tastes, scents, sounds, colors – and lots of people. Friday is the busiest day when most Israelis do their shopping until the afternoon. Closed Saturdays.

Malls

Dizengoff Center

Israel has the highest ratio of shopping mall sqm per capita, in the world. As malls are good places to catch some air-conditioning in the hot Israeli climate, they have quickly become a preferable place of entertainment for the locals. The variety is usually mid-range, mainstream, with both international and local brands.

Tel Aviv has 6 major malls.

Shopping streets

Shops and Bauhaus architecture in Sheinkin street

The air-conditioned malls threaten to destroy the concept of shopping streets, but some of the more special ones still survive.

Dizengoff Street is popular with the shoppers as the street is peppered with numerous specialty shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as the sprawling Dizengoff Center Mall. One of the cities best second hand clothing shops can be found at the corner of Dizengoff and Frishman Streets in the covered passageway. It's called Daffodil 11, and the shop sells modern, trendy clothing at unbelievably low prices. Second-hand clothing shops are getting very popular in Tel Aviv and you'll find them scattered all over the city.

Shenkin St. is one of the most popular streets in Tel Aviv, either for shopping or just for a coffee or light lunch.

The street is full of shops and cafés, some more expensive and some less. Many Israeli designers have small shops there, whether as groups or if they are successful, their own private place. Whether you are looking for a smart suite or presents for your children, you will have a wide selection on this street.

Daffodil 11 101 Dizengoff Hod Passage, Tel Aviv

If you're lucky enough to be in Tel Aviv in February or August, you can find the city's most talented designers gathered together in one place with the best of their collections on display – and for sale. Twice a year, for three days each time, a giant fashion fair called City Designers' Market is held in Tel Aviv. Whatever you do, don't miss this colorful carnival of cutting-edge fashion!

Books and music

The country's widespread Steimatzky and Zomet Sfarim chains are a good source for current books. Almost every shop has at least a selection in English. Allenby St. has a number of second hand bookshops, most sell (and buy) English books. For music, check out Tower Records shop in the opera tower, on the corner of Alenby and Herbert Samuel. For the more alternative crowd, Krembo Records in Shenkin Street and Third Ear on King George Street will satisfy your needs.

Art, craft, Judaica, jewelry

Gordon Street is famous for its art galleries. Ben-Yehuda Street has several Judaica\Jewelery\souvenirs shops. You can buy jewelry from Michal Negrin, a world-famous Israeli designer, in her shops at the Azriely mall and on Sheinkin st. The prices are much better than abroad. For more original crafts and Judaica, try the Nahlat Binyamin craft market mentioned above.

Art Galleries:

Antiques Shops:

Eat

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget budget
Mid-range midrange
Splurge splurge

Tel Aviv has an amazing variety of restaurants for every taste. There are plenty of fast food restaurants, both international and local which offer Israeli food. One can get a decent meal, including felafel or hummous (Try Mshwawsha on Bugrashov St. and Abu Hasan in Yafo) on every street corner, for less than $7.

You can also eat a toast, sandwich or some other snack at one of the cafes around the city. Many fruit juice parlors are around.

Cordelia, Catit, Raphael and Messa are considered to be Tel Aviv's most elegant restaurants, serving gourmet and unique plates, inspired both by local and foreign cuisine although not kosher. There are many good kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv including Lilliot, Meatos, Bruno and of course 2C which although pricey, offers gourmet food with amazing views of the city as its located at the very top of the Azrieli round tower.

Finally, Tel Aviv's ice cream parlors offer much more than basic flavors, as the taste buds are eclectic and strive for new flavors, such as Halva, poppy seed, and even a touch of alcoholic liqueurs in the ice cream (Try these places: Vaniglia, Iceberg, Gelateria Siciliana, Dr. Lek and Aldo).

The spacious restaurant features parquet flooring and extensive use of white, brown and mustard. In line with the restaurant’s design, also the dishes served from the kitchen are surprisingly creative. The combination of style, excellent food, top-class service and views from above afford the restaurant the ambience of the finest New York restaurants. Chef Eitan Mizrahi has created an outstanding kosher menu.

