Best Things To Do in Tel Aviv
Amateur historians generally rebuff Tel Aviv's high-rises in favor of Jerusalem's ancient monuments. But don't dismiss TA too hastily: Amid sun-soaked beaches and a thumping bar scene, you'll find several significant attractions. Spend a few hours roaming the cobbled streets of Jaffa. Meanwhile, the creamy walls of the White City stand as a tribute to the Jewish architects who fled Nazi Germany. Tel Aviv's collection of world-class museums, including the renowned Diaspora Museum, provides the information you need to make the most out of your neighborhood wanderings. But make sure to allot yourself some downtime. A nap on one of its beaches or a bike ride along the Tayelet will help you become acquainted with Tel Aviv's fun-loving personality.
Updated March 19, 2018
- #1View all PhotosfreeThe Tayelet#1 in Tel AvivRecreation, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
It's easy to see why walking and biking are the preferred modes of transportation here: With a 3-mile-long beachside boardwalk to cruise, taking a taxi or a bus just feels like a missed opportunity. Tel Aviv's Tayelet – a pedestrian-only street – runs along the Mediterranean from the Old Tel Aviv Port to Jaffa, offering bikers and strollers spectacular views of the sea. On the inland side, the Tayelet grants easy access to Tel Aviv's prime hotel areas, as well as numerous restaurants and nightlife venues. On the other side of the promenade, you'll find beautiful beaches, including hot spots like Gordon Beach.
Previous guests praised the Tayelet as one of the best places in Tel Aviv to relax and enjoy the sunshine. The coffee shops and restaurants that dot the boardwalk also received rave reviews. Visitors also insisted on renting a bike to see as much of the coastline as possible. There are several Tel-O-Fun stations along the promenade.
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Sitting about halfway between downtown Tel Aviv and Jaffa is Neve Tzedek, one of Tel Aviv's original settlements. Composed of beautifully restored houses, boutique shops, thriving cafes and trendy art galleries, this neighborhood is undeniably one of the city's most beautiful areas. Recent visitors described Neve Tzedek as Tel Aviv's SoHo and insist that future travelers check out the array of offerings available. This trendy neighborhood houses some of the city's premier art venues, including the Rokach House Museum and the Suzanne Dellal Centre, where the Batsheva Dance Company performs. While you're exploring, keep your eyes peeled for the murals adorning many of Neve Tzedek's walls.
You can easily reach this vibrant region by bike or taxi from anywhere in the city. It can also be reached via bus Nos. 41 and 240. You can wander Neve Tzedek's streets 24 hours a day without spending a shekel. To learn more, visit the Israeli Tourism Board's website.
- #3View all PhotosfreeJaffa#3 in Tel AvivSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
This ancient city located just south of Tel Aviv can trace its roots back to the Bible. Jaffa is said to have been named for Noah's son, Japhet, who constructed the beautiful city walls and winding corridors after the Flood. And it is from here that Jonah embarked on his adventure with the whale. This once thriving port has played host to the Roman and the Ottoman civilizations. Steeping the area even further in lore, Saint Peter performed miracles here, and Richard the Lionheart and Napoleon both laid claim to it. Jaffa is also the city from where the founders of Tel Aviv originated.
Previous visitors describe walking through Jaffa as similar to strolling back in history. Beautiful views of and stone buildings delight travelers who make the trek. Except now, the interiors of these ancient buildings have been transformed into art galleries and cafes. Throughout the city, narrow alleyways funnel you past jewelry-makers and fruit vendors into the primary square, where a thriving flea market sells everything from antiques to regional snacks.
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From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Old Tel Aviv Port acted as Israel's primary gateway to the sea. Day in and day out, ships brought merchandise to Israel's shores from all over the Mediterranean, as Israeli exports increased. Since the port closed in the '60s, major revitalization efforts have turned this area into one of the most exciting entertainment districts. Today, the wooden docks support cozy cafes, trendy shops, delectable restaurants and seaside bars.
Previous visitors describe the Old Tel Aviv Port as an ideal place to take in the city’s culture. Tourists can alternate between people-watching and taking in the stellar views of the Mediterranean while they enjoy a coffee or drink.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Tel AvivBeachesTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeachesTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
The city boasts 16 beaches, all of which have clean toilets and outdoor showers, and most also offer indoor showers and changing rooms.
The beaches of Tel Aviv are diverse, and consistently receive rave reviews from the visitors. The Nordau Street Beach caters to conservative, Orthodox Jewish sun seekers by offering separate visiting days for men and women, while the Atzmaut Beach is especially welcoming to Tel Aviv’s vibrant gay community. The areas adjacent to the Tel Aviv Marina (primarily Gordon-Frishman Beach) are the ideal spot to hop in on a game of volleyball or participate in surfing, kayaking, boating or diving. Whether you want to go swimming with the dogs, relax and read or play matkot – Israel’s favorite beach sport – you'll find a shoreline to suit your needs.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Tel AvivMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is one of Israel's premier artistic institutions, housing works from the 16th century to the present. Boasting drawings, paintings, sculptures and photography, this museum exhibits pieces from both local and international artists. Since 1932 – when the museum was founded by Tel Aviv's first mayor – the museum has been welcoming art aficionados who have come to admire the Matisses and Streichmans. For many visitors, the building's striking architecture enhances (and can even overshadow) the museum’s art offerings. Regardless of whether you're an art or architecture enthusiast (or neither), recent travelers describe the Tel Aviv Museum of Art as a must-see attraction.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art sits in the heart of the city in the Mahane Rabin (HaKirya) neighborhood. It can be reached via bus Nos. 9, 18, 28, 70, 90 and 111. The museum welcomes visitors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. The museum is closed on Sunday. Admission costs 50 Israeli shekel (less than $15) for adults; children 18 and younger can enter for free. For more information, check out the Tel Aviv Museum of Art's website.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Tel AvivShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDShopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Every Tuesday and Friday, the Nahalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall in downtown Tel Aviv is taken over by more than 200 outdoor stalls, displaying everything from glassware to jewelry to local crafts. The historic market is the largest arts and crafts market in Israel. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., this popular shopping district overflows with browsers and buyers looking for the perfect souvenir.
