Tel Aviv is known as the most liberal city in Israel, and one of the most gay friendly cities in the world. Came to be known as “The Miami Of The Middle East” by some American travel magazines, the city is one must be destination in your trip to Israel.
Tel Aviv is not really divided into districts, but rather into over 50 different neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods are really distinctive areas with different cultures (e.g. Neve Tzedek, Florentin, Ramat-Ha’Chayal), while others are simply indicating a geographical area. Tel Aviv grew mainly from the south to the north so the further you go to the north you will encounter newer buildings and wealthier communities.
Tel Aviv (meaning literally “Hill of Spring”) itself was founded in 1909 by a group of distinguished Jewish residents of Jaffa. They envisaged a European-style garden suburb, with wide streets and boulevards. Leaving Jaffa wasn’t, however, only a question of an upgrade in lifestyle. Moving out of the Arab-dominated town also represented their belief in the Jewish national movement, their belief in Zionism. Before being a city, Tel Aviv was one of the many titles of Herzel’s Zionist utopia – The Old New Land book. Setting out with a grand vision, the 60 Tel Aviv founders have started out by building the first mid-eastern urban center with running water, no small wonder in that part of the world in 1909.
Tel Aviv grew steadily under Ottoman law until WWI. By the end of the war the British took over the Holy Land. An event the Jewish community saw as encouraging, while and the Muslim community viewed as a turn-for-the-worst from the previous Islamic ruler. In May 1921, an Arab mob attacked a Jewish immigration center, killing dozens of Jews. Another group broke the windows stores in the Jewish street in Jaffa and a mob armed with knives and sticks have made his way towards Tel Aviv. Before 1921 most Jews worked and lived in Jaffa, after the attack thousands of the 16,000 Jews of Jaffa moved north to Tel Aviv. The suburb had become a city and within a decade, Tel Aviv had become the center of culture, commerce and light industry for the entire Jewish population of the country as well as the British soldiers. 1938 marked the opening of Tel Aviv port, an important milestone marking the end of its dependency on Jaffa. By this time, Tel Aviv was already the biggest city in the country, with 130,000 residents. After Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, Jaffa became a district of Tel Aviv and the city’s name was officially changed to Tel Aviv-Yafo.
Today, Tel Aviv-Yafo represents the heart of a thriving, Israeli metropolis – the greater metropolitan area comprises a number of separate municipalities with approximately 3.1 million people living in a 25 km long sprawl along the Mediterranean coast – with around 392,700 in Tel Aviv-Yafo itself making it the second largest city in Israel after Jerusalem(760,800 inhabitants). Bat Yam, Holon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Bnei-Brak, Petah Tikva, Rishon LeZion, Ramat Ha-Sharon, Rehovot and Herzliya are the other major cities in the coastal area commonly known as Gush Dan.
Whilst Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city where most government departments are located, Tel Aviv and its satellite cities form the economic and cultural center. It is known as “the city that doesn’t stop” and indeed you will find that the nightlife and culture are on around the clock. In summer it is not unusual to see the beach boardwalk bustling with people at 4AM and the clubs and bars usually pick up around midnight until morning, giving Tel Aviv a well deserved reputation of being a party town. It is the pinnacle of secular life in Israel.
In July 2003 Tel Aviv-Yafo was declared a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site for the many “International” style (also known as Bauhaus after the German school it originated from) buildings built in the city during the 1930s-50s. As this style emphasized simplicity and the white color, Tel Aviv is also called the White City.
Tel Aviv lies alongside the Mediterranean coastline. With few exceptions, all points of interest for tourists are in a rectangle defined by the sea to the west, the Yarkon River to the north, the Ayalon highway to the east, and Salame Road to the south. This rectangle is separated into two long strips by Ibn-Gvirol Street, starting from the Yarkon River and changing its name to Yehuda Halevy. Most of the attractions are in the west of these strips.
Tel Aviv developed from south to north. To the south-western corner of the rectangle you will find old Jaffa. To its north, is the first Jewish neighborhood outside Jaffa, Neve Tzedek (meaning “Oasis of Justice”). To Neve Tzedek’s east is Florentin, a 1920s light-industry quarter founded by Jews from Salonika in Greece that in recent years has turned into a trendy neighborhood for young people, albeit one with a large population of older and poor people; and then the Central Bus Station area, now home to foreign workers from around the world.