Drink

North Tel Aviv after sundown

Tel Aviv is called "The city that never stops" by tourists and locals alike. It has a wide range of pubs, bars, clubs and it is known worldwide for its nightlife. The entire city is crawling with nightlife attractions and you would actually have to work pretty hard to find yourself further than 500 meters away from a place to have a drink. People from all the surrounding region come to Tel Aviv to have a drink or a party so on weekends traffic is hectic at late hours and finding a parking spot is somewhere between hard and impossible (so sticking to cabs is not a bad idea). Buses stop running at sundown on Friday and only start again after sundown on Saturday, so if you go out on Friday night you may find yourself forced to take a cab if you cannot walk! But any day is a good day to party in Tel Aviv, not just the weekends.

New places are opening and closing every day and the "hottest spots" change every couple of months, so no internet guide will be able to direct you to the hippest place (even though some may try). Many places in Tel Aviv have minimum age limitations that vary from 18+ to 30+. Usually the limitation is different between males and females and while some spots may be flexible others will be as strict as possible.

Israel has no unique drinking culture so any place with any self-respect will have the entire world wide alcohol selection available, from Wine and Beer to Tequila, Arak, Vodka, Whiskey and Cognac. One of the most popular drinks is the local Goldstar beer and at the moment (2010) the Arabic drink, Arak (it means "sweat" in Arabic) is all the rage in pubs and bars.

Even though the entire city is full of spots to hang out, there are few streets and areas that stand out with even more pubs/clubs:

Famous tourist spots

Tel Aviv gay scene

Tel Aviv is home to the leading gay community in Israel and all of the Middle-East, and is a very friendly city towards gay people. The most popular gay bar in the city is the "Evita" on Yavneh street. There are many gay clubs and parties. Some of which have been running for several years already (Shirazi's FFF line, which is currently taking place in the 'Haoman 17' club. The electro 'PAG' line). Others are changing from time to time. There is also a gay accommodation (see the Sleep section).

There is a gay beach in the city, next to Hilton Hotel (the gay beach called "Hilton Beach"). It is full of young gay Israelis, especially in the weekends. Next to Dizengof Center and on Rotschild Boulevard you may see gay couples walking freely all day long.

Clubbing

The Tel Aviv club scene is comparable to those in most European capitals. Top international DJs regularly perform in Tel Aviv, with clubs constantly vying to outdo each other with ever more extravagant parties. Up to date English language party listings are readily available online.

The biggest and newest club (mimicking New York's Roxy) in the city is Haoman 17 (Florentin quarter).

Other fantastic clubs are TLV, Dome (gay; Offer Nissim is the resident DJ), Vox, Powder and the "indie" Cafe Barzilay and Studio 46.

Rock clubs, include Barbie Club, in Kibutz Galuyot St, or the Zappa Club, in the northeastern neighbourhood of Ramat haChayal, among others, host concerts almost every night of the week.

Billiards (pool) clubs, include Gypsy on Kikar Atarim (Atarim plaza) in Hayarkon St.

Dance clubs

  • Block Club, 157 Shlomo (Salame) St, ☎ +972 3 5378002, . Usually open Thur and Fri nights and featuring big name international DJs weekly.

Salsa clubs

  • Hazira Club, 45 Itzhak Sadeh St, ☎ +972 3 5623456 (Tue, Thur, and Sat, classes start at 9:15PM and party starts at 10:30PM, on Mon about 50% line dancing 30% ballroom dancing, 20% salsa).
  • Bailatino Club, 29 Karlibach St (entry is a little difficult to find - its on the other side of the building) ☎ +972 3 6240186 (Su,Tu,W, classes start at 9:15PM and party starts at 10:30PM, Fridays no classes and starts at 12:30AM). Entry is 40 NIS in both places and each day has a different style of Salsa music. There are other dance clubs with Latin/Brazilian music once a week.

