If you’re looking for a city that’s got it all, look no further than Tel Aviv. Kilometres of immaculate beach and pristine shoreline fringe a city that celebrates its ancient history without compromising on a flourishing modern-day culture. This is a city that is infused with both history and hedonism, a tangible contrast that gives Tel Aviv an exciting edge.
Situated as it is on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv enjoys good weather almost all year round, making it a perfect travel destination. Whether you’re after a day at the beach, a culture trip, or a non-stop party, Tel Aviv can deliver. There are more than a dozen beaches to choose from, so you’re bound to find the perfect spot to spend a day in the sun. If you’re not keen on lying around, there are plenty of watersports to try out along the busier beaches near the centre, and there are some great surfing spots further out. For a true touch of the wild, some beaches are “undeclared,” which means there are no facilities nor any lifeguards around. Others boast some of the best amenities a beach could possibly offer, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, and beach sports, and you’re never far away from a decent bar.
If you’re more interested in history and archeology, old Tel Aviv is a rich tapestry of exquisitely restored buildings and religious landmarks, nestled throughout the many cobblestone alleyways that make up much of the old city. Spend a day wandering in and out of tiny hidden coffee shops on your way past beautiful mosques, synagogues, and ancient churches. For those who have a soft spot for early 20th century architecture and modernist design, Tel Aviv’s renowned “White City” is an enormous collection of unique Bauhaus buildings. Significant efforts have been made to keep them well-preserved, with only a few modifications in some areas, leaving Tel Aviv with a truly authentic architectural centre.
For the partygoers, the action never ends. Cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has developed a fantastic arts and cultural scene— with the nightlife to match. The city is very flat, and has excellent public transportation connections, so it’s easy to get around. What makes this even more exciting is that each district of the city is very distinct from the next, so depending on your tastes or what mood you’re in, it’s easy to hop around and try out new areas. Each area has its own unique character, offering its own special blend of nighttime entertainment options: dive bars and upscale lounges, casual eateries and trendy restaurants all wrestle for elbow room. There are distinctly bohemian neighborhoods with hip cafes and coffee shops, while more upmarket areas lean towards chic cocktail bars and bistros.
Tel Aviv is a striking example of a cosmopolitan city with deeply historic roots, with plenty to do, see, and learn. There’s also ample space to relax, too, so if you’re planning on staying for a while (and you’ll want to!), you can be sure to find the right lifestyle balance for you.
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Where to Stay in Tel Aviv
Although Tel Aviv is relatively small, the city is made up of a number of very distinct neighborhoods, each with their own unique character and charm. Because of the compact, yet diverse nature of the city, there’s a huge range of accommodation options in Tel Aviv — from high-end hotels, to beautiful single story houses in Neve Tzedek to pricey studio apartments and AirBnBs. When choosing where to stay, It’s important to remember that Tel Aviv is very flat, and most areas are easily accessible in about 15-20 minutes by bicycle or via the decent public transport system. Travellers wishing to stay longer in this vibrant city can easily find a spot to settle in, whether you’re a digital nomad searching for inspiration or a teacher looking for an international community.
Each neighborhood is popular in Tel Aviv’s thriving expat scene for different reasons, with some areas offering chic vibes and artsy hang-outs, and others retaining a rich sense of the city’s history and restoration. They’re all reasonably close together, and you can hop from district to district without much of a problem. The tower blocks in the suburbs north of Yarkon are further away from the centre, but they are known for a more relaxed pace of life and are popular among expats with families. Whatever kind of stay you want, there is a neighborhood with the right vibe for you.
[Top Pick] Jaffa: Not to be confused with the Old City of Jaffa, “new” Jaffa (also known as Yafo) is mostly residential, with varied communities made up of mostly Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It offers a wealth of beautiful green spaces, authentic restaurants, and historical buildings. It centres around the Jaffa Flea Market, which is truly an experience no matter how many times you go: packed to the rafters with bizarre and beautiful trinkets and treasures, this market never fails to delight.
[Second Pick] Neve Tzedek: One of the more expensive areas around Tel Aviv, Neve Tzedek offers quaint, single-story houses, elegantly renovated homes, and peaceful, tree-lined streets. Most places of interest are easily accessible from this chic, “village-vibe” neighborhood, such as good shopping, markets, and beaches.
[Third Pick] Florentin: It often feels like this buzzing neighbourhood never stops, with its diverse population of local families and foreign workers bumping elbows with resident hippies, artists, and designers. A lot of deliberate effort on the part of the city’s authorities has gone into gentrifying the area, which encouraged a lot of young creatives to move in and give Florentin a funky, artsy vibe.
