I landed in Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport at 3pm, caught the train and public bus to my hostel- Little Tel Aviv Hostel, checked in and then headed straight onto the beach for an incredible sunset.
Within the 3 hours i had been in the city i had already fallen in love and was thinking about extending my stay from 3 nights to 4.
Now, initially Israel gets a negative reaction from people due to the media and to be honest until a few months ago i didn’t even know what was in the Country worth visiting, but after some research i decided i really wanted to go and the more i heard about Tel Aviv the more i couldn’t wait to visit!
Tel Aviv is an incredibly young city, its vibrant, open minded, diverse and it has a city meets beach vibe going on which is my favourite!
I ended up extending my stay which meant that i had 3 full days in the city and i managed the perfect balance of exploring in the morning and hitting the beach in the afternoon!
Tel Aviv is full of different neighbourhoods so during my time i tried to see as much of these as possible which is what i spent my mornings doing. I walked up Rothschild Boulevard in the sunshine watching people go about their day, meeting friends for coffee and walking their dogs (everyone seems to be walking their dog in this city!).
I enjoyed wandering the streets of the Carmel market, the sellers were shouting of course but at everyone and not at me in particular so i got to have a good look at all the things they were selling from clothes to olives, and sweets to cheese!
I walked up King George Street and Dizengoff street where i admired all the lovely shops and even more coffee shops (Israeli’s like their coffee!) and saw a flea market which was pretty cool although once again due to my bag already being full i didn’t buy anything. I found some pretty cool street art which is what the city is also known for.
One morning i visited Jaffa which is South of the city, Jaffa is said to be the oldest inhabited place in the world which is pretty incredible if you ask me. I did a free walking tour around the old city where we learnt lots of facts like how the most popular building to get married in there used to be a brothel and how much Jaffa and Jerusalem are connected as the port in Jaffa was used by the people of Jerusalem who have no access to the sea.
Our guide also explained/ apologised to us about the Israeli way of pushing in in queues, barging into each other on the street and not saying sorry. He knows us tourists and especially Europeans get upset over this and the old phase of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ came about which i found pretty funny. This is one of the reasons i love walking tours as the guides are always a fountain of information and know how we feel as tourists to their country.
Jaffa was probably a highlight for me, for the few hours i was there i felt a world away from the busy streets and big buildings of Tel Aviv city and i really felt like i’d stepped back in time. There’s also great views out into the ocean from here.
In the afternoons i headed to the beach to enjoy the afternoon sun and then watch the sun dip into the ocean. In October the weather is perfect! It was reaching 28º during the day and then dropping to about 23º at night so it was an enjoyable temperature.
The beach gets pretty busy in the afternoon but there’s always space to lay your towel and go for a swim. As it was so late in the year the sun was setting at 18:10 and by this time a lot of people had left so you really could watch the sunset in peace which is something i love doing.
In between the exploring and sunbathing i found some good food finds.. of course there’s lots of Falafel, i found Acai which i hadn’t had since Brazil and i found an amazing ice cream place called Cookeez where you have an ice-cream and cookie sandwich!! There’s also lots of fresh fruit juice stands, even more ice cream shops and plenty of nice restaurants too!
I didn’t get to experience the nightlife of Tel Aviv but that wasn’t what i was here for so its ok.. although i heard its a lot of fun!
Tel Aviv without doubt has become one of my favourite cities, i realised not long ago that i love cities that have enough infrastructure for tourists to get around with enough people speaking English yet you don’t constantly see hoards of tourists in groups following a guide with a headset and when a city is the local people’s city and we’re just here to observe and look around, rather than the city being designed for tourists. This was also the reason i loved Santiago and Budapest.
I mainly decided to come to Israel to visit Jerusalem but i’m so glad i managed 4 nights in this city!
Little Tel Aviv Hostel was one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in, i 100% recommend it. Really helpful staff, a great common area, comfy beds and clean bedrooms and bathrooms! Dorm rooms range from £17-£21 a night.
English is commonly spoken around the city so its easy to order food or ask for directions.
There are lots of buses which are easy to use but everything is in walking distance and from walking you end up discovering some great streets and neighbourhoods.
It is a pretty expensive city. Tel Aviv is definitely not a poor place but going to the beach and walking around is free and i ate small meals (mainly falafel and ice cream!) and brought stuff from the supermarket so i didn’t end up spending that much money.
No matter what the news says about Israel and what is happening in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Palestine, this will not be affecting Tel Aviv so don’t let it put you off visiting!