Welcome to Tel Aviv, the coolest place in the middle east!
That urban mess on the hot coast of the Mediterranean is the center of Israel’s largest metropolis, though not its capital. It’s loud, artistic, fashionable, and pretty much as diverse as it gets- from the ancient Arabic city of Jaffa, through the graffiti sprayed walls and hipster galleries of Florentin, the fancy cocktail bars in Dizengoff to the villas in the suburbs up north. The city is very international and super tourist friendly.
I’m Maya, and I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life. Before hopping over to Jerusalem for the next three years, I thought I’d write you guys some recommendations about the city.
Side note- things open and close crazy fast around here, so make sure the place still exists before you try to get there.
Hamiznon– From the chef who invented fancy street food (which is huge here), this place is designed like a marketplace and offers fine chef dishes all packed in pita bread. It’s definitely a Tel Aviv cliché, but as a tourist, you just have to go. And it’s delicious, promise. They have veggie options.
A few branches, the central ones being in King George and Even Gvirol.
Mezcal– a loud and happy Mexican restaurant with great food. The menu is inspired by Mexican street food and has many vegetarian options. They have some cool Mexican beers, liquors, and cocktails.
Sushi Fu– my favorite sushi place in the city. A little pricey
Yirmiyahu (near north Dizengoff).
Salon Berlin / Haminzar (The Convent)– two bars across from another. The classic recommendation- good vibes, super chilled, pretty full on weekends. Salon Berlin has a good selection of German beers.
Huddna Bar– My favorite bar in Florentin. Great vibes, not crazy prices (well, for Tel Aviv- Which is crazy prices for pretty much anywhere else), sometimes they have good live gigs so check ahead.
The Prince (Hanasich)– A chilled rooftop café / bar in a beautiful old Bauhaus building in Nahalat Binyamin. Run down gorgeous building, paintings, and poetry on the walls. They often have great DJs playing.
The Little Prince– More of a café than a bar, this half second-hand book shop (they have English books too!) half café has a fun inner courtyard and good food.
Beit Ha’amudim– Something for you jazz lovers. Beit Ha’amudim features a different concert every day (except Fridays), most of them are fantastic. Note that we are talking pretty strict jazz here, so this is not for everyone.
Sura Mare– in the heart of an industrial zone, the top floor of an office building hosts this rooftop bar with a gorgeous view of the city below. Entrance age here is relatively steep for Tel Aviv- 26- though they often make exceptions on weekdays when the place isn’t full.
Spicehouse– A beautiful cocktail bar, decorated in an English colonial style (yeah, you Brits were here too). You’d recognize it by the big caption “the east Jaffa perfume company” outside. The cocktails recipes here are super original and the servings beautiful. A bit of a different crowd to the other places I mentioned before because the place is fancier. Note that prices are a bit more than the Tel Aviv average.
Bar areas for a night out drinking: Allenby-Nahalt Binyamin-Rothschild, Florentin, Dizengoff (the northern part, not the part near Dizengoff Center).
Most of the really great parties in Tel Aviv are one time things, so check ahead to see where there’s something fun during your stay. About clubs- The Bloc (hardcore electro in a side hall of the central bus station), Breakfast and Alphabet are all good electro and techno clubs. I recommend checking on their websites/facebook pages to see what party they have that weekend. Pasaz also has good parties sometimes, most of them are 2000s music, pop or hip-hop themed. Beit Romano is worth checking out as well.
I’m not really a big malls kind of girl, so my favorite “shopping round” in the city is walking on Dizengoff (start at Dizengoff Square and go north). The street is full of shops of large and small designers, most of them Israeli. Prices range from low budget made in china (e.g Studio Pasha) to only affordable by rich Japanese tourists.
Some of my favorites:
Blueberry- chilled and low budget.
Cala – an Israeli chain selling cool vintage and retro clothes.
Ink – stylish yet affordable pieces.
Jaffa Flea Market
Old and gorgeous clothes, furniture, home décor, and records. The guys there expect you to haggle- they will probably give you a higher price from the start because you’re tourists- but try to still remain polite and cordial. The market also has some good restaurants and pubs around, and Jaffa’s beautiful clock tower and old city are definitely a must see.
It gets pretty hot and humid here, and as you will see, the beach in Tel Aviv is always an option, as half the people on the street will be wearing bathing suits and flip flops “just in case”.
The usual suspects are the beaches around the boardwalk and Hayarkon street (where the hotels are), which are definitely nice but packed with people in high season.
If you guys are looking for something calmer and more secluded (not truly secluded- if you want a really lonely beach you’d have to leave Israel’s center), my favorite beach is in Hertzeliya, a city about 20 mins drive north of Tel Aviv. It’s called Sydney Ali, after an old Muslim mosque located on a cliff above the sea. You get there by walking down a road from the mosque to the beach, getting an incredible view of the sea beneath you.
What’s the catch? It’s almost impossible to get there by public transport. But if you guys wind up renting a car or randomly ending up in Hertzeliya – go there. It’s the nicest beach in the metropolis, guaranteed.