Nothing says 'welcome to Tel Aviv' more than this giant air balloon. It's an attraction in the very north of Tel Aviv, inside the Yarkon Park and from here you have a view stretching the entire city! Arriving to Tel Aviv by car or train, you can see the balloon from far away and for me personally it always feels like 'welcome home' when I see the balloon in the distance.
Now, let's virtually go up in the balloon while taking you through Tel Aviv with some of the highlights and local's best kept secrets! This virtual photo tour starts north in the Yarkon Park and we'll end in ancient Yafo, Tel Aviv's southern border.
The Yarkon park is the northern border inside the city center and Tel Aviv's Central Park, you see why locals love to run here?
One of my personal favorite places in Tel Aviv is the cactus garden inside the Yarkon Park. It really is an oasis in the middle of the bustling park, where it is so quiet that you can even spot the jackals living deep inside the park!
Just south of the park is the 'namal', the port of Tel Aviv. This is an old industrial area, completely renovated and now a great place to spend half a day, with lots of restaurants, shops and activities. From the namal, you can walk along the entire coast of Tel Aviv to Yafo, on the southern border with it's ancient port (yes, this is a real port). It's like a walk through time, because the more south you get, the more historic the neighborhoods you pass get. This is because Tel Aviv was first founded as a neighborhood of 4000-year-old Yafo, eventually stretching north more and more.
Walking south from the namal along the 'tayelet' (boardwalk in Hebrew and its Tel Avivian name) you'll pass the famous Hilton hotel among many, many seaside hotels, some of the locals' favorite beaches, the famous Nordau boulevard and the Tel Aviv lighthouse.
From the tayelet, let's take a look at some Tel Avivian highlights in the center of town, like the Dizengoff Square, which is the famous square in the new center of town, which is known as the White City because of it's white Bauhaus architecture. This is one of the most vibrant parts of town and also my previous neighborhood!
Often overlooked by toursts, but a local hotspot is Sarona, in the east of Tel Aviv. It's right in the middle of many skyscrapers, the country's high-tech center. Contrasting with the skyscrapers, Sarona is a re-built German colony, an old village where new immigrants in the early 20th century settled in Eretz Israel.
This contrast between old and new is something you see all over Tel Aviv and actually all over Israel. Historic sights and places everywhere, mixed with modern high-tech the country is famous for as well.
Sarona hosts Tel Aviv's largest food market, many restaurants, boutique stores and high-tech campuses.
And below is how summer evenings look like on Tel Aviv's streets - gorgeous isn't it?
This virtual tour cannot be complete without showing you the famous Carmel Market, Tel Aviv's largest and most famous shuk in the middle of town. It's a neighborhood now only with lots of food stalls and amazing eateries, but with hip boutiques, a large art fair and home to many bohemian stores and galleries.
P.S. did you know Tel Aviv is super bicycle friendly? With the green bikes scattered all over the city you can cheaply and easily get everywhere!
Remember I told you above how the city gets more historic, the more south you get? Meet Florentin below, Tel Aviv's hipster neighborhood with many of the local's favorite artistic and vegan hangouts. It is also where most of the city's Airbnb's and apartment rentals are, so there are always many tourists walking around. Originally, Florentin is one of Tel Aviv's oldest neighborhoods, with many Greek and Turkish immigrants. It doesn't have mansions and villa's like neighboring Rothschild and Neve Tsedek, but it has all the more character. Shuk Levinski is Tel Aviv's spice market, home to some of the best traditional eateries and vegan restaurants. Also a must when visiting Florentin is taking a graffiti tour!
From Florentin to Yafo is a great walk, taking you through the American colony, one of Tel Aviv's best kept secrets. It houses a large Christian community, picturesque streets and the famous Drisco Hotel, Israel's first 5-star boutique hotel where they serve my favorite breakfast.
From the American colony you walk straight into Yafo, the city from which Tel Aviv was developed. It is one of the oldest port city's in the world and the most historic part of town. It also has a large Arab population, so you can find many great Arab fish and hummus restaurants in Yafo!
From Yafo you also have gorgeous views of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean, which is the last 'stop' of this virtual tour! Which of the places in this blog post do you like most? Leave a comment below!
More virtual Israel tours will be up soon, keep an eye on the Tales of Visuals mails for updates and if you haven't signed up yet for the email list, below you can find the link!