Tel Aviv Destination Guide
Tel Aviv Holidays
Tel Avivians will tell you that they live in the greatest city on earth, but it’s not only the postcard sites that make the city so alluring, it’s the lifestyle. A small village only a hundred years ago, these days Tel Aviv has transformed itself into a booming metropolis and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Middle East. Liberal and laissez faire, the city is culturally much further away than 80km from neighbouring Jerusalem and at any time of day you’ll find the restaurants and cafes crowded with trendy locals, the shop cash registers chiming and the beach bustling with swimmers, joggers and dog walkers.
There are few cities in the world quite like Tel Aviv. The cuisine, shopping, nightlife and tree-lined streets all contribute to its attraction but it’s the Mediterranean Sea, and the bars and cafes that line it that really take the spoils. There are eight major beaches, each with their own character that contributes to Tel Aviv’s Rio-style feel. Gordon, across from the Sheraton Hotel is the city’s most popular beach while across from the Hilton Hotel is the city’s openly gay slice of sand. Between Jerusalem and Dolphinarium Beach is the most laid back strip and that’s where you’ll find musicians jamming on a Friday night.
Visitors to Tel Aviv are in for a gastric treat. Known to many as “the city that never stops”, wining and dining’s very much a part of Tel Aviv’s 24-hour culture. A great meal of falafel and shawarma can be found on just about every street corner but for something special head to either Dizengoff or Rothschild Street and take your pick from one of the chic cafes, restaurants and bars. Constituting a large part of the city’s Arab population, Jaffa is where to go for simple but tasty traditional Middle-Eastern fare, while beachside and at the Tel Aviv Port you’ll find more upscale restaurants and nightclubs with quality to match the views.
Where to Stay
There are all manner of places to stay in Tel Aviv, with everything on offer from cheap guesthouses and historic boutique hotels to luxury chain hotels. Most of the city’s best hotels, including Dan Hotel, can be found along Hayarkon Street and right next to the beach. Carlton Hotel is widely renowned as the best of the beachside bunch and is home to a rooftop cabana where you can unwind and watch the Tel Aviv sunset. An alternative to staying in a Tel Aviv hotel is to book a room at the Nina Café Suites, a lovely boutique accommodation with a French inn feel.
As the country’s lifestyle capital, Tel Aviv is also not surprisingly the best place to go shopping in Israel. Central Tel Aviv is where you’ll find boutiques galore, especially on Dizengoff and Herzel Streets, the home of Israel’s best-known designers. On a hot summer’s day a shopping mall makes a great escape from the heat and Tel Aviv is home to six major shopping malls. Azrieli Mall is the biggest and best of the bunch while the Ramat Aviv Mall is a slightly more upmarket shopping centre. To grab a bargain, trawl through the stalls at the Central Bus Station, while the Central and Camel markets can’t be missed for sight seeing as much as for shopping.
Tel Aviv Like a Local
For decades Tel Aviv’s grungier southern districts have been ignored by tourists but now, thanks to the blooming of new shops, restaurants and bars, areas such as Noga, Florentine and Gan Hahashmal make perfect locations to experience an authentic side to Tel Aviv. For a slice of yesteryear, the ancient port city of Jaffa is home to a multicultural community of Muslims, Christians and Jews, and is a great place to take a stroll along cobble-stoned streets, trawl through the Jaffa Flea Market and explore the newly developed entertainment complex at Jaffa Railway Station.