Cafés

Coffee shops have been an inseparable part of the Tel Aviv cultural lifestyle ever since the city was founded, as cafés were always the favorite hanging spots of the local bohemia. It is therefore no surprise that Tel Aviv boasts many cafés, which can be found everywhere in the city, offering aromatic Italian Espressos and Capuccinos (called "Hafukh", meaning upside-down, in Hebrew). Espresso-bar, Cafeneto, 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 slap the check on your table or require you to order more stuff.

Bohemian 'Puah' (located in the Jaffa flea market), Café Noah, Chic 'Le Central' (Rothschild Av.), and 'Tolaat Sfarim' (Rabin Sq.) are recommended for their very distinctive and Israeli café-drinking experience.

Sleep

Hotels on the beachline of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has a wide variety of accommodation options, from camping and backpacker hostels, boutique hotels, right up to luxury 5-star hotels. The main area for a short term stay is in the center with a big hotels strip on the beach and many accommodation options all around. The center should be your default place to stay. Some places can also be found in the south and will usually be cheaper (except the David Intercontinental).

Another option to cut expenses a bit is to sleep in the nearby towns instead of actually staying inside Tel Aviv. This is a very common practice for young Israelis that want the Tel Aviv lifestyle without the Tel Aviv cost. The most common options are Ramat Gan, Bat Yam, Holon and Givatayim.

Connect

Wireless internet

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 municipality operates a free Wi-Fi netwrok called "Free_TLV" in select locations around the city.

Cope

Medical services

Embassies

Stay safe

Regular crime rates are much lower in Tel Aviv (and in all of Israel) than in most other cities of similar size. Pickpockets are not a big problem, but you should be aware mostly in HaCarmel Market, Nachlat Binyamin market, the central bus station, the beach promenade and all of Jaffa and the flea market area. Although street crime is rare all around Tel Aviv, it would be best advised to avoid walking parks alone at night, or wandering alone in the southern neighborhoods late at night, which are a bit more rugged (in and around the central bus terminal, and south of Salame/Eilat Street including Jaffa - except Florentin). If necessary, a companion would be a good idea.

Be mindful that Tel Aviv has hot and long summers so be sure to drink a lot of water even if you don't feel thirsty and use lots of sunscreen.

When going for a swim in the Mediterranean, stick to the patrolled beaches with lifeguards, marked with flags and signs - every year people drown off the Tel Aviv coast when strong currents get them into difficulties. Also, at the beginning of the summer, keep an eye out for jellyfish (called meduza in Hebrew). Remember that during the months of winter, though the weather may allow a bathe, the lifeguard service is inactive (official bathing season begins on April 18th and ends late in October).

Terrorist incidents have decreased in the past decade and are extremely rare. Nonetheless, The usual warnings regarding being alert for bomb threats also pertain to Tel Aviv - beware of suspicious packages in public places (though don't over panic), and suspicious behavior on the part of people around you; if in doubt, report it! The local police are generally very friendly and many of the law-enforcers can speak understandable English.

Security control checks are a necessary annoyance when entering shopping malls, markets the central bus station, and most hotels, cafes and restaurant. You are frequently requested to let the guards look into your bag - this is a fairly common procedure. It is best not to find it offensive or intrusive, and this check shouldn't take more than 20 seconds and end with a smile and a green light. It is also best advised to carry some sort of identification documents on you at all times. Policeman may stop and ask you for identification, and Israelis are technically required to carry an ID at all times.

Given the amount of security checkpoints at commercial premises, the presence of military facilities and decent police patrolling, open carry of firearms in public by both servicemen and civilians are such an everyday occurrence that most people don't even notice them. Soldiers and national guard volunteers are required to keep their weapons with them at all times, so it is not unusual to see what appears to be a group of high school students, dressed like any other high schools students out on the weekend, all carrying rifles.

As buses are the best way to tour the city, it is advised not to think twice before using them. Despite their past reputation as "terrorism targets", the city buses are a very safe way to travel. They are safe at all times of day and night, frequent, cheap, reliable and easy to handle. You can always approach the driver with any relevant question and the passengers are usually keen to assist tourists.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.