GUIDE TO VISITING TEL AVIV
Everything you need to know for your Tel Aviv trip
Visiting Tel Aviv is one of the highlights of any private Israel tour. There’s no city on earth quite like it, and we can’t wait to share it with you!
Tel Aviv-Jaffa is at once ancient and modern: an international high-tech hub and bustling metropolis fused onto an ancient biblical port city that’s been at the center of every civilization that has laid claim to this little strip of real estate for upwards of 4000 years. Wander the old-world markets, discover the cutting-edge art and fashion, sample the round-the-clock culture, and (of course) bask in the unabashed beachiness. Come and explore Tel Aviv with us!
The Old City of Jaffa
Jaffa has a fascinating history. A vibrant seaport that has operated continuously for nearly 4000 years, the city features in religious and historical writings dating to the Late Bronze Age. Its strategic position on numerous trade routes connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa has made it a prominent locus of commerce and culture throughout the millennia.
Owing in no small part to its cultural, military, and commercial importance, Jaffa has been and continues to be a mixed city. Home to numerous historic churches, mosques, and synagogues, as well as contemporary galleries and museums, Jaffa is a sure and steady cultural beacon whose charm clearly stands the test of time.
Ancient cobblestone alleyways wind through the port area creating a mystical maze of secret passageways connecting historic buildings and the port itself. Barnacled fishing boats and weathered fishermen congregate at the water’s edge and the spire of St. Peter’s Church reaches up toward the heavens as waves crash into the breakers.
Too small for modern ships, Jaffa no longer serves as a major port but rather hosts small fishing boats and yachts. This has actually allowed Jaffa to maintain much of its ancient charm, making it a must-see when visiting Tel Aviv.
A walking tour of Jaffa is a great way to discover the ancient city and learn about its history. Visit the Old Harbor and walk the narrow streets to transport yourself back thousands of years.
Walking through Jaffa with a private tour guide is the best way to discover the many stories and voices hidden in the ancient port city and gain an understanding of Jaffa in a larger Israeli and Middle Eastern context.
Pay a visit to some of Jaffa’s religious sites such as the Lybian Synagogue, St. Peter’s Church, or Mahmmudiyeh Mosque. Support the local community by visiting the art galleries and studios that line the narrow streets of Jaffa.
Or simply have a stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere of the ancient city, its winding paths, and cobblestone roads.
One of Jaffa’s treasures is its famous flea market. Haggle with the local shopkeepers, hunt for gems, or just get lost in the rows of colorful rugs, scarves, and trinkets.
Of course, no trip to Jaffa would be complete without a sampling of the traditional Israeli dishes at one of the local restaurants or food stands located in the shuk (market). Try shakshuka, hummus, falafel, knafeh, and many more not-to-be-missed specialties.
Modern Tel Aviv
In the not-too-distant past, this booming metropolis was mostly a pile of sand. Built out of the dunes in order to be the first modern suburb of Jaffa, Tel Aviv quickly established itself as the nascent state’s economic and cultural center.
Tel Aviv’s skyline of high-rise office buildings and condominiums, the city’s protest to its own modest beginnings, casts morning shadows over the tree-lined boulevards and residential neighborhoods. The city’s westward flow deftly sweeps pedestrians into the abundant sidewalk cafes and down the winding streets and alleyways toward the sea. The city’s gravitational pull ineluctably draws its residents back to the sand, the roots of Tel Aviv, the first modern Hebrew city.
The circadian rhythm of the city beats in time to the pavement-pounding workday rush and gives way imperceptibly to the steady buzz of Tel Aviv’s nightlife scene. Dynamic and vibrant, perpetually in motion, the city reinvents itself with each sunrise. One day an artist colony, one day a hub of high-tech innovation, and on and on.
Touring Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a city that begs to be explored. Because of its relatively small size, it’s the perfect city for a walking tour. Somewhat paradoxically, however, you could easily spend an entire day exploring any one of Tel Aviv’s many neighborhoods. Stick to the major arteries for a full-city experience, but wander off the beaten path and into the winding alleyways for a journey through the many moods of Tel Aviv.
There are many great ways to get to know Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and depending on your interests and mood on any given day, we highly recommend all of them! Art and culture enthusiasts can explore the city through its graffiti and street art, wine lovers can discover hidden treasures while sipping local wines, architecture buffs can delve into the city’s fascinating design history, foodies can wander through the city’s tantalizing culinary markets, and much more.
