Tel Aviv is the one destination I find myself returning to over and over again. It is one of, if not the most diverse, inclusive, and cosmopolitan city in the Middle East. Not only that, some of the greatest advancements in technology, health, and agriculture have come out of Israel and are headquartered in Tel Aviv. This complete and ultimate Tel Aviv travel guide will show you everything you need to know to make the most out of your trip.
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Table of Contents - Jump to: Beaches Shuks/Markets & Shopping What & Where to Eat Nightlife Hotels Day Trips
The Ultimate Tel Aviv Travel Guide
I remember the first time I visited Tel Aviv as an adult. I remember seeing the little silhouettes of surfers in the Mediterranean Sea, as I took awe over the sunsets that would make Santorini cower. I remember being amused by the way the streets spilled out with young Tel Avivians on sidewalk cafes every Friday afternoon, sipping coffee or Gold Star beers with their baby carriages blocking the walkways. I remember smelling the aromas of the shuk, how it’s somehow always perfectly equal parts spicy and sweet; and the unforgettable energy that could only come from a city that is so unlike its neighbors, in a country that is so unlike its neighbors.
Tel Aviv quickly became my comfort destination. The only place in the world where I didn’t feel the need to explain myself or my identity as an eclectic, Middle Eastern, Jewish woman — and I never stopped coming back.
Over the years I’ve collected my experiences and put them in this guide for you to have the ultimate trip to Tel Aviv. I hope you love this city as much as I do.
…the unforgettable energy that could only come from a city that is so unlike its neighbors, in a country that is so unlike its neighbors. Tel Aviv quickly became my comfort destination…and I never stopped coming back.
Top Things to do in Tel Aviv
You’ll never run out of fun things to do in Tel Aviv. By day, you’ll be wandering the shuks, spending time on Tel Aviv’s best beaches, and eating the city’s most amazing food; and by night, you’ll get to experience the famous Tel Aviv nightlife which comes alive until the early morning hours. Rinse and repeat as you wake up to a lavish spread of an Israeli breakfast, recover on the beach with a spiked limonana (mint lemonade), and then do it all over again. Here are the top things to do, see, and eat in Tel Aviv.
Best Beaches in Tel Aviv
As a coastal destination that enjoys plenty of sunshine, beach culture in Tel Aviv is eminent. Weekends are spent lounging on the warm golden sand, playing volleyball or matkot (Israeli beach tennis), or simply taking a stroll down the boardwalk. Sunsets in Tel Aviv are especially not to be missed! Here are some of Tel Aviv’s best beaches:
Gordon, Frishman, and Bograshav are the most popular beaches lined up along the main pedestrian walkway of beachfront hotels. You’ll find travelers and locals at these beaches and the famous Ben Gurion hand-stand statue.
Hilton Beach is known as the “Gay Beach” (and was named Best Gay Beach in the World) however this LGBTQ+ friendly beach is a beautiful one in its own right and is also a popular surf spot.
For a more laidback beach away from the crowds, Metsitsim beach is perfect.
I should note that while the beach is lined with restaurants, the best food in Tel Aviv is typically found elsewhere as many of these establishments err on the side of tourist trap. That said, if you’d like to grab a drink or a snack, I’d recommend the locally-frequented LaLa Land.
Enjoying a hookah/shisha on the beach may also be a treat, so for that, I recommend Banana Beach for a toes-in-the-sand experience.
RELATED: ULTIMATE ISRAEL ITINERARY
The Shuks & Best Markets, Tel Aviv
The shuks of Tel Aviv (outdoor markets/bazaars) are the epicenter of Israeli culture. These Tel Aviv street markets are where you’ll find a hodgepodge of souvenirs, fresh produce, sweets, fresh-squeezed juices, and the best street food in Tel Aviv. The following are the top shuks and marketplaces you need to know.
Carmel Market (Shuk HaCarmel) – The most famous outdoor market in Tel Aviv. It should be one of your first stops when visiting! Whether eating, shopping, or simply just browsing you’ll get a feel for authentic Israeli culture as Shuk HaCarmel is a Tel Aviv must see. Some foodie highlights at Carmel Market include a spot simply called Shakshuka if you’re there for breakfast, HaBurika Shuk HaCarmel for a hearty kosher snack, or for a sit-down meal of trendy Mediterranean dishes, Habasta.
Nahalat Binyamin – Just outside of Carmel Market, every Tuesday and Friday is an outdoor craft fair. You’ll find the most unique and one-of-a-kind hand-made items here which are perfect for souvenirs and directly support the local artists.
Sarona Market – Israel’s largest indoor contemporary culinary and shopping market selling gourmet and consumer products as well as housing some wonderful eateries.