To the north of Neve Tzedek is “Kerem Ha’Temanim” (the Yemenite Vineyard), a crowded but picturesque neighborhood dating to the early 20th century and east and north of here lies the city center, a chiefly residential area built in the 1920s and 1930s, where the majority of Bauhaus (“International”) style architecture is to be found. Further north and east, the “old north” (not to be confused with “the north” on the other side of the Yarkon), is a more spacious residential area built during the 1940s and 1950s.
Tel Aviv residents often speak of a north-south divide in Tel Aviv-Yafo. The north is usually associated with a continental, chic, and suburbanite lifestyle centered around Kikar haMedina and “Ramat Aviv”. To the south, the city takes on a more working-class and eastern, albeit evermore trendy, urban feel. A crude divide would be that all neighborhoods north of the Yarkon River are considered “north”; the area between the sea in the west, Ayalon Highway in the east, Yarkon River in the north and Salame Street in the south is considered “central” Tel Aviv. The area south of Salame Street is generally south Tel Aviv, and Jaffa lies to the South-West. North Tel Aviv is generally more residential and family-oriented; central Tel Aviv is the hipper-younger area with many single people and couples in their 20s and 30s; south Tel Aviv is a rapidly gentrifying area with a mixed population – from older working-class people to artists to migrant African workers.
Tel Aviv is likely the most liberal city in Israel and in the Middle East – as it is no-less liberal than Western Europe’s liberally-inclined major cities. It has a bustling civil society and is home to many activist movements and NGOs. Its residents tend to have liberal attitudes towards gay and lesbian rights, and, in fact, Tel Aviv hosts the largest gay pride parade in Israel (one of the few countries in the Middle East where homosexuality is legal). It is also a destination for gay Palestinian refugees, unable to pursue their lifestyle in the Palestinian territories. With its liberalism comes a dose of sophistication and some will say detachment, and Tel Aviv is often dubbed “The Bubble” or “Medinat Tel Aviv” (“The State of Tel Aviv”) by residents and non-residents alike. Some ultra-Orthodox Israelis have even dubbed the city a modern day “Sodom and Gomorrah”, due to its hedonistic lifestyle.
Tel Aviv has a very mild Mediterranean climate. The best time to visit the city is summer when the average daytime temperature in August, the hottest month, is 30.2°C (86.4°F). The average high is 32°C (90°F) and the temperature variation between day and night can be as low as 4°C (39.2°F). Heat waves rarely affect the city and the record high is 46.5°C, which was recorded, surprisingly, in May 1916. Winters are actually as warm as Cairo. Nighttime lows are around 10°C (50°F) and daytime highs in 17°C (63°F). Cold waves are extremely rare and the record low is -1.9°C (28.6°F), in February 1950 when the only snowfall in the city’s history also occurred.
Tel Aviv’s (and Israel’s) main entry point for the international traveler is Ben Gurion International Airport (referred to by its Hebrew initials Natbag by locals). The airport comprises all the usual amenities expected from a traditional international airport and contains one of the world’s largest duty-free shopping malls for an airport of its size. The airport is the hub for a number of airlines, most notably El Al. It’s also one of the most secure airports in the world.
Even though the airport is called TLV it’s not actually in Tel Aviv, but rather 15km away from it, closer to the town of Lod. A further 20 minute drive is needed to get to Tel Aviv. This trip can be done by train, shuttle, or taxi from Ben Gurion airport.
By train: The train offers good connection to many parts of the country, including the city of Tel Aviv, with a single-ride ticket to the city for ₪13.50 (March 2017). Access to the station is from Level G in Terminal 3, the same level as Arrivals – when you get out of the gate just walk left and follow signs. Buy a ticket from the cashier or from an automatic machine, and use it to enter the platform area. Keep the ticket to exit the electronic gate at your destination station. Trains to the stations in the center of Tel Aviv leave from platform 2, heading for Nahariya.
The train service operates around the clock on weekdays, with 2 trains per hour (as of April 2019 they leave at :05 and :35) most of the day and one per hour at night. On weekends and Jewish holidays, from Friday afternoon till Saturday evenings, it doesn’t operate (As of November 2007, the last departure from the airport on Friday is at 14.37, the first departure on Saturday at 19.35. During day-light saving time trains start 2 hours later on Saturdays). Trains stop at all four Tel Aviv stations, with the exception of late night trains that stop only at Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor station.
The stations are, in order of arrival from the airport: Tel Aviv HaHagana (12 minutes travel), Tel Aviv HaShalom (13 minutes), Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor (18 minutes), Tel Aviv University (25 minutes). For most travelers, HaShalom or Merkaz/Savidor would be the place to disembark. All stations are suitable for non-Hebrew speakers, nonetheless, passengers will often be glad to assist.
