Tel Aviv-Yafo, the city that never sleeps! The Miami of the Mediterranean, one of the most interesting cities to visit with amazing beaches, high-tech culture, bohemian neighborhoods and endless nightlife. Oh and let's not forget 4000 year-old Yafo to throw in some history. Whether you're a tourist visiting Israel, or you're Israeli planning a trip to Tel Aviv - this guide is for you. For over five years I've been living and working in Tel Aviv, uncovering the best insider tips! All the best coffee places & restaurants (lots of vegan goodness included), creative things to do, hidden gems and of course - the best places to stay.
Top places to stay
Trieste Neve Tsedek
Luxury, bohemian style suites in the middle of Neve Tsedek with private jacuzzi and balcony and/or patio. Have you ever heard of the famous funky loft in Brooklyn, New York? This is the Tel Aviv version! Highly recommended, it's a perfect base for a Tel Aviv break. Israel's most famous vegan, farm-to-table restaurant is right next door for breakfast and the beach is about a ten minute walk. Click here for more info and bookings!
The Shell House
If you're looking for more of a self-equipped apartment, only a few minutes' walk from the sea - this is your place! The Shell House is located in one of Tel Aviv's best neighborhoods, the picturesque Kerem Hateimanim - literally a two minutes' walk to the shuk haCarmel and lots of great bars & restaurants and a five minute walk to the beach. They have fully equipped, gorgeous apartments, some with private or shared terrace/patio. Click here for more info.
Ruby Tel Aviv
Another urban gem, right off Rothschild Boulevard located in one of Tel Aviv's fabulous mansions. It's one of our favorite places to stay in Tel Aviv, stylish, comfortable and sparkling clean. We love that Ruby is sort of a mix between a boutique hotel and an Airbnb apartment - with four hotel rooms sharing a communal kitchen & lounge, so it's perfect for longer stays too. There's a shared garden too and some rooms have a balcony. Click here for more info!
What to do?
Half-day trip to Old Yafo
Since Tel Aviv was originally a new neighborhood of Yafo, if you think about it, the city's name should be Yafo-Tel Aviv! Yafo is not only famous because of the Israeli oranges, it is one of the oldest working port cities in the world - it is over 4000 years old. Do you know the Bible story of the prophet Jonah and the whale? He set sail at - you guessed it - Yafo. It's one of the most photogenic places in Israel, which is why I wrote an Instagram guide about Yafo with all the most photogenic places. Visiting Yafo from Tel Aviv is great by taxi, electric scooter or my personal favorite - by walking all along the Tel Aviv beaches. A boardwalk will take you straight into the port of Yafo, a really gorgeous walk. Stop at Cafe Vista for the best coffee with a view in town!
From the port you have stairs taking you up into the old city, a photogenic walk of about ten minutes until you reach Kikar Kdumim, the main square with the famous zodiac fountain. Thirsty or hungry? Bell Cafe is one of the best kept secrets in town, with a balcony overlooking the sea and famous Andromeda rock. Next door is also Tel Aviv's best Greek restaurant Kalamata. They tend to be busy on weekends, so make sure to plan ahead. Next to sqaure you can visit another gem, the Ilana Goor Museum. If you still have time to explore Yafo, head over to the Shuk Hapishpishim for some of Israel's best flea markets, designer boutiques and second hand stores. And of course, lots of great bars and restaurants! My personal favorite is Cafe Puaa, a low-key cafe with vintage vibe where the furniture is for sale and they serve the best shakshuka in town.
Maybe not the most creative of options when you think about what to do in Tel Aviv, but it simply will be on everyone's schedule when visiting Tel Aviv - so I thought why not tell you some local secrets about the Tel Aviv beaches to make sure you pick the best ones; just don't tell anyone you read it here ;) Did you know for example, that there are two dog beaches, a religious beach, a gay beach, volleyball beaches and much more? My favorite beach is Frishman, with a young local crowd relaxing or playing 'footvolley'. Only downside is here that people also love playing matkot (Israel's national beach sport) - which can get quite annoying and loud when people are playing all around you. Some other great beaches with good vibes are Geula and Yafo (south of the port). For sunsets, I love the southern dog beach (beach between Charles Clore park and Yafo Port) - such a great atmosphere and with the best views!
Fun day at the beautiful Yarkon Park
Forever one of my favorite places in Tel Aviv, especially to take photos. If you think the Yarkon Park is that strip of park with the river where people mainly go to do sports or walk their dogs - think again! The best part is eastward, behind the Ayalon highway; here you can find this lovely palm tree forest, a lush tropical garden that makes you feel like in Bali, a cactus garden and very beautiful rock garden with rocks from all over Israel. Right next to these gardens you can go up in the hot air balloon to have the best view of the entire 'merkaz' area and there's a giant play garden for children too.
