Tel Aviv travel – A last minute trip, and one we took barely knowing about what to do in Tel Aviv. We wanted to see a new city and didn’t know much about this Israel beach city. We just had some mild awareness of places to visit in Tel Aviv. But not a single bit about the best boutique hotels Tel Aviv – imagine that!
In any case, midsummer was approaching and we were supposed to go abroad with Jenny (@swedishyogagirl) and Olle. As May was a crazy month for us all we never managed to book the tickets or decide upon where to go. So here we were with no tickets booked and flight prices that were all-time high due to the FIFA World Cup in Russia. We didn’t even imagine in no time we’d be wondering what to do in Tel Aviv!
I had read an article some time ago about what to do in Tel Aviv. Voilá – a destination that luckily was not affected by the football fan’s love for Russia. So off we went with no plans, no expectations. It turned out that Tel Aviv was the perfect destination for our long weekend. A mix of everything. Beach & city life together with history and modernity in one place!
The First Impression of Our Tel Aviv Travel
Boutique Hotels Tel Aviv & Our Area
We got a warm greeting at our hotel, Alma Boutique Hotel, where we spent three nights. This place felt more like a small apartment complex than a hotel with a very nice reception, breakfast restaurant, and rooftop. One of the top things on your list of what to do in Tel Aviv should be finding “the” place.
Our room was cozy and I loved the mix of the industrial design elements with the local touch. The rooftop was for sure my favorite, and hanging out here became a favorite among ideas of what to do in Tel Aviv. Perfect spot for lazy afternoons after a long day by the beach. Not to mention, also a perfect photo spot. A small Instagram heaven among the best boutique hotels Tel Aviv.
Don’t spend any more time wondering what to do in Tel Aviv. Have a look at my full Hotel Review to read more about this hotel and 2 other of my favorite boutique hotels Tel Aviv!
Once we checked in, we didn’t have time to wonder what to do in Tel Aviv and went directly for lunch. Around the corner, we found the well-known Benedict and got a bit surprised by the service. Truly American style, something we would experience in more or less all places to visit in Tel Aviv.
After a delicious 2 pm breakfast, our journey into finding out what to do in Tel Aviv began. Our hotel was located just off the Rothschild street, one of the main streets in Tel Aviv lined with skyscrapers, bars, and restaurants.
What to do in Tel Aviv – Finding the Right Place for Your Soul
Our gut feeling took us to Shabazi street in one of my favorite hood, named the same – Shabazi. A super cute street with small design shops, eateries and one of the most famous ice cream bar in Tel Aviv, Anita’s Bar. This area was also full of hidden gems with street art and art creations like the one outside Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance & Music. In all, a true hub for those wondering what to do in Tel Aviv!
What to Do in Tel Aviv: Beach Time & Vacay Feeling
Not sure about what to do in Tel Aviv? Get the true vacation feeling here, first of all! For us, it hit when we reached the long boardwalk and heard the sound of the waves crushing the shore.
This is a true beach paradise with numerous beaches along the coastline, so a visit to the Mediterranean should be your first on the list of what to do in Tel Aviv.
We headed for the Jerusalem beach and found our afternoon hangout spot in Gazoz Beach. A relatively new beach restaurant with great food and my favorite rosé, Minuty. A lovely vibe with lounge music, our feet in the sand and the Mediterranean in front of us. This together with lots of happy and relaxed people all around. Vacay here we are, one of the most important items among what to do in Tel Aviv!
Carmel Market & M25 – Places to Visit in Tel Aviv
A couple of quarters up from the beach we found Carmel Market, next up on the list of what to do in Tel Aviv. A big outdoor food market with a lot of local specials and fresh fruit, meat, and fish.
On our way there we passed M25. A small place with a lot of people outside. This turned out to be a true gem on what to do in Tel Aviv. A paradise for meat lovers in an old industrial building with a small outdoor patio. Nothing extra, just table, chairs and truly outstanding food.
It was our first Israeli food experience with lamb kebab, tahini, and a fresh salad as a starter together with a great glass of Malbec. We wen’t disappointed to have added this place to our list of what to do in Tel Aviv! For the main dish, you order directly from the butcher to choose your piece of meat. The Prime Ribeye was so tasty and perfectly prepared. Evenings and places like this stay in your memories forever.
