If you're looking for a city that's got it all, look no further than Tel Aviv. Kilometres of immaculate beach and pristine shoreline fringe a city that celebrates its ancient history without compromising on a flourishing modern-day culture. This is a city that is infused with both history and hedonism, a tangible contrast that gives Tel Aviv an exciting edge.
Situated as it is on Israel's Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv enjoys good weather almost all year round, making it a perfect travel destination. Whether you're after a day at the beach, a culture trip, or a non-stop party, Tel Aviv can deliver. There are more than a dozen beaches to choose from, so you're bound to find the perfect spot to spend a day in the sun. If you're not keen on lying around, there are plenty of watersports to try out along the busier beaches near the centre, and there are some great surfing spots further out. For a true touch of the wild, some beaches are “undeclared,” which means there are no facilities nor any lifeguards around. Others boast some of the best amenities a beach could possibly offer, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, and beach sports, and you're never far away from a decent bar.
If you're more interested in history and archeology, old Tel Aviv is a rich tapestry of exquisitely restored buildings and religious landmarks, nestled throughout the many cobblestone alleyways that make up much of the old city. Spend a day wandering in and out of tiny hidden coffee shops on your way past beautiful mosques, synagogues, and ancient churches. For those who have a soft spot for early 20th century architecture and modernist design, Tel Aviv's renowned “White City” is an enormous collection of unique Bauhaus buildings. Significant efforts have been made to keep them well-preserved, with only a few modifications in some areas, leaving Tel Aviv with a truly authentic architectural centre.
For the partygoers, the action never ends. Cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has developed a fantastic arts and cultural scene— with the nightlife to match. The city is very flat, and has excellent public transportation connections, so it's easy to get around. What makes this even more exciting is that each district of the city is very distinct from the next, so depending on your tastes or what mood you're in, it's easy to hop around and try out new areas. Each area has its own unique character, offering its own special blend of nighttime entertainment options: dive bars and upscale lounges, casual eateries and trendy restaurants all wrestle for elbow room. There are distinctly bohemian neighborhoods with hip cafes and coffee shops, while more upmarket areas lean towards chic cocktail bars and bistros.
Tel Aviv is a striking example of a cosmopolitan city with deeply historic roots, with plenty to do, see, and learn. There's also ample space to relax, too, so if you're planning on staying for a while (and you'll want to!), you can be sure to find the right lifestyle balance for you.
Where to Stay in Tel Aviv
Although Tel Aviv is relatively small, the city is made up of a number of very distinct neighborhoods, each with their own unique character and charm. Because of the compact, yet diverse nature of the city, there's a huge range of accommodation options in Tel Aviv — from high-end hotels, to beautiful single story houses in Neve Tzedek to pricey studio apartments and AirBnBs. When choosing where to stay, It's important to remember that Tel Aviv is very flat, and most areas are easily accessible in about 15-20 minutes by bicycle or via the decent public transport system. Travellers wishing to stay longer in this vibrant city can easily find a spot to settle in, whether you're a digital nomad searching for inspiration or a teacher looking for an international community.
Each neighborhood is popular in Tel Aviv's thriving expat scene for different reasons, with some areas offering chic vibes and artsy hang-outs, and others retaining a rich sense of the city's history and restoration. They're all reasonably close together, and you can hop from district to district without much of a problem. The tower blocks in the suburbs north of Yarkon are further away from the centre, but they are known for a more relaxed pace of life and are popular among expats with families. Whatever kind of stay you want, there is a neighborhood with the right vibe for you.
[Top Pick] Jaffa: Not to be confused with the Old City of Jaffa, “new” Jaffa (also known as Yafo) is mostly residential, with varied communities made up of mostly Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It offers a wealth of beautiful green spaces, authentic restaurants, and historical buildings. It centres around the Jaffa Flea Market, which is truly an experience no matter how many times you go: packed to the rafters with bizarre and beautiful trinkets and treasures, this market never fails to delight.
[Second Pick] Neve Tzedek: One of the more expensive areas around Tel Aviv, Neve Tzedek offers quaint, single-story houses, elegantly renovated homes, and peaceful, tree-lined streets. Most places of interest are easily accessible from this chic, “village-vibe” neighborhood, such as good shopping, markets, and beaches.
[Third Pick] Florentin: It often feels like this buzzing neighbourhood never stops, with its diverse population of local families and foreign workers bumping elbows with resident hippies, artists, and designers. A lot of deliberate effort on the part of the city's authorities has gone into gentrifying the area, which encouraged a lot of young creatives to move in and give Florentin a funky, artsy vibe.
