Twenty Things To Do In Tel Aviv To Fall In Love With It
It is no secret that I am in love with Tel Aviv, and that it is pretty much the only city where I can see myself living, other than Cagliari, where I grew up. There are so many things to do in Tel Aviv, so many places to visit, that I am never quite done exploring.
But more than anything else, I feel like I belong there: I have lots of friends; I know my way around; and simply feel comfortable. Tel Aviv feels like my home away from home; the only place in the world where I am regularly mistaken for a local – until I speak, that is, and people realize I can only mutter a few words of Hebrew (because speaking Hebrew is one of the things to do in Tel Aviv).
To find out why I fell in love with Tel Aviv, read my post “Tel Aviv loves life.”
I didn’t expect to fall for Tel Aviv. Like most people, I went to Israel to visit Jerusalem, and decided to stay a couple of extra days to see what the hype for Tel Aviv was all about. It didn’t take me long to realize. I found Tel Aviv to be lively yet chilled; political yet welcoming. It is the kind of place where it’s virtually impossible to get bored. Finding what to do in Tel Aviv is easy, regardless of one’s interests and tastes: there’s always something going on; there’s always someone around, at whatever time of day or night.
To read more about Jerusalem, check my post “Traditional and alternative things to do in Jerusalem.”
Every time I am in Israel, I find new and interesting things to do in Tel Aviv – like the time I was walking along Rothschild and found myself in the middle of a silent concert: I spotted a small crowd, two musicians seemingly playing without making any noise, wore a pair headphones I was offered and listened to some great music, dancing along to tunes that passers-by could not hear.
I know that it isn’t every day that one may bump into a silent concert. Either way, Tel Avis is a lot of fun throughout the year, and here are 20 things to do in Tel Aviv to fall in love with it.
20 things to do in Tel Aviv to fall in love with it
Go on a city tour
Going on a city tour is one of the best things to do in Tel Aviv to properly discover the city. A good walking tour will hit most of the places to visit in Tel Aviv, such as the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Habima Square and the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion; Rabin Memorial; Reading, the old power station; Rothschild Boulevard and even the beaches and the waterfront. A fun way to explore the city is that of going on a segway tour of Tel Aviv.
One of the nicest things to do in Tel Aviv is biking around. Pretty much everyone in Tel Aviv goes around by bike. Biking lanes connect the entire city, and bikes can be rented at pretty much every corner in town and at any good hotel or hostel. Once I got hold of a bike, I used it to explore the city; to get to the old Reading power station; to bike along the waterfront and to make my way to Old Jaffa. There even are amazing bike tours of Jaffa.
Explore Old Jaffa
Old Jaffa is considered part of the greater Tel Aviv area, and one of the best places to visit in Tel Aviv. Needless to say, among the unmissable things to do in Tel Aviv, there’s exploring the narrow alleys of Old Jaffa, passing by the Clock Tower, the Flea Market, the Wishing Bridge, Andromeda’s Rock and Al-Bahr Mosque. There are daily free walking tours of Old Jaffa that depart at 2:00 pm from the Clock Tower. Jaffa Port is an incredibly cool place to visit during weekends, when Tel Avivians crowd its many fabulous restaurants.
Walk around some cool neighborhoods
I can’t quite decide what my favorite area of Tel Aviv is. I love Levontin and its low key bars and restaurants, the music scene and the interesting buildings – so decadent yet so charming. Florentin is my go to area for a night out, as there is an incredible choice of pubs and bars. And Neve Tzedek, one of the coolest places to visit in Tel Aviv, is the perfect place for an afternoon hang-out, with its cute coffee shops and boutiques. In doubt, I recommend walking around all neighborhoods as one of the coolest things to do in Tel Aviv.
Observe the beautiful Bauhaus architecture
In 2003, Tel Aviv was declared UNESCO-rated for its beautiful Bauhaus architecture. This style was implemented throughout the city by architect Sir Patrick Geddes in the 1930s and 1940s. The architects who designed the buildings believed in egalitarianism and carried socialist ideals – hence the flat roofs of the buildings, thought to be communal areas for the residents. Of the original 4000 Bauhaus style buildings of Tel Aviv, only a few hundreds have been restored. Taking a guided Bauhaus tour is what to do in Tel Aviv to admire this interesting architectural style.
Wander around in search for street art
Street art in Tel Aviv is pretty much anywhere. I found a lot of it in Old Jaffa; I came across some great pieces in Levontin. Yet, the biggest surprise in term of street art is the old bus station. Hardly considered one of the places to visit in Tel Aviv, I actually went there to catch a ride to Nazareth and ended up exploring it because the street art was just that interesting. Sure enough, I believe that wandering around in search for cool street art is one of the top things to do in Tel Aviv.
Go to the beach…
Mark the words of an expert – I come from Sardinia after all, and I know what a good beach looks like. Tel Aviv is blessed with really good urban beaches. Whether for a simple walk along the waterfront during the fall or spring season, or a dip in the clear Mediterranean waters when the temperatures rise, going to the beach is what to do in Tel Aviv for either fun and relaxation. The good news is that a bunch of them are also pet-friendly!
… or to the park
Park Hayarkon is a great urban oasis in Tel Aviv and the place to go to for a family picnic or for activities such as biking, running, climbing (yes, there’s a climbing wall!) etc. If looking for what to do in Tel Aviv at weekends, Park Hayarkon may be a very good option.
Admire a fabulous sunset
The light is special at sunrise and sunset, but I am generally too lazy to wake up before dawn to take pictures of sunrise. The great news is that Tel Aviv geographic position is perfect to stare at the sun setting on the horizon and dipping into the Mediterranean. Indeed one of the nicest things to do in Tel Aviv is admiring the sunset. All it takes is checking at what time the sun sets depending on the season, and walking to the waterfront to enjoy the show.