By taxi: Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this is the most comfortable and of course, expensive way to reach the city center, with a typical ride price of around ₪140 to 175 NIS (the higher fare applies at night time until 5:30am, an additional surcharge applies for each suitcase and a third passenger). If you travel with a friend or two, it can be a good idea to share a taxi. It is not inappropriate to sit in the front seat in taxis in Israel, and the average journey time to the city should be around 20-30 minutes without heavy traffic. You should notify your taxi driver in advance if you’d like to pay by credit card. It is obligatory by law to use the taxi meter, unless agreed otherwise by the passenger and driver. A list of fixed fares from the airport to anywhere in Israel is available on digital kiosks by the taxi stand, or you can ask the taxi wardens. If you are traveling during rush hour or to the northern quarters of Tel Aviv asking for the fixed fare may cost you less than the meter. But generally in Israel, prefer not to accept fixed-priced rides with taxi drivers unless you’re sure of what you are doing; you may end up paying more. An alternative to airport taxis are taxi hailing apps such as Gett and Uber, however you may end up waiting longer and paying the same. The cheapest way to travel back from Tel Aviv to the airport via taxi is with Hadar taxi company, which offers discounted flat rates of ₪110 during the day and ₪120 at night, as long as your pick up address is residential and not a hotel. Order your taxi at least 2 hours in advance by calling 03-9711103 or 03-9391111, or online.
By bus: From 1st April 2019 there’s a new bus line, number 445 of a company called Kavim. It runs both ways from Terminal 3 and 2 (not 1) in the airport to Central Tel Aviv, Kerem Hateymanim district, and the beach hotel district on Ben Yehuda street. It costs 13 shekels (3$). The line is 24h around the clock (on 9:00, 10:00 etc) but like most of the public transportation in Israel, it stops between Friday after 16:00 and Saturday before 21:00 (at the winter time). It takes 26 minutes from Terminal 3 in the airport to (and from) Rothschild street. It’s the cheapest way to get to the city, and best if you need to get to Ben Yehuda area or Kerem Hateimanim, but the train is more comfortable and seems faster especially on the hot traffic jams hours (morning and afternoon). You can pay by Rav-Kav card or cash, with shekels, to the driver.
By shuttle: Flo Shuttle operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with guaranteed departure shuttles on the hour, every hour, in both directions (from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv, and Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport). The service picks up from all hotels in Tel Aviv and costs $17 per person.
Tel Aviv has another airport, Sde Dov (SDV). This is a primarily domestic airport, with frequent flights to Eilat (ETH) and Rosh Pina (Galilee) (RPN).
Tel Aviv is the hub of the country’s modern network of freeways. The city is easily accessible from Ben Gurion Airport via the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv freeway (freeway 1), from the north by Tel Aviv-Haifa freeway (freeway 2), as well as from Beer-Sheva and the southern parts of the country (freeways 4 and 20). Freeways’ speed limit varies between 90km/h and 100km/h. On other intercity roads the limit is 80km/h. On urban roads the default speed limit is 50km/h.
The city is divided west-east by the Ayalon Freeway (freeway 20), which is the main artery of the city. It is best to avoid commuter traffic in and out of Tel Aviv and its surrounding cities during rush hours (Sunday to Thursday, 7:00-9:00 and 17:00-19:00); especially to be avoided is the entrance to Tel Aviv via Ayalon Freeway in morning rush hour, as it is one of the most busy freeways in the world. Also, it is important to note that Israeli drivers are considered aggressive in comparison to their Western European or North American counterparts. Signage is is in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Navigation is difficult without GPS, and parking is expensive and scarce. If possible, avoid using a private car in Tel Aviv and use public transportation.
Israeli highway police are strict and speed limits (+10% unofficially) and driving laws are strictly enforced. All in all, driving conditions in Israel are much better than in the rest of the Middle East, though accident rates are considerably higher than in North America or Western Europe. That said, Israel boasts one of the world’s lowest traffic related deaths: only 11.6 deaths per 100000 vehicles annually (in the U.S.A the rate is 15 deaths per 100000 vehicles annually).
