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
© Dana Kasap Lavie
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

Double Standard
© Ziv Cohen

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.

jaffa gallery
© Richter Harelart

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.

Cafe Habima
© PR
Restaurants, Cafés

Grab coffee at a local kiosk

icon-location-pin Tel Aviv City Center

In the intersection where Rothschild meets Ben Zion, you'll find one of the best cafés in town. Just across from Habima theater lies this café meets kiosk that produces heavenly coffee drinks and sandwiches that will have you...well, just eat them and you'll find out. Named after its location, Café Habima with its signature graffiti, "We Love You Too", is the place to be if you are looking to capture the Tel Avivian vibe. The location is right on, the people are beautiful, the window displaying the freshly prepared sandwiches is mouthwatering and the general atmosphere suggests that no one really has a job in Tel Aviv. If the weather is nice, and it usually is in Tel Aviv, grab a blanket (you can ask for one) and sip your coffee right on the grass, soaking in the sun. Beware: the lines at the register are sometimes really long. But, once you order, you will get a colorful heart statue signaling to the waiter where you are seated and you will find it was worth the wait. Did we mention service here is everything?

The Space
© Dana Kasap Lavie

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.

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Things to do

Graffiti gander in Florentin

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.

© PR
Restaurants, Gastropubs

Sip funky cocktails at Bicicletta

icon-location-pin 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.  

wine bar
© Shutterstock
Restaurants, Israeli

Sip bubbly at Brut

icon-location-pin White City

With an ever-changing menu, numerous specials and unique dishes, Brut is guaranteed to provide satisfying sustenance. The wine bar is run by professionals, so there is no need to hesitate to ask  any questions or seek tips and advice if you are not a wine expert. The environment is calm and charming while also feeling sophisticated and sexy, creating the perfect setting for a romantic night out or a casual evening with friends after work. The food menu is simple and tasty, offering warm pastas and crisp salads. When it comes to wining and dining, Brut is a no-brainer.

Shuk Levinsky
© Omri Shapira
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Sample spices at Levinsky Market

icon-location-pin Shuk Levinsky

Running the length of Levinsky Street in South Tel Aviv, Shuk Levinsky has a massive range of products, from dried fruit to soaps, spices and nuts. The Levinsky Market is filled with cuisine from cultures all around the world and has ingredients that provide the perfect addition to just about any meal. Among the stores to visit are bakeries, delicatessens and restaurants. Certain shops and restaurants are unique to the shuk, and cannot be found anywhere else in Tel Aviv. The magic Shuk Levinsky lies in the deep history of culinary growth and discovery, stories that continue to appeal to local residents and foreign visitors alike.  

Tel Aviv Museum of Art concert hall (concert series)
© PR
Music, Classical and opera

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

icon-location-pin 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?

Sabich Tchernichovsky
© Alex Geller
Restaurants, Israeli

Discover sabich

icon-location-pin 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.

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