By: Hana LaRock
Tel Aviv has been on the upswing for quite sometime now, and it’s only getting more popular as people from around the world discover its charms. If you’re not one of them, then why don’t you check out why WE love Tel Aviv to see what you’ve been missing and get some ideas for your trip to the White City…
The Top 10 Reasons We Love Tel Aviv
The Stunning Beaches
Located on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, Tel Aviv has some of the world’s best beaches. Banana Beach and Frishman Beach are two of the most popular, but since Tel Aviv is fairly small, you don’t really have to choose. You can literally just walk the coastline and visit all of the city’s beaches in one day — as long as you don’t get sucked into too many restaurants or bars that line the coastline… or one of the million “games” of matkot (beach paddle ball).
The Diversity and Secularism
Israel is a Jewish country, but it is also home to many people of other faiths, races, creeds and ethnicity, especially in Tel Aviv. Home to Jews, Muslims, Druze, Christians, Arabs, expats from all corners of the world and a huge LGBT community, you’ll have no trouble finding your niche here.
And even though the city follows some Jewish observance laws of the country (no buses on Shabbat), the locals found a way to keep the city moving with shared taxis that make it easy to get around. So while you might find the streets emptying out as Shabbat starts Friday night in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, the party’s just getting started.
If you really want to see Tel Aviv’s unique, inclusive atmosphere in action, check out the massive Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade in July, when over 100,000 people from all over the country and the world –gay, straight, bi, trans or whatever — descend on the city to celebrate unity, diversity and, of course, partying.
Tel Aviv nightlife, unlike its other Israeli counterparts, can be found up and running at all times of the night every day of the week. In Tel Aviv, there is always something to do for everyone, whether you want to dance all night or relax at a bar or cafe.
Many people party into the early hours of the morning, and the clubs here are definitely some of the liveliest in the world with something for everybody: Underground clubs like Pasaz and Bootleg, mega-clubs like HaOman 17 and Valium, outdoors on the sea like Shalvata and Clara and straight up some of the best clubs in Tel Aviv and the world like the Block.
Similarly, the day-life in Tel Aviv is just as hopping. The city is practically overflowing with people sitting on street corners enjoying a falafel, sitting outside at cafes or just walking the streets. You might even catch yourself wondering if anybody works for a living in this city, but rest assured, they do. They just also know how to enjoy their days.
Tel Avivians love a nice Israeli breakfast in a cafe, and cycling is practically the official form of transportation in the city. You can grab a bike just about anywhere thanks to the city-wide rental system.
And of course, no day is complete without some time on the water, whether it’s an afternoon at the beach or seaside shopping and dining at one of the city’s two ports, Jaffa Port or Namal Tel Aviv.
The Food and Restaurants
Tel Aviv is simply a hotbed for restaurants, with hundreds of restaurants covering the entire culinary spectrum — from fine dining to street food; Middle Eastern to Far Eastern and Eastern European; all types of American to African… and so forth.
One minute you could be rubbing elbows with the the rich and famous eating world-class fine dining at Messa and the next you can be slumming it in Abu Hassan eating some of the best hummus in the world. The common denominator is that you can always get great food.
Shopping is always an experience in Tel Aviv, a city known for its markets, boutique shops and massive shopping malls.
Take the famous Carmel Market, a huge market located between King George and Allenby that has everything you can possibly imagine. Every Tel Avivian has been there at some point, whether it’s to get a good deal on basically anything from fruits veggies, to clothes and tobacco or grab a bite to eat or a drink at one of the trendy little bars and eateries that dot the shuk.
Other markets around town include the upscale farmer’s market at Namal Tel Aviv, the hipster-favorite Levinsky spice market and the always-bustling Jaffa Flea Market.
In Azrieli, Dizengoff Center, Ramat Aviv, Herzliya Outlet and Arena Malls, you get the full on consumer experience, just like in the US or Europe.
Sometimes you get the mall and market experience all in one place, like on Fridays at Dizengoff, when you can catch the Dizengoff Center Food Fair and Designer Boutique with local designers and purveyors of food.
The Cute-sy Neighborhoods
From Florentine to Neve Tzedek, from Ramat Aviv to Jaffa, there are dozens of neighborhoods in Tel Aviv that give the city a vibrant, even romantic feel. Whether you are into art, Judaism, Arab culture, bohemian lifestyle, chic cafes or wine bars, a quiet afternoon or a chatty evening with friends, Tel Aviv’s lively neighborhoods cater to everyone’s interests, and they are absolutely beautiful to see.
The Art Scene
Tel Aviv is a huge cultural center, with a fair share of artist neighborhoods, art museums, galleries, theatre halls, art schools, and even captivating street art, pop-up art sales, and street performers.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is home to some of the most impressive collections in the world. The Florentin is overflowing with modern artists of all types, as well as some of the most interesting street art in the city. The Arab-Hebrew Theater in Jaffa is a bastion of coexistence. And Jaffa.. well, Jaffa is just a piece of art in it’s own right.
The Festivals and Celebrations
Tel Aviv just knows how to celebrate, so even though Jerusalem also has its own festivities for White Night (Laila Lavan), Purim, Yom Ha’atsmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and Gay Pride elsewhere in Israel, Tel Aviv is where you’ll find street parties in every neighborhood, hundreds of thousands marching and partying for Pride and a sense of brotherhood in just having fun.
The Laid-Back Culture
‘Hakol beseder’ is pretty much the official motto of Tel Aviv. It’s the Hebrew phrase for ‘it’s all good.’ And, how can it not be? While things are always a little on edge in the Middle East, Tel Avivians just live their lives and try to have fun. See: Nightlife and Day-life.
Photos: Kalamata/Liron; Israel Ministry of Tourism; Tel Aviv Municipality/Yossi Keret