Tel Aviv truly deserves to be put on the “to visit” list, with its paradisiac beaches, vivid nightlife, and buildings rich in history.
Tel Aviv, a city of contrasts
Tel Aviv, the second biggest city in Israel after Jerusalem, is a city full of contrasts. New buildings made of glass, next to buildings erected over 2000 years ago, large beaches with fine sand and an effervescent nightlife – that would be a good description of Tel Aviv. This combination of experiences is the thing that triggers people’s interest in visiting the city and the reason why millions of tourists annually choose to visit it.
Both the city and the rest of the country have a complicated history, but even so, you’ll be surprised to encounter in Tel Aviv a modern, cosmopolitan urban area, which abounds with life, providing numerous attractions.
Tel Aviv is home to most government institutions in Israel and is part of the urban agglomeration Guș Dan, with over three million dwellers. The first people to have established in this region are the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Near East. This happened in 1870, but it was only in 1909 when the city was actually founded. In 1850, Tel Aviv encompassed the Arabic city Jaffa, and right after this, the settlement was named Tel Aviv-Yafo.
Planning your trip to Tel Aviv. Things to do before boarding the plane
To visit Israel, you need a passport, because the country is not a EU-member. The passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you are about to enter Israel. Tourists who spend less than 90 days in the country within a six-month period don’t need a long-stay visa.
When entering and exiting Israel, it is compulsory to declare sums of money that are larger than 83,000 shekeli (approx. $17,700) or its equivalent in other currencies. Once you’ve arrived in Israel, be prepared to be interviewed by the security agents regarding the reason of your trip and the period you’re about to spend in the country. These interviews are performed individually to every person entering the country.
Remember: it is recommended you check with the Ministry of External Affairs in your country to see what objects you are allowed to carry in your bag when traveling to Tel Aviv, as there are some strict rules regarding this matter. The same counts for renting cars, as you’ll have to see if your driving license you obtained in your mother country is valid in Tel Aviv as well.
Local customs every tourist should know
In Israel, the working days are from Sunday to Thursday and the weekend days are Friday and Saturday. Friday evening, nearly all shops and offices close, because people prepare for the Shabbat, which lasts from Friday at sunset until Saturday after sunset. In Israel, however, there are both Muslims and Christians, who celebrate their Friday, respectively Sunday as their rest day. The Shabbat Day is considered sacred, so it is recommended that on this day you avoid smoking cigarettes on the streets.
The local custom regarding the tips implies that, at the restaurant, you leave between 10 and 15% of the total bill. Taxi drivers and the staff that carries the luggage in hotels are also expecting tips from you, and tourist guides and bus drivers too. If you opt for a taxi to take you from the airport to your hotel, people usually negotiate the price first.
When visiting the sacred places in Tel Aviv and Israel, women must cover their shoulders and feet, whereas men must wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants. At memorial museums and Jewish shrines, men must have their had covered with a kipah or a hat.
The currency used in Israel is the Israeli new shekel and the Israeli agora. Stores specifically dedicated to tourists allow payment in euro or dollar, whereas regular stores accept only payments in shekel.
1 Israeli New Shekel = 0.24 Euro / 1 Israeli New Shekel = 0.27 United States Dollar
7 tourist attractions to visit in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a city suitable for both families and adventurous type of people. It is known under various names, such as “The White City”, “The Non-Stop City”, “The Big Orange” and even “The Miami Beach of the Mediterranean”. There are numerous Bauhaus-style buildings in the city. In fact, here, there is the greatest agglomeration of buildings of this type in the entire world.
Here are some not-to-miss tourist attractions in Tel Aviv:
Tel Aviv is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and the beaches here are quite vivid. There’s fine sand, azure water and vacay atmosphere, with people playing drums or practicing various sports, good restaurants and bars – all of these combined create the amazing beaches in Tel Aviv. For those seeking for a more relaxing and quieter atmosphere, there are also calmer, wild beaches, where the nature seems to have conquered the entire place.
There are many beaches in Tel Aviv, but the most well-known ones are Ha’Maravi, Frishman, Ajami, Mezizim, Bograshov, Gordon, and Geula.
The Rothschild Boulevard
It is one of the main streets in the city, a cosmopolitan area with numerous, new buildings, representing the headquarters of various important companies. On this boulevard, at no. 16, for instance, there is the Independence Hall, where David Ben Hurion announced the Independence of the Israeli state in 1948, one of the most important events in the history of Israel.
The Carmel Market
Going to the Carmel Market is a unique experience. The variety of colors, aromas that invite you to try them, seasonings, candied or dry fruits, vegetables, freshly baked bread, sweets, all kinds of nuts, this market has them all! There’s no wonder why it has become the symbol of the city.
The fire and water fountain
Located in the center of the Dizzengoff Square, this fountain is an abstract, kinetic sculpture, created by Yaakov Agam. It took 10 years to build this fountain, which was finished in 1986.
The historic site of Jaffa
The old city of Jaffa is one of the main tourist attractions in Tel Aviv. Part of the antique city of Jaffa and some of the antique mosaics were kept in perfect shape until today. It is a place extremely rich in history, located in the Southern part of the city onto which numerous world’s civilizations left their mark, including Persia, Mesopotamia, the Brits and the Ottomans.
In Jaffa, you can visit the Clock Tower, the Abrasha Park, the Wishing Bridge, the Old Port, the Antique Museum of Yaffei, Shuk hapishpeshim (flea market), the Mahmudiye Mosque, the Franciscan Church and Monastery Saint Peter.
The Crazy House
Tel Aviv is known for its Bauhaus architecture, but the Crazy House on the HaYarkon Street is the emblematic image of the architectonic style of Antonio Gaudi and makes you immediately remember the buildings in Barcelona.
In Tel Aviv, you have a variety of museums to visit. After all, it is a great city, rich in culture and one that does have something to show the world. Among the most visited museums, there are the Eretz Israeli Museum, the Art Museum, the Sommer Contemporary Art Museum and the Israel Defense Forces History Museum.
Traditional cuisine in Israel. What you must try
In order to feel and see the aromas of Israel, it is a must to go to the Carmel Market. Above all things you can try there, there are also all sorts of restaurants in the city where you can eat great food, such as French, Hindi or any other type of restaurant you might think of.
Among the types of food you should try, there are:
- Hummus – there are even specialty restaurants, named simply hummus-ery
- Falafel – chickpeas balls
- Israeli style cooked fish – herring, carp, mackerel, barramundi, fish of St. Peter
- Sea food and sea food soup – just like any other coastal city, Tel Aviv is specialized in serving sea food.
- Ptitim – a type of pasta that looks like some small rice beams, that is usually served with sea food
- Medjool dates are highly renowned in Israel and are made in large quantities
In Tel Aviv, most people eat in the Kosher style, which implies eating by the Jewish rules. The Jews eat meat coming from ruminant animals, as well as from fowl. Thus, they eat beef, goat, sheep, deer, whereas pork, rabbit and camel meat are forbidden. Additionally, they never combine meat with diary products and they never eat fish without scales or sea food with shells.
The necessary budget for a trip to Tel Aviv
Check out here the Blue Air flights to Tel Aviv and book your tickets right away. Hotel accommodation costs between €80 and €150, but there are other more affordable options as well. Table for two at the restaurant may cost you around €25, whereas serving a beer at a bar may cost you around €10.
Tel Aviv is a city that definitely deserves your attention and that can be explored both in a city-break or a longer holiday. It is a charming destination, where you’ll get in touch with a variety of cultures. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Tel Aviv!
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