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11 Best Experiences in Tel Aviv, Israel

Into street art? Tel Aviv is a great place to see various works, like this mural by Elad Rosen
Into street art? Tel Aviv is a great place to see various works, like this mural by Elad Rosen | © Dov Makabaw Israel / Alamy
Whether you’re looking to party, eat your way through the city, or explore the local art scene, this list will ensure you get the most out of your trip to Tel Aviv.

A record 4.5 million tourists visited Israel in 2019, and many of them made a beeline for Tel Aviv. The city has asserted itself as a global travel destination, with a unique blend of history, culture, nightlife and food. We’ve compiled a list of the best experiences on offer that will show you the pulse of this magnetic destination.

Experience a Shabbat with Tel Aviv hipsters and artists

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Judaica - jewish symbols
© agefotostock / Alamy

If you want to be immersed in traditional Israeli culture, then head along to a shabbat in the neighbourhood of Neve Tzedek, just a stone’s throw away from Jaffa. Let the locals introduce you to what Shabbat is and get an understanding of this core aspect of Jewish life. Sing along with the locals and engage in interesting conversations with those around you. Experience an authentic Friday night in Tel Aviv and broaden your understanding of the Jewish religion and culture.

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Sunset on Independence Park

Park

Locals flock to the hill in Independence Park to enjoy the most scenic and romantic sunset spot in Tel Aviv. Located next to the Hilton Hotel in the north of the city, the hill overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and is the perfect place to complete a day of exploring. Bring some wine and chill out on the grass while enjoying live music (usually on weekends).

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Israeli cooking workshop

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Sure, you can order shakshuka in any number of Israeli restaurants, but this cooking workshop will teach you how to make it yourself so you can enjoy this comforting dish even after you return home. Hosted in the Abraham Hostel, Tel Aviv’s most well-known hostel located in the heart of the Lev Ha’ir neighbourhood, this is a fun way to get acquainted with Israeli cuisine while enjoying a delicious meal alongside fellow travellers.

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HaTikvah Market food tour

Market
Variety if Israeli dips and appetizers, Tel Aviv, Isarel
© Alexander Spatari / iStock

If open-air markets are your thing, and you’ve already explored Carmel Market, then go on a Bhuka Tour of HaTikvah Market. Located in the deep south of Tel Aviv in the working-class HaTikvah (The Hope) neighbourhood, this market is one of the city’s most underrated culinary destinations. The two-hour tour will take you to the best spots in the market where you’ll get a taste of the melting pot of cultures that categorise this neighbourhood, and in between each tasting you’ll be offered wine from one of the charismatic guides as they talk you through the politics, history and architecture of the area.

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Florentin: from Sephardic Jews to Hipsters tour

Art Gallery, Building, Architectural Landmark
Florentin is known as Tel Aviv’s hipster enclave and is already a popular attraction for visitors seeking to soak up its atmosphere and street art. However, with much of the graffiti tucked away in unassuming side streets and alleyways, you really need a local to guide you around. That’s why a tour is a great option: not only will you see the most interesting art works, but you’ll also hear about the meaning behind the pieces and get a run-down of the history of the neighbourhood.
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Levinsky Market

Market
Fresh squeezed juice market store
© Kolderal / iStock

Levinsky Market is a destination in its own right and is the best place to buy exotic herbs and spices, dried fruits, and nuts in Tel Aviv. Though small, there is so much packed into the street waiting to be explored, and you can now do so without interference from vehicles – the municipality pedestrianised the market at the end of 2019. Some great spots include Burekas Panso, which sells traditional Turkish savoury pastries that will melt in your mouth, Yom Tov, a family-run delicatessen, and Levinsky 41, a kiosk serving delicious, Instagram-worthy soda drinks. Local tip: for the best atmosphere, go on a Friday morning – although if you don’t like crowds this is a time to avoid.

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Exploring Jaffa

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Natural Feature
Palestina shop in shuk hapishpeshim flea market, Tel Aviv, Israel
©Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us / iStock

A visit to Tel Aviv is incomplete without exploring Jaffa, the ancient port city that is part of the Tel Aviv municipality. The flea market, or Shuk Hapishpishim, is a vibrant destination where you’ll find anything from antiques to clothes. The streets surrounding the market are also home to excellent restaurants and bars, like Ramasses, with the area coming to life at night. For what many locals deem the best hummus joint in the city, go to Abu Hasan, but go early as it’s so popular that the hummus often runs out. The Old City is also not to be missed, with its picturesque cobblestone streets and art galleries. To really experience Jaffa as though you’ve known it for years, follow a local Tel Aviv guide on a bike tour through the city. See it through new eyes and cover all the top sights in just three hours. You’ll have ample time post-tour to carry on exploring this biblical area on your own.

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Milk and Honey Whiskey Distillery

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milk and honey -2091
Courtesy of The M&H Distillery

Unique is a word often carelessly thrown around, but in this case it is entirely appropriate: Milk and Honey is Israel’s first whisky distillery and the only one in Tel Aviv. Come here for a tour led by a highly knowledgeable guide, who’ll give you an inside look at the process behind single malt whiskey production, and of course a taste of their various products. Located on the border between Jaffa and Tel Aviv, this is a must for both whiskey connoisseurs and anyone (over the age of 18) looking to do something a little different in Tel Aviv.

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Explore Tel Aviv nightlife on a pub crawl

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Tel Aviv is famous for its nightlife, and one of the best ways to experience it is on a pub crawl run by Abraham Hostel. You’ll be dancing and drinking your way through the night alongside a social group of fellow travellers, led by a local guide. Starting at the bar in the hostel, you’ll be taken to some of the best nightspots in the city, like Kuli Alma, skipping lines and getting free shots along the way.

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Traditional Israeli Shabbat dinner

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Hand placing dish on table set for Jewish Shabbat, close up
© MBI / Alamy

For a truly authentic Israeli experience join a local host in her home for a traditional Shabbat dinner. With influences from her own family meals, Anat provides a delicious family-style kosher meal with delicacies such as fresh challah washed down with Israeli wine, traditional meatballs and much more. Guests are provided with drinks but are welcome to bring more, and dietary restrictions can be catered for. An evening at Anat’s promises delicious, classic Israeli fare and light-hearted fun.

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Carmel Market food tour

Market
Israel, Tel Aviv,Carmel Market, spice vendor
© Cosmo Condina Middle East / Alamy

Carmel Market, or Shuk HaCarmel in Hebrew, is the main open-air food market in Tel Aviv with dozens of food stands and eateries. Take a tour of the market and the backstreets of the neighbouring Yemenite Quarter and enjoy tastings of some of the country’s freshest hummus, street food, produce, baked goods and Yemenite cuisine. In addition to indulging your taste buds, you will also learn about the evolution of Israeli cuisine and the history of the market.

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These recommendations were updated on February 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.