Tel Aviv, often called “the city that never stops,” was the first modern Jewish city built in Israel, and is the country’s economic and cultural center. It is a lively, active city with entertainment, culture and art, festivals, and a rich night life. Situated on a 14-kilometer-long strip on the Mediterranean seacoast, Tel Aviv extends beyond the Yarkon River to the north and the Ayalon River to the east. Hundreds of thousands of workers, visitors, tourists, and partygoers move about the city each day until the early hours of the morning, seeking out the city’s nightclubs, restaurants, and centers of entertainment.
Tel Aviv began its history in Jaffa (Yafo) – the ancient 3,000-year-old adjoining city that lies to its southwest. The current Old City of Jaffa was built during the Ottoman Empire and its stone houses and narrow alleyways now house the picturesque artists’ quarter and tourist center. Among the main attractions of Old Jaffa are Gan HaPisga – the Summit Garden with its restaurants, galleries, shops with Judaica, and unique atmosphere, the seaside promenade and walls of the old city, the visitors’ center in the old courtyard, and the fishing port.
There are also several important Christian sites in Old Jaffa such as the Church of St. Peter, which dates back to the 17th century, the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had his vision of the non-kosher animals, and the tomb of Tabitha, whose righteous deeds enabled Peter to raise her from the dead. Around Jaffa there is the Ottoman clock tower, a vibrant flea market that is always worth visiting, and the Ajami neighborhood.
Tel Aviv hosts a wide range of architectural styles which were influenced by various schools of architecture – among which was the International Bauhaus style. The central portion of Tel Aviv – which is known as “The White City” – contains the largest group of buildings in the world built in the International Bauhaus style. For this reason the White City has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. This style originated in Germany and was based upon clean geometric shapes and asymmetry, and flourished from the 1930s until the establishment of the State. It soon attracted other city architects as well.
The White City extends from Allenby Street to the south to the Yarkon River to the north, and from Begin Boulvard to the east to the sea. There are large concentrations of buildings of this style on Rothschild Boulevard and in the area of Dizengoff Center. Park HaYarkon is in the northern part of the White City on the banks of the Yarkon River and the Tel Aviv port lies at the northwest corner and has a large concentration of entertainment centers, nightclubs, and restaurants.
Tel Aviv is Israel’s center for culture and entertainment as well as also the national center for night life and entertainment and is filled with night clubs featuring music of all types, dancing, restaurants, pubs, coffee houses, discotheques, movie theaters, auditoriums, and concert halls. The beachfront of Tel Aviv has bathing beaches and a romantic waterfront promenade.
Vacationers in Tel Aviv can lodge at any of the dozens of hotels, boarding houses, and youth hostels scattered throughout the city. These offer every type of accommodation ranging from luxurious rooms to simple, pleasant lodging.
Tel Aviv is also a business and trade center. There are colorful and bustling markets such as the flea market in Jaffa, the Carmel market, the HaTikva Market, and Levinsky market. There are also modern shopping malls such as Dizengoff Center and Azrieli Center, and important business centers for high-tech companies, realtors, and the stock market. All these have made Tel Aviv the business capital of Israel and an international center for conventions, exhibitions, and conferences.
Must See in Tel Aviv – Jaffa
- Beaches: Tel Aviv’s west side is a 13-kilometer (eight-mile) stretch of sandy beaches, prompting National Geographic magazine to call Tel Aviv “Miami Beach on the Med.” You can’t really go wrong no matter where you set down your towel. Gordon Beach is one of the most famous, attracting tourists, locals, joggers and sun-tanners all year round. Stop by Saturday mornings in winter (11am to 2pm) or evenings in summer (8pm to 10pm) and give public Israeli folk dancing a whirl. Banana Beach, located on the southernmost edge near Jaffa, draws the bohemian crowds on Friday evenings for drum circles, singing and dancing. Metzizim Beach draws a smattering of everyone to its sandy shores. Catch a game of matkot (paddleball) or bring your kids to the children’s playground. Hilton Beach (near the hotel) is the gay beach, and Jerusalem Beach is also very LGBT friendly. So pack your lotion, towel and good book to read – sandy Tel Aviv on the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea awaits.
- Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade: The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade is a bustling walkway that connects Old Jaffa in the south to the northern neighborhoods of the city. Come here for gorgeous sunsets, people-watching, yummy food at one of the cafés or restaurants along the promenade, or to hear some of the best classical music buskers you’re likely to come across.
- Hayarkon Park: Known as the green lung of the city, this “Central Park of Tel Aviv” attracts some 16 million visitors every year. The urban park’s 3.8 square kilometers boast walking paths, bike paths, dozens of children play areas, botanical gardens, extensive lawns, sports facilities, two mini zoos and artificial lakes. The park also houses paid entertainment options including an aviary, a water park, a climbing wall, a children’s train and paddleboat hire. You can follow the Yarkon River all the way from North Tel Aviv down to the Mediterranean Sea.
- Old Jaffa: No visit to Tel Aviv is complete without a hop over to Old Jaffa. It is one of the world’s oldest cities and home to the oldest seaport in the world. In the last decade, Old Jaffa has become one of the hottest places to be as designers, artists and gourmands move in. Come hungry because street food is abundant and delicious. Don’t miss the famous Clock Tower, the flea market, restaurants, designer stores, galleries and museums, the Old Port and the NaLaga’at Center artistic complex operated by the Muslim-Christian-Jewish deaf and blind community.
