11 Reasons Why Tel Aviv is One of My Favorite Cities

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Listen, okay? Ever since I first visited Israel, I quickly fell in love with Tel Aviv. I don’t know what it is about the city specifically, but there has always been something special about that place. On my summer trip a few weeks back I fell in love (again) with the city that captured my heart years ago. It’s far from a cheap destination. Flights to Tel Aviv aren’t usually cheap, and the city is often as expensive or more expensive than its European counterparts. Barcelona is a frequent comparison. But despite its price, Tel Aviv is one helluva city—with so many different things to offer.

And there are always ways to find a deal in Tel Aviv—try Travless.com (a Tel Aviv startup) for local discounts on restaurants and experiences or check some of the local blogs like DIY Tel Aviv. Regardless of the cost to travel to Tel Aviv, here’s why it’s still one of my favorite cities…

Love Tel Aviv

1. Tel Aviv is small

Tel Aviv is one of those cities that’s very much a city (it’s got nightlife, 24/7 shops, plenty of options for every type of resident) but it’s also very much like a village. The city is walkable when it’s not sweltering hot outside, and it’s certainly not very hard to get around. It’s one of those small cities with a big city heart—where you just might run into your friends at the same cafe or patio bar.

2. Tel Aviv is BIG

While its’ population and size may be small, its’ heart & soul is certainly big. Despite its small city feeling, Tel Aviv gets a whole range of amazing live music gigs from around the world. This summer, bands the likes of The XX, PSY (Gangam Style, hey!) and Alicia Keys all have upcoming gigs in Tel Aviv.

tel aviv nightlife

3. The nightlife, OMG, the nightlife!

With a famously hedonistic society, Tel Aviv knows how to have a good time. Forgetting about their surroundings and ignoring everything outside “the bubble” is practically a past-time for Tel Avivians. Just imagine a city full of clubs with top-notch DJs that doesn’t seem to have a single care in the world. Then throw in a hot climate, some scantily-clad men & women and one of the Mediterranean’s prettiest beaches—and you’ve got Tel Aviv. It also helps that with such a beautiful climate, much of the nightlife happens outside or on rooftops (or even the beach).

4. 24-hour city

There’s something special about a city where you can buy sushi at 4 a.m. In Tel Aviv, there are several places to buy sushi in the middle of the night. (I quite like the kiosk at Allenby & Rothschild).

5. So much art

With seemingly endless galleries to visit, a handful of world-class museums (I’m partial to the Design Museum), Tel Aviv seems to attract many creative and inspirational artists. Many of Israel’s art students base themselves in Tel Aviv following graduation. Add in some international flair and you’ve got all the ingredients for an art hub. If you’re looking for the latest on art galleries in Tel Aviv, check out the Oh So Arty blog & Facebook page.

israeli salad

6. The food, glorious food

What is it about the Middle East and why is their food so damn good?! I’m not sure if it’s the spices, the fresh ingredients or the unique mix of flavors, but whatever it is — it’s delicious and I want it in my tummy. Tel Aviv is as popular for its international cuisine (for some reason, Tel Avivians love their sushi), but there are plenty of Israeli and Middle Eastern restaurants in the city worth checking out. And don’t think it’s all just shawarma and falafel. There’s also shakshuka, burekas, sabich, scnitzel, salads and so much more. Tel Avivians also seem to follow chefs as if they’re celebrities, and you’ll hear many names being dropped at the table. If restaurants aren’t necessarily you’re thing, EatWith is a popular service in Tel Aviv where you can pay to join a meal with some locals.

tel-aviv-beach

7. The beach, obviously

There’s something special about a city with sand, sea and skyscrapers. National Geographic even named Tel Aviv one of the top 10 beach cities in the world this year. Plus, the beach promenade is such an awesome pedestrian space whether you’re into people-watching, jogging, or gulping down a cheap falafel sandwich.