Our first truly spontaneous day in Tel Aviv turned out to be a great one and I started to relax. Our spontaneous strategy turned out to be a very good one. Tel Aviv is a city full of hidden gems. You just have to be curious enough to find them if you’re willing to look for the less cliché ideas of what to do in Tel Aviv!
The Days in Our Chic Little Neighborhood
When we landed, we didn’t really know what to do in Tel Aviv – and that may have helped! We spent our days on the beach and evenings in the city. I love cities like this where you can combine the best of the two.
Crazy Days at the Beach
The beach life of Tel Aviv reminded us a bit of Rio, at least during the weekend. Then the main beaches (Jerusalem, Fisherman, Bograshov) are full of people and there are so many activities going on from beach tennis to volleyball to skateboarding. The field of what to do in Tel Aviv is clearly very wide! We enjoyed this vibe and all the craziness for a day. Then we had a more peaceful experience at the Hilton Beach.
Evenings Full of Rooftops & Hip Eateries
The evening during our Tel Aviv Travel, we spent in our chic neighborhood around the Rotshild Avenue. It turned out that the streets around our hotel were full of small hip eateries, bars and rooftops. A bit more quiet but also a bit more stylish versus the more crowded hoods down by the beach. We spend midsummer evening at the small and cozy urban rooftop of the Brown TLV hotel. Another boutique hotel, that I can truly recommend. Sipping a glass of cava in a comfy lounge bed while listening to the bustling Tel Aviv life, was a perfect start of a long night.
The evening continued with delicious Japanese food and tasty Sake at Shiratoya. A small and contemporary restaurant that newly had opened. A drink or two at Zoo Zoo bar to prepare for a long Tel Aviv night out!
I did some window shopping as I had already exceeded my summer shopping budget. Midsummer eve we spent in the back yard of Beccafico. An Italian sweat spot where we had our first tasty Burrata pizza. A fantastic combination. Unfortunately the evening did not end as we wished when Germany scored a goal in the last minute and sent our football dreams down the drain…
The Magic Sunsets
Let’s save the best for last, the sunsets. If the beach is a bit crazy during the days, it is just magic during the evening. At 8 pm when the sun starts to descend we lined up along the board walk to get a glimpse of the natural wonder. People were still on the beach, surfers in the water. The air filled with excitement… We were lucky and got to see some truly magic sunsets. For sure some of the best during our Tel Aviv travel that will stay in our memories for a long time!
After these days, we both agreed, we love this city. It has so much to offer but what really stays with you is the vibe. People here are so relaxed, yet happy, open-minded and friendly and a bit of craziness just makes it all even more interesting. On the top of the list of what to do in Tel Aviv is just soaking up the incredible local feel!
Jaffa – A new world, another time!
After three nights at Alma Boutique Hotel, it was time to change the location, time to explore another part of our Tel Aviv travel experience – Jaffa – the old part of town. Coming here was a bit like coming to another world, another time, another side of what to do in Tel Aviv. The streets where smaller, the buildings older and the taxi dropped us off in the middle of a flea market full of stands and people.
The Market House Hotel – A Luxury Jaffa Oasis
Opening the door to the Market House hotel, was like coming into an oasis in this vibrant part of town. Still you could feel the history in the walls of this hotel, you could even see it through the transparent floor. Staying here is one of my fondest memories of what to do in Tel Aviv!
This hotel was a true design gem mixing industrial design with more contemporary and warm tones with the cool B&W floor. The huge windows to the street made it even more interesting as you could sit in the cozy lobby feeling like home while watching the life outside. The rooms where modern and cozy but a bit small for my taste. However we had a big balcony. We loved to open up the doors in the morning to wake up to the sound of the morning preparations going on down there. Staying at a lovely boutique hotel is a must of what to do in Tel Aviv.
Would you like to stay at Market House Hotel. THEN BOOK IT HERE!
The Streets of Jaffa
Strolling the street of Jaffa you got a more authentic feeling of the Israeli life, or at least the life here in Jaffa. I loved the flea market with all stands mixed with more contemporary and modern design shops. Places like this always boost my creativity and with all the colors around it was hard not to take millions of photos. Getting to a busy spot like this is always a must in my travels, definitely on my list of what to do in Tel Aviv!
