Frommer’s and other guidebooks offer good suggestions on things to do in Tel Aviv, so I commend those to you. You can also find suggestions on www.telavivguide.net or on Trip Advisor. I have some personal recommendations, though:
This 5,000-year-old city is now part of the combined municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo, and looking south from Tel Aviv, you will see the old Arab city jutting into the Mediterranean. Jaffa has many artists’ shops, narrow streets, and lots of character. I don’t shop much on Israel trips, but Jaffa is a good place for that. In any event, it’s a wonderful place to explore.
The view of the Tel Aviv skyline from Jaffa is magical, both day and night (see photo on previous page). There are free walking tours of Jaffa from Sandeman’s every day at 11:00 a.m.; meet at the Ministry of Information Center at Mazouk and Azar Streets under the arches near the old Clock Tower at the entrance to Jaffa. The tour offers a good overview of the ancient city; while there is no charge, plan to tip the guide at least ₪40-50 per person.
Strolling the Streets of Tel Aviv
The once-famous Dizengoff Street is no longer the “main street” of Israel, so I suggest a trendier walk down Ben-Yehuda and Allenby Streets to Sheinkin Street, Tel Aviv’s yuppie district. You can also wander down to Ha-Carmel Market, where you’ll really see “street-Israel.” It’s a great place to watch people and drink in the sights, sounds, and smells of food and spices. The Nahalat Binyamin neighborhood offers arts and crafts markets on Tuesdays and Fridays, which is fun to explore (though crafts aren’t my thing).
I also love walking through that neighborhood and nearby Neve Tzekek; these are among Tel Aviv’s first neighborhoods, and the restorations have made this a great place to stroll, people watch, and take a drink or coffee. Nearby is Ha-Tachana, or The Station, the renovation of an old, Ottoman-era train station into cool shops and restaurants. One of my favorite spots in all Israel is The Rubin Museum at 14 Bialik Street, which features the amazing paintings of Reuben Rubin, one of Israel’s greatest artists, in his charming, – 24 – former home. Tel. (03) 525-5961. Open Shabbat 11:00-2:00, but closed on Sundays, which is unusual.
This is the renovated German Colony district in Tel Aviv, a real success story in historic restoration, and it is sleek and full of trendy, upscale shops. I write more about the German Templers later in this guide, but I found this particular place rather sterile and Disneyesque.
It’s a much-needed green space in the heart of the city for locals, though, and if you do go, the Visitor’s Center is at 14 Avraham Mendler Street, (054) 498-0252. Note: If you want to tour and are not part of a pre-arranged group, you must make reservations ahead of time, or you find this Visitors’ Center most unhospitable (part of why I am not big on Sarona). While there, get some fine Jem’s Beer or the beverage of your choice at Molly Bloom’s Sarona, an Irish pub at 6 Avraham Mendler Street, (055) 886-0188. While much of Sarona was not particularly friendly to tourists, the staff at this pub are terrifically warm.