Get the buzz of Carmel Market
I love markets. I find them to be the perfect place to observe a bit of local action, and to learn more about the culture of the city and country I am visiting – whether through the items on sale (food does say a lot about a country!); or through the behavior of people at the market (do they bargain the prices? Do they yell for attention?). Besides, markets are the best places to get some cheap yet tasty street food. Sure enough, going to Carmel Market is what to do in Tel Aviv when in search for fresh produce and good street food.
Have a fabulous brunch
When it comes to breakfast, Israelis take it to a whole new level. Salads, bread, tahini, eggs and what not are ever present at any proper breakfast table there. In Tel Aviv, breakfast (or better, brunch), is the most important meal, and if one is looking for what to do in Tel Aviv on a Friday morning, I’d say that eating brunch is just the thing. It is the perfect way to kick off Shabbat, apparently, and there’s a wide range of fantastic restaurants that are famous for their amazing brunches.
Get stuffed on hummus…
It’s worth repeating that food in Israel is simply delicious and actually very healthy. There’s an abundance of vegetables and salads, and a great selection of vegetarian and vegan food. In fact, Tel Aviv is considered one of the best cities for vegan travelers. Whether one is vegan, vegetarian or not, one of the unmissable things to do in Tel Aviv is getting stuffed on hummus. The best hummus in town is allegedly found at Abu Hassan, which is actually located in Old Jaffa.
… then burn it off
I swear I haven’t seen an overweight person in Tel Aviv, despite all the hummus eating that goes on. People stay fit by biking, running, walking their dog, surfing, swimming (there’s some state of the art pools, and I have my eyes set on Gordon Pool which apparently uses salt water!), playing beach volley and matkot – a popular game similar to beach tennis. Sure enough, staying fit is one of the most popular things to do in Tel Aviv.
I am hardly a shopaholic, but I admit that I find the beautiful boutiques scattered around Tel Aviv very tempting. Whether looking for the latest trends or for vintage clothing, shopping is what to do in Tel Aviv when wanting to splurge some cash.
Pet all the cats
I love cats and I miss my cats dearly whenever I travel. The fun thing about Tel Aviv is that there’s a lot of cats around. Most of them are strays and the locals take care of them, paying for their health care and food expenses. One the things to do in Tel Aviv which I enjoy the most is taking (or rather trying to take!) pictures of cats and possibly petting them. Some cats are incredibly shy, but there are some who are very human-friendly.
Go on a pub crawl
I am hardly a drinker. In fact, I can endure half a pint of beer without getting drunk, and a pint of beer to become giggly and tipsy. But let’s face it, the bar and pub scene in Tel Aviv is fantastic and going on a pub crawl is one of the most fun things to do in Tel Aviv, regardless of the amount of alcohol I may end up drinking (in fact, I can stick to juices if I don’t want to end up with a massive hang over!). Pub crawl tours of Tel Aviv have more than reasonable prices (considering how expensive the city is!).
Enjoy the vibrant nightlife
My friends think of me as the biggest potato couch ever. Comes the weekend, and all I want to do is grab a book and sit in the comfort of my home. Yet, Tel Aviv nightlife is so much fun that whenever I am there I feel compelled to go out. I enjoyed clubs like Sputnik and Radio – although I shall warn that they are very smokey. Either way, enjoying its incredible nightlife is one of the recommended things to do in Tel Aviv.
Go to a festival
Not a month goes by in Tel Aviv without some major festival taking place. Whether it is a cultural event, a concert, or a huge parade such as Pride, there’s always something going on and it would be a pity to miss it if in town. One of the best things to do in Tel Aviv is attending a festival.
Hang out at a fantastic hostel
As one of the best destinations in Israel, there’s no lack of great hotels in Tel Aviv. I am hardly a backpacker, actually (in fact, I claim to be an unsuccessful backpacker). Yet, whenever I am in town, I prefer staying in hostels: picking a good hostel is what to do in Tel Aviv, especially if keen to save a few bucks. My favorite hostel in town is Abraham – it’s where I stay whenever I visit. Another friend loves Little Tel Aviv, because it’s smaller and quieter.
Hostels in Tel Aviv have been taken to a whole new level, becoming incredible meeting points for artists and musicians; places where it is possible to enjoy a drink, a concert, an art exhibition and even a traditional meal. Locals as well as tourists hang out at some of the best hostels in Tel Aviv, such as Abraham. Hanging out at a hostel is one of the coolest things to do in Tel Aviv.
Get out of the city
Why would anyone who loves Tel Aviv as much as I do ever want to get out of the city? I won’t hide it: Tel Aviv can be incredibly intense at times. There’s a lot of traffic on weekdays, and it does get very hot in the summer. So, getting out of the city is one of the best things to do in Tel Aviv. Luckily, the city is very well connected by bus and collective taxis that go pretty much anywhere in the country, and it is easy to get out whether for just one day or more. Furthermore, car rentals in Israel are very cheap, thanks to the high competition (it may well be the only cheap thing available).
A great and easy day trip from Tel Aviv that I wholeheartedly recommend is that to the Masada and the Dead Sea.
If getting out of the city is what to do in Tel Aviv when feeling overwhelmed, good options for a weekend away may be the North of Israel, such as the Golan Heights, or Eilat and the Red Sea.
To find out why I am in love with Eilat, check my post “Why I love Eilat.”
The good news is that Tel Aviv is really well connected – major airlines as well as budget ones all fly to Tel Aviv. To look for flights to Tel Aviv, click here.
Have you ever been to Tel Aviv? What did you enjoy the most there?