Travel guide for Tel Aviv

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

A long weekend getaway to Tel Aviv: it was perfect! In this travel guide, I tell you everything you need to know about this beautiful city! The best restaurants, cool activities and nice hotels in different budget classes. Enjoy your time in beautiful Tel Aviv!

Travel guide Tel Aviv

Imagine the eclectic atmosphere of Berlin, mixed with the wonderful beaches of Barcelona, the sporty people from LA and the food from Ottolenghi. The result: Tel Aviv! A wonderful city full of contradictions; ugly buildings, nice restaurants. Many restaurants are kosher, but many people smoke weed. Every day partying until dawn, but during Sabbath, it is difficult to find a restaurant that is open. People are direct and sometimes almost blunt, but everyone is incredibly hospitable and they always offer to help you.

We are convinced in any case, Tel Aviv is great! When can we come back?

Israel: jaffa

Need to know before you go to Tel Aviv!

Some things you should know before you travel to Tel Aviv:

Price level Tel Aviv

The prices are high. Hotels are about as expensive as in Amsterdam (aka really expensive). The prices for food are slightly higher than in the Netherlands and alcohol, hmm that just hurts your wallet. Incidentally, it is the norm to give a tip of +/- 15 to 20%.

Safety Tel Aviv

“Tel Aviv, but that is Israel, isn’t that dangerous?” is one of the reactions we get when we say that we have been to Tel Aviv. No, Tel Aviv is not dangerous, because of all the security, the city is probably one of the safest cities we have ever been.

Public transportation in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is not a city ideal for public transport. However, currently, they are building a large metro network. Next, to that, all public transport is by bus. From and to the airport? We took a reduced price taxi, to be found at exit 21 at the airport (30 euro). Furthermore, the city is excellently walkable so we never actually used public transport.

Shabbat in Tel Aviv

The Shabbat takes place from Friday evening (sunset) to Saturday evening (sunset). This is a rest day according to the Jewish religion. In concrete terms, this means that almost no restaurants are open and there is no public transport. In addition, most shops and supermarkets are closed. Still looking for food? There are small (more expensive) 24/7 supermarkets open and some non-kosher restaurants too. We went to Jaffa with Shabbat where we found some restaurants that were open in the Arabic quarter.

Israel: jaffa church 1

To eat / To drink in Tel Aviv

Food and drinks, that’s what it’s all about in this city. There are way too many great restaurants and hip bars to mention, so here is a small selection of our favourites:

The coolest restaurants for brunch in Tel Aviv

  • Café Casbah is located in the middle of trendy Florentine, a restaurant that is open on the street side. Here you will find the highest MacBook penetration of the entire city!
  • Aroma is a Starbucks like a chain, but with good food. Fine breakfasts and tasty coffee and you can find them on every corner of the street.
  • Basma Coffee In need of breakfast or lunch in Jaffa? Then go and have a bite to eat at Basma. Good hummus, delicious shakshuka and rich salads. And all for a very fair price!

The best spots for dinner in Tel Aviv

  • Kaspi. Are you looking for the best hummus in town? You can find this in North Tel Aviv near Kaspi! No tourists, only locals who are served by the nice no-nonsense waiters.
  • Bucke Cafe has two branches in the city, in the centre near Rothschild Blvd and in North Tel Aviv. Both with the friendliest staff ever. Good food, a fair price and a very nice setting.
  • Salon Romano. Well, now we are talking real hipster. Salon Romano is just above the Florentine district. It is on the second floor in an obscure squat with a different party on each floor. You can sit in the gallery and enjoy the music on the floors below, or inside the restaurant where a beautiful turntable provides you with music all evening. The waiters are not the best, and sometimes make little mistakes, but hey, in the rush you experience during a night at Salon Romano this is oké.
  • North Abraxass is owned by the same owner as Salon Romano. This restaurant in central Tel Aviv is a bit more upscale and a place where you should definitely have a reservation. You can also go here if you like a party. Sit at the bar and be taken care of by the barman, knowing that this will result in a legendary evening (according to my friend P.)! Is there no availability at Abraxass? Then try it’s little cool sisters Port Said or King George, all from the same owner.

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Where to have good drinks in Tel Aviv?

