The city that never sleeps, start-up mecca in a mix of tradition and modernity, skyscrapers next to beach, clearly I'm talking about Tel Aviv, probably the most popular place to live for the young and hip population in the Middle East.
Tel Aviv, which is actually called Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, was formed from the ancient port city of Jaffa and the former suburb of Tel Aviv. It received its current name two years after the founding of the State of Israel in 1950. It is the second largest city in Israel after the capital Jerusalem.
Life in the cosmopolitan metropolis on the Mediterranean is most often equated with a soap bubble: Middle East conflict outside, normality inside. Although the clash of modern, innovative atmosphere and conservative traditions in the country would be enough.
My top tips for Tel Aviv that you shouldn't miss when visiting:
1. STREET ART TOUR OF FLORENTIN
Those who have been following my blog for a while have surely already noticed: I love street art. On some gray walls I would like to see a work of art. The small or large works of art bring color into a city and make whole neighborhoods immensely more interesting. Since I visited the Hafengalerie in Linz, I know that it is actually the murals, large wall paintings, that fascinate me the most. The perfect place to discover street art in Tel Aviv is Florentin, where the municipality is said to turn a blind eye to art that is illegal in Israel.
Formerly shunned as a poor, unpopular neighborhood, it has now become home to the creative scene. Countless bars, pubs and coffeehouses invite you to relax and go away. Those who want to discover the neighborhood's street art scene can go on a do-it-yourself tour on their own or join one of the many tours on offer.
The street names Hayyim Ben Attar and Hatserim I have photographed in the context – there must have been particularly beautiful or also many pictures.
2. RELAX& BATHING AT TEL AVIV BEACH
Some say Tel Aviv is a kilometer long beach on the Mediterranean Sea with a city behind it. They are not that wrong. The beach in Tel Aviv is more or less the heart of the city – lively, cheerful, with a certain something and orderly. That's right, super organized: there's a booth for every lifestyle.
There is a beach for surfers and another for kite surfers, one for religious Jews with changing bathing days according to gender, one for the lesbian and gay scene, one for bathing with dogs and another again for playing, for example, beach volleyball or matkot, a backstroke game that is considered the Israeli national sport. In addition, there are weekly events that also take place on certain beaches: dancing on one, music on another. Sounds kind of complicated, doesn't it?
My tip: If you can't decide, you should take a walk along the entire beach to find the right place for you – then just for the next day.
3. EXPLORING THE PORT CITY OF JAFFA
Jaffa respectively. Yafo is the city of origin, which has existed since ancient times, located at the southern end of the boardwalk. And just as the entire country has a complicated history, so does Jaffa. It's so complicated that I'm happy to leave the story to other travel books to tell. It has been conquered and lost and conquered and lost again about a hundred times. A clear Arabic influence has remained, giving the district its own charm.
Three highlights stand out for the port city of Jaffa:
- the flea market
- Old Jaffa with its narrow alleys full of art galleries around Kikar Kedumim Square and near HaPisgah Garden with good views
- the port
4. VISIT THE CARMEL MARKET
A visit to the CaRmel market, not Kamel market, is obligatory. It is a typical oriental shuk (=market), where you can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, to nuts and discounted designer goods or no-name clothing. Action is in order.
It stretches along just one street from King George Street to Sheinkin Street. While the clothing and electronics department can be found in the northern section, the food department is located in the southern section.
Far cheaper than the rest of the city, it is worth dining here. For example, delicious falafel with hummus and tahini or a shashuka, the Israeli national dish.
5. WALK ALONG THE HUGE BOULEVARDS
Rothschild Boulevard is probably the most famous and expensive boulevards in Tel Aviv. A wide, multi-purpose strip for bicyclists and pedestrians is located on the median section. Left and right is a lane for cars. Many of the historic buildings are in the Bauhaus or. International Style built in which style over 4.000 houses were built in the city.
Because of the largest collection of Bauhaus houses in the world, Tel Aviv became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 as the "White City". To discover it is worthwhile to simply walk through the streets. In order to preserve the cultural heritage, renovations are being carried out diligently.
6. GOING OUT IN THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
There is a saying in Israel: Haifa is a place of work, Jerusalem is a place of prayer and Tel Aviv is a place of celebration. The most popular fortgehareals are located around Allenby and Sheinkin streets. Florentine is becoming increasingly popular.
Small, cozy places to chill, gossip and drink beer are on every corner! You just have to keep your eyes open! Otherwise I can recommend Port Said (Har Sinai Street 5), right next to the main synagogue, which was recommended to me several times by different people for eating and drinking (and of course I visited it).
Tel Aviv is special. Smaller than you might expect, a mix of old, new and yet somehow in between, a mix of oriental and European. A little bit the mix reminded me of Istanbul, only quieter and more cosmopolitan. Worth a visit? Yes, definitely. Even though Tel Aviv enjoys an average annual temperature of around 16°C, I recommend a visit in spring or fall. In January it was partly freezing cold because of the wind and there are no real heaters.
As a final tip: in Tel Aviv there are very, very, very many dogs. Hardly a street is without their legacies – so always watch out where you go! Have you been to Tel Aviv and have any tips??