Recommendations: Tel Aviv
When I was on Birthright about 12 years ago, we didn't spend much time in Tel Aviv. All I remembered was going to Ben-Gurion's house and that was about it. Yet people rave about this city and I couldn't relate. Not to mention, it was the dead of January so at best, it was 50 - 60 degrees. After spending 3.5 days here in 75 degree sun, I finally got it. This city is amazing. It has culture, unbelievable food, the beach; really everything you can ask for. For me, it's easily one of the best cities in the world and I know I'll be spending a lot more time there in the future.
|Me, Rachel and Samantha in Jaffa in Tel Aviv|
Where to Stay: One thing to know about Tel Aviv is that it was built up in the 60's and the 70's so the hotel options are a bit dated. High end luxury is few and far between in Tel Aviv but there are enough good options.
- The Norman: This is where I wanted to stay but it was booked. It's known as one of the nicest hotels in all of Israel given it's high end and has a boutiquey vibe. It's located just off Rothschild, so in a great location, and about 10 - 15 minutes away from the beach.
- Royal Beach Club: This is where everyone told me to stay. It's a nice hotel right on the beach on the heart of the promenade. But it's massive which is why I opted not to stay there. Seeing it in person seemed like it could be a good option but it's really really big.
- Carlton: This is where we ended up staying. I wanted to be in the main part of Tel Aviv (so not Jaffa), on the beach and in a smallish but nice hotel. The Carlton checked all the boxes and had a nice pool on the roof. It's more north on the beach so it's a far walk to the southern parts of the city but we did it. I would definitely recommend this hotel over the Royal Beach if you are looking for something smaller. Plus they have a great breakfast buffet right on the beach.
- Jaffa Hotel: This is a newer hotel that is supposed to be really high end. I was told to stay in Tel Aviv proper so I could be on the beach/promenade - I was happy we made that decision. But Jaffa is certainly a cool area so if you don't mind being a little bit of walk from the beach, you can maybe opt for this hotel.
- Setai: Also located in Jaffa, this seemed like another high end option. It's right on the water so has amazing views and also seems quite small and boutique.
|The breakfast view from our hotel|
What to Do:
- Carmel Market: Located in the heart of town, Carmel Market has a ton to offer. We came obviously for the food but they have a number of things you could also buy. Avoid it on Friday morning, it's packed because of Shabbat.
- The Beach & the Promenade: This is the best part about the city. There's about four miles of beach with a promenade where you can exercise, eat, drink, lay out, really do whatever you want. On Saturday, it was an 80 degree day and it felt like the whole city was there. One tip is they have vending machines to get beach chairs and they will run out if it's a busy day so go a little early.
|The beach in Tel Aviv|
- Jaffa: This is the oldest part of the city and is a great neighborhood to spend some time in. Their known for their flee market but just walking around along the streets and on the sea port is worth a few hours alone.
- Neve Tzedek: A quaint neighborhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv known for it's galleries and also home to the best ice cream in town (Anitas).
- Walk the Streets of Dizengoff and Rothschild: These two famous streets cut through the heart of the city and are filled with bars and restaurants. Just stroll around and pop in where ever you would like.
- Other Markets: While Carmel Market is the most famous, there are a number of other markets located in Tel Aviv that are worth going too including the Levinsky Market and Sarona Market.
|Rugs hanging in a flea market in Jaffa|
Where to Eat:
- Romano: Located in what looked like an abandoned warehouse, when you open the door to the building it can feel like a house party. In the back is Romano which is part of the Port Said family. The food is shareable style and everything we had was mouth watering.
- Cafe Puaa: On a sunny street in Jaffa, this is a perfect pit stop after walking around for some dips and breads.
- Dallal Cafe: A good option for brunch, which we did, or dinner in Neve Tzedek.
- Cafe Popular: Right on the northern part of Dizengoff, Cafe Popular is a good place to go for a lighter dinner.
- Pepo Burekas/Meech Sausages: Both of these eateries are located off a side street of the Carmel Market. There are tables in between the two so my recommendation is get a bureka and a few sausages and a cold beer.
- Carlton on the Beach: This was located at our hotel but anyone can go. It's a massive buffet breakfast with seating right on the beach.
|The burekas we ate|
Other Places to Eat: We didn't have time to eat at any of these but I had heard that these places are all really good.
- The Shuk: A high end restaurant located right on Dizengoff.
- Cafe Yom Tov: A great place for brunch located right in Carmel Market.
- Port Said: Perfect place for late night drinks located right next to the Old Synagogue.
- North Abraxxas: Part of the Port Said family, more of a dining experience with good food compared to Port Said.
- Hakosem: Supposed to be the best falafel in all of Tel Aviv.
- Old Man and the Sea: Good seafood but people come for the setting as it's located right on the port in Jaffa.
|The beach in Tel Aviv|