As Israel’s capital of culture, there is no shortage of museums to choose from, each one highlighting a different slice of the country’s cultural tapestry, from fine art to archaeology, sports to the Jewish Diaspora, there’s a museum for everyone.
Tired of walking? We highly recommend touring the city by bike or Segway. It’s a great way to cover more ground on your city tour or just enjoy cruising around on two wheels.
Of course, if enjoying the great outdoors is on your Tel Aviv agenda, look no further than the incredible beachfront promenade or Yarkon Park. Biking, running, stand-up ATVs, kayaking, surfing, and more!
We’re sure you’ve worked up an appetite by now. Wrap up your exploration of Tel Aviv-Jaffa at Sarona Market, a foodie paradise that’s emblematic of the city’s new-old duality.
Visiting Tel Aviv with Family
Because the city is so varied and has so much to offer, it’s a great place to travel with kids. Whether you’re enjoying a break from sightseeing or you’re interested in exploring the city with your family, there are plenty of great ways to enjoy your time in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
To start with, there are plenty of beaches where you can spend a fun day in the sun with your loved ones. During warmer months, locals and visitors flock to the beaches to escape the heat, so there are always things to do, even if it’s just playing in the sand and jumping in the waves. All along the beachfront promenade you’ll find snack bars, restaurants, and plenty of ice cream to keep your whole family happy.
Sightseeing that involves being outdoors is great for families who want to keep their kids engaged while also enjoying the best of Tel Aviv’s cultural and historical attractions. Discover the story of how Israel became a state on a walk down Independence Trail, encounter the animal residents of the Ramat Gan Safari, or explore the local colors and flavors of one of Tel Aviv’s vibrant open-air markets.
You may not think of museums as particularly family-friendly, but Tel Aviv and the surrounding area have a number of great museums with excellent kid appeal. A few of our favorites include the Olympics Museum, the Clore Garden of Science, and the Holon Children’s Museum.
Make all your other vacations really jealous. We’ll cater to your family’s unique characteristics and interests and create the ultimate Israel tour package that’s perfect for you.
Create a lasting connection to Israel on an unforgettable Bar or Bat Mitzvah journey the whole family will love! Celebrate the bar/bat mitzvah kid with a custom-designed Israel tour.
Dining in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv rises early in search of espresso and fresh pastry. Taking a seat at a sidewalk cafe, it picks up a discarded newspaper and invites an acquaintance to sit down and catch up over the street noise.
As the temperature and humidity rise, Tel Aviv’s belly begins to rumble. It follows the aroma of freshly fried falafel and chooses the spot with the longest line. It watches the falafel guys expertly take orders while frying, slicing, assembling, and schmoozing. It digs into a fluffy pita packed with falafel, pickled vegetables, and fried eggplant, smothered in tahini and two kinds of hot sauce.
Evening falls and Tel Aviv cleans up for dinner. Opening a bottle of wine over fresh focaccia with olive oil and carpaccio of Mediterranean fish, it peruses the well-traveled chef’s menu. Tonight will be a celebration of color and flavor, served up on meticulously designed plates.
Tel Aviv saves room for dessert. Be it patisserie, hand-churned gelato, or a convenience store popsicle, dinner should always end on a sweet note.
Grabbing a bite in Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Craving something quick, easy, and delicious? The street food scene in Tel Aviv-Jaffa is unbeatable. Wander through the shuk (market) or around the city and sample some of our favorites: burekas, falafel, sabich, shwarma, hummus, Israeli-style schnitzel, kebab, and basically anything else you can stuff into a pita or a laffa.
Though local Israeli cuisine has been heavily influenced by many international cuisines, its roots are unquestionably at the junction of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. Fresh fish and bright, colorful vegetables merge with Levantine Arab staples such as chickpeas, za’atar, and spiced grilled meats, and the result is definitely worth experiencing in all its variations.
Of course, as Israel foodie culture evolves, international cuisines have become prominent features of the culinary landscape. As both the Israeli public and Israeli chefs spend more time abroad, the influence of international kitchens has become much stronger. Especially popular and influential have been the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia, and today, Tel Aviv has some of the best Asian restaurants outside of the Far East.