Jaffa Old City: “Old Jaffa” refers to the stunning old port and beautifully restored historical buildings in an area full of archaeological and architectural delights amongst cobblestone streets. Sandstone alleyways wind their way through a veritable maze of synagogues, churches, and mosques, offering a feeling of peace and quiet for those wishing to stay outside of the bustling city.
Kerem Hateimanim (Yemenite Quarter): Founded in the 1930s by immigrants from Yemen, in recent years, the quarter became popular with the more bohemian population of Tel Aviv who moved in looking for more affordable housing. A small but historical district with some beautifully renovated buildings on display, this neighborhood hasn’t lost its authentic charm.
Merkaz Halr (Central Tel Aviv): One of Tel Aviv’s more “urban” neighborhoods, a stay in Merkaz Halr will leave you with a true impression of what this city really stands for. There is plenty to see and visit, as this district is home to the Museum of Art, the Israeli Opera, and the Municipal Library. Widely regarded as the heart of Tel Aviv, it also offers an eclectic mix of dive bars and high-end designer stores.
Lev Halr: Also known as “The White City,” this area of Tel Aviv boasts an impressive array of architecture, with older buildings, beautiful Bauhaus buildings, and newer structures all on proud display. Meanwhile, the side streets of the big neighborhood offer some respite from the hustle of the rest of the city, which is perfect if you’re looking for a quieter stay in Tel Aviv. One of the more “touristy” areas, Lev Halr has some good shopping, dining, and drinking options, too.
Amaji: Culturally rich and historically prominent, Amaji is an often overlooked but friendly neighborhood with exquisitely restored ottoman homes basking in the Mediterranean sun. A walk along the peaceful beaches and laid back promenades leads to some great seafood restaurants, too.
Hatsafon Hayashan (The Old North): For a quieter stay with a more upmarket feel, consider Hatsafon Hayashan. This affluent district is more family-oriented, as it is located further away from the hip party areas and offers some good schools and kindergartens. It provides a good balance between the urban and the suburban, with plenty of quality cafes and some nice bars.
Shapira: Considered by some to be one of the more “controversial” neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, and by others simply one of the more eclectic, Shapira certainly does offer a different take on the city. This southern district is home to a diverse range of people from different races, religions, and ethnicities, and for this reason, there’s a strong feeling of community. There’s lots of space for artists of all sorts, musicians, performers, and gatherings of creative, like-minded people.
Montefiore: Balancing the old and the new, Montefiore is a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic Templar buildings. A neighborhood of contrasts, this district offers good quality cafes along the sidewalks of cool, leafy streets, while the diverse residents mingle together and take in avant-garde open-air performances in the evenings.
Getting a Visa to Tel Aviv
The type of Israeli visa you need will depend on your nationality, purpose of travel, and length of stay in Israel. Obtaining an Israeli visa is normally a hassle-free process, but different visa applications require different sets of documentation, so it’s important to know which visa you require and plan ahead accordingly. You might also discover that you don’t need to apply for a visa at all.
Types of Israeli Visas:
Visa on Arrival (Tourist Visa): If you’re a traveller from one of 70+ countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the majority of Europe, you do not need to apply for a visa before you travel. Instead, you will be issued with a Tourist Visa (valid for up to 3 months) free of charge upon your arrival at every port or entrance terminal into Israel.
Student Visa (A/2): If you’d like to study at a recognised academic institution in Israel, you can apply for a one-year multiple-entry Student Visa which will allow you to do so. During the application process, you’ll be asked to provide evidence of acceptance at a recognised institution of education, proof of financial sustenance for the duration of the course, passport with at least one year validity, passport photographs, and a completed application form. Minors will only be issued a visa with written consent from both parents or a legal guardian.
Clergy Visa (A/3): The Clergy Visa can be obtained by clergymen visiting Israel to conduct clerical duties and requires an invitation from a recognised religious institution in Israel. The application is made by the religious institution and must be approved by the Ministry of Interior (MOI). If there is no invitation by a religious institution, then the regular Visitor’s Visa (B/2) must be applied for.
Work Visa (B/1): For anyone wanting to take up an employment position in Israel, you must acquire a work permit and Work Visa. An application has to be made to the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry by your potential employer, and they will need to provide details about you, your qualifications, proposed salary, and evidence that there is no Israeli national suitable for the position. If this application is successful, the MOI will issue a work permit recommendation.
Once you have a work permit, you can apply for a visa recommendation at the Office of the Population Registrar. If all goes well, you can then apply for the Work Visa at the nearest Israeli embassy or consulate. Here, you’ll need to provide results of your medical examination, certificate of good conduct, and have your fingerprints and photo taken as part of your application. The visa will initially be valid for 30 days, so you will have to go to the MOI office in Tel Aviv to extend it. Work Visas usually allow you to work in Israel for five years.
