Things To Do
While the media creates a perception that Israel is just all about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is so much more to Tel Aviv. A beautiful beachside retreat from the country’s mostly arid deserts, Tel Aviv offers an abundance of activities to enjoy from beaches to bars.
The Coffee Break: The first thing to note about Israelis, especially in Tel Aviv, is their love of breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks. You’ll find that before work, Israelis will frequent cafés for breakfast, leave work for lunch, and then take another break for coffee in the afternoon. Old friends and new friends will spend their free time meeting up for coffee or a daytime meal at an outdoor café or coffee house. So when you’re at a loss of what to do, do as the Israelis do and grab a coffee!
The Beach: From April until October, the most obvious destination for Tel Aviv fun is the beach. The main beaches are all located in Merkaz Hair (the central district). Gordon, Frischman, and Bugrashov beaches are the most popular. Tel Aviv is a very LGBT-friendly city and just north of Gordon Beach you’ll find beaches favored by that community. This area also has a solid windsurfing and sailing club next to it.
When you’re at the beach in Israel expect everyone to be laid back, but not polite. A famous and common Israeli paddle tennis game, called Matkot, is a serious beach activity played by the water’s edge. The players are often oblivious to swimmers, sunbathers, and others walking by, so get used to the sweet serenade of the back and forth “pop.”
At night, the beach is the perfect place to bring a few friends, a few beers, and just relax. Don’t be surprised if most of the other nighttime beachgoers are Americans though.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your persuasion, wildlife in Tel Aviv is sparse, although you should be aware of jellyfish season in late July. Still, it’s a good idea to get scuba certified in Tel Aviv so you can be ready for a sensational scuba experience in the southern beach city of Eilat.
The Markets: Just like any other Middle Eastern city, a great place to waste an afternoon away is the “shuk” (market). Check out Shuk HaCarmel, Shuk Hapishpashim, Shuk Levinsky, or the more upscale Shuk HaNamal for great farmers' markets!
Exercise: Want to fit in with the locals? Well, hit the gym! With bikinis and swim shorts a daily fashion fixture, people in Tel Aviv always prioritize fitness.
The “tayelet” (the path next to the beach) is a popular place to run early in the morning or before sundown, and there’s a free outdoor gym with pull-up bars and other basic machines next to Gordon Beach. Check out CrossFit Tel Aviv, a popular gym for young ex-pats living in the city, or Holmes Place, a more traditional gym.
Music: Tel Aviv has a great music scene, with big name artists and DJs frequently coming through. You’ll see advertisements for these DJs around beaches and bars, but most commonly through word of mouth. Check out The Barby, Tel Aviv’s oldest music venue, for lesser-known bands.
Museums: Also check out the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Design Museum in Holon, and the Palmach Museum. Nearby, the recently renovated Israel Museum in Jerusalem attracts over one million visitors a year and is a must-see.
Entertainment: Tel Aviv is Israel’s hot spot for the freshest plays, musicals, movie screenings, and stand-up comedy. A word of warning to expats, though, it’s all in Hebrew (unless it’s an American/UK film)! To really enjoy these typical Israeli events, you’ll have to pick up the local language.
Daily Excursions: With a beautiful beach and great nightlife, it’s easy to get stuck in the city and not venture off to see the rest of the country. However, transportation is accessible and cheap, and Israel is such a small country that you can see almost anything as a daytrip. Try a weekend hike on Yam-le-Yam, hiking from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean, or a trip down to Jerusalem for Shabbat once in a while. It’ll make coming back to Tel Aviv that much more special!