- Tel Aviv Port: Tel Aviv’s port is one of the city’s main entertainment hubs with trendy shops, bars, nightclubs, cafés and a bustling farmers’ market. Thousands of residents and tourists walk along the uniquely designed wooden deck promenade to take in the salty sea breeze, gorgeous sunsets and to feel the vibe of Tel Aviv. There’s a huge sand pit for kids to play in. Weekends are busiest, with buskers and balloon artists keeping the crowds entertained. The port also hosts numerous outdoor festivals throughout the year.
- Carmel Market: This is not just another produce-and-clothing market; the Carmel Market is the heartbeat of Tel Aviv. You don’t have to come to shop. Instead, jostle past the colorful stalls and take in the smells and sights. Some vendors are known to sing out the prices of their goods – which range from spices to dried fruits, fresh produce to fish and souvenirs. Trendy cafés and gourmet food stands are also part of the scene. The market runs between the corner of King George and Allenby streets and the Carmelit Bus Station. It is open every day from 7 to dusk, except for Fridays when it closes one hour before the Sabbath.
- Levinsky Market: The Levinsky Market is the place for spices. And dried fruits, nuts, traditional pastries, boutique cheeses, pickled produce, exotic meat cold cuts and salted fish. The climax of activity is on Friday mornings, as residents pack narrow Levinsky Street to visit their favorite delicatessens, bakery shops, roasted nut stalls and spice shops. If you do head to this market, start or end your tour in the neighborhood of Florentin – Tel Aviv’s SoHo of the über cool and working class. Photography buffs take note: Levinsky Market is one of the best places to shoot in Tel Aviv.
- Neve Tzedek and historic train station (Tachana): Neve Tzedek is one of Tel Aviv’s most beautiful neighborhoods – and historically, was the first neighborhood built outside of Jaffa. It’s perfect for a romantic stroll along the small streets and alleyways and past the beautifully restored buildings. The Suzanne Dellal Center dance and theater complex sits at the heart of this neighborhood, and a visit to its courtyard is a must. The neighborhood has hip cafés and gourmet restaurants as well as designer stores, boutique hotels, and lovely shops. On the southern edge of the neighborhood is the historic train station known as the Tachana. This newly-restored compound now serves as a cultural and shopping center.
- Bauhaus Architecture: Tel Aviv boasts a treasure trove of exemplary architecture. One of Tel Aviv’s nicknames is even the White City, thanks to its large number of white Bauhaus (International-style) buildings. In 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed Tel Aviv’s White City a World Cultural Heritage site. Take a self-guided stroll down Rothschild Boulevard, Dizengoff Street, Bialik Street or through the Neve Tzedek neighborhood to see the best buildings the White City has to offer. Or, join a city-sponsored free walking tour of Tel Aviv focusing on the architectural styles of the 1930s.
- Culture Square: Tel Aviv is Israel’s culture city. Most of the museums, orchestras, theaters, art galleries, dance venues and music halls come with an entry fee, however. To get a taste of the city’s arts scene, head over to Culture Square at the end of Rothschild Boulevard. Here you’ll find the historic Mann Auditorium, home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the recently renovated Habima National Theater and the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art — all facing a gorgeously designed public courtyard with a small flower garden, water fountain and dozens of families frolicking among them. The pavilion showcases changing exhibitions, reflecting diverse fields and practices in contemporary Israeli and international art – and is free to the public.
- Dizengoff Street: Strolling down Dizengoff Street is a favorite pastime for many residents. For great people-watching or just a place to take a break, park yourself on one of the benches around the Fire & Water Fountain. The fountain is located in Dizengoff Square, which shows off creations by young Israeli industrial, graphic, fashion and plastic designers every Thursday from 4-11pm, and an antique-flea market every Tuesday and Friday.
- Tel Aviv University’s Botanical Gardens: The magnificent Botanical Gardens are located at the heart of Tel Aviv University. Stretching across 34,000 square meters, the gardens serve as a meeting place for the world’s different species of flora and fauna. Visitors are encouraged to take a closer look at the plant museum from Sunday to Thursday, 8am to 4pm. But call ahead (+972-3-640-9910) because the garden is also used as an outdoor class for students at the university.
- Rabin Square: The main plaza just outside City Hall is known as Rabin Square, named for Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was assassinated on November 4, 1995, after a peace rally in this square. A monument to Rabin stands at the spot where he was killed. Israeli sculptor Yael Ben-Artzi used 16 basalt stones from the Golan Heights and sunk them into the earth to symbolize Rabin’s deep connection to the land.
How to get there
- By air to Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) or Sde Dov Airport (SDV)
- By bus to the Tel Aviv bus stations
- By train to four railway stations: Tel Aviv-HaShalom, Tel Aviv-HaHagana, Tel Aviv-University, and Tel Aviv-Savidor Center
Our tours to Tel Aviv-Jaffa
- Tour “Discover Israel”
- Tour “Christian Israel & Netanya”
- Tour “Christian Israel & Eilat”
- Tour “Christian Israel & Dead Sea”
- Tour “Figure Correction in Israel”
- Tour “The Holy Land Jewish Pilgrimage”