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Einav Vaisman / © Culture Trip
Einav Vaisman / © Culture Trip
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Things to Expect When Visiting Tel Aviv for the First Time

Picture of Jess Fried
Updated: 16 April 2018
Each place you visit offers an opportunity to learn and broaden your horizons, giving you insight into how other people across the globe live their everyday lives. Planning a trip to Tel Aviv? Here’s a quick summary of what to expect when visiting for the first time. Get ready to experience an entirely new culture.
Kimberley Grant / | © Culture Trip

On Shabbat, the city sleeps

Shabbat is observed from Friday evening at sunset until Saturday evening at sundown. Shabbat is considered a holy day by many individuals living around the world, and especially in Tel Aviv. On this day, the city sleeps. Most shops and restaurants close, and even buses stop running. Make sure to buy your weekend groceries or anything else you need ahead of time.

Kimberley Grant / | © Culture Trip

New Israeli shekel

Currency in Israel is not as difficult to understand as you might think. Although prices seem quite high, they’re not; one NIS is equal to about 29 cents in US dollars. Divide any price you see by 3.8 to see how much something really costs in the US.

The shuk is your best friend

Need food? Go to the shuk. Need clothes? Go to the shuk. Need gifts for your friends and family? Go to the shuk. As you can see there’s a pattern here. If you need anything, go to the shuk. In Tel Aviv, Shuk HaCarmel is one of the most popular destinations for locals and tourists. However, Tuesdays and Fridays are the busiest days to go, so make sure you visit on one of the quieter days if you’re looking to experience the market like a local.

Kimberley Grant / | © Culture Trip

Tipping etiquette

Tipping etiquette in Israel is different depending on where and what you’re tipping for. At restaurants, you are expected to tip 10%, if not more. It’s worth noting that waiters and waitresses prefer tips in cash, even if you are paying by credit card. Taxi drivers do not expect any tips from tourists as locals do not tip them either.

Kimberley Grant / | © Culture Trip

Local languages

No need to worry about there being a communication barrier in Israel; there are three local languages—Hebrew, Arabic and English. Every menu, sign and street name is written in all three languages, making it easy and accessible to get around.

Yelling, lots of yelling

When walking through the busier streets of Tel Aviv, don’t be alarmed if people appear to be talking loudly, trying to catch your attention. They really mean no harm; market vendors often shout out—and over each other—in an attempt to draw customers to their stalls.

Kimberley Grant / | © Culture Trip

Free WiFi

Tel Aviv is one of the only cities in the world that has free WiFi available pretty much everywhere you go. Any café, restaurant, store, and beach provides it, and even on the streets the internet is free for you to enjoy. Even if there is a password needed somewhere, just ask, store owners won’t hesitate to provide it.