Lavinsky Market – A gourmet food market with many imported and local goods near the hip Floretin neighborhood. This market is especially great for Mizrahi/Middle Eastern goods.
Namal Food Market – A fully-covered shuk and farmers market near the port which turns into a happening nightlife spot when the sun goes down.
Jaffa Flea Market (Shuk HaPishpeshim) – is where you’ll find antiques, art, handmade crafts, and secondhand furniture, as well as trendy bars, restaruants, and cafes.
More Shopping in Tel Aviv
Outside of the shuks, Tel Aviv is home to some amazing local designers and boutique shops. Not to mention, some of the top wedding dress design houses are from Tel Aviv such as Galia Lahav and Inbal Dror. I like to shop for clothes any chance I get in Tel Aviv because I always leave with unique pieces that can’t be found at home. Some of my favorite places to go shopping in Tel Aviv include:
Neve Tzedek – This trendy neighborhood is known as the “Soho of Tel Aviv.” You’ll find tons of trendy boutiques here with a mix of local and international designers.
Malls in Tel Aviv – Dizengoff Center is one of Israel’s largest and most popular shopping malls offering over 400 stores. TLV Fashion Mall is Tel Aviv’s newest mall with over 200 stores of international and local name brands.
Top Restaurants / Best Food, Tel Aviv
If food isn’t a significant part of your trip to Tel Aviv, you’re doing it wrong! Tel Aviv has some of the best food in the world. It is no wonder why restaurants across the globe are incorporating these Israeli and Mediterranean-inspired dishes onto their menus.
If you are looking for kosher restaurants only, I have indicated them with an asterisk (*). It is also helpful to know even if you are not kosher, as kosher restaurants are not open on Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath, Friday night – Saturday night).
Best Israeli/Middle Eastern – Israeli restaurants are naturally some of the best and most popular restaurants in Tel Aviv! Top eateries include Miznon by celebrity top chef Eyal Shani, which serves street food specializing in Israeli pita sandwiches. Another popular spot also by Eyal Shani, Port Sa’id, offers a daily-changing menu of Middle Eastern dishes meant to be shared. When in Jaffa, Old Man and the Sea is the place to go, serving fresh seafood and meat dishes. Lastly, Itzik Hagadol also in Jaffa is one of the most loved Israeli steakhouses in Tel Aviv, where you’ll be served millions of salatim (small side dishes/salads/dips) — the true Israeli way!
Best Hummus – Abu Hassan. Not only is it the best hummus in Tel Aviv, but it’s also probably the best hummus in the world — you’ll definitely want to prioritize eating here. (Not certified kosher but not open on Shabbat.)
Best Falafel – Hakosem* without a doubt has the best falafel in Tel Aviv.
Best Shawarma – The best shawarma in Tel Aviv is always up for debate. Do you like your shwarma made with chicken? lamb? turkey? beef? These are all things to take into consideration. Turkish style shawarma is having a moment in Israel currently, and for the best, you can find it at Turk Lahmajoun*.
Best Vegan – Tel Aviv is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, and the best and most popular vegan spot in Tel Aviv is Anastasia. Even non-vegan eaters love it too.
Best Italian – The best italian restaurants in Tel Aviv for pasta dishes include Pankina* and Rustico. For the best pizza in Tel Aviv, Papi Chulo is most loved, along with the Napolian-style pizza at HaPizza*. Lastly, I personally also love Cena for their awesome Southern Italian menu and great drinks.
Best Burger – The Best Burgers in Tel Aviv can be found at Bodega American Kitchen* which serves kosher American-style burgers (think kosher bacon cheeseburgers.) The non-kosher crowd favors Vitrina, citing it as the best burger in Israel.
Best Kosher Restaurants – In Tel Aviv, it is not hard to find great kosher-certified restaurants of all cuisines, from Asian, to Italian, and beyond, as you can gather from this list. Aside from what I have already starred(*), Some of the best kosher restaurants include West Side and Darya for high-end dining. For something a bit more relaxed, Malka is an incredible restaurant serving modern Israeli cuisine by Israeli Top Chef Eyal Shani, and Kanki Sushi for the best kosher sushi in Tel Aviv.
Best Breakfast – The best breakfast in Tel Aviv can be found at the Hotel Montifoire, which offers a lavish breakfast and brunch in a luxury setting. For another great Israeli breakfast, Bucke Cafe is a must. For something a little more casual, Cafe Xoho is loved by locals and expats alike and serves breakfast all day.
Best Brunch – For the weekend, The best brunch in Tel Aviv includes The Norman, which is one of Tel Aviv’s top boutique hotels, and for more local options, Mashya, Ha’achim, and Bellboy do fantastic brunches as well.
Best Shakshuka – There are so many different options when looking for the best shakshuka in Tel Aviv. Some of the most loved spots include Shakshuka in Carmel Market, Shakshukia on Ben Yehuda or Dr Shakshuka in Jaffa.
Best Upscale – Topolopompo is an Asian-fusion upscale restaurant. It is omakase-style, meaning the chef chooses the dishes for you! Another gastronomic experience can be found at OCD Restaurant, which offers a tasting menu served in front of an open kitchen.
Best Coffee Shops – In Tel Aviv, there is no shortage of coffee shops and cafes. The best cafes in Tel Aviv for a strong cup of coffee include Nahat, Cafelix, Origem, and Mae. Of course, you also shouldn’t visit Tel Aviv without enjoying this classic treat — an iced (blended) coffee from Aroma! (Kind of like what Starbucks is to the US.)
Best Dessert – You can’t visit Tel Aviv without a stop at Yaffa Knafeh in Jaffa. This Middle Eastern dessert is super unique is sweet yet slightly salty and best served with ice cream on top. For a proper Ice cream shop, stop by Golda, Israel’s favorite Gelato chain.
* Indicates kosher however please confirm certificates before dining as information may change.
Want to bring a taste of Israel home with you? My two favorite Israeli cookbooks are Sababa by award-winning Tel Aviv chef Adina Sussman, and Zahav by the famous restauranteur Michael Zolomonov.
Nightlife & Bars in Tel Aviv
Of the best things to do in Tel Aviv at night, going out is definitely it. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back bar with live music, a swanky lounge, or a nightclub to go dancing, Tel Aviv has endless options for night owls.
Where to go Bar-Hopping in Tel Aviv:
Rothschild Boulevardx and Allenby are the two most popular streets in Tel Aviv, lined with bars, clubs and restaurants. Just taking a stroll down the streets at night will ensure you’ll find something fun and lively to do.
Kuli Alma near Allenby is one of Tel Aviv’s most loved bars. There’s 3 different rooms to enjoy, including one with live music as well as an outdoor patio.
Another local favorite is Sputnik, found in an alley off Allenby close to Rothschild. This bar gets packed early, so book a table in advance or be prepared to wait in line.
Dizengoff is another popular street that comes to life every night with several options for bars on every block.
Spicehaus (The East Jaffa Perfume Company) on Dizengoff is one of the most unique concept bar experiences. It’s also one of the largest! The venue is a self-proclaimed “bar pharmacy” where bartenders are dressed in lab coats and cocktails are served in beakers.
Floretin is another one of the areas of Tel Aviv to know. This hipster neighborhood is not only filled with restaurants and cafes, but offers an eclectic mix of alternative and underground nightlife options compared to the mainstream areas mentioned above.
Hoodna is one of the preferred local watering holes in Floretin, with live music in a laidback atmosphere.
Jaffa Old Port / Flea Market – The old city of Jaffa comes to life at night with bars flooded with people as string lights hang from above.
Best Clubs in Tel Aviv
The Block is one of Tel Aviv’s largest, most popular nightclubs. With 3 different rooms of sound, parties here go on late into the morning.
Another late-night and after-hours favorite is Breakfast Club. EDM DJs (usually house and techno) are there to keep the dancing going all night long.
A third for top clubs is Alphabet, which has a dark and intimate vibe with a great rotation of DJs.
Best Rooftop Bars in Tel Aviv
For sunset, a pregame, or summer nights with great weather, a drink on one of Tel Aviv’s best rooftop bars is always a pleasant time.
Haiku Skybar on top of the LightHouse hotel offers some of the best city views in Tel Aviv.
Another nice spot for views and cocktails is Surame, a trendy rooftop with great pizza.
Speakeasy on Rothschild can be rather exclusive (book a table in advance), but if you get in you’ll get to enjoy their delicious cocktails and small bites.
Best Area to Stay in Tel Aviv & The Best 4 and 5 Star Hotels in Tel Aviv
I have 3 main areas for the best places to stay in Tel Aviv. They are as follows:
- By the beach – If you are a beach person, undoubtedly this should be your first choice for areas to stay in Tel Aviv. The closer, the better! There is a stretch of hotels along the coast to choose from. Below are the best hotels in tel aviv near beach.
Best Beach Hotels in Tel Aviv:
The Sheraton Tel Aviv – I like to stay at Marriott-Bonvoy hotels whenever possible (to book with points) and the Sheraton Tel Aviv is the nicest option available. It is a great hotel in general, just steps away from the beach with great views, and as far as location goes, it’s perfectly situated next to some of the best beaches. I also got the best massage in Tel Aviv at their spa! Moreover, if you’re looking for kosher hotels in Tel Aviv, The Sheraton is perfect.