Visitor’s Visa (B/2): The Visitor’s Visa is for anyone wanting to visit Israel for less than three months for the purposes of tourism, business, or to study in a Hebrew ulpan. To apply for this visa, you’ll need to supply your passport, two passport photographs, three months’ bank statements, plane tickets to and from Israel, a completed visa application form, and a small visa fee. This visa is valid for a 90-day stay in Israel.
Immigration Visa: The Immigration Visa is mainly for any Jewish person who wishes to return to their homeland, since every Jew has the right to immigrate to the state of Israel. Contact the aliya representative of the Jewish Agency in your local area to see if you qualify for this visa.
Other Israeli Visas: All other Israeli visas available are related to the visas already mentioned here.
A/1 Temporary Resident Visa (for those eligible for the Immigration Visa)
A/4 Visa (for spouses and children of recipients of the Clergy Visa or Student Visa)
For more information on these visas or any other visa mentioned on this page, contact your local Israeli embassy or consulate.
How to Extend Your Visa in Tel Aviv
If you’d like to extend your Visitor’s Visa or Tourist Visa, you’ll need to submit an application at the Population and Immigration Authority offices or at the Ministry of the Interior in Tel Aviv. For the application, you’ll need a passport with 6 months validity beyond that of your requested extension, a passport photo, proof of financial sustenance, and a plane ticket. You’ll also be asked for a letter explaining your extension request. Ministry of the Interior Tel Aviv: 125 Menachem Begin St.
Overstaying Your Visa in Tel Aviv: Overstaying occurs when you stay in Israel past the date permitted on your visa. This can result in fines, ban on entry, detainment, and deportation. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to rectify the situation as soon as possible by visiting the Ministry of the Interior. Always check the extension rules and regulations for your chosen visa so you can plan ahead.
NOTE: Remember that immigration rules and regulations change frequently and without notice so always check in with your consulate or embassy before making any travel plans.
Best Time to Visit Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv enjoys a Mediterranean climate, so the weather is generally very pleasant all year round. While there are certainly four distinct seasons throughout the year, temperatures usually don’t fall dramatically during winter but can reach blistering highs during the summer months. Spring and autumn are generally acknowledged as being the most agreeable times to visit Tel Aviv, as they are outside of the peak tourist seasons, and the weather remains pleasantly mild.
December – February: Known as Tel Aviv’s “rainy season,” the winter months can be a bit on the wet side, but temperatures don’t tend to drop that much. In fact, from December to February, Tel Aviv welcomes another influx of tourists, mostly northern Europeans in search of warmer climes for their winter holidays. Make sure to book accommodation in advance just in case.
March – April: Spring in Tel Aviv is a real treat, with comfortable temperatures making it the perfect time to sit outside with a coffee, or wander outdoors and see what the city has to offer. If you’re there in March, you’ll be able to catch the Jewish Purim festival, when the streets of cities all over Israel come to life with parades and street parties. Tel Aviv is certainly no exception.
May-August: The summer months are of course the hottest for Tel Aviv, and from June to August, the city bakes under the heat of the Mediterranean sun. This doesn’t put off the hordes of travelers on summer vacation, however; summer is still known as a “peak” season, as crowds of tourists determined to get a tan descend upon the city’s beaches. Expect prices to be a little higher and attractions a little more busy from as early as May until the end of August when it starts to cool down.
September – November: Like spring, autumn in Tel Aviv is also immensely enjoyable. By now, most of the summer tourists will have headed home with their tans, leaving the city comfortably cool and peaceful. Beachside real estate eases up a little, and hotel prices drop. While these are also the months of the Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), many locals and visitors in Israel tend to travel to Jerusalem instead. You can expect a slight increase in city traffic and airfares, but nothing too serious.
Best Festivals in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a modern, spiritual, and vibrant city that always has an event going on. For those travellers looking to delve deep into a friendly, liberal atmosphere, Tel Aviv is the perfect place to go. No matter what festival you attend, it’s sure to be an unmissable party.
Tel Aviv Volume (January):– Tel Aviv Volume is both a festival and a conference that focuses on electronic dance music. Participants can enjoy a platform to network, conduct business, and attend workshops by local and international industry figures.
Zeekook Festival (February): This is a unique music festival that celebrates the top of the local indie scene. There are two stages, and when one performance ends, another one begins immediately on the opposite stage. Visitors will be constantly surrounded by different waves of music.
The Wave Festival (March): In this festival, visitors can experience a positive safe space where everyone is free to express themselves through any means. There will be food circles, closing and opening ceremonies, powerful workshops, and music to invoke different senses.
Purim (March): Purim is a festival that celebrates the Jewish people in the Persian Empire’s survival. The whole country gets in the party mood, and Tel Aviv is no exception. There is the Tel Aviv Purim Street Party, Purim Circus Part, Purim ‘70s street party, and much more.
