It’s funny how the world paints a picture of a place and once you’re there -BOOM. I was pretty ignorant to how this travel was going to blow my mind.When people ask me which is one the cities you’d want to live in – Tel-aviv is an easy podium finish answer. I was dumbfounded by the beauty of this city – a very interesting mix of traditional and modern city life!
If you’re reading this, you probably already know of Israel’s famous security check. If not, you must read this:
Getting around from Ben Gurion Airport to the City Centre
The airport is not located too far from the city centre (15 kms) but I decided to take the train. I knew I would be using a lot of public transport for the next few days in Tel-aviv and decided to purchase the public transport card [RAV KAV] and loaded some money onto it. The cards are available in the card vending machine just before the main exit of the airport. Once you purchase the card, follow the directions to the train station located on the lower basement of the airport – Check into the system and enter Platform 1 to catch your train to Tel Aviv Savidor centre. My flight landed around 9:30 pm but there were people stationed near the check-in counter before Platform 1 to help with the card issues. I reached my destination within 15-20 minutes and checked out on the card.
Please make sure that your date of arrival into Israel isn’t on a Friday as no trains will be functional during SHABBAT (Friday evening through Saturday evening).
Getting around in the city centre
Tel-aviv is quite well connected by buses and you should be able to reach all your desired destinations within a stones throw away. Uber was not an option. However, you do not feel the need to rely on the Ubers and Lyfts because the city is quite well-connected!
What to do in Tel aviv
- City tour – A good city tour is one of the best ways to explore the city. The hotel I stayed in (and most hotels in Tel-aviv) will have a complimentary city tour including a visit to a diamond factory. Most likely also sponsored by such diamond factories 🙂 The tour is quite informative if you have a good tour guide who takes you around the various attractions such as Rothschild Boulevard, Rabin square etc. Tel-aviv’s diamonds are quite famous and also the fact that you may be almost lured into buying one. True story, but I saved myself.
- Biking is way more common than you think – If you are around the Tel-aviv beach, you would be surprised to see the number of bikes doing the rounds. Biking is WAY more popular than you would imagine. (I say this despite living in Amsterdam). Its easier to pick up a bike at various locations – use your travel card to unlock the bikes at the unmanned counters.
- THE BEACH – Spend your time at the beach! You will now people take their fitness very seriously when you see the open gym on the beach! It only makes more sense when you know that serving the Israeli army is a mandate for every Israeli citizen (Jewish?). 2 years for the women and almost 3 years for the men. The Beach is testament to this fact. *wide grin*
- Jaffas old city and port – Visit one of the oldest port cities in the world! Its delightful to see this part of Israel which looks very limestone-y, untouched on one had whereas it has skyscrapers on the other.
- Gay pride parade – Until I travelled to Tel-Aviv, I would’ve imagined Israel to be conservative with regard to the LGBTQ rights, until I witnessed the gay pride. Also, Tel-Avis is Middle east’s LQBTQ capital. The buildings around the parade walk was lit up, decorated and was quite a frenzy!
- Carmel market – Who doesn’t love markets! From the chatu-chak of Bangkok to the Carmel market of Tel-aviv, I want it all. It’s the best way to pick up souvenirs and try the local food! Some of the shops such as those selling fresh juice can be a lot more pricey than you’d think! Always check before you order – lesson learnt. I paid around 40 shekels (10 EUR) for a small glass of pomegranate juice. Ouch.
- Dizenghoff Centre – If you want to kill some time, check out this mall which houses atleast 420 stores. If you go around the afternoon, you’d be lucky to also try vendors sell local delicacies in carts inside the Dizenghoff hallways. Easiest way to try some local food!
- Night life – Tel-aviv has one of the best nightlife scenes and there are various offerings from tour guides to book pub crawls. I missed out on this one for want of time – I hope you get to enjoy it.
- Day trips from Tel-aviv – Travel to Masada, Dead sea and Jerusalem. There are numerous offerings on this one and this is the service provider we used BeinHarim. We were lucky to have a wonderful tour guide who took us around the various tourist attractions and also to one of the best.
- Day trips from Tel-aviv – Travel to Palestine. Travelling to Palestine and could be a little sensitive. We relied on Elijah Tours & Travels to guide us from Tel-aviv to Palestine and safely back (5/5 for the service!) Did you know a huge chunk of revenue Palestine earns is from TOURISM? #VisitBethlehem. Read more about Palestine here:
What to wear and safety in Israel
Unless you are visiting any holy dwelling, dress the way you want. Tel-aviv is WAY more liberal than you would imagine. However, as a word of caution, wear something that can cover your knees whilst at the holy places. You may be thrown (guided) out if else (Seen that happen).
There are so many misconceptions about safety in Israel – being a country which has attracted attention from the world for various reasons. However, I felt quite safe in Israel. Unlike what you must have heard, there isn’t military at every nook and corner of the city. Life is as normal as it gets. Attention is drawn closer to borders such as the West Bank. However, being in Israel was one of the best holidays I have ever had.