Heading to a new place for the first time can be a confusing business. Where do you go, what do you see, what can you leave off the itinerary, what should you include… planning might be fun, but there’s no doubt it can get overwhelming at times. When you’re heading somewhere as packed with attractions and activities as Tel Aviv. it gets doubly so. Fortunately, help is on hand. If you’re struggling to decide which of Tel Aviv’s many highlights can’t be missed, check out our round-up of the 20 best things to do in Tel Aviv for first-timers.
20. Tuck into the meze at Kalamata
No vacation is complete without at least one standout meal, and a standout meal is exactly what you’re guaranteed at Kalamata, a heavenly Greek restaurant that consistently ranks as one of the best places to eat in Tel Aviv. Try the fresh mezes, the catch of the day, the entrees of grilled branzini… in fact, you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu. Wash it all down with some of the very fine Greek and Israeli wines on offer. While you’re there, take plenty of time to soak up the sublime ocean and city views from the patio.
19. Visit Design Museum Holon
The Design Museum Holon lies in the suburb of Holon, a trendy little district located just minutes from central Jaffa. The Design Museum Holon is a relatively recent addition to the Tel Aviv museum scene that houses a superb collection of industrial design, textiles, fashion, and jewelry. While the exhibits are fascinating enough, it’s the architecture of the museum that impresses the most. Designed by Tev Aviv star architect Ron Arad, the building’s magnificent celebration of steel and concrete steal the show.
18. Head out to sea with Danit Yacht Charters
If you’re in Tel Aviv, it’d be a shame not to enjoy its stunning coastline. Get the most out of your ocean experience by setting sail with Danit Yacht Charters. Its fleet includes the 12-meter sloop Roza with its capacity of 11, the party boat Hyam with its capacity of 25 to 40, and a 14 capacity motor catamaran. If you’re on vacation with just your partner, the Roza can be hired for a romantic run down to Jaffa.
17. Shop till drop at Sarona Market
Sarona Market is Tel Aviv’s largest indoor market and culinary spot, and a must-visit for anyone who wants to stock up on fresh produce or taste some fine Israeli delicacies. The market is packed with stalls offering olives, cheese, vegetables, seafood, pickles, bread, and wines from local farmers and producers. It’s also home to a fabulous selection of cafes and restaurants where you can try some great cuisine from some of Tel Aviv’s most promising up-and-coming chefs. Whether you’re a gourmet or a gourmand, the market is an absolute delight.
16. Visit Rabin Square
The Culture Trip considers Rabin Square one of the 20 must-visit attractions in Tel Aviv. It’s hard to disagree. As Israel’s most famous plaza, it attracts hundreds of visitors a day, yet never loses its quiet serenity. As well as boasting the architectural beauty that is Tel Aviv’s town hall, the square is also home to a memorial for former Israeli Prime Minister (and the square’s namesake) Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995 following a pro-peace rally and who’s since become a symbol of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.
15. Enjoy some ice cream in Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhood
Neve Tzedek is Tel Aviv’s oldest and arguably finest neighborhood. Over the past few decades, its crumbling facade has been beautifully restored, with the result that walking its streets now constitutes a pastime in its own right. Its narrow lanes are packed with great cafes and restaurants, not to mention a very worthy collection of galleries and boutiques. Despite the bountiful attractions on offer, the pace of life here is deliciously slow in contrast to some of the city’s busier neighborhoods, making it a great place to head when the hustle and bustle of the city starts to wear thin. While you’re in the neighborhood, don’t miss grabbing an ice cream at Anita, purveyors of some of the finest cones in the city.
14. Admire the Bauhaus architecture
As mywanderlust.pl notes, one of Tel Aviv’s biggest attractions is its Bauhaus architecture. The city is crammed with over 4000 buildings designed in the tradition, representing some of the finest examples of the modernist style in the world. So famous has the city’s architecture become, it’s earned the nickname “the White City” in honor of its sleek buildings. It’s also been named to the World Heritage List. Regardless of which neighborhood you’re in, you’re guaranteed to be treated to some fabulous buildings. If you want to see the best of the best, head to Rothschild Boulevard, Bialik street, and Denzingoff Square, all of which are famous for their glorious examples of the Bauhaus style. While you’re in the vicinity of Denzingoff Square, don’t miss a visit to the Bauhaus center, a gallery and store that puts modernist architecture front and center. If you can, time your visit for a Friday morning when the center organizes tours that offer a fascinating insight into the city’s architectural history.
13. Book a Dive Lesson
As Forbes recommends, one of the best things to do in Tel Aviv is to book a dive lesson and private guided dive out to Gordon reef, which is located just beyond the breakwater and runs almost the entire length of northern Tel Aviv. With plenty of fish species and rock formations to discover, it’s a fascinating place to uncover a whole new side to Tel Aviv. If you’re already an experienced diver, don’t miss diving the Sea Wolf wreck, a former Israeli Navy frigate that sunk in 1993 and now provides the scene for an incredible James Bond-esque diving experience.
12. Wander around Jaffa
Jaffa is the kind of place that you could spend an entire weekend and still want to come back for more. The ancient port is one of the oldest in the world, while the walled city that surrounds it was the birthplace for the expansion of modern-day Tel Aviv. Crammed with gorgeous little alleyways, fascinating galleries, and, of course, the legendary Jaffa Flea Market with its scores of artifacts and antiques from around the world, it’s a charming, delightfully diverse neighborhood that will make you fall in love with the history and the culture of Tel Aviv.
11. Take a bike tour around Tel Aviv Port
Jaffa might be Tel Aviv’s oldest port, but Tel Aviv Port is definitely its liveliest. As touristisrael.com notes, the port has long given up its claim to a commercial shipping center and is now a place of fun, games, and leisure. Its wooden boardwalk is a vibrant, dynamic place packed with ice cream parlous, cafes, bars, restaurants, and boutiques, all of which are housed in converted hangers that date back to the area’s heyday as a commercial port. To get the most out of the neighborhood, take a bike tour around the streets before freewheeling down to the coast.
10. Relax at Park HaYarkon
As Time Out writes, New York has Central Park, London has Hyde Park, and Tel Aviv has Hayarkon Park, a stunning area of natural beauty that’s widely known as the ‘green lung’ of the city. Cyclists, dog walkers, and hikers all make regular use of the park, yet despite its popularity, it manages to retain a peaceful, tranquil vibe that stands in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city. Pack a picnic and head out to the park to enjoy a day of soaking up the sun and people watching.
9. Enjoy the nightlife on Allenby Street
Tel Aviv might be great during the day, but at night, it comes alive. To check out the best nightlife the city has to offer, head to the square by the Great Synagogue on Allenby Street. Packed with bars, restaurants, and clubs, it’s a great place to enjoy a cocktail and see where the night takes you. While you’re there, grab a quick bite at the Port Said restaurant, a fantastic spot for dinner that was once home to the original Teder nightclub.
8. Wonder at the beauty of HaBima Square
HaBima Square boasts a huge array of attractions, including the HaBima national theatre and the philharmonic orchestra. The square itself is divine, with a dreamy sunken garden in which classical music plays throughout the day. It doesn’t offer much shade, but providing you’re prepared to take on the full force of the Tel Aviv sun, it’s a fabulous place to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate.
7. Enjoy a performance at the Suzanne Dellal Center
If you’re looking to enjoy a memorable night out, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better place to head than the Suzanne Dellal Center. Set in the heart of the gorgeous Neve Tzedek neighborhood, the center is home to one of Israel’s most legendary troupes, the Batsheva Dance Company. International and national dance performances are held regularly, although be sure to check the schedule of events so you can time your visit accordingly. Once the performance has finished, you’ll find plenty of excellent restaurants nearby to round the evening off in style.
6. Soak up some culture at Eretz Israel Museum
According to likealocalguide.com, the Eretz Israel Museum ranks only after “Israel Museum” in Jerusalem in terms of interest. High praise indeed, and they’ve certainly got a point. Packed with a huge collection of archaeological, anthropological, and historical artifacts organized in a series of exhibition pavilions, it’s a fascinating place that will leave you with a far bigger appreciation for (and understanding of) Israeli art, folklore, archaeology, and Judaica than you came in with.
5. Splash around at Gordon Pool
Gordon Pool is practically a Tel Aviv institution, and definitely a place you’ll want to pay at least one visit to during your stay (although if you’re traveling with kids, you might want to increase that to two or three). The Olympic-size swimming pool is set in a stunning location on the boardwalk by the marina, giving you world-class views of the sea as you paddle around its depths. Established in 1956 and recently reinvigorated with the addition of a wooden decking complete with parasols, chairs, and sunbeds, along with several pools for kids, it’s a great place to head for some relaxing family fun.
4. Explore Carmel Market
No visit to Tel Aviv is complete without at least one visit to its most fascinating shopping hub, Carmel Market. The largest and busiest of all of Tel Aviv’s markets is crammed to the rafters with stores selling fresh veggies, meat, fish, fruit, and more besides. The smells, sights, and sounds of the market are positively exhilarating and are almost guaranteed to leave you with a raging appetite.
3. Stroll Tel Aviv Promenade
There’s nothing quite so uplifting as strolling along Tel Aviv’s seaside promenade, admiring the cityscape to the north, the views of Old Jaffa to the south, and the ocean views to all sides. The Tel Aviv boardwalk is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, and it won’t take you long to figure out why. Once you’ve strolled the length and breadth of the promenade, grab a seat on a bench and spend a peaceful hour breathing in the fresh ocean air and watching the waves crashing against the shore below.
2. Soak up the sun at Gordon Beach
While Tel Aviv has more than enough urban thrills to keep you entertained, it’d be remiss to visit the city and not check out its gorgeous shoreline. As Lonely Planet highlights, Gordon Beach is Tel Aviv’s main and most popular beach, not to mention one of its top attractions. Along with the usual combination of sun, sea, and sand, the beach offers plenty of distractions to keep you entertained, including a good selection of ice cream shops, sun loungers, an outdoor gym, beach restaurants, and activities. Visit on a Saturday and you might be lucky enough to catch a performance from the folk dancers that regularly perform on the boardwalk.
1. Tour Tel Aviv Museum Of Art
Even if you’ve only got a causal interest in art, a tour of the Tel Aviv Museum Of Art is a must while you’re in the city. Its stunning exhibit of photography nestles alongside a world-class collection of work that includes all the European modern masters. Chief attraction goes to its giant two-panel mural, which was designed by Roy Lichtenstein in 1989 and which has since gone on to become a trademark. Before you leave the museum, don’t miss stopping by Chef Hillel Tavakuli’s Pastel in the new Cohen-designed wing for a bite to eat.