Been there, done that: off-the-beaten-track experiences in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv has much to offer visitors besides great food and miles of fine sand, lapped by the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Like any true global city, Tel Aviv is a patchwork of ever-evolving neighborhoods, each with its own vibe, public spaces, cultural attractions, and establishments that serve up a wide variety of drinks, nibbles, and cuisines. With such a rich urban tapestry stretching for miles around, every resident of Tel Aviv has their favorite spots to watch the sunset, window-shop, grab a coffee, or take a leisurely weekend stroll. We have chosen six Tel Aviv experiences that locals often recommend to friends from abroad.
GET SOME SAND BETWEEN YOUR TOES
Beachfront Stroll – Classic Tel Aviv
After grabbing a bite – or at least a coffee – at the Tel Aviv Port dining and nightlife area, walk south along the waterfront to family-friendly Metzitzim Beach. Continue to Hilton Beach (named after the hotel on the bluff above) and climb up the ramp to Independence Park for panoramic views, then return to the seafront promenade and continue south to the yacht marina and the adjacent saltwater Gordon Pool. Above the cement parking garage is Atarim Square, a Brutalist-style architectural fiasco from the 1970s that locals love to hate, in part because it cuts the seafront off from Ben-Gurion Boulevard. From there, the promenade parallels a series of hugely popular, breakwater-protected beaches. Bugrashov Beach is across the street from London Garden, where a prow-shaped memorial commemorates British Mandate-era ‘illegal’ immigration by Jews fleeing persecution in Europe. For some light refreshment, pick a table at one of the nearby on-the-sand cafes.
Beachfront Stroll – Out into the Dunes
From the northern edge of the Tel Aviv Port, cross the Yarkon River Estuary on pedestrians-only Wauchope-Reading Bridge and continue north past Reading Power Station, built in the late 1930s on the site of a Neo-Assyrian fortress from the late eighth-century BCE. An arched pedestrian bridge takes you to the site of Sde Dov Airport, which closed in 2019 so its incredibly valuable land can be used for luxury housing. North of there is Tel Baruch Beach, a perfect spot for a snack or a meal (or a bathroom break). Further north, HaTzuk Beach goes all the way to the Herzliya marina.
FINE ARTS AND LOCAL CRAFTS
This is the best place in Tel Aviv to discover the compelling riches of modern Israeli art and the country’s vibrant contemporary arts scene. A stroll through the cool galleries will also take you to canvases by world-class icons of modern art and Impressionism, such as Chagall, Dubuffet, Kandinsky, Klimt, Monet, and Renoir. Here, you can also take in sculptures by Giacometti, and compelling works of photography and drawing. The auditoriums host concerts, plays, and films.
Nahalat Binyamin Arts and Crafts Fair
Some 200 local artisans sell their incredibly original creations, all handmade, along pedestrianized Nahalat Binyamin Street. One of the city’s very first streets, it is lined with Eclectic-style buildings from the 1920s. A great place to find gifts for friends back home, the fair features jewelry, ceramics, woodwork, stained glass, and toys. You’ll also find some of the world’s most colorful Jewish ritual objects (mezuzahs, kiddush cups, menorahs, and candlesticks). Open every Tuesday and Friday, and on the intermediate days of some Jewish holidays, it’s situated just around the corner from Carmel Market.
TAKE A STROLL THROUGH HISTORY
A walk through Jaffa
On the coast just south of Tel Aviv, Jaffa was mentioned in Egyptian papyri as far back as the 15th-century BCE – and, according to the Bible, it was from here that the prophet Jonah set sail to his fateful encounter with the whale. The city was almost entirely rebuilt in the 19th century after being captured and ransacked by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. From the Ottoman-era Clock Tower (HaSha’on Square), built in 1903, walk past Mahmoudiya Mosque (4 Ruslan Street) and then up the hill to Abraham Garden to enjoy panoramic views of Tel Aviv. The Franciscan St Peter’s Church (Kedumim Square) adds a distinctly Spanish-Baroque note to the old city’s Levantine ambiance. Check out the art galleries hidden away on narrow alleyways before descending to the fishing port for a cold drink.