48 Hours in… Tel Aviv
Join travel blogger Cailin O’Neil as she walks, bikes and eats her way through Israel’s second-largest city.
Tel Aviv is the second most populous city in Israel. Located on the shores of the Mediterranean, the city has a nice seaside vibe and a great mix of new and old. From markets to museums, impressive restaurants and nightlife, there is so much to see and do there. If you do visit, make sure you come hungry. Here are some of my best tips for spending 48 Hours in Tel Aviv.
The first 24 hours
Do: Start your trip to Tel Aviv by getting right into the middle of the city’s culture by exploring the popular Rothschild Boulevard with its unique Bauhaus architecture and many cafes. One of the most expensive streets to live on in the city, its tree-lined streets are also quite the popular spot with tourists and are a great place to explore by bike.
Eat: Only a few blocks from Rothschild Boulevard is the Levinsky Market area. Rather than being a market under one roof, it’s made up of many storefronts spread over several blocks that are set up like market stalls. Here, you can find spices, dried fruits, desserts — like the popular halva — and so much more, including some of the best falafel in the city. I recommend stopping by Falafel Eli at Levinsky 38 for a tasty lunch.
Do: Spend your afternoon looking for street art and touring one of the city’s most fashionable areas, the neighbourhood of Neve Tzedek. Explore the many artists’ studios, shops, ceramic studios, cafes and boutique hotels.
Eat: Tel Aviv is known for great food outside of the typical delicious Middle Eastern dishes that you might expect. To switch it up a bit, go for some Spanish tapas for dinner at the popular spot Vicky Cristina. It is located in HaTachana, a shopping district anchored by Tel Aviv’s renovated old train station, which is also home to great markets, stores and other restaurants.
Do: If you are a fan of dancing and a few good drinks then going out on the town in Tel Aviv is a must. Start at Rothschild 12 for some great live music then head off to the Penguin Club, Breakfast and Milk Club, or one of the many others that are open all night long.
The next 24 hours
Do: Start the morning with a stroll through the famous Carmel Market, the city’s largest fruit and vegetable market, if not for food then just for people watching alone. This will definitely work up your appetite for breakfast or brunch.
Eat: A beloved breakfast food in Tel Aviv is a dish called shakshuka, which is eggs poached in tomato sauce, with chili peppers, onions and spices. One of the most popular places in the city to enjoy this dish is at a place called Dr Shakshuka, which is also conveniently located in the Jaffa Flea Market. This is a great destination to search for souvenirs and also bargain for unique antiques or carpets.
Do: Tour around Old Town Jaffa. Jaffa was the original city in this area and Tel Aviv was a city that grew just outside of it, but the two are now combined to make the Greater Tel Aviv area. Thanks to its age, Jaffa is packed with history that you can explore on walking tours. Jaffa is also prominent in several biblical stories, including those of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter.
Visit: Also found in Old Jaffa is the Ilana Goor Residence and Museum, which is named for a famous Israeli artist. Located in an 18th century building, the museum houses more than 500 pieces of artwork from around the world, along with a large collection of Goor’s work. Uniquely, the museum is also Goor’s home, so if you are lucky you might get to see her during your visit.
Eat: Picnic at the Old Jaffa Port, where in 2012 an old hangar was converted into a fantastic location for various shops and restaurants along the waterfront. Go here for a stroll and also to try some of the best hummus and falafel in the city. Visit Abu Ismail, get your hummus and falafel to go and enjoy it along the boardwalk as you people watch and see fisherman going about their day. Warning, there might be a line but it is definitely worth the wait.
Visit: The Tel Aviv Port. Located on the opposite side of town, the Tel Aviv Port is now one of the most visited areas in the city with more than 4.3 m visitors annually. A commercial and entertainment district, the city has plans to make this area Israel’s equivalent to Times Square in New York City. Also known as Namal Tel Aviv, it is a wonderful place to shop and visit cafes, or take a stroll or bike ride on the wooden promenade. It is also a popular nightlife spot.
Eat: Finish off your 48 hours in Tel Aviv with a delicious dinner back in the Rothschild area at the Social Club, a modern restaurant with an extensive wine-and-drinks menu that serves up some of Tel Aviv’s best gourmet food.
Is visiting Tel Aviv on your list? What things are you interested in seeing and doing? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
G Adventures runs the Israel Explorer tour, encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.
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