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The best things to do in Tel Aviv with out-of-towners

It doesn’t have to be Rabin Square and Rothschild Boulevard when you're hosting visitors–take them to these local favorites instead

By Time Out Israel Writers

Your brother, parents or ex-boyfriend-turned-best-friend are coming to town, and the pressure is on to show them a great time. While there are the iconic things to do in Tel Aviv like hitting up the Carmel Market and strolling down Rothschild Boulevard, and the beaches in Tel Aviv speak for themselves, why not show your loved ones how the Tel Avivians truly live. Skip the cheesy tourist traps and use our guide to some of the best galleries, restaurants, and hangout spots in town to impress your visitors with how much of an in-the-know Israeli you’ve become.

Cool activities & places to take out-of-towners

Beer Bazaar © Afik Gabay

1. Drink arak and a sniff the spices around Levinsky Market


Few are the areas in Tel Aviv that can produce such a concentration of fine spots for entertainment and restaurants that provide excellent culinary delights with equally great vibes. The Levinsky Market is the perfect place to refuel your pantry, body, and soul. The style of entertainment is alternative and easy going, and the prices are always easy on wallet. A glass of arak and a sniff of all the spices that abound, and you are in the Levinsky State of Mind.

jaffa gallery
jaffa gallery
© Richter Harelart

2. Gallery hop in Jaffa


Being the Israeli culture hub that it is, Tel Aviv’s gallery scene has truly thrived in recent years. Well, Jaffa took on the challenge to prove that there’s nothing a young sister can do that her older sister can’t (already suggested by the impressive list of Jaffa restaurants). From galleries like Zadik aiming to enhance the viewer’s sensory experience, to newer extensions of of the Israeli art scene, like the new Gordon Gallery, drawing from an international artist-pool, the Old City is claiming its cultural merit. Spend your weekend gallery-hopping around Jaffa – and don’t forget to refuel on Jaffa street food offering some of the tastiest shawarma and shakshuka you’ll ever have.

Spicehaus © Ziv Cohen

3. Happy hour like a local


There is nothing more rewarding than sitting down at a cocktail bar on Dizengoff or grabbing a beer near the Carmel Market after a long day at the office. After all, you've earned it. While the Tel Aviv nightlife scene can do major damage to your wallet, not to mention the cost of post-clubbing drunchies that creep up late at night, food and drank doesn’t have to drain your entire day’s earnings. That’s where these five White City happy hour deals come in – from discounted cocktails to half-off food, these Tel Aviv bars have just the thing to tie you over before a big night out, or give you a reason to head home for a nap or hunker down early.

Great Synagogue © Shutterstock

4. Become part of the Great Synagogue nightlife scene


Only in Tel Aviv – the cultural capital of Israel – could the grandest synagogue in town also be the most happening area to grab a drink or a quick bite. With funky chef restaurants like Port Said owned by Tel Aviv street food icon Eyal Shani, the tastiest Thai food in the city, and the juiciest burger in Tel Aviv just nextdoor on Allenby, the Great Synagogue is the focal point for a foolproof evening out. Not to mention, the area is home to a stellar Tel Aviv nightlife scene, spinning cool beats that draw the hipsters over from their Florentin cave. So come one, come all, come early because these popular bars and restaurants around the Great Synagogue fill up fast.

TEDER.FM by @tlv_st

5. Graffiti gander in Florentin

Things to do

Tel Aviv is the ultimate hipster destination. The hip secular city is at the center of Israeli art and culture, making it the perfect place for Urbanites to cultivate their creativity. Whether in the form of street art, vegan eating, or booming underground nightlife, Tel Aviv is rife with young hipsters looking to chill outside the mainstream. While Neve Tzedek has the vintage clothing and boutique stores part down, if you want in on the true “too-cool-for-school” experience, head to Florentin in south Tel Aviv. With our hipster’s guide to Florentin, you’ll be able to oggle at Israel’s first street art gallery, eat surprisingly authentic mexican food, check out Levinsky street and market, and stay at some funky hostels.

Kiosk Est. 1920

6. Grab coffee at a local kiosk

Restaurants Cafés Tel Aviv City Center

Where to take a break, score a cup of coffee, while away an afternoon people-watching - or all of the above. Amongst its many attributes, there is one quintessential, citycentric element of Tel Aviv - its kiosks ­­- that just may top even some of its European counterparts, given that ours are open and active year-round. When we say kiosks, we're referring to the small wooden structures that passerby will undoubtedly notice going to and from – the pit stops are conveniently peppered across the grassy swaths of the city's wide boulevards, wafting intoxicating whiffs of freshly-brewed coffee and artisanal pastries. Some of these kiosks have progressively become landmarks in the city and are not-to-be-missed when strolling on a lazy weekday morning or afternoon, where you can grab a quick bite and take a breather all in one blissful swoop.

The Space
The Space
© Dana Kasap Lavie

7. Wander through the Yemenite quarter


By day, the Carmel Market, one of the best markets in Israel, is a carnival scene: a clash of curious tourists taking their sweet time and impatient locals just trying to buy dinner. As fish guts and fruit peels are thrown into the main street and water washes away a long day’s work, the shuk becomes void of all shoppers and signs of human existence. Nightfall is when the magic happens. Nestled down the alleyways off the market are some of the best restaurants and hidden bars in Tel Aviv. We’re sharing our city’s well-kept secrets and recently discovered hipster hotspots (that are not in Florentine!) because they’re too cool to pass up, espacially The Space on a Tuesday, when the bar is transformed into an Israel jazz lover's dream. Bring some friends to Carmel Street, but just remember, the more on the down-low you keep these establishments, the less crowded they’ll stay.

© PR

8. Sip funky cocktails at Bicicletta

Restaurants Gastropubs White City

Bicicleta is not a bike shop, but indeed a hidden gem of the area. Their star-quality eggplant fries, funky cocktails, all topped with an adorable backyard garden atmosphere, make for a perfect night out with the girls or that special someone. If you’re feeling the indoor vibes, the quaint upstairs bar area often plays lovely jazz music to relax to after a long day at work. Save room for dessert, because after their amazing happy hour deals, you’ll want to try their halva Toblerone or date cake.  

Sabich Tchernichovsky
Sabich Tchernichovsky
© Alex Geller

9. Discover sabich

Restaurants Israeli Tel Aviv City Center

One of the best Sabich spots in Tel Aviv, no journey down Frishman Street is complete without a stop over at the crowded Frishman Sabich. Wondering what Sabich is? The Iraqi inspired vegetarian street snack (less internationally known than its falafel counterpart) consists of a warm pita filled with roasted eggplant, a little bit of potato, some hard boiled egg, creamy tahini, and unique herbs and spices. Those looking for something a little less exciting, check out Frishman Falafel next door, but we suggest you give Sabich a try, especially at this legendary establishment.

Tel Aviv Museum FB page

10. Catch a concert at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art concert hall

Music Classical and opera Tel Aviv - Jaffa

Dear music lovers,the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is back and better than ever with a signature series of concerts that will draw you in for the long run. This season features some incredibly unique collaborations: from the return of the popular Danish String Quartet to a classical concert with an avant-garde twist: featuring eight hands, two pianos, and one oud, everything down to the enthusiastic announcer and mood lighting is absolutely addictive. Come for a concert, stay for the season. Who said art-lovers couldn’t be music-lovers as well?

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