As I went for a morning run along the beach esplanade there were people running, cycling, surfing, stand-up-paddleboarding, yoga-ing and tai-chi-ing all over the place. There is public gym equipment set up along the beach and I am pretty sure I did a workout with what were two homeless men. Tel Aviv is an active multicultural modern city with skyscrapers next to the beach, a buzzing party scene and it couldn’t be more different to Jerusalem if it tried.
For me, the new part of the city wasn’t super exciting, the old town of Jaffa/Yaffa however was lovely. A quaint area full of artists and cafes and jewellery stores right on a small harbour. After a free walking tour with Sandemans Tours, it is worth taking another couple of hours to explore the small cobblestone streets on your own and then walk back to the city centre whilst watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea. On a scale of ‘rocky beach’ to ‘beautiful sandy paradise’, the beach here was pretty ok. But I am from Australia, so my beach standards are pretty high 😉
The hipster area of Florentine is a great place to spend a grey non-beach-weather-day getting lost among the colourful and vibrant street art and drinking fancy coffee with a trendy meal at one of the many cute cafes you stumble across. The Yemenite Quarter has a small selection of street art and is home to the famous Yemenite Soup, best enjoyed at Shimon the King of Soups (ask a local to point out the restaurant, the sign is in Hebrew only) before browsing the Carmel Markets on the way home. (Street art blog post here)
Tel Aviv was nice, but was not my ideal holiday destination. It was too modern and not culturally challenging enough. But it was good for some chill time and I did enjoy myself there, and thanks to the modern-ness there were several climbing gyms for me to choose from! I missed climbing so much and had so much fun bouldering that my poor fingers were so sore and all my non-used climbing muscles hurt the following day!
The nitty gritty:
- Getting there:
- The bus network around Israel is very extensive. The bus from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv runs almost every 30 mins, costs 18 shekels and takes around 1 hour. Tickets can be bought at the bus station. It runs to the main bus station in Tel Aviv where you can either walk or catch another bus closer to your accommodation. Most transport doesn’t run during Shabbat (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). You can then take a shared taxi (Sherut) from Zion Square in Jerusalem or the New Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv.
- The bus to Eilat takes around 5 hours and costs 70 shekels. In busy times it is best to pre-buy a ticket if you want a specific departure time.
- The International airport lies just outside of the city, with multiple options on getting to the city from there.
- Getting around:
- A lot of the city is accessible by foot (you can walk to Jaffa from the city centre). Otherwise there is a decent local bus network (except during Shabbat, see below).
- The FREE Sandeman’s Walking Tour is great. I have done these tours in plenty of places around the world, and because the guides work for tips they put a lot of effort into making the tours interesting. You can tip whatever amount you like at the end of the tour.
- Where to stay:
- I stayed at Abraham Hostel. It was really great! The rooms were nice, big and clean. The included breakfast was really delicious and they had a huge chill out area. They ran some sort of event every night too.
- Funny story: So I also stayed two nights at the Crown Plaza in a massive business suite 🙂 And no, it wasn’t because I had a fling with a businessman. The friend I was traveling with there had met another Australian a few days prior who had accidentally booked too many nights at the Crown, and signed them over to us for free! Talk about lucky!! 🙂
- Where to eat:
- As I have mentioned in previous posts, Israel is insanely expensive. I only ate out a couple of times, one being at Shimon King of Soups in the Yemenite Quarter (Ye Hya Kapach 28).
- The rest of the time my friend and I bought food from the supermarket or markets and cooked our own. And yes, we were those people eating cup soup in our room at the Crown Plaza 😉
- Shabbat in Tel Aviv:
- As in many parts of Israel, during the Jewish day of rest (Shabbat) many things are closed from a few hours after midday on Friday until sunset on Saturday. This means most shops, cafes and restaurants are closed and buses and trams completely stop running during this time. Taxi’s run as usual, but may charge a little extra.
- Before everything closes for Shabbat the city can get very busy.
- Other transport options for Israel are listed here.
- Safety – I felt very safe walking around and going for runs in this city.
- Indoor rock climbing – I went to Performance Rock for a bouldering session. Bouldering is a really fun type of rock climbing that you can do indoors on your own as you don’t need ropes and thus no belay partner. It is a great way to meet new people, have fun and get an unexpectedly good workout 🙂
Check out my other posts from Israel/Palestine here: