In Tel Aviv, colorful markets, the buzzing street food scene and trendy cafés are hopping at all hours of the day and night. There are also beautiful beaches and art museums to discover in this tiny city, which is big on living it up. Here are 10 attractions that prove that Tel Aviv is one of the world’s hottest destinations.
Shop the Shuk
Shuk HaCarmel — the Carmel Market — is a huge outdoor market filled with endless rows of everything from fresh juicy tomatoes and the best local street food to trinkets and desserts that you can’t find anywhere else. Admire the rainbow of vibrant halva (a Middle Eastern dessert similar to a floral meringue), Moroccan sweets, fluffy zaatar-filled pizzas, cheeses and exotic fruits.
To eat your way through the market, wander through each aisle, stopping to grab a bite to share with friends. Don’t miss the burika vendor, frying up this thin pastry filled with eggs, potatoes and hot sauces — just make sure to bring cash.
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Get Inspired at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
This museum is the leading institution in Tel Aviv for discovering Israeli and international contemporary art. Ranging from early 20th-century works to modern pieces, the collections run the gamut from photography and drawings to architecture and more.
The most recent wing (built in 2011) is the Herta and Paul Amir Building, designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen. This five-story complex is made up of rectangular halls connected by bridges, which reflect off each other to create an enlightening combination of movement and light — it’s a pinnacle of modern architecture.
Revel in Old World Charm
The beauty of the old and the new come together in Jaffa, the southern (and oldest) part of Tel Aviv. Stroll through the city, grab lunch in a rustic café and discover adorable boutiques owned by budding local designers alongside shops selling historic trinkets.
Be sure to visit the bustling old school flea market known as Shuk HaPishpeshim, filled with antiques and one-of-a-kind housewares, including pots, pans and dishes that are hard to come by elsewhere.
Stop by the Jaffa Clock Tower — a must-see landmark — and then stroll down to Old Jaffa to take in the beauty of its winding alleys and myriad art galleries. Don’t miss the Ilana Goor Museum, a fascinating gallery filled with more than 500 works by both the Israeli artist and others collected from all over the world. While the exhibits inside are intriguing, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the building’s Instagram-worthy view of the Mediterranean.
Stroll the Along the Waterfront
The nearly nine-mile-long Tel Aviv promenade is a bustling spot for the entire family to take in the city’s vibrant vibe. With the beautiful sea as your backdrop, the port known as the Namal is a popular place to stroll, jog or bike.
Don’t forget to stop into Shuk HaNamal, a compact indoor market teeming with fresh produce, tiny eateries and shops. On Fridays and Saturdays, you’ll find additional artisans stands here, too. Seafood lovers will want to stop into Sherry Herring, a herring-focused sandwich joint created by Sherry Ansky, one of Israel’s most prominent food journalists.
The waterfront walkway also offers endless climbing structures and games for families, and Fridays and Saturdays are packed with outdoor shows and activities.
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Meet the Locals
Want to bring home a distinctive souvenir? Then make your way to the Nachlat Binyamin Arts and Crafts fair, where every Tuesday and Friday, more than 220 local artisans showcase their handmade works.
Located just a block away from the Carmel Market, this massive emporium seems to be never-ending, with rows upon rows of handmade signs, purses, canvases and jewelry, as well as live street performances and music.
For a treat, pop into artisan gelato shop Arte Glideria or sit down for lunch at Ha Basta, a restaurant loved by the locals for its farm-to-fork cuisine.
Savor Local Flavors in Sarona
Few places showcase the renaissance of Tel Aviv quite like picturesque Sarona, a more than 140-year-old former Templar colony. This stunning, stroll-worthy outdoor area is a hub for hanging out, shopping and endless eating.
Taste from Israel’s best at Sarona Market, a 93,646-square-foot food hall that houses more than 90 stores, including cheese shops, halva stands and even restaurants owned by the country’s top chefs. Select your favorite offerings from each place and sip wine as you wander. With lily pads, picnic tables and climbing structures for kids, it’s where you should go for a Saturday outing, when much of the city is closed.
Discover Magical Neve Tzedek
Make like the locals and spend your day browsing one of the most romantic neighborhoods in the city. Winding streets are lined with fashionable boutiques and colorful buildings with a bohemian vibe, revealing Tel Aviv’s architectural beauty.
Visit the Nahum Gutman Museum of Art to see whimsical illustrations. Pop into Anita for gelato that look sas good as it tastes before continuing your walk to HaTachana, Tel Aviv’s old railway station that has been repurposed into a trendy complex with shops, eateries, local art and Old World charm.
Get Fit on the Beach
A favorite pastime in Tel Aviv is hanging out at the beach — and with so many stretches of sand to choose from, you can rest assured that you’ll always find a spot with a cold drink to sip on and waves lapping at your feet.
Get refreshed with a limonana (a lemonade slushy mixed with mint), play Matkot (Israel’s national sport, similar to beach paddle ball) or get your workout in at one of the gyms situated right on the sand.
Want to get really fit? Rent one of the Tel-O-Fun ride-share bikes and pedal down the shoreline. Finish your ride with a CrossFit-style workout right in front of the Renaissance Hotel at the free outdoor gym that has everything from a climbing rope to resistance machines and bars for pull-ups.
Snack on Chef-Style Street Food
Though top-notch street food is everywhere in the city, we like to graze at Miznon. Led by one of Israel’s most prominent chefs and TV personalities, Eyal Shani, this pita-focused eatery is the place to discover the frenetic flavors of Tel Aviv.
From steak and eggs to kebabs and shakshuka, it’s all overflowing from a handmade and fluffy pita. Vegetarians will love the whole roasted cauliflower — this is street food with a lively ambiance and endless refills of spicy salads, all served up with an authentic vibe.
Discover Bohemian Tel Aviv
Follow the aroma of spices to Levinsky Market, a collection of food shops that reveal the charm of old-school Tel Aviv. This is the no-frills way to discover local fare and culture, and it has become a trendy neighborhood in recent years — pick up treats and strolling alongside young, bearded residents and their dogs, who thrive in this relaxed corner of the city.
Walk around until you find yourself in Florentin, a neighborhood frequented by locals. Filled with bars, laid-back eateries and adorable art galleries, it’s the ideal spot for a casual night out. Sign up for one of the local graffiti tours or just admire the colorful walls on your own.