The Ultimate Guide To Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is the second largest city in Israel. It's young, liberal, and completely opposite from all other cities in this country. Especially from the conservative and religious Jerusalem (the capital of Israel). People come here to enjoy the warm Mediterranean sea, beautiful beaches, non-stop nightlife, and most delicious food.
In my city guide, you will find all the necessary information for planning a trip to Tel Aviv: what you should take into account before coming here, how much it costs to stay here, what places are worth visiting and much more.

Buying Cheap Tickets To Tel Aviv

The best time to visit Tel Aviv is September. This month, the weather is not too hot, the water is pleasantly warm, while the ticket price is lower than in June and July.

I usually use to search for flight tickets. They have a ton of filters that allow to find most suitable flights and a calendar of low prices right in front of your eyes. They work with dozens of airlines and compare their prices. Plus, you can book a hotel, car and a tour on the same website. So it's totally worth starting your ticket search with checking their website.
Cheap flights to Tel Aviv

Getting Ready For Tel Aviv

Before you start packing your bags, think of this: Israel is a country in a very complicated political situation. Here, security issues stand above comfort, politeness, and even your opinion. While Israel is a great country totally worth visiting, you should understand that going though Israeli customs might not be the most pleasant experience in your life. If you want to make it smooth, be clear and honest while answering security's questions, pack your things in a way that will allow customs workers to easily check them without making too much mess. If you are coming to visit friends and planning to stay at their place make sure to have an invitation letter from them.

How to get to Tel Aviv from the airport

To get to the city center, you can take either a train or a taxi. Taxi from the Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv will cost you about $43. It's about 30-40 minutes drive to the center depending on traffic.

Going by train takes around 10-15 minutes and costs $2. Note that there are four train stations in Tel Aviv so find out which one is the closest to your place of staying in advance. From the station you will still need to take a bus or a cab.

How much money you will need in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a pretty expensive city. Way more expensive that most cities in Europe including London and Paris. Here is the cost of some basic things that you might want to have during a vacation here:

Room for two in a low-budget hotel in the center: $90 per day
Two tickets to Tel Aviv Museum of Art: $28
Dinner at a restaurant for two: $60-80
Beers for two during Happy Hour: $17
Breakfast for two (average place): $42
Hummus and drinks (street food): $15
Renting 2 bicycles for a day: $12

A day like this in Tel Aviv will cost around $250-$280 for a couple.

Must-See Places In Tel Aviv

Start exploring Tel Aviv from its oldest part - Jaffa. Before Tel Aviv even existed, Jaffa was a separate city with Arabs as the majority of the population. There are many places to see in this area: the Flea Market, Clock Tower, The Orange Tree, St. Peter's Church, and the old port. By the way, New Europe Tours offer FREE excursions in Old Jaffa. Check the timetable on their website.

The biggest Tel Aviv's Flea Market is located in Jaffa as well. That's a great place to hunt for vintage accessories, clothing, and furniture. Plus, that's the favourite spot of local designers: here you'll find stores of Sharon Brunsher, Lara Rosnovsky, Ellen Ruben, Anat Friedman, and others.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Старый Яффо
Going north from Jaffa, you will come to The Old Train Station - another concentration of Israeli and European boutiques, fancy bars, and simply a beautiful place to be in. Once this railroad connected Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Now only an old wagon with a 3D installation for kids reminds of those times.

Having passed the Old Train Station, you will arrive to Neve Tsedek, a Eauropean-village-style area with designer boutiques, chefs' restaurants, and cute two-three-store houses with colorful doors and old-fashioned window shutters.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Неве Цедек
Not really a "sightseeing spot" but a must-visit for anyone who wants to feel the real vibes of Tel Aviv. This dynamic, somewhat hippsterish place is the center of the night life in Tel Aviv. Dozens of bars with great happy hour deals, some of the best pizza places in town, about half of the best tattoo salons in the city draw here young population of Tel Aviv. Every night of the week local bars are full. Each place has its own style, music, and menu. Florentine is the best spot to feel liberal, "forever young" spirit of Tel Aviv. Read more about Florentine here.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Флорентин
Parallel to the central market of Tel Aviv you will find a street called Nachlat Binyamin. Each Tuesday and Friday local artists and craftsmen get here to sell their creative goods: paintings, jewelry, bags, toys and other things that would make a perfect souvenir or an original addition to your home decor.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Нахалат Биньямин
Passing by Nachlat Binyamin you will eventually come to the main market of the Tel Aviv - Carmel. Here you can get fresh veggies, fruit juices, spices, coffee, and local sweets. Try to come here before or at 9 AM before other tourists (those who don't read my blog, obviously) get here.