ALMA Festival (March): Only 500 people will attend this festival where the main stage showcases electronic and DJ sets, and the Atmos stage showcases alternative live music. Visitors will also be able to attend workshops and a psychedelic art gallery.
Sacred Journey Festival (March): The Sacred Journey Festival, which takes place outside of Tel Aviv, focuses on making sure the crowds become a community. Visitors will be able to take part in spiritual workshops, a party, dancing, and a wakening journey of life and charm.
Doof Festival (April): One of Israel’s biggest trance music festivals promises a non-stop 72-hour music festival. There will be over 50 top Israeli and international DJs. Visitors should bring their own tents and expect a little rain.
The Sufi Festival (April): The Sufi Festival is just outside Tel Aviv and was created to acknowledge the Sufi culture, and the art and wisdom that has been passed down generations. There will be 6 different activity areas for master classes, music, performances, food, and a chance to learn more about the Sufi culture.
Dance for Life (April): This festival was created purely with the intention of being together and enjoying ourselves. Visitors can expect international DJs, varied workshops, lectures, a therapeutic spa center, reggae music, and various arts and exhibits. The finale sunrise event will top the whole experience off.
EPOS International Art Film Festival (April): The International Art Film Festival is Israel’s only art film festival. It will feature just under 50 films from Israel and around the world. Workshops, master classes, lectures, and conversations with filmmakers will also take place.
Independence Day (May): One of the largest national festivals in Israel. The streets become one big playground filled with live music, food stalls, cotton candy, and a lot of spray paint. And, of course, there is a fireworks display that’s worth the wait.
Docaviv (May): Docaviv is the International Documentary Film Festival. Visitors can enjoy a screen of over 110 new documentaries from Israel and abroad. There will be four competitions to be won as well as workshops and meetings with the world’s leading documentary filmmakers.
Menashe Forest Festival (May): This is a 3-day festival with live performances from over 80 Israeli bands across all genres. Visitors can enjoy two main stages as well as workshops, stalls, and art zones.
Open House Tel Aviv (May): This is a weekend festival that showcases architecture, interior design, and landscape gardening. Visitors will be able to marvel at the incredible architectural design of some of the most historical houses in Tel Aviv.
HaYarkon Dragon Boat Festival (May): The HaYarkon Dragon Boat Festival celebrates China, Israeli style. There will be boats disguised as dragons accompanied by Chinese music in the background.
Tel Aviv Pride (June): During Tel Aviv Pride, the city comes to life with colours. Locals and tourists from all over the world come together in a celebration of love. After a parade through the city centre, there will be a beach party where visitors can enjoy live shows, bars, and all the beaches have to offer.
TLVFest (June): TLVFest is the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, which purchases the theatrical rights of selected LBGTQ international films and distributes them in Israel. Public screenings will be held, along with panel discussions and special events.
Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival (June): Since 1986, this festival has had the idea of promoting academic artistry. More than 250 films from over 70 film schools from all over the world are shown. There will also be cinematic events, workshops, master classes, parties, and exhibitions.
White Night Tel Aviv (June): Tel Aviv White Night Festival is one of the city’s largest cultural events of the year. Shops and restaurants do not close; stores that usually close at 10pm remain open until 6am. It’s a time for music and dancing all night long.
Tel Aviv Blues Summer Festival (July): This festival takes place at venues across the city and is organized by blues fans and musicians alike. Shows are generally free of charge. Be prepared to have a lot of fun.
Icon Festival (October): This sci-fi conference takes place every year. This event is perfect for roleplaying and fantasy lovers and encourages participants to dress up as their favourite fictional characters for a chance to win the costume contest.
Cycle Tel Aviv (October): A festival for cycling lovers. Cycle Tel Aviv (or Sovev Tel Aviv) provides 3 different routes for participants to choose from. It’s a great chance to explore the city from a different point of view.
Tune in Tel Aviv (November): This 5-day event features concerts and talks in bars and venues across Tel Aviv. Visitors can expect Israel’s top up-and-coming bands to perform. There will also be a conference where some of the industry’s most important players present.
Tel Aviv Open Restaurants Festival (November): Every year, over 70 Tel Aviv restaurants open their doors for 4 days. Visitors are offered the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes of the restaurants in Tel Aviv. There will be culinary workshops and guided tours by chefs.
Note: Some of the dates and locations may change. Be sure to double check the exact dates before planning your trip.
Tal Gur is a world traveler and personal development enthusiast. An adventurer at heart, after trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, Tal spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey continues as a location-independent blogger, lifestyle entrepreneur, and coach. Tal’s published two books: One Year to Freedom, a 1-Year Roadmap to Living Life on Your Own Terms; and, his most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living – 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World.