Parking in Tel Aviv is very hard to find, and proves to be a challenge even for the locals. Parking lots are available, but expensive (usually around ₪25-30 an hour), and can also be full around busier times (i.e., a parking in a central area could be full on a friday night, when everybody in the area goes out to eat and drink in the city). “Ahuzat Hahof” operates many of the city’s parking lots and is owned by the municipality. Rates there are usually lower and the lots are better maintained. A particularly handy parking lot is that of “Habima square” at the end of Rotschild avenue (entrance from Huberman st. or Sderot Tarsat). Parking in the street (if you can find one) is allowed where there is no marking (grey) for free, where there is blue and white marking (“kachol-lavan”) for an hourly fee (cheaper than lots) generally between 9-17 (street signs indicating that are usually just in hebrew, use locals since parking policy is difficult to understand even for “non-Tel-Avivian” Israelis), and there are no parking meters, meaning you need to get parking cards to put in your window in advance (usaully in a kiosk). Paying via cell-phone is also possible using the app “Pango +”. This tip also applies to the rest of Israel. Also, some areas of blue-white are reserved for locals with a zone sticker at certain times of day. It is forbidden to park where there are red and white markings, though sometimes only in certain hours, as indicated by signs (but those are usually in hebrew only as well). The inspectors in Tel Aviv are everywhere and merciless, beware as you can get a fine of ₪100-500! Parking in a handicapped parking place is punishable by a fine of 1000₪. There are generally more parking spaces in the south and the north (north of the Yarkon river that is) than there are in the center. As parking is Tel-Aviv is a rather expensive mess, it is advisable to avoid coming into the city with a car.
The New Central Bus Station in southern Tel Aviv (“Tahana Merkazit”) offers routes servicing most locations in Israel. It is located within a short walking distance of the HaHaganah Train Station. The building, which is a combination of shopping mall and bus terminal, is more than a bit confusing – in fact, it is almost unmanageable for the infrequent visitor; tourists might want to avoid it and instead take buses destined for the 2000 Bus Terminal (see below). The station also lies in the poorest area in Tel Aviv and its surroundings are not pleasant at nighttime. Nevertheless, most inter-city bus lines depart from platforms on the north wing of 6th floor, except for buses to Galilee (Afula, Nazareth, Tiberias, Kiryat Shmona etc.) which are on the south wing on 7th floor (accessible by escalator from 6th floor). Most urban lines to Tel Aviv and its suburbs are on the north wing on 7th floor (which isn’t connected to the south wing of the same floor), with several lines on 4th floor which is actually at street level (those are popular city lines no. 4&5, and 44&46 to Bat Yam via Yafo).
The Egged bus #405 from Jerusalem leaves about every 20 minutes, starting at 5:50 AM and ending at 23:45 PM, from Jerusalem CBS and arrives at Tel Aviv CBS. It takes 56 minutes and the fare is ₪20 (Dec 2011). Bus #480 leaves about every 10 minutes, starting at 5:45 AM with the last bus at 23:45 PM, for Arlozorov. It takes 1 hour and costs ₪19. Frequency Decreases at around 20:00.
Several urban lines stop outside the station building on Levinski street (north side of the station), and some others a block away to the west on Har Zion street. Sherut taxis depart from Tzemach David street outside the east side of the station.
Check the electronic boards in departure halls for info on destinations, platforms and coming-up departures. If this doesn’t help, ask at the information booths (Chances are that the person there would hardly speak English). For most intercity and some suburban lines you should go to Egged booth on 6th floor. Metropoline, a company which operates service to Beer Sheva (and destinations enroute), also has an info booth on that floor (on the right from Egged booth), although it’s usually inactive. For most bus lines within the metropolitan area of Tel Aviv you should go to the Dan info booth on 7th floor (they also handle info on lines operated by Kavim).
Several intercity and many metropolitan destinations are also served from the more user-friendly 2000 Bus Terminal (AKA Arlozorov terminal), next to Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor Train Station. It is a good place to make connections between train and bus, and there are information desks. North-bound buses stop at Namir Road alongside this terminal, but at peak times they might be full when they get there. Most south-bound buses stop at Holon Junction. The above warning is also valid there.
In general, buses follow the Fourth Commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day”), stopping on Friday afternoon, and only resuming service Saturday after sunset. Some services, however, may start earlier on Saturday afternoon. Minor services may not resume until Sunday morning. Tickets can be bought from the driver, or from the ticket counters in the main stations. For information, call 03-6948888, or *2800 from any phone within the country. A daily bus service is also available to and from Amman through the King Hussein Bridge. Call the operator (04-6573984) for details.
