First things first: Tel Aviv is not Jerusalem. Although they’re only 44 miles apart, Tel Aviv lacks the historic significance of the Holy City. In place of religious sites and ancient ruins, Tel Aviv (“TA” for those in-the-know) features world-class beaches and a rip-roaring nightlife. Forget tradition: Here, Friday nights are devoted to reveling rather than reflecting, and kosher cuisine is overshadowed by a wealth of international culinary delights.
If you’ve come to see the sights, you won’t need more than a couple of days here; Tel Aviv’s love of the arts shines through it’s fantastic (albeit few) museums. But the purpose behind your visit shouldn’t be to see Tel Aviv, it should be to experience it. Once you’ve had your fill of museum hopping, let yourself fall into the rhythm of this modern Mediterranean metropolis. Devote your days to lounging on Gordon-Frishman Beach or meandering through the streets of Jaffa. And when night falls, allow yourself to be swept up by the luring hum of club music and the nonstop flow of cocktails.
How To Save Money in Tel Aviv
- Opt for two wheels rather than four Tel Aviv is a fairly flat city, which makes for perfect biking conditions. You can help pad your budget by renting a bike rather than splurging on taxis or a rental car.
- Don’t hire a guide There’s no reason to pay someone to show you around when you can simply tag along on one of the free guided neighborhood tours offered by the Tel Aviv Association for Tourism.
- Stick to regional cuisine While you can find fantastic fare from all around the globe, you’ll save a pretty penny if you stick to regional specialties like falafel and kebabs. Some of the best (and cheapest) eats can be found along Etzel Street in southern Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah District.
Tel Aviv Culture & Customs
Tel Aviv is an extremely laid-back city where people from all walks of life come to share a beach umbrella or a café table. Here, the Sabbath is more commonly celebrated with a night out on the town rather than an evening of prayer.
But that wasn’t necessarily the ambition of the city’s founders. Tel Aviv came to life in the late 1800s when a small group of Jews migrated north from the cramped living conditions of Jaffa, which was a predominantly Arab town at the time. In 1921, riots in Jaffa drove roughly 40,000 inhabitants to the tiny settlement, while the outbreak of World War II caused another large influx of residents. To accommodate the rapidly growing population, Tel Aviv underwent an extreme expansion, both outward and upward. Today, the city is characterized by modern skyscrapers and wide boulevards.
This is a very diverse city simply because its residents come from all corners of the globe. While strolling down the street, you’ll come across a variety of characters from Orthodox Jews to Arabs to European expats. Hebrew and Arabic are the dominant languages here, but the majority of people living here can speak English as well.
Tel Aviv’s varied religious and political affiliations may raise some safety concerns. But while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be the subject of heated debates, the city has not been a target of political violence since the 1990s. While visiting Tel Aviv, you should feel completely safe in public areas. However, remember that this is a big city: Keep an eye on your valuables and avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas.
Tel Aviv’s diversity has led to an eclectic culinary scene. You’ll find crowded cafés rubbing elbows with restaurants serving everything from Mediterranean specialties to sushi. However, kosher options are harder to find here. Dress code is casual, and all of these restaurants accept Shekels (ILS), Israel’s official currency. One shekel roughly translates to $0.26 USD.