  • The Prince. A cosy non-pretentious roof terrace in central Tel Aviv full of hip Israelis. The atmosphere is relaxed and bit 80s. The DJ table is next to an old-fashioned computer game and the card reads like a comic book. Definitely worth a visit!
  • JaVa is in the fancy north of the city. It is actually a restaurant, but you can also enjoy drinks here! The cocktails are recommended!
  • Spicehouse is a cocktail bar in central Tel Aviv. Next time we will be in Tel Aviv, we definitely have to go for some drinks. Unfortunately now we didn’t have the time left. When you step inside you have the idea to go back in time and enter an old pharmacy, very cool!
  • Tender FM is a Pop-up bar that has definitively settled on the courtyard of the building where Salon Romano is located. It feels like a crazy mix between Paradiso (club in Amsterdam) and an uber-hip mini-festival. Everything is allowed and everything can be done here. Hungry? No problem, just order a pizza at the bar.

Where to sleep in Tel Aviv?

Okay, we will be honest. The hotel where we slept in Tel Aviv was our worst choice ever. It was dirty, old and had a creepy owner. So do not sleep there! Ever! Then what are nice places to sleep? See the tips below:

Little Tel Aviv hostel
Nice hostel in the middle of the centre. Clean with many public facilities. From 24 euros per night per person (Dorm). Do you prefer a private room? This is possible from 90 euros (2 people).

Florentine Backpackers hostel
This party hostel is located in the trendy Florentine district. From 20 euros per night (1pers, Dorm) or 62 euros per night for a private room (2pers). This includes breakfast!

Air Bnb Ariel
Friends S & G were in this very nice Air Bnb located in the middle of Tel Aviv. This was a really good location. The small studio contains everything you need and comes with free cleaning (provided you stay for several days). The price, from 71 euros per night (2pers), for Tel Aviv very nice! Is this full? Check if Ariel (the owner) has another nice apartment on his overview.

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Lily and Bloom Boutique Hotel
This beautiful cosy boutique hotel is located near Rothschild Boulevard and around the corner from North Abraxass. The hotel has a nice terrace and looks chic. From 130 euros per night (2pers).

The Poli House €€€
Look across the city while swimming on this rooftop with in the sea as your background. That is possible in this luxury hotel. From 217 euros per night (2pers).

Hotel Montefiore €€€€
This super luxury boutique hotel is also known for its great breakfast. From 340 euros per night (2pers).

Awesome things to do in Tel Aviv

To the beach: In Tel Aviv it almost never rains and temperatures are always pleasant. The city lays on the coast, with miles of beautiful beaches. Not surprising that those beaches are very popular. People are surfing and playing volleyball, but especially beach tennis seems to be the national sport. Our favourite beaches: Bograshov Beach, Frishman Beach and Gordon Beach (cosy and popular beaches), Banana Beach (quiet beach, currently closed for construction work) and Jaffa Beach (quiet beach with lots of surfers).

To the market: Tel Aviv contains many small and larger markets where you can find everything you’re looking for. From pastries to clothing, and from household articles to plants. The two best known are the Shuk HaCarmel Market, right in the centre of the city, and the Jaffa Flea Market (also called Shuk Hapishpishim). I love it to just wander around, taste something here and there and find lovely souvenirs!

Do a street art tour: The buildings in Tel Aviv are full of beautiful graffiti and other street art. Get to know the city from a different perspective and walk around during a street-art tour. Click here for a Do-It-Yourself tour that is definitely recommended!

Visit The Dead Sea: from Tel Aviv, you are only 1.5 hours away from the Dead Sea. This beautiful lake on the border with Jordan consists of 33 per cent salt. This means that you can just float in! Because of the enormous amount of salt and minerals, the clay soil is also great for your skin. Therefore don’t forget to rub in with the muddy clay! To get here, it is best to rent a car with which you drive straight through the desert. You can then enter the water at Kalya Beach. The route through the desert is so impressive in itself that it is worth it! Be quick, the water level drops very quickly.

Visit Jerusalem: have you already rented a car to visit the Dead Sea, then first drive into Jerusalem, where you will drive by anyway. Jerusalem is 50 minutes away from Tel Aviv but feels like it’s a whole different world. The religious city is a huge contrast with the modern hedonistic Tel Aviv. Visit the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and of course the Dome of the Rock and the Al Asqua Mosque on the Temple Mount. Want a good meal after all these tourist hotspots? Then go to Notre Dame or to The Austrian Hospice. No car at your disposal? Several buses go daily to Jerusalem, or you book a guided tour.

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Personal update: six months back in The Netherlands
Two itineraries for Bali

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