A Weekend in Sunny Tel Aviv
Ideally located on the Mediterranean, Tel Aviv is perhaps the most progressive and modern city in the Middle East. If you’re looking for a spiritually enriching experience in Israel, head to Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is the place to go if you want to party and live it up in a vibrant, coastal metropolis.
Traffic on the Ayalon Freeway – Image by david55king
Tel Aviv (meaning “Hill of Spring”) is a European-tinged city that is a little more than 100 years old. It was developed south of the fortified town of Jaffa, where you can find one of the world’s oldest ports. Jaffa still exists today as a district of Tel Aviv and retains much of its Arab feel. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking for Ottoman architecture, flea markets, churches or small boutiques. As you leave Jaffa and head north, you will immediately find the first Jewish neighborhood – Neve Tzedek. Filled with museums, shops and restaurants, it’s one of the most fashionable districts in Tel Aviv.
Old Jaffa – Image by RonAlmog
Many inhabitants of Tel Aviv exercise early in the day and go out at night. Al fresco cafes and busy salons can be found on almost every street corner and produce markets bustle with activity. Streets in the UNESCO World Heritage Bauhaus White City pulsate with energy and locals tend to frequent seaside cafes, clubs and restaurants quite late.
Tel Aviv coast – Image by Or Hiltch
Tel Aviv is one of the most liberal and avant-garde urban areas in the Middle East. Even by global standards the city is extremely progressive, especially when it comes to LGBT and women’s rights. Hence, Tel Aviv is a prominent refuge for many young Arabs and Palestinians and indeed, Jews from around the world.
Tel Aviv 2008 Gay Pride – Image by [nvis]
What to do in Tel Aviv? For one, take a high-speed elevator to the top of Israel’s dominant landmark – the Azrieli Center – and witness the majestic panorama of the city.
Tel Aviv is full of incredible shops. Target the Azrieli Center of course but also Ramat Aviv mall and the upscale designers on Dizengoff Street.
Azrieli Center – ReImage by david55king
After you shop ’til you drop, recharge at one of Tel Aviv’s numerous above-average restaurants. Residents of Tel Aviv tend to eat later in the day, so aim to chow down as late as 10:00 p.m. on some nights.
Food-wise the options are endless in Tel Aviv, from Arab to Jewish comfort food, Brazilian to Japanese. As a prominent international hub, the city definitely has it all.
Restaurant in Jaffa – Image by Shayan (USA)
First-time visitors to Israel and Tel Aviv will undoubtedly discover, as they make their travel arrangements, just how tight the country’s security happens to be. For example, tourists that visit nearby Arab states immediately before will have a difficult (if not impossible) time.
Carry a photo ID with you all the time and expect numerous questions and a thorough bag search. Most importantly, be patient and zen at Ben Gurion International Airport – everyone has to undergo the same tight security and after all, the protocols are in place for a reason. All in all, Tel Aviv is a very safe city to visit – despite the initial precautions. Do not forget to book your hotel in advance – Tel Aviv hotels come in every shape, size and budget.
Old Jaffa – Image by RonAlmog