Tel Aviv is hard to categorize since it is a mix of the old (the town of Jaffa is more than 2,000 years old) and the newer districts which came by in the 60s and 70s.
It's located directly at the beach and feels much like Copacabana – a huge city beach with hotels and then right behind it, trendy restaurants, coffee shops and places to shop.
I found the quality of food, coffee, drinks as well as the parks astonishing. There are few places you go to that provide such a choice that it can be hard to make up your mind.
However, it is expensive – food easily costs $20 and drinks range from $6 to $15 in a restaurant or bar. Israel is one of the most expensive places given its location and trade barriers to the east, north and south.
There is no need at all for a rental car – there is no parking anywhere and buses and trains get you anywhere you want fast. Taxis are expensive and barely needed. Just bear in mind that most public transport (and most public life) shuts down for Shabbat (after sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday).
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
This place is actually open on Saturday mornings and is a wonderful place to look at contemporary art. It isn't as huge as the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, but is equally modern and well-built. There are a number of coffee shops and bakeries on the premises (and many more in the nearby parks).
The entrance fee is a steep $15.
Tel Aviv's beach
If you use points for your hotel, you might want to stay close to the beach anyways (like I did at the Park Plaza). If not, go here on a warm day and see the many surfers and sun lovers enjoy a perfect day at the beach. In January, the beach can have a cold breeze, but it's still warmer than San Francisco beaches in summer.
This is an important landmark in town, but boy is it ugly. There are a number of decent places around where you can eat and have coffee, but there is not much else to do here.
The old town of Jaffa has gone through heavy gentrification recently and is now a tourist hotspot. It's still an interesting place to stop by and see the antique stores and numerous restaurants.
Your best place to eat is probably Abu Hassan – likely the best hummus in Tel Aviv. I'm not sure if it is a bit overrated, but it is very good and very cheap. The line is always long but moves quickly – just try to avoid the main lunch and dinner rush hours.
In summary, Tel Aviv will surprise first-time visitors. If you are able to splurge a bit, this city has the potential to impress you.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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