Israel Railways +972-3-5774000, operate train services within Israel. Train service has improved significantly during the last decade or so, and today they are a fast and comfortable alternative to buses for many destinations. Train services connect Tel Aviv to Haifa and Beer-Sheva, as well as numerous smaller towns whilst a direct train line connects Tel Aviv to Ben-Gurion airport.
A new high-speed line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is available and as of 2020 (but does not pass through Tel Aviv University station yet).This journey should take around 30 minutes and is the fastest way to go between the two cities. This line runs twice an hour and is expected to run four times an hour in the near future. A train ride to Jerusalem that follows the 19th century path is also available but is relatively infrequent and you must change trains at Beit Shemesh station , this scenic route is worth taking, even though taking the bus on the modern highway will take half the time and taking the high speed line will get you there even faster.
Trains do tend to be crowded during rush hours, especially on Sunday morning, when soldiers return to their bases and students to their universities. Train service also stops on Friday afternoons, and resumes on Saturdays after sunset, in observance of the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat).
Tel Aviv has four train stations, all along the Ayalon highway. All trains to Tel Aviv stop in all four stations. For best access to the city center, use either “Tel Aviv Merkaz” (a.k.a. “Arlozorov” and officially named “Savidor”), or “Hashalom” (located next to a large shopping mall). “Tel Aviv Ha-Hagana” Station is close to the New Central Bus Station, but buses to most destinations in Tel Aviv and intercity buses (including to Jerusalem and Haifa) also leave from the terminal outside “Tel Aviv Merkaz” (“Arlozorov”) train station.
Tel Aviv has a modern, regular, cheap and widespread bus network run mostly by Dan. Bus services start at 05:00 and stop at midnight, though some lines stop earlier, so do check. There are night buses that run until 4:00 (Thursday and Saturday nights all year, and in addition Sunday to Wednesday nights during the summer). Suburban lines are operated by Dan, Egged, Metropoline (Hebrew) and Kavim (Hebrew). Note that the majority of public transportation in Israel does not run on the Sabbath, beginning on Friday afternoon until Saturday evening.
Single tickets within the city and the close suburbs (Bat Yam, Holon, Ramat Gan, Bney Brak, Givatayim, Petah Tikva, Kiryat Ono) cost ₪5.90. Rides to northern suburbs (Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, Kfar Saba, Ra’anana) cost ₪9.30.
Rather than paying the driver in cash on each bus ride, you can buy a public transit smart card called Rav-Kav. This card can serve and an e-wallet, offering a 25% discount on the bus fare. You can charge it with ₪30/ ₪50/ ₪100, and receive ₪37.50/ ₪62.50/ ₪125. In addition, paying with a Rav-Kav allows you free transfers within the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area for 90 minutes. Alternately, you can use the card to buy a day-pass for ₪13.50, a 7 day pass for ₪64 or a monthly pass for ₪213. If purchased at a train station, you can buy a flexible 30-day pass.
A personal (photo card) Rav-Kav can be obtained free of charge at bus terminals and train stations, and requires filling out a registration form. You can also order a Rav-Kav online for free and have it shipped to your address in Israel here. A personal Rav-Kav means that if you lose your card, you can transfer your balance to a new card. Alternatively, an ‘Anonymous’ Rav-Kav can be purchased at the bus terminals and train stations, or directly from the bus driver for ₪5. However, ‘anonymous’ cards do not bear the same fares and discounts you get with a personal Rav-Kav if you are a pensioner.
The card can be recharged in the above locations, or from the convenience of your NFC-enabled Android smartphone, with the official Rav-kav app For more information on the Rav-Kav and pricing, see here
Several mobile apps will prove helpful for planning your commute, offering real time data and a trip planner. Moovit, EfoBus and Google Maps are some that you should consider.
The most popular bus route in the city is bus number 5, which connects the Central Bus Station (departure from 4th floor, westernmost platform) in the south with the Central Train Station. It goes through Rotschild Boulevards, Dizengof Street (Including the Dizengof Center Mall), Nordau Boulevard, Pinkas/Yehuda Maccabi Street and Weizman Street or Namir Road.
The number 4 bus is also convenient. It runs north from the Central Bus station through Allenby road and Ben Yehoda street.
Another popular bus route is number 18, connecting the Central Train Station with the southern neighbourhoods of Jaffa and Bat-Yam. It also has a stop at Rabin Square. Other than these lines, Tel Aviv has more than 400 Intra-city lines. Many buses start/finish their ride at the CBS or the 2000 terminal (“Arlozorov terminal”). Most buses are suburban buses and drive to adjacent cities where they finish their ride. Other important terminals are Reading terminal, Carmelit terminal and to a lesser extent Atidim terminal, Ezorei-Hen terminal, University train station terminal and Kiryat Hinukh Terminal.