David Intercontinental – Another hotel I enjoy, located on the south end of the beach strip right next to Neve Tzedek, which is a more upscale neighborhood with great shopping. Some may even refer to Neve Tzedek as the best neighborhood in Tel Aviv! If you’re looking for Tel Aviv beach hotels, 5 Stars, with kosher dining, and a great location, the Intercontinental is a fabulous choice.
2. Jaffa / Yafo – If you are looking for something a little more laidback, with beautiful historic architecture and a vibrant and unique mix of Israeli, Arab, and Christian culture, Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew) is where you need to be. Jaffa is known to be one of the oldest working ports in the world, dating back to Biblical times. Compared to modernized Tel Aviv, you’ll experience the Old City feel in Jaffa.
Best Hotels in Jaffa:
The Jaffa, a Luxury Collection Hotel – One of my favorite hotels in all of Israel and one of the best 5-star hotels in Tel Aviv – Yafo. It is also part of Marriott Bonvoy. This luxury property seamlessly blends historic with contemporary design, has a beautiful outdoor pool, and incredible food. Their eggplant shakshuka is probably the best I’ve ever had. If you don’t plan to spend a lot of time at the beach or if visiting in cooler months, The Jaffa is my number one choice of hotel. (Photos of The Jaffa above.)
Soho House Jaffa is another incredible hotel set in a historic castle-like building built in 1883, however, it is only open to members or guests of members.
3. In the city / Downtown – Staying in the heart of the city of Tel Aviv ensures you will have a lively and exciting time. You’ll be within arms reach of the best dining and nightlife, and feel the essence of the vibrant city.
Best Tel Aviv City Hotels:
The Norman – Located in the historic Bauhaus district known as “The White City”, The Norman is one of the chicest and best boutique hotels in Tel Aviv. Stylish rooms, amazing food, and a gorgeous infinity pool are what you can expect from staying at the Norman. As far as Tel Aviv luxury hotels go, The Norman is top tier. The White City is also deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being one of the world’s most architecturally distinct urban areas.
Hotel Bobo – This hotel is a great affordable-luxury option, with stylish, artful, and modern decor and a fun rooftop pool and bar called Meli Melo. The hotel is just steps away from Rothschild Boulevard, so if you’re the type to go out at night and wish to crawl back to your hotel room, Hotel Bobo is especially perfect for you!
Best Day Trips From Tel Aviv
The country of Israel is small — basically the size of New Jersey. This means that taking day trips to other cities is a breeze. To take day trips, you can either rent a car, take the train, or a “share-route” which is a shared taxi. You can also choose to join an organized tour. Here are the top Tel Aviv Day Trips:
Dead Sea & Masada – No trip to Israel would be complete without visiting the Dead Sea to float in its salty waters. It is one of the most unique experiences you can have! The Unesco World Heritage Site, Masada, is also nearby, so if you’re up for a sunrise hike you can combine the two (or you can take a cable car to the top.) Approximately 2 – 2.5 hours from Tel Aviv.
Bahá’í Gardens – This Unesco World Heritage Site located in the city of Haifa is the beautiful “Hanging Garden” terraces built on Mount Carmel belonging to the Bahai faith. There are 9 terraces and over 1,500 steps ascending the mountain. Approximately 1 hour from Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem – Israel’s capital and #1 destination. A visit to Jerusalem should entail visits to holy sites such as the Western Wall in the Old City and eating your heart out at the Shuk, Machane Yehuda, and watch it turn into a party destination at night. Approximately 1 hour from Tel Aviv.
Rosh Hanikra Grottoes – Near the border of Lebanon, where the off-the-beaten-track Rosh Hanikra kibbutz lies is where the grottoes of Rosh Hanikra are found. These beautiful cavernous rock formations are the result of thousands of years of the power of the sea. Take the cable car down and witness the beauty of these grottoes of the western Galilee. Approximately 1.5 hours from Tel Aviv.
The Salad Trail – Another off-the-tourist-track activity, The Salad Trail is a hands-on farm-to-table experience unlike any other. Despite Israel being a desert, agriculture thrives. Visitors have a chance to tour and learn about this farm in the Habsor region of the northern Negev while getting to pick and sample plenty of seasonal veggies.
Wine Tasting – There are over 300 wineries in Israel spanning from the upper Galilee down to the Negev desert. There are so many different great wineries to choose from, however, one of my favorites is Tishbi Winery in the Mount Carmel region, which offers wine and chocolate tastings, a great on-site kosher dairy restaurant, as well as the most incredible BBQ offered only on Fridays.
As the most dynamic city in the Middle East, with the most tolerance, diversity and advancements, there is truly something for everyone here. A beach paradise, a buzzing city, and a culinary delight are all what make Tel Aviv in my eyes, the perfect place to be.