Yemenite Quarter (commonly referred to as "Kerem haTeimanim") is located between Geula and Carmel streets. This is one of the oldest districts in the city. Perfect place for tasting local food! Hummus, falafel, Yemenite and Moroccan dished - all of this can be found here.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Йеменский Квартал, или Керем аТеманим
Moving north from the Carmel market you will arrive to Bialik Street. If you are at least a bit interested in architecture I strongly recommend you to visit this area. It's like an open museum of Tel Aviv's architecture: white and edgy Shomo Yafe House (perfect representation of the "Bauhaus" style); house of the poet Hayim Nahman Bialik - a unique building in the "Hebrew" style; plus several buildings in the éclectique style.

By the way, Shomo Yafe House is also a museum of "bauhaus" (the right name of this style is "international style"). Here you'll see a room with the entourage of a typical "Bauhaus apartment": practical, ergonomical, and a bit ascetic.
Go down Pinsker street and you will arrive to one of the central streets of Tel Aviv - Dizengoff Street. You can visit Dizengoff Center to check local mass-market brands such as Adika, Castro, Fox, Renuar and others. However, way more interesting things you will find if you turn left from Pinsker and walk north on Dizengoff.

This street is full of stores of local designers of clothes, jewelry, accessories, shoes etc. Prices really vary (from $30 to $300 and even above). This is also the best place for a night bar crawl with friends. My favourite spots are Dizzy's Frishdon, Cafe Dizengoff, Concierge, La Shuk.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Порт Намаль
The northernmost point of Tel Aviv is Namal, which is the new port of the city. That's one of the very few spots where shops and restaurants are open even on Sabbath. You can have a breakfast here, ride a bicycle, do some shopping, and have a nice walk under the sun.

On Fridays, a local farm market takes place here. If you are into fresh fish, organic fruits and veggies, goat cheeses and baked stuff come check it out next Friday morning.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Музей Изобразительных Искусств
The biggest museum of Tel Aviv and a Must in the program of every tourist. Of course, it is not as magnificent as Louvre, Prado or Tate, but still... they have some works of classics like Monet, Klimt, Matisse, Shagal, Miro etc. From time to time, they have pretty interesting temporary exhibitions (photography, video or installations). Check their official website to find out what's on now. The ticket is $14.
Sarona is a fancy food market, Israeli copy of Manhattan'a Chelsea Market. It is open all week long, even on Sabbath. It's a bit fat from the center: take buses 239 from Dizengoff or 9 from Namal to get here.

Everything here is overpriced but if you are into some délicatesse or simply can't stand crowded and messy Carmel market this place can be an option. Fresh fish, cheese, boulangerie, French pastries, good sushi and burgers - you can find here everything. Restaurants worth checking: Meat Bar Burger, Fauchon, Max Brenner, Segev.

By the way, Sarona is a perfect place for a weekend with kids: you've got lots of playgrounds, picnic area, and other attractions to keep your children occupied while you are sipping margarita or doing shopping.
Путеводитель по Тель-Авиву - Смотровая в Азриэли
Five minutes away from Sarona you will find the local shopping mall and business center Azrieli. However, the most interesting part of it is located on the 49th floor. It is an observatory with 360 degrees view. The ticket costs only $6. The entrance is from the 3rd floor of the round tower.

From my point of view, Tel Aviv is really underestimated by most tourists since often all they know about it is Jaffa and maybe Neve Tsedek. While Tel Aviv might look shabby on the outside, it is a beautiful city with a strong personality and unique features. To discover them, you need to look deeper in its small streets away from the big roads, walk its boulevards, enjoy its relaxed and at the same time dynamic rhythm.

Remember that just a century ago this was nothing but sands and swamps! Now it's the "Silicon Valley" of The Middle East, the city that attracts artists and entrepreneurs from all around the world. It's a mix of the best features of the European, Eastern, African, and Slavic cultures. Where else will you find all this? Now go out there and enjoy this incredible city!