Like most Israelis, the bus drivers in Tel Aviv speak and understand some English, and in some cases will kindly answer questions about the destination of their bus and let you know when to get off. Unfortunately, others are much less willing to help, offering responses so curt as to be misleading. In these cases, it is recommended to ask for help from a friendly-looking fellow passenger.
Do not forget the Sherut Taxis. These yellow minibuses run about the same route as nr. 5, 4 and 16 buses. They cost the same as the bus (2019: ₪5.90 on a regular day; on Shabbat 7 and after midnight 8 Shekels), and they run on the Sabbath too. They may not stop unless you flag them down, which you can do anywhere along their route – not just at a bus stop. You pay when you have found your seat, by passing the fare to the person in front of you who will pass it along to the driver. Neat! if you sit up front be prepared to pass money to the driver and the change back to the passenger. They run along Namir road to the CBS too.
You can hail a taxi (“mo-NIT”, מונית) in the street or call one (with extra surcharge). Downloading the Gett Taxi app, will guarantee a predetermined price without having to haggle and look for a taxi in the street. Tipping is not needed. Taxis are obliged to give you a metered ride unless you settle for a price, so insist that the driver use the meter (“mo-NEH” in Hebrew, pronounced like the painter “Monet”), unless you are sure what the price to your destination should be. And no, the meter is never broken. A local ride without meter should be ₪20-30 in the downtown core, and up to 50 or 60 to the immediate suburbs. If you go for a price fixed in advance, haggle with your driver a bit, you can generally knock a few shekels off the price. Cutting a deal in advance is especially recommended on Friday night and Saturday, when there is a surcharge. Plus, if you get stuck in Tel Aviv’s notorious traffic, you won’t sit there watching your money tick away. Hakastel taxi service, phone +972-3-6993322, Palatine +972-3-5171750 or Shekem +972-3-5270404 (add ₪3.30 charge for the call).
In addition to normal (called “special”) taxis, there are 6-12 person van-sized taxis that supplement some bus routes (“sheh-ROOT”). This alternative is often faster, slightly cheaper, and more frequent than taking a bus, and they operate 7 days a week. If requested, the driver will stop outside the designated bus stops. Such service is available on bus routes no. 4, 5 (but note that these taxis don’t reach the train station), 16, 51 and 66.
Given Tel Aviv’s flat and coastal geography, mild weather, and a growing number of bicycle paths throughout the city – bicycle travel in Tel Aviv is an ideal way to get around.
The city operates a bike-share program called Tel-O-Fun which offers thousands of bikes for rent from stations all across the city. You can register for the bright-green bike share program at the computer terminal at the rental stations, with any international credit card. You can chose to sign up for a single-day pass (₪17 on weekdays, ₪23 on weekends and national holidays), a 3-day pass (₪48) or a 7 day pass (₪70). Once you have your pass, renting a bike is free, so long as you return in to any station within 30 minutes. 10 minutes later, you can then rent a bike again for free. Keeping a bike for more than 30 minutes at a time will cost an additional ₪6 or up to ₪4,500.
In addition, Chinese bike sharing service Mobike is also offering hundreds of bicycles across the city. Unlike Tel-O-Fun you can pick up a Mobike bicycle where available and drop it off anywhere in the city. The service is operated through the Mobike app (iPhone / Android).
Several hotels and bike shops throughout the city offer bicycle rentals, and cheap Chinese made bicycles can be purchased for several hundred shekels on longer stays. Be sure to lock your bicycle at all times and don’t leave it outside at night, even proper locks get cut by electric cutters in under 15 seconds. When cycling, prefer bike paths where those exist. If you cycle on the road, obey all traffic signs and rules. If you cycle on the sidewalks, yield to pedestrians.
While driving in Tel Aviv is generally less recommended given the impossible street parking, the City introduced a car sharing scheme called AutoTel. It allows you to rent a car by the minute, one way (that is, pick up and return in different locations), and park for free in dedicated street parking anywhere in the city. The entire registration and rental process is done via the AutoTel app (iPhone / Android), and using the service is considerably cheaper than taking a taxi. There is no subscription fee for the first month (you only pay for the minutes you drive), which makes the service appealing to tourists.
Tel Aviv’s Art Gallery District : A stone’s throw from the famous Dan Tel Aviv hotel and Frishman beach, you will find the largest concentration of galleries in Tel Aviv. On Ben Yehuda street (North of Frishman) you will find the Bruno Gallery, the Eden Gallery, and Jojo Gallery. On Gordon street you will find the Stern Gallery. With a 20 minute walk you will run into more than 20 art galleries and are sure to find interesting works from Israeli artists. On Frishman, you will find some antique stores and Dylan’s Art Cafe which promotes up & coming artists, and you relax for a meal and coffee in the garden.
Tel Aviv has the widest selection of performing arts in Israel.
Fans of classical music might enjoy Israel’s Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Israel Opera.
The Barby (52, Kibutz Galuyot st., 03-5188123), and the Goldstar Zappa (24, Habarzel st., 03-6499550) present Israeli (and sometimes foreign) rock daily.
For more alternative and indie music with occasional jazz shows and electronic parties, head to Levontin 7, named after its street address or The OzenBar.
Tmuna Theater (8, Shontsino st., 03-5629462) alternates between local acts, both famous and unknown, and fringe theater productions in Hebrew.
Dance can be enjoyed in Suzanna Dellal Center in Neve Tzedek.
Theater is mostly performed in Hebrew, naturally, but English interpretation is available is some of the shows for extra-fees in Habima National Theater (03-6295555) and HaCameri Municipal Theater.
The match between Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv is a major event in the city as the teams are as huge rivals as they come.
Tel Aviv hosts many festivals and events. Something is going on almost every weekend so make sure you’re updated!
Tel Aviv’s markets are the best show in town, and they’re bustling all day long. A Middle Eastern mélange of tastes, scents, sounds, colors – and lots of people.
Israel has the highest ratio of shopping mall sqm per capita, in the world. As malls are good places to catch some air-conditioning in the hot Israeli climate, they have quickly become a preferable place of entertainment for the locals. The variety is usually mid-range, mainstream, with both international and local brands.
Tel Aviv has 6 major malls.
The air-conditioned malls threaten to destroy the concept of shopping streets, but some of the more special ones still survive.
Dizengoff Street is popular with the shoppers as the street is peppered with numerous specialty shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as the sprawling Dizengoff Center Mall. One of the cities best second hand clothing shops can be found at the corner of Dizengoff and Frishman Streets in the covered passageway. It’s called Daffodil 11, and the shop sells modern, trendy clothing at unbelievably low prices. Second-hand clothing shops are getting very popular in Tel Aviv and you’ll find them scattered all over the city.
Daffodil 11 101 Dizengoff Hod Passage, Tel Aviv
If you’re lucky enough to be in Tel Aviv in February or August, you can find the city’s most talented designers gathered together in one place with the best of their collections on display – and for sale. Twice a year, for three days each time, a giant fashion fair called City Designers’ Market is held in Tel Aviv. Whatever you do, don’t miss this colorful carnival of cutting-edge fashion!
The country’s widespread Steimatzky and Zomet Sfarim chains are a good source for current books. Almost every shop has at least a selection in English. Allenby St. has a number of second hand bookshops, most sell (and buy) English books. For music, check out Tower Records shop in the opera tower, on the corner of Alenby and Herbert Samuel. For the more alternative crowd, Krembo Records in Shenkin Street and Third Ear on King George Street will satisfy your needs.
Gordon Street is famous for its art galleries. Ben-Yehuda Street has several Judaica\Jewelery\souvenirs shops. You can buy jewelry from Michal Negrin, a world-famous Israeli designer, in her shops at the Azriely mall and on Sheinkin st. The prices are much better than abroad. For more original crafts and Judaica, try the Nahlat Binyamin craft market mentioned above.
List of Art Galleries:
Raw Art Gallery which is in the southern part of Tel Aviv. 3 Shvil Ha’Meretz Street, Building 8 , 4th Floor. Tel Aviv, Israel. +972-3-6832559
Gordon Contemporary art by local artists. 95 Ben Yehuda Street. Tel-Aviv ,Israel. +972-3-5240323
Sommer Young contemporary art by Israeli and international artists. 13 Rothschild Blvd. Tel Aviv, Israel. +972-3-5166400
Chelouche Gallery for Israeli and international contemporary artists, located in the “Twin House”- a 1920’s historical bulding. 7 Mazeh Street. Tel Aviv, Israel. +972-3-6200068
Egozi Gallery Gallery and an auction house for art and antiques. 35 Shaul Ha’Melech. (America bldg, near the Tel Aviv Muesuem) Tel Aviv. Israel +972-3-5277282
Palestine 8 Oley Tzion- in the Jaffa Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Israel. +972-3-6812581
Ziva Tal Antique Shop 207 Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv, Israel. +972-3-5275311
You can also eat a toast, sandwich or some other snack at one of the cafes around the city. Many fruit juice parlors are around.