The best part? There is a huge parking lot next to the palm tree forest, plenty of busses and from Tel Aviv it's easy to ride your bike here. There are bathroom facilities and except for the hot air balloon, everything is free of charge. Right next to the play garden is a kiosk where you can get drinks, snacks and hot dogs. The tropical, cactus and rock gardens are not open 24/7, so make sure to check here before you plan your visit!
Picnic at Kikar Dizengoff (Dizengoff square)
Love brunch? I sure do, especially those long Friday brunches that somehow turn into wine (and some more wine)... Dizengoff square is one of the new hotspots in town after they've completely renovated it and restaurants and bakeries around the Kikar have adapted their menu, offering picnic baskets, wine & cheese and brunch - all for takeaway. Buti and Bakery are great bakeries right on the Kikar for a quick coffee and sandwich. But my favorite is May6 (right across from the cinema entrance) where they serve a mouthwatering brunch! I love that they are mindful to the environment and animals, using local produce, free range eggs and organic, local beef. You can easily order on Wolt or contact them directly here . Enjoy your brunch!
Neve Tsedek city walk
One of those vibrant Tel Aviv neighborhoods that constantly seem to change - every time I'm there some streets and corners suddenly look different, which makes it such a fun neighborhood to explore! Shabazi street has some great boutique stores, like Shlomit Ofir and Badim TLV. There's also a matkot museum, such a fun and interesting house to visit! It's the building with all the matkot - you can't miss it :) When you're on Shabazi, you simply have to get some 'glida' at Anita - best ice cream in Israel if you ask me. But my personal favorite part about Neve Tsedek is just getting lost in the tiny, colorful streets with my camera to capture all the beautiful buildings and cozy corners. Neve Tsedek street and Sharabi street are some of the most beautiful little streets. When in Neve Tsedek, Meshek Barzilay is one of Israel's best vegan restaurants and Dallal is another local institution that serves some of the best baked goods and delicious meals in Tel Aviv.
Some more fun activities in Tel Aviv
- Explore Florentin's graffiti scene and end your visit with the famous gazoz from Cafe Levinski
- Rent a green bike at the Namal and ride all the way to the Old Port in Yafo
- Watch the sun go down with some cheese & wine at the Independence Park
Where to eat & drink
This part of the guide could actually be another blog post on its own, there are simply too many amazing restaurants, cafes, coffee places and bars to mention all of them here. In the 'what to do' section I've already mention some local favorites and to make it easier for you I've categorized some more great places to eat & drink below.
Coffee & croissants
Did you know Starbucks didn't succeed in Israel because the coffee culture in TLV of amazing local coffee places is so strong? Yes, the coffee is that good! Coffee places and kiosks usually also serve delicious pastries, sandwiches and more. Some of the best coffee places around town are: Cafe Nahat, Kiosk est 1920, Waycup Coffee, Bakery, Vista Cafe.
Wine & dine (or wine & lunch)
Another fun fact, did you know that Tel Aviv has over 100 sushi places? So fear not, you'll never be without your favorite roll in the White City. Some of the best are Moon, Fu Sushi and for vegans The Green Roll. For Italian, Hapizza serves the best pizza & pasta in town. Craving Thai? Thai House and Nam are local institutions.
For some amazing street - style Middle Eastern style food, Port Said and Romano are amazing places by famous chef Eyal Shani. Romano is my favorite location to eat in the entire city, located in the hipster Beit Romano. Downstairs from Romano you can get amazing pizzas and drinks at Teder.fm - probably one of Tel Aviv's most popular hangouts.
Tel Aviv is also called the vegan capital of the world and now surprise why - about one in five Tel Avivians are vegan! This makes for plenty of amazing vegan places to eat, some so good that even carnivores are happy eating there. Probably the best vegan burger in Israel you can eat at Rainbow and Anastasia is a favorite local neighborhood cafe, serving all kinds of dishes throughout the day from breakfast to dinner. Meshek Barzilay is a farm-to-table vegan restaurant in Neve Tsedek and if you ask me, the best vegan restaurant in Israel!
For all the best breakfast & brunch places in Tel Aviv, click here.
Hope this blog post was helpful for you to plan your Tel Aviv trip! Or perhaps you live in Tel Aviv and you're looking for some new activities to do? Let me know in a comment what you think!
Don't forget to follow me on Instagram at @talesofisrael and always feel free to say hi, I'd love to hear from you :)