What if you have the chance to travel alone with all the freedom and wild heart to explore a city on your own? There are many cities to choose from in this beautiful world, but in our opinion, Tel Aviv, the the second most populous city in Israel, deserves your attention. To help you decide, we’ve put together a 3-day itinerary to help you make the most of your trip. Remember, this is just one of the few ways to enjoy Tel Aviv so feel free to fine tune this itinerary based on your interests.
Things to know before traveling to Tel Aviv, Israel:
Language – Hebrew and Modern Standard Arabic are the official languages of Israel. Israelis of Romanian, Moroccan and Algerian descent know French. English is taught in schools and is widely used throughout the country, so do not worry about not knowing local phrases or words. Like other countries in the world, speaking at least some Hebrew or Arabic phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals.
Currency exchange – The official unit of currency in Israel is the Israeli new shekel (NIS). Exchanging money in Israel is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in the Middle East. Most major establishments like hotels and restaurants in major tourist and business destinations accept credit cards. The best way to get local currency is to use the ATMs, which are widely available in Tel Aviv and other major cities and withdraw in Israeli new shekel to get the best rate. If you brought cash, then you may exchange currency at the airport, local bank, post office, or a license currency exchange counter.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for Israel. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Avoid non-essential travel to all areas within Gaza Strip, West Bank, Syrian and Egyptian borders. The crime rate is generally low, especially in Tel Aviv, and you won’t experience anything serious than getting ripped off in a shop. Violent crime is practically unheard of and you are very unlikely to get mugged anywhere.
Getting there – Israel’s main airport is Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), located only 20 minutes from downtown Tel Aviv. The city is served by several foreign carriers including Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, KLM, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and more. Round-trip airfare from London starts at 250 USD; from Berlin – 300 USD; from New York – 750 USD; from Hong Kong – 800 USD; from Istanbul -350 USD.
Getting around – Visitors can take advantage of the Dan Red Bus (Line 100), which goes to some of the must-see attractions in the central areas. Biking is also an option because the town is mostly flat and has dedicated bike lanes. Tel-O-Fun, an eco-friendly bicycle sharing service, offers over 2,000 bicycles spread out in various parking stations in the city (3-day access costs 48 NIS or about 15 USD). If you are short on time or you prefer less time walking, renting a car and driving on your own is another great option, which will give you complete control of the trip.
Where to stay – There’s a great variety of accommodation in Tel Aviv, ranging from small family-run pensions to five-star luxury hotels. In almost any neighborhood, there’s something for every level of comfort and budget. For first time visitors, we would recommend the ancient port city of Jaffa (known locally as Yafo) because it is centrally located and close to the beach, restaurants, historical attractions and markets. Florentin is another great option and is a quirky neighborhood of hipsters. If you love to see the famous Bauhaus architecture and sandstone buildings, then Neve Tzedek is the best neighborhood for you.
Hotels to consider in Tel Aviv:
Fabric Hotel Tel Aviv – an Atlas Boutique Hotel
Market House Tel Aviv Jaffa – An Atlas Boutique Hotel
Day by day itinerary: Discover Tel Aviv, Israel in 3 days
Depending on your time of arrival, you can take it easy and soak up the atmosphere in Tel Aviv, or you can begin your tour of its famous attractions. After your arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, check into your preferred hotel/guest house.
Enjoy the beach in the afternoon. The beaches of Tel Aviv are stunning – white to golden fine sand and crystal, clear waters will invite you to swim, snorkel and dive. As a well-developed tourist destination, Tel Avivi beaches don’t lack anything. From beach-side umbrellas to water sports activities, you’ll find it all.
If you are into surfing, check out Jaffa Beach and enjoy its big waves and great surfer vibes. Frishman Beach and Metzitzim Beach, on the other hand, are ideal family beaches. You and your family get to enjoy the shallow waters and the constant presence of lifeguards in the area. If you want to experience the local culture, make your way to Geula Beach and see a lot of Israelis play their favorite beach sport, known as Matkot. If you are a dog lover and you want to see adorable dogs running around the beach, then your best bet is the Hilton Dog Beach. Bograshov Beach and Gordon Beach are touristy but boast several bars and restaurants.
Budget tip: Buy your beers at a local convenience store called AM/PM. It is the best store to load up for a lower price by the beach.
At the end of the day, you may want to go somewhere a little fancy to celebrate your first night in Tel Aviv. A trip to the city will not be complete without a dinner involving the best wines of the country. House Number 3 in Jaffa will give you the best experience in the perfect pairing of homemade Israeli food and wine. The place is quite Instagrammable too because it is located in a renovated Ottoman era castle.
On day 2, immerse yourself with local culinary traditions and treat your palate with new flavors by visiting Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market). Known as Tel Aviv’s largest fresh produce market and the most famous of all the city’s markets, Shuk HaCarmel is the local’s go-to place for fresh fruits, seafood, cured meats, freshly baked breads and pastries, cheeses, and so much more. The market is open Sundays – Thursdays from 7AM to 7PM and Fridays from 7AM to 4PM.
Another fantastic market you can go to is Levinsky Market located in the heart of the hipster neighborhood of Florentin. It is considered a gourmand’s paradise because of the vast array of spices, cheeses, nuts, olives, and dried fruits you will find here. If you are craving for Asian food, this is the best place for you! After you explore the market, make sure to experience the chill and laid-back vibe of the neighborhood by getting some coffee at a nearby coffee shop.
Interested in shopping at flea markets for antiques and collectibles? Head to Jaffa Flea Market where you will find a treasure trove of antiques, hand-crafted and second-hand items for reasonable prices.
If you want to experience the drinking culture of Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps, head to The Prince. Located at a rooftop, it’s the best place especially if you love day drinking. Cuckoo’s Nest, the sister venue of The Prince, is also a great choice for drinking. If you want to eat great food and drink a few shots of tequila or cocktails, the Egyptian-inspired bar called Port Said is your best bet. If you just want to drink the night away like how Tel Avivians do, Salon Berlin’s happy hour is perfect for you.
In the morning, nerd out over the design, architecture and construction behind the most beautiful Bauhaus buildings of of Tel Aviv’s “White City” by joining a guided tour. Tel Aviv is famous for its impressive collection of bauhaus architecture. If you want to see these buildings DIY-style, then visit the city’s most popular bauhaus buildings including the Pagoda House, the Russian Embassy House, the Great Synagogue, Beit Ha’ir, Beit Bialik, and the Rubin Museum.
You may dedicate the afternoon to Kerem Hateimanim, the historic neighborhood built by Yemenite immigrants in the late 19th century. Located at the back of Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market), this charming old neighborhood is one of the best off-the-beaten places in Tel Aviv. Stroll around its many tiny alleyways, sample authentic, traditional Yemenite cuisine, grab a drink at one of its unassuming bars, and have fun while you dive deeper into the local culture.
Have you been to Tel Aviv or anywhere else in Israel? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Old town and port of Jaffa and modern skyline of Tel Aviv city, Israel (Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock)