7 helpful tips you should know before traveling to Tel Aviv Israel

8/8/2018
7 טיפים שאתה חייב להכיר לפני שאתה מטייל בתל אביב

Many tourists from different countries come to our hotel throughout the year and they tend to have the same questions or be surprised by the same things. Some of them go through similar experiences just in their first few hours of travel in Israel. As an experienced hotelier, I learned that providing guests with helpful information is an excellent way to keep them satisfied. Here are a few tips, which I am sure you would like to know before coming to Israel.

Food
One of my favorite things to do when traveling to a new place is trying out local foods. Often I am asked to recommend a nice but affordable restaurant in Tel Aviv. Since Tel Aviv is famous for its excellent restaurants and eateries, there are plenty of options to choose from. Most favorite Israeli local dishes are Falafel and hummus, which are incredibly cheap and available around the city. Shakshuka is another local dish made of eggs cooked in tomatoes. Dr. Shakshuka in the old city of Jaffa will provide you with an authentic local dining experience.

Israel customs include special dietary Kosher laws which mainly restrict selling of dairy products mixed with meat. For this reason, most Hotels will serve a strictly dairy breakfast and strictly non dairy dinner. This means that you will not be able to enjoy bacon with your eggs in the morning or nice cup of latte coffee with your dinner. Embrace the culture and enjoy instead a nice spread of Mediterranean dips and salads that accompany most meals. You can still enjoy a burger with cheese for example but only in non Kosher restaurants which are not difficult to find in Tel Aviv.


Beach
Tel Aviv is famous for its beautiful beaches. The entrance to the beach is free and it is highly recommended not to bring any valuables with you due to theft. You will only need your towel and some pocket change so you can rent a beach chair (12 nis) or a parasol (6 nis) or enjoy food and drinks. Keep in mind that it's forbidden to bring glass bottles to the beach.

Be ready to hear the lifeguard in the rescue station using his favorite accessory- the microphone - giving instructions to the beach bathers. In areas marked with a black flag, bathing is prohibited!

If you enjoy physical activity, you are in for a treat. Tel Aviv beaches are equipped with top-of-the-line free outdoor gyms and beach volleyball courts. You can even join the locals every Saturday evening or noon (depending on the season) for a free Israeli folk dance event on the Gordon beach boardwalk where circle, group, partner and line dances will give you an authentic and invigorating experience.

If you are more likely to enjoy observing a sport, you will quickly notice that the Israeli favorite beach sport is a paddle ball game similar to beach tennis called Matkot.


Transportation
Getting to Tel Aviv from the airport is easy either by train or taxi. The train is accessible right at the terminal but once you get to the station in Tel Aviv you will most likely need a taxi to get to the hotel.

Beware of some taxi drivers that are approaching you and are looking to overcharge tourists. Always make sure that the driver puts on his meter. The ride from the airport to your hotel should last anywhere from 35-45 min (to the hotel stretch near the beach) and should cost around 160 -180 nis.

Getting around in Tel Aviv itself is very easy. Everything is close to everywhere and you could walk to most points of interest. A nice walk on the beach boardwalk heading north will take you to the new and happening Tel Aviv Port, and if you are heading south it will lead to one of the oldest ports in the world at the Old city of Jaffa.

If you decided to use the city public transportation, you can be sure that it is safe and affordable. I recommend using the Moovit App to easily find out which bus line to take. There are also sharedtaxis called "Sherut Taxi” -these are yellow mini vans that pick up and drop off passengers upon request anywhere within their specific set rout.

The streets of Tel Aviv are buzzing with electric bikes and scooters, beware of the riders or join them by renting a bike and traveling around the city that way.

 

Car Rental
Renting a car in Israel gives you the freedom to reach many places quickly and efficiently. Car rental at the airport is relatively a simple process. The signs in the terminal will direct you to the leading car rental companies in Israel (Sixt, Avis, Eldan, Budget, Hertz). We recommend that you do a market survey in advance to insure you receive a good price. It is important to know that it is not possible to rent or return a car rental on Saturdays anywhere in Israel except at the airport. Free street parking in Tel Aviv is reserved for residents only. Most hotel will offer parking at a cost of 50-80 shekels per day. Driving in Israel might be challenging to some, as the typical Israeli driver has a reputation for being rather impatient.


Shabbat and Jewish holidays
More than any other place in the world, you can feel the difference between a regular day and a holiday in Israel.

The workweek begins on Sunday and the weekend days are Friday and Saturday. On Fridays, public transportation stops running in the afternoon in most places and resumes Saturday evenings. Most stores and malls are also close during this time.

Public transportation and local business is limited during the Jewish High holidays as well. Tel Aviv is a very tourist conscience city where many businesses and restaurants are open on all the days of the year.

The Holiday seasons is an exciting time to visit Israel due to the special festivities and cultural practices that tourists can observed and experience. Most Jewish Holidays occur every year in September/October or March/April depending on the Jewish calendar. Purim is a very festive holiday (usually in March) in which there are many carnivals throughout the country and Israelis go out to the streets dressed in a custom. In stark contrast, Yom Kippur (usually in September) is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar in which Jewish people are fasting, business and all traffic ceases for 24 hour and it is hard to find an open restaurants or grocery store even in Tel Aviv. The only activity you will see on this day is many locals dressed in white going out for an unusual stroll on the open roads that are void of the usual busy traffic and cars.


Markets
The Shuk (open market) is the best place to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and groceries. The colors, smells and sounds make for an authentic experience. You can find many treasures and souvenirs, as you taste local treats and foods. Shuk Hacarmel and Levinsky market in Tel Aviv are warmly recommended. In recent years, high style markets opened in Tel Aviv and became very popular among tourists and locals for their gourmet character such as the Sarona and the Namal Food Markets!


Top 3 must see places
Tel Aviv is the closest city to the airport and a convenient location for tourists to spend their first or last nights in. From Tel Aviv it is easy to travel to other places in Israel.

Jerusalem and the Dead Sea are the more obvious must see places when you come to Israel. Jerusalem is only 60 km from Tel Aviv and is the capital city with history meaningful to Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It is a beautiful city rich with rich history and many holy sites such as The Old City, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to name a few.

The Dead Sea is only 166 km from Tel Aviv and is a fascinating place with captivating landscapes. It is a super saline lake located 430m below sea level, which makes it the lowest place in the world! Rich with minerals and medical properties great for your skin. Swimming in the Dead Sea is nearly impossible but floating requires no skills and occurs naturally.

The less obvious must see place is just 4 km from Tel Aviv- the Old City of Jaffa. You can walk to Jaffa on the beautiful Tel Aviv boardwalk. It is one of the most beautiful places in Israel, with enchanting street alleys and a beautiful ancient port. Like Jerusalem, it exemplifies coexistence between Arabs, Jews and Christians. With many beautiful sites such as the famous Clock Square, Kedumim Square, Jaffa Port and Flea Market where you can find local designer shops it is most certainly up on my must see list.

Tel Aviv is a vibrant and energetic city, don’t miss out on all it has to offer. I hope these tips will help you make the most of your trip here!


Hope to see you soon,

Itai Meron

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