Plan your trip around the peak tourist seasons in Israel. Christmas is particularly popular with tourists from around the world, as is Easter (which is often at the same time as Passover). Though very hot, the summer months (July–August) are peak travel times as well since families often coordinate their travel plans to coincide with their children’s school vacations.
A visit to the Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market) is a must to get true local flavor, but avoid heavy traffic in the middle of the day by making it an early morning stop on your itinerary. The market is likely to always be bustling, but get there early (the stalls open at 8am), and it’ll much easier to manage.
Go to Levinsky Market—along with fresh vegetables, fruits, spices, and more, Levinsky Market offers a nice view of local life with less overwhelming crowds. Another option is Jaffa’s Shuk Hapishpishim, a daytime flea market where patrons can buy second-hand items and furniture, but in the evening, the atmosphere changes and becomes the center for Tel Aviv-Jaffa nightlife. Then, hipster bars line the streets and locals come out to hang at their favorite haunts.
Tel Aviv is at its most peaceful in the early dawn or in the dwindling evening hours. The city has a still soulfulness during these hours, so head to the city beaches for truly magically colored skies and quiet breezes and to either prepare for the day ahead or end the day in sun-drenched calm.
Central city beaches tend to get the most foot traffic from both locals and tourists. Avoid the crowds by visiting some of the quieter spots of beaches in the north of the city. Beyond Hof Metzitzim (“Peeping Beach,” made famous by the eponymous Israeli film from the ’70s), there are quieter beaches along the tayelet (boardwalk) toward Herzilya. These areas tend to be more sparse of visitors and therefore provide a quiet spot to get away.
Tel Aviv has some truly incredible places to eat and stay throughout , but be sure to take notice of the fact that many places in prime locations—along the city’s beach boardwalk or on some of the fancier sderot (boulevards)—will be rife with touristy venues, for both cuisine and lodging. Instead, check places like Airbnb for more local and home-away-from-home experiences, and ask locals for restaurant recommendations.
Don’t be afraid to ask Tel Avivians what they love most in their city—Israelis are not typically shy and are happy to help with recommendations. It’s easy enough to strike up conversations with locals, and most Israelis will be very welcoming and could even invite you to something going on in the city, whether it’s a get-together among friends or an evening out at one of the bars in the city.
For the most insider view of the city, why not hire a guide? Enjoy the comfort of an individualized tour (thereby beating the crowds), and discover details even most Israelis won’t know about the architecture, history, and politics of the city. Guides can also arrange entry to places that tourists cannot access on their own, so choose this option to really get special treatment.
July and August tend to be the hottest months of the year for Tel Aviv weather, so beat the heat (and the crowds) by finding indoor activities. Check out the Tel Aviv Museum of Art—it has an impressive permanent collection, and the large complex won’t feel crowded, even during the summer. Or try the Palmach Museum, which traces the history of the elite underground force through personal tales from those who witnessed the events of the British Mandate for Palestine. For all things Rabin, head to the Yitzhak Rabin Center in the north of the city, and learn everything about the man and his life’s work.
The true treasures of Tel Aviv will reveal the authentic feel of the city and beautiful architecture. Kerem HaTeimanim (Yemenite Quarter) is a special area of Tel Aviv across from Shuk HaCarmel; established in 1904 by Jewish Yemenite immigrants, the neighborhood still boasts some of the best Yemeni restaurants in the city.