I defy anyone to be bored during a short break to Tel Aviv. The high octane vibe is almost tangible and urges you to walk its streets and explore. Do so and you’ll find this is a moody city: beautiful chill-out beaches hemmed by high rise hotels and lapped by the blue Mediterranean sea and a fantastically beautiful promenade. Yet just a road or two inland buildings look in need of some love, yet the vibe prevails.
At its commercial centre the high rises look like a New York mini-me while the ancient port of Jaffa in the south exudes charm in its yellow stone architecture and winding hilly alleyways.
Then there’s museums, markets, shopping and above all, a simply sensational foodie scene. This city has it all and, unbelievably, all packed into a compact area of just 52 km² (around 20 miles).
Check out the beaches
Grab your fiip flops because Tel Aviv is a seafront city with a Tayelet (promenade) that hems a gorgeous stretch of 12 soft sand beaches, each with its own – if somewhat insouciant – personality.
Metzizim in the north is a superb family beach with shallow waters and a life guard. It’s followed by the Religious beach with allocated days for men and women.
Further along is the gay beach in front of the Hilton right off Independence Park. It has become a trendy hot spot because of its fun vibe. During Pride Week it’s the busiest place in the city.
Three popular beaches Gordon, Frishman and Borashov cover the central stretch and this is where locals and tourists hang out sometimes playing matkot (paddleball).
Guela beach has its own al fresco gym while bizarrely, Drum beach is where anyone can turn up at the weekend and beat their drums.
The stretch ends with a dog beach followed by Alma (home to the wonderful Manta Ray) and Jaffa beaches in the south of the city much loved by surfers because there are no wave breakers which means huge waves on a windy day.
Nahalat Binyamin Craft Market
The talent is awesome and coming away with a trinket or artwork is going to be hard. Furnishings, art, ceramics, jewellery, gifts, photography and items that defy description, all created by individual local artisans.
Tel Aviv Museum
Though there are several really worthwhile museums the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Sderot Sha’ul HaMelech, is the most beautiful. The futuristic building is in itself an architectural spectacle and inside its wide open spaces you’ll find sculptures by greats such as Degas and Auguste Rodin and artworks by Chagal, Cezanne, Dali, Monet, Henri Moore, Archipenko, Picasso, Klimt, Kadinsky. Seriously, if you only have time for one museum, make it this one.
Go for a walk
For a stylish yet cultural walk make time to saunter along Rothschild Boulevard. This tree lined boulevard is home to the “White City” – a clutch of world-famous German Bauhaus architecture known for straight lines and no-nonsense design.
Rothschild Boulevard is also where the Israeli Independence museum is located and its worth dropping in as this was the very place where the state of Israel was born.
Jaffa port and its flea market
Head south to the impossibly quaint ancient fishing port and city of Jaffa. Jaffa (or Joppa) dates back to biblical times and the architectural style hasn’t changed. Artists hang their artworks on the yellow stone walls of their studios and within the twisty stone passage ways almost hidden door ways that lead the way to tiny shops selling Judaica.
The Wishing Zodiac Bridge which depicts the 12 zodiacs along its stretch leads to the red-bricked Franciscan St Peter’s church which, they say, hosted Napoleon.
Jaffa has its own Flea Market where Middle Eastern trinkets, cobblers, carpet makers and small jewellery designers ply their trade.