7helpful tips you should know before traveling to Tel Aviv Israel
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
are a few tips, which I am sure you would like to know before coming to Israel.
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.
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
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
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
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
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. You will have to purchase a "RavKav" card and charge it before you can ride the bus. Stores across the city offer this service. I recommend using the Moovit App to easily find out which bus line
to take. There are also shared taxis 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.
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
Shabbat and Jewish
More than any other place
in the world, you can feel the difference between a regular day and a holiday
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.
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 charachter 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
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
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 is the executive manager of Hotel Gilgal in Tel Aviv. He has
been in the tourism and hospitality industry for almost three decades and had
many opportunities to meet new tourists and introduce them to his favorite city
- Tel Aviv.