Recent visitors described the Nahalat Binyamin Market as the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or just people watch. The only caveat is the market does get extremely crowded, so some tourists recommend that those who don’t do well in crowds skip this particular attraction.
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Sandwiched between Allenby Street to the north and HaKovshim Park to the south, the buzzing Carmel Market is the largest open-air marketplace in the city. Here, crowds converge on stalls that sell everything from colorful spices to knock-off sunglasses. This is a great place to stop for picnic supplies before heading to the beach.
Within a few minutes of exploration, you'll be engulfed by the hustle and bustle of Carmel. Various vendors try to serenade you with songs of pricing and claims about their merchandise. Previous visitors say that shopping here can be a bit of a stimulation overload, but the experience is definitely a net positive.
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If you're interested in Israel's military history, don't miss the Palmach Museum. Located just a short walk from the Eretz Israel Museum, this compact facility walks visitors through the origins of the Palmach, an elite part of the Hagana paramilitary organization. The Hagana was established in 1920 by the Jewish community and the Zionist Movement. The Palmach (the Hagana's strike force) was founded in 1941 to help protect the region from Nazi invasion. After World War II, the Palmach helped bring thousands of refugees and Holocaust survivors to the country. A guided tour of this museum leads you through three-dimensional exhibits that depict scenes from the Palmach's history. After the tour – which lasts approximately 90 minutes – you have the opportunity to converse with former members of the organization.
Previous visitors said this is the perfect place to start a trip to Israel and will appeal to travelers of all ages. They were also quick to praise the museum's unique layout and presentation of history.
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This isn't just a museum; in 2005, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed a law declaring Beit Hatfutsot the center for Jewish communities in Israel and around the world. This beautiful facility traces the history of the Jewish people and spotlights the constant evolution of the faith and culture worldwide. Exhibits include artifacts, dioramas and murals. Recent Jewish visitors especially liked tracing their own origins right there at the museum, while non-Jewish visitors found the exhibits educational and engaging.
Beit Hatfutsot is located on the Tel Aviv University campus about 5 miles north of the downtown area. You can reach the museum by bus Nos. 7, 25, 45, 94, 137, 222, 270, 271, 274, 289, 572, train, or taxi. Beit Hatfutsot welcomes visitors from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the general exhibits costs 45 Israeli shekels (about $13), but children 4 and younger get in free. Entry to some of the special exhibits will cost extra. To learn more, visit the Beit Hatfutsot website.
- #11View all PhotosfreeWhite City#11 in Tel AvivSightseeing, Tours, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Tours, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Design aficionados won't want to miss the opportunity to wander this pearly neighborhood in central Tel Aviv. Extending from Allenby Street to the Yarkon River, this district – now a UNESCO World Heritage site – earned its nickname, the "White City," from the cream-colored walls of its Bauhaus architecture. This building style is based on the use of clean geometric shapes in an asymmetrical way. The architectural style gained popularity in Germany during the 1930s and was brought to Tel Aviv by German Jewish immigrants. Today, the city houses the largest collection of Bauhaus architecture in the world.
Previous visitors said the White City is especially appealing to architecture buffs but is worth a quick trip regardless of your enthusiasm for building design. You're welcome to wander the White City on your own, but you’ll want either a good guide or a good guidebook to get the most out of it. Many past tourists recommend the guided tours offered by the Bauhaus Center, which is located on Dizengoff Street. Tours cost 80 Israeli shekels (around $22). If you only have a short amount of time, spend it strolling Rothschild Boulevard, where many Bauhaus buildings now house charming cafes and shops.
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If you're curious about how Tel Aviv came to be, a visit to the Eretz Israel Museum is a must. This facility showcases historical artifacts discovered in Tel Aviv, as well as a planetarium. The museum comprises several pavilions, each housing a different category of findings, like glasswork, ceramics, fabrics and coinage. The museum also serves as an active archaeological facility, so you can tour several restored sites, including the Tell Qasile Excavations, while on the grounds. Archeologists have discovered that Tell Qasile (an ancient port city built by the Philistines in the 12th century B.C.) was destroyed by a fire during the 10th century B.C.; some speculate that the fire was the work of King David.
Recent visitors said that the Eretz Israel Museum offers great insight into Tel Aviv's past and that the exhibits cater to visitors of all ages. However, some warned that those not interested in archaeology may be underwhelmed. If you're in Tel Aviv in the summer, you'll want to plan your visit to the museum in the morning – some recent visitors found it difficult to tour in the midday heat.
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