hotel-alma

8. Shopping and style

Tel Avivians may not be the most stylish (they live on a beach, remember?), but that doesn’t mean the city isn’t home to some of the region’s best fashion. Tel Aviv straddles the Middle East and Europe — not quite as on the edge as Istanbul, but with the city’s cosmopolitan feeling and laid-back, live-life atmosphere, Tel Avivians know how to shop. It’s not the cheapest place in the world, but with Europe’s hottest fashion chains and a number of boutique shops (try Shenkin Street), Tel Aviv definitely has its own sense of style.

gay tel aviv

9. Where two boys can hold hands

Thanks to propaganda and much forward planning, Tel Aviv has transformed itself into one of the world’s top-rated, gay-friendly cities. While Israel still doesn’t recognize a lot of rights for their LGBT citizens (among other groups), Tel Aviv itself is a safe and fun place to be gay. There are only just a few gay bars and clubs, but there’s always something to do every night. And walking down the street, you’re more than likely to publicly spot gay and lesbian couples in Tel Aviv.

cold coffee

10. Cold Coffee

This may seem like a strange thing to love about a city, but Tel Aviv seriously knows how to make a great cup of cold coffee. In the Middle East, it’s almost necessary, and Tel Aviv offers up two varieties: a cold coffee (espresso with milk over ice) or a frappe-like coffee milkshake. You can’t go wrong with either when it’s sweltering hot outside.

Tel Aviv street art

11. Bikes everywhere

Despite the hot, hot, hot weather, Tel Avivians still manage to get up on their bikes. Probably because most people are going out in the evening anyways. Parties don’t start until late, and with a bike-rental system, getting around Tel Aviv is relatively easy.

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Have you been to Tel Aviv or do you live there? What’s your relationship like with the city? I know it’s not perfect, and many of these reasons might be seen as a negative rather than a positive (there is sand EVERYWHERE and you’ll never stop sweating!), but Tel Aviv is still a city I love to return to.

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30 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Looking at booking a ticket now! Thanks

  2. reading the anti-semitic comments to this article on another site, i think reason number 12, at least, should be the lack of anti-semitic assholes in tel aviv. i believe that’s a substantial part of where that feeling of well-being most people have in tel aviv comes from. sad.

  3. yo! adam,
    your 11 reasons made me jump on the hype train to TLV! i already made up my mind on NYE to go there, but now i am just ultra excited :)
    cheers for this mouth watering blog!

  4. great reasons ,and these makes me super excited to visit this place.just faboulus

  5. Being able to hold hands is very important to us as a same-sex couple….. good iced coffee is pretty important too :)

  6. Agree with all your reasons! I’m half Israeli and lived in central TA for 6 years…Such a cool place with awesome people. sigh!

  7. I love Tel Aviv-my sister and her husband and my nephew are there, my Mom moved there when she was 84 (and passed away there. The beach is pure magic-water is nice, and you can walk a few miles on the boardwalk to the ancient city of Jaffa-an artsy place, home to both Jewish and Arab people. You can sit on the beach and buy beer or snacks, and they have sun shelters.
    I used to stay at the Gordon Inn (a hostel) near the beach. I do miss the Irish bar they used to have at the Gordon, though. You could access it through a kind of hall or tunnel.

    • I’ve seen the Gordon Inn before, Anne but never stayed there. I’ve previously stayed at the Florentin Hostel and, when I was there this summer, at the ArtPlus Hotel.

      I really love Jaffa as well. In fact, I think I probably enjoy that area more – the bars are more hip and cool and the food is really great in Jaffa. Do you happen to know of any good guest houses or hostels in Jaffa?

  8. Great post, we shared it too

  9. I live in Tel Aviv and love it. I don’t take advantage of the night life much (you know, kids), but I love the seaside promenade, the weather, the restaurants – oh boy, do I love the restaurants! – and the cultural scene here: classical concerts, operas, jazz, folk and many other kinds of music, plays, dance performances, and as the author mentioned, museums. There is also lots of free music, i.e. jazz in the street, and child-friendly activities. And for me, most of it is within walking distance. It would be perfect if buses also ran on Shabat.

    • Sounds like you’re really living it up Susan. I think Tel Aviv has such a great energy and vibe — it’s a great city. I also agree with you: would be great if buses ran on Shabat but at the very least there are the sheruts…or a bicycles!

  10. First of all: loved this post, and I am feeling quite flattered by it even, as a Tel Aviv resident.
    Second of all: I must say I adore all the things you mentioned about Tel Aviv as well, except for the bikes! I don’t ride a bike in the city myself, and find a lot of the bicyclist quite annoying! So I’d remove no 11 from your list, otherwise it’s just perfect!

  11. I really enjoyed reading it and the photos reminded me 5 days which we spent there. Indeed, the food is terrific, even hotel breakfasts. They served marinated fish, a kind of herring, very tasty, the same as goat cheese. We felt in love with the old Jaffa distric.

  12. I’ve long been convinced you and I are compatible travel buddies with our mutual love for Berlin, Tel Aviv, Miami and soon-to-be Nashville… ;-)

    • After this past weekend in Miami I definitely have to agree with you Kristin! Wish we had more time there to hang out, but I’m sure I’ll see you in Nashville sometime :)

  13. You’ve just successfully made a city I’ve barely heard of shoot to the top of my radar of places I now have to visit. Excellent work sir. I’ll be honest, I love sushi, a lot. So the fact that I can get sushi at any hour is a pretty huge attraction to me all on it’s own, but it definitely seems as if there is plenty to see and do in Tel Aviv. Thanks for sharing this destination!

    • Hahha – I’m glad the sushi part stood out :)

      Let me know if you need any other tips for visiting Tel Aviv. I’m publishing plenty more blogs about Israel & Palestine over the coming month.

  14. I’ve heard good things about Tel Aviv – but I’m not sold on your cold coffee suggestions – a coffee with milk in it is not coffee. How good is the strong stuff?

  15. Everyone from Israel is from Tel Aviv!

  16. Adam you’re right about Tel Aviv being such an amazing place. I liked it so much that I’ve been here (formerly from the Bronx) since 1967. Let me add a few more great things about Tel Aviv. (1) Almost everyone speaks English (2) all street signs are in English so it’s really easy getting around (3) good public transportation is available daily and bus stops have route maps in English (4) people are warm and helpful (5) crime is minimal (6) the Middle East conflict is not evident normally – so visiting is very comfortable. Locals on the other hand listen with concern to the radio news a few times a day. Now if the pols could only get their act together…

    • Great additions Harold! I don’t necessarily agree about the public transportation in Tel Aviv – it’s good but fairly unwieldy (and confusing) for many tourists. Though I think it is definitely better than when I visited a few years back.

      Couldn’t agree more about the Israeli politicians! Can be so frustrating…

  17. The photos are spectacular! Congratulations! The photo with tomato and cucumber was a painting. We do not imagine that Tel Aviv has all this beauty. Many conflicts and war, but the beauty never goes away!
    Great post.
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    Cheers!
    Renan Ferrer

    • Thank you Renan – very kind!

  18. A friend of mine has recently returned from Tel Aviv and said it was the best city he has every visited – and he has been to many cities! Might have to put it on my travel wishlist, not least because of its beach.

    • The TLV beach is incredible! Glad to hear your friend had the same feelings about the city.

  19. Wow. I had no idea that Tel Aviv was such a modern, hip place.

    • Yes – many people are often surprised by it! Sometimes I worry that I’m revealing a great secret, but I’m happy to share the best travel tips :)

  20. Alright, you got me…adding it to the list….

    • It’s really and truly an incredible destination – maybe not for traditional touristic purposes, but it’s certainly not boring!

  21. I would love to go there, you really make me want it more!

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