Whereas in past generations Israeli culture had been modest and utilitarian, these days the Tel Aviv culinary scene is increasingly characterized by a shift toward fine dining. Chef restaurants are now the norm, and while even the fine dining establishments are still decidedly casual by European or American standards, Israelis (and Tel Avivis in particular) have developed a taste for the finer things.
Hotels in Tel Aviv
Happy hour on a rooftop deck overlooking the crisp blue Mediterranean. Or lounging in a moody whiskey bar. Perhaps on a massage table in a pampering spa. Sipping a cappuccino in an expansive, sunlit lobby bar. Stepping out onto a historic tree-lined boulevard. Signing up for a surf lesson.
A retreat from the urban bustle. Four walls and a bed. An homage to the city’s architectural heritage. Your family’s temporary home away from home. A gateway to Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s cultural and culinary scenes. An expression of the city’s artistic, industrial, and high-tech sensibilities.
Modern, eclectic, funky, utilitarian, chic, luxe, beachy, gilded. Classic, artsy, comfy, homey, nostalgic, understated, elegant. Vibrant, historic, cozy, fashionable, fresh, indulgent.
Your taste, TLV’s hospitality.
Details matter. So do your hotel accommodations.
Whether you’re visiting Israel on a custom-designed private tour or just coming to explore on your own, where you sleep can make or break your trip. Unfortunately, finding reliable information about hotels can be challenging, so we’ve been busy checking out hotels in Israel to be able to give you all the vital information necessary to choose accommodations for your Israel trip that fit your tastes, needs, and budget.
Choosing the right hotels for your stay in Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Let’s cut straight to the truth: hotels in Israel tend to be significantly more expensive than comparable properties in other countries, and Tel Aviv is no exception. The good news is that the sheer quantity of hotels there makes it easier to find a hotel that’s a perfect match for your tastes and preferences.
Would you like a hotel with plenty of amenities? Do you need a room that will sleep a couple and two young children? Would you like rooms with amazing views? Want to be right on the beach? Do you want to eat dinner at the hotel or explore the local scene? When we’re choosing the hotels for your visit to Israel, we’ll take all these factors into consideration so you’ll always feel at home.
We’ve been busy getting out in the field and checking out hotels all over the country so we can make sure we’re only recommending hotels that meet our high standards. We’re adding new reviews all the time, and you can check them out on our Israel accommodations page.
Luxury Tel Aviv experience
Regardless of your Israel travel plans, you want to know that you’re getting the best out of your experience. That’s why working with a professional tour operator is the right option for many travelers. At Dekel Tours, we understand that every traveler is different, and we believe that a private tour ought to reflect those differences. We can’t wait to get to know you and help you create your once-in-a-lifetime Israel experience.
We take time to get to know our clients so we can match them to the types of travel experiences that best suit their interests and preferences. So, whether you want to see all the “highlights” or go off the beaten track, we’ll build the tour that’s right for you.
Once we’ve created your custom itinerary, we’ll match you with an experienced, licensed tour guide who’s a great fit for your trip. We believe that your private tour guide is your bridge to the local culture and history, and the match between you should be solid.
Where you sleep at the end of each amazing touring day can be the difference between a good trip and a phenomenal travel experience. We’ll make all the arrangements for you and choose the hotels that best suit your needs, group size, and budget, all while securing your rooms at our preferential rates.
Our details-matter philosophy means we’ll handle all your travel arrangements so you’re comfortable and relaxed throughout your journey. Your custom tour will include all your transportation including airport and hotel transfers, daily touring, and even domestic flights.
If your trip to Israel revolves around a special event, every element of your travel plans will be affected by that: your itinerary, transportation needs, hotels, and more. Whether it’s a wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, or any other big occasion, we’ll be your on-the-ground event coordinator.
You’re coming all this way; above and beyond is the least we can do for you. Last-minute changes, add-ons and upgrades, answering questions, finding solutions, and anything you need to make your trip absolutely perfect. Anything. Anytime. Seriously.
Want to see Israel — your way?
Custom tours are our specialty!
All of our custom-designed tours are created around your specific needs and preferences. We’ll build your trip package from the bottom up, so you can be sure your Israel experience is perfectly suited to you and be free to enjoy your mind-blowing tour.