Jaffa Old City: “Old Jaffa” refers to the stunning old port and beautifully restored historical buildings in an area full of archaeological and architectural delights amongst cobblestone streets. Sandstone alleyways wind their way through a veritable maze of synagogues, churches, and mosques, offering a feeling of peace and quiet for those wishing to stay outside of the bustling city.
Kerem Hateimanim (Yemenite Quarter): Founded in the 1930s by immigrants from Yemen, in recent years, the quarter became popular with the more bohemian population of Tel Aviv who moved in looking for more affordable housing. A small but historical district with some beautifully renovated buildings on display, this neighborhood hasn't lost its authentic charm.
Merkaz Halr (Central Tel Aviv): One of Tel Aviv's more “urban” neighborhoods, a stay in Merkaz Halr will leave you with a true impression of what this city really stands for. There is plenty to see and visit, as this district is home to the Museum of Art, the Israeli Opera, and the Municipal Library. Widely regarded as the heart of Tel Aviv, it also offers an eclectic mix of dive bars and high-end designer stores.
Lev Halr: Also known as “The White City,” this area of Tel Aviv boasts an impressive array of architecture, with older buildings, beautiful Bauhaus buildings, and newer structures all on proud display. Meanwhile, the side streets of the big neighborhood offer some respite from the hustle of the rest of the city, which is perfect if you're looking for a quieter stay in Tel Aviv. One of the more “touristy” areas, Lev Halr has some good shopping, dining, and drinking options, too.
Amaji: Culturally rich and historically prominent, Amaji is an often overlooked but friendly neighborhood with exquisitely restored ottoman homes basking in the Mediterranean sun. A walk along the peaceful beaches and laid back promenades leads to some great seafood restaurants, too.
Hatsafon Hayashan (The Old North): For a quieter stay with a more upmarket feel, consider Hatsafon Hayashan. This affluent district is more family-oriented, as it is located further away from the hip party areas and offers some good schools and kindergartens. It provides a good balance between the urban and the suburban, with plenty of quality cafes and some nice bars.
Shapira: Considered by some to be one of the more “controversial” neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, and by others simply one of the more eclectic, Shapira certainly does offer a different take on the city. This southern district is home to a diverse range of people from different races, religions, and ethnicities, and for this reason, there's a strong feeling of community. There's lots of space for artists of all sorts, musicians, performers, and gatherings of creative, like-minded people.
Montefiore: Balancing the old and the new, Montefiore is a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic Templar buildings. A neighborhood of contrasts, this district offers good quality cafes along the sidewalks of cool, leafy streets, while the diverse residents mingle together and take in avant-garde open-air performances in the evenings.
Best Time to Visit Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv enjoys a Mediterranean climate, so the weather is generally very pleasant all year round. While there are certainly four distinct seasons throughout the year, temperatures usually don't fall dramatically during winter but can reach blistering highs during the summer months. Spring and autumn are generally acknowledged as being the most agreeable times to visit Tel Aviv, as they are outside of the peak tourist seasons, and the weather remains pleasantly mild.
December – February: Known as Tel Aviv's “rainy season,” the winter months can be a bit on the wet side, but temperatures don't tend to drop that much. In fact, from December to February, Tel Aviv welcomes another influx of tourists, mostly northern Europeans in search of warmer climes for their winter holidays. Make sure to book accommodation in advance just in case.
March - April: Spring in Tel Aviv is a real treat, with comfortable temperatures making it the perfect time to sit outside with a coffee, or wander outdoors and see what the city has to offer. If you're there in March, you'll be able to catch the Jewish Purim festival, when the streets of cities all over Israel come to life with parades and street parties. Tel Aviv is certainly no exception.
May-August: The summer months are of course the hottest for Tel Aviv, and from June to August, the city bakes under the heat of the Mediterranean sun. This doesn't put off the hordes of travelers on summer vacation, however; summer is still known as a “peak” season, as crowds of tourists determined to get a tan descend upon the city's beaches. Expect prices to be a little higher and attractions a little more busy from as early as May until the end of August when it starts to cool down.
September – November: Like spring, autumn in Tel Aviv is also immensely enjoyable. By now, most of the summer tourists will have headed home with their tans, leaving the city comfortably cool and peaceful. Beachside real estate eases up a little, and hotel prices drop. While these are also the months of the Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), many locals and visitors in Israel tend to travel to Jerusalem instead. You can expect a slight increase in city traffic and airfares, but nothing too serious.