Taizu, Toto, Shila and Messa are considered to be Tel Aviv’s most elegant restaurants, serving gourmet and unique plates, inspired both by local and foreign cuisine although not kosher. There are many good kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv including Lilliot, Meatos, Bruno and of course 2C which although pricey, offers gourmet food with amazing views of the city as its located at the very top of the Azrieli round tower.
Finally, Tel Aviv’s ice cream parlors offer much more than basic flavors, as the taste buds are eclectic and strive for new flavors, such as Halva, poppy seed, and even a touch of alcoholic liqueurs in the ice cream (Try these places: Iceberg, Gelateria Siciliana, Dr. Lek, Vaniglia and Aldo.
New places are opening and closing every day and the “hottest spots” change every couple of months, so no internet guide will be able to direct you to the hippest place (even though some may try). Many places in Tel Aviv have minimum age limitations that vary from 18+ (as required by law) to 30+. Usually the limitation is different between males and females and while some spots may be flexible others will be as strict as possible.
Israel has no unique drinking culture so any place with any self-respect will have the entire world wide alcohol selection available, from Wine and Beer to Tequila, Arak, Vodka, Whiskey and Cognac. One of the most popular drinks is the local Goldstar beer and at the moment (2010) the Arabic drink, Arak (it means “sweat” in Arabic) is all the rage in pubs and bars.
Even though the entire city is full of spots to hang out, there are a few places that have an unusual amount of pubs/clubs:
Tel Aviv is home to the leading LGBTQ+ community in Israel and all of the Middle-East, and is a very friendly city towards the LGTBQ+ community. There are many gay clubs and parties. Some of which have been running for several years already (Shirazi’s FFF line, which is currently taking place in the ‘Haoman 17’ club. The electro ‘PAG’ line). Others are changing from time to time. There is also a gay accommodation (see the Sleep section).
There is a gay beach in the city, next to Hilton Hotel (the gay beach called “Hilton Beach”). It is full of young LGBTQ+ Israelis, especially in the weekends. Next to Dizengof Center you may see LGBTQ couples walking freely all day long.
The Tel Aviv club scene is comparable to those in most European capitals. Top international DJs regularly perform in Tel Aviv, with clubs constantly vying to outdo each other with ever more extravagant parties. Up to date English language party listings are readily available online.
The biggest and newest club (mimicking New York’s Roxy) in the city is Haoman 17 (Florentin quarter).
Other fantastic clubs are TLV, Dome (gay; Offer Nissim is the resident DJ), Vox, Powder and the “indie” Cafe Barzilay and Studio 46.
Rock clubs, include Barbie Club, in Kibutz Galuyot St, or the Zappa Club, in the northeastern neighbourhood of Ramat haChayal, among others, host concerts almost every night of the week.
Billiards (pool) clubs, include Gypsy on Kikar Atarim (Atarim plaza) in Hayarkon St.
Coffee shops have been an inseparable part of the Tel Aviv cultural lifestyle ever since the city was founded, as cafés were always the favorite hanging spots of the local bohemia. It is therefore no surprise that Tel Aviv boasts many cafés, which can be found everywhere in the city, offering aromatic Italian Espressos and Capuccinos (called “Hafukh”, meaning upside-down, in Hebrew). Espresso-bar, Cafeneto, Café-café and arcaffé are some of the local chain-cafés. Aroma’s the biggest among them. Feel free to spend hours in a coffee shop – no one will slap the check on your table or require you to order more stuff.
Bohemian ‘Puah’ (located in the Jaffa flea market), Café Noah, Chic ‘Le Central’ (Rothschild Av.), and ‘Tolaat Sfarim’ (Rabin Sq.) are recommended for their very distinctive and Israeli café-drinking experience.
Another option to cut expenses a bit is to sleep in the nearby towns instead of actually staying inside Tel Aviv. This is a very common practice for young Israelis that want the Tel Aviv lifestyle without the Tel Aviv cost. The most common options are Ramat Gan, Bat Yam, Holon and Givatayim.
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