Tel Aviv overview
With an influx of 2.5 million international visitors every year, Tel Aviv is one of the most visited cities in the Middle East. A lively 24-hour carousel of activity, Israel’s second city – though many locals consider it the country’s first – has things to do for everyone.
With inbound Jewish influences from the East Coast of the United States to Ashkenazi Eastern Europe and the Mizrachi Yemen – and in recent decades, a large number from Russia – Tel Aviv is a cacophonous mixtape of heritage. As such it offers an exciting melting pot of cuisines, cultural traits, accents and worldviews. Palestinian and Arab influences are most evidently assimilated in what was once the sleepy port of Jaffa – the Arab town from which a Jewish suburb first relocated in 1909, before expanding into one of the most exciting metropolises on the Mediterranean.
In contrast to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is avowedly a secular city. It is known for its 24-hour nightlife and is seen as licentious by many Israelis who live outside of ‘The Bubble’, as proud hedonist Tel Avivim refer to their town.
Perched on the Mediterranean coast, and blessed with a strip of perfect white-sand beach that runs almost the length of the city itself, there are plenty of things to do by way of wild party nights and lazy, sunny afternoons. You’ll find an array of modern restaurants, clubs, cafés and bars dominating the blocks by the beach and the centre of town.
Taxis are relatively cheap but traffic periodically chokes the city and the best way to explore is usually on foot. This will give you more opportunities to mix with the Tel Aviv locals who are arguably one of the city’s greatest selling points.
Museums and attractions
When travelling through Israel’s cultural capital, the journey can be as invigorating as the destination. One place to make sure to explore is White City, home to 4,000 Bauhaus buildings built in the 1930s. The largest collection of such architecture in the world, the area is so unique that it has been placed under UN preservation – sign up for a guided tour from the local Bauhaus Center.
Another area to visit is the port town area of Jaffa, which is home to many Israeli artists and dozens of contemporary art galleries. Keep your eyes peeled for converted warehouses, which host performances and installations that rival any on the international stage.
It is impossible to miss the city’s abundance of incredible street art. Make sure to stroll down Allenby Street or Rothschild Boulevard to take in the stunning graffiti. For a different kind of wall art head to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art where you will be greeted by two giant Roy Lichtenstein panels in the entrance foyer. The museum’s permanent collection includes everything from Old Masters to Israeli art and ranges in specialism from architecture and sculpture to photography.
Finally, be sure to wander around the Suzanne Dellal Center, a must see for any culture junkie. The dance complex was established in 1989 and continues to be host many of Israel’s greatest social and cultural voices.
Museums and attractions details