In a small street we found Café Plauu. A must visit if in Jaffa, high up on what to do in Tel Aviv. An old furniture store that has now turned into a hip café and restaurant with a bohemian vibe. They serve amazing local food. The red tahini and lentis salad was so tasty and everything you see in this place is for sale, from the furniture to the plates. This is also one of the most popular places for the hip crowd in the evenings.
In the evening, the narrow streets and stands of Jaffa transform into bars and restaurants filled with people. You just get swept away and it is hard not to stay up late. Partying in Jaffa is among the top options of what to do in Tel Aviv!
We had a Turkish night at Onza with delicious food and a true party vibe and drank a lot of wine at the place around the corner from our hotel, the hip Ramesses. If you’re wondering what to do in Tel Aviv, always remember it’s a hub for amazing Mediterranean food!
The Jaffa Beach & Port
Leaving the streets behind, we found an almost empty beach of our Tel Aviv travel – Jaffa. A real gem among all options of what to do in Tel Aviv!
A very different experience from the ones we had been to before. No sunbeds, just you and your towel, the beach and the sea. Quite amazing to be able to get this experience in a big city like this. Dipping your toes in the sand should take priority when seeing what to do in Tel Aviv!
The sunsets continued to be amazing and the views just got better; we kept finding answers to the question of what to do in Tel Aviv. If you walk up the hill towards St Peter’s Church you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Tel Aviv skyline.
The last part to explore was the Jaffa Port, a must when figuring out what to do in Tel Aviv. Yet another vibe, another experience. An old harbor area, still with a lot of sailing boats but also with the famous restaurant – the Old Man and the Sea. Make sure you are hungry when you get here.
20 mezes and fish, chicken or meat at your choice. We spent a lovely last evening here, having dinner by the port and even got to watch Spain beat Morocco with the city skyline as the background. With so many options of what to do in Tel Aviv, the city deserved a perfect farewell!
A day in Jerusalem – A Must for Your Tel Aviv Travel
Jerusalem is just one hour away, and while we hadn’t run out of ideas of what to do in Tel Aviv, this seemed like an important visit . So the last day we took the bus to explore this important place, to walk in the footstep of our biblical ancestors. The trip was truly smooth and easy to do by yourself and after 1,5-hour bus and tram ride we were standing outside the Damascus Gate, about to enter the Old City.
Jerusalem Alleys & Landmarks
Inside we found a labyrinth of small alleys, some above ground and in never-ending tunnels. All filled with small stores and stands where you could buy anything from food to souvenirs. We passed the Armenian quarter, the Jewish quarter and the Muslim one, all very similar but with their own touch and identity based on religious heritage. When you’re beyond what to do in Tel Aviv, imbuing yourself in Jerusalem is a must.
It was hard to keep track of where you are in here so once again, we just let the gut feeling lead us up one alley after another. You got a bit struck by the history and story in this place. Especially when you visit the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When in Israel, regardless of the nearly infinite list of what to do in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem has a magic of its own.
Listening to the stories, knowing that people you read about in the Bible in school walked these alleys, have lived and ended their lives here was a powerful experience. You won’t run out of ideas on what to do in Tel Aviv, but visiting Jerusalem should certainly be on your bucket list!
The End of our Tel Aviv Travel
35 degrees and clear blue sky. After a couple of hours in the old city, we were pretty exhausted so after a quick visit and lunch at Trattoria, it was time to head back to the vibrant city. We still had a few things to figure out regarding what to do in Tel Aviv!
As with many cities, the areas outside of the most popular hoods are not as charming and good looking. The taxi ride to and from the central bus station showed us another side of what to do in Tel Aviv. Far as glamorous as the life by the beach….
Tel Aviv you had us at the sunsets but also way before that…. The relaxed & chic city hoods, the local life, and food in Jaffa and a glimpse of one of the most prominent places of our history, Jerusalem. We left Tel Aviv full of impressions, energy, and memories, both sure we will be back here again one day. Especially now that we have a great idea of what to do in Tel Aviv!
Do you want to read more about our city weekends? Then check out the Cityista part of the blog, or the Escape Pages that are full of Travel Stories & Travel Guides per country. This list of what to do in Tel Aviv is just one example of many!
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