Like all great cities, Tel Aviv
is much more than its famous landmarks. While it’s definitely worth visiting Old Jaffa, the White City
, and Rothschild
, they only give a partial taste of the city’s rich flavors. Thanks to Tel Aviv’s relatively small size, almost of all of its corners are accessible by foot or bike. And with young creatives moving away from the center, it’s a good time to head off the beaten path and delve into other parts of the city. Here are the top five neighborhoods in Tel Aviv.
Undoubtedly the hottest area in Tel Aviv right now, the Levinsky Market is a rare mix of oriental mayhem and hipster chic, boasting a colorful market during the day and an array of bars and restaurants at nighttime. Founded in 1921 by Jewish merchants as the city’s first commercial neighborhood, the area has undergone a radical transition and now outshines its once-cooler neighbor, Florentin.
Some fresh goods at the Levinsky Market | © Gal Deren / Courtesy | © Gal Deren / Courtesy
Home to some of the best cafés and eateries the city has to offer, this vibrant nest of crisscrossing streets and storefronts even has its own map – Markolet – to guide you through the market’s endless riches. Start your journey like the locals do, at the small oasis that is Café Levinsky, where you can pick up your map and try Tel Aviv’s best espresso, or freshen up with the most creative pop soda you’ll come across.
Markolet – Levinsky Market map | © Design: Rotem Maimon; Illustrations: Yali Ziv; Courtesy of Markolet
The White City’s classic beauty: Neve Tzedek is Tel Aviv’s first and oldest, established in 1887 by Aharon Chelouche (the namesake for its main artery).
Perched at the tip of Rothschild Boulevard and running all way down to the beach and The Old Railway Station, the neighborhood is a mix of high-end fashion stores, fancy restaurants, and coves of hidden gardens. Housing some of the most envy-inspiring of residential buildings in Tel Aviv, the picturesque paved streets are perfect for strolling down to see how the city’s elite lives.
Don’t forget to grab an ice cream and a show at the Suzanne Dellal Centre – Israel’s preeminent dance hub that doubles as the neighborhood’s main square. For lunch or breakfast, head to the Dallal restaurant – or its adjacent bakery. It’s not cheap, but nothing good in Tel Aviv rarely is.
Jaffa Flea Market
Spearheading Jaffa’s rebirth as a young urban mecca, the Shuk Hapishpeshim – literally, flea market – is anything but. Though spanning only a number of streets in northern Jaffa, the small area packs a mighty punch. Think dozens of bars and restaurants, new and old, as well as a bustling antiques market – be warned: you’ll want everything and prices are steep, but haggling is encouraged.
With shops owned by both Jews and Arabs, the local fabric is Tel Aviv coexistence at its finest. At night, walk down its interlocking streets and grab a beer (and a haircut) at the Shaffa Bar and barber shop, or try some classic delicacies over dinner at Café Puaa.
Almost as old as Neve Tzedek, this maze of densely packed streets, stalls, and winding alleys is wedged between Tel Aviv’s main food market – Shuk HaCarmel – and the beach. Called the Kerem HaTeimanim (“Yemenite Vineyard”) after its first residents, the area has long enjoyed an in-the-know status in Tel Aviv, with locals racing to find the best Yemenite stew no one has heard of yet. More recently, a new generation has made its mark, turning what used to be a backstreet of butchers and fishmongers into a walkway of hip bars and cafés. Take a break from the market ruckus with a coffee at Cafe Yom Tov or a beer at the famous HaMinzar bar on the neighborhood’s outskirts.
Heralded the next big thing in Tel Aviv, Shapira is still mostly a residential area. Considered one of Tel Aviv’s “poorer” neighborhoods and home to families of refugees and immigrants, the area has naturally attracted artists and anarchists alike. Located next to the city’s infamously ominous New Central Bus Station, after a slow and steady steam of young bohemians over the past decade, Shapira is about to have its moment in the sun.
Café Shapira is the hot new coffee joint in southern Tel Aviv | © Yifat Yogev
The first café has already broken ground, so be sure to swing by Café Shapira. But what makes the area truly unique is the wide array of local foods it offers, thanks to its large immigrant population. Hanan Margilan is a must for authentic Bukharian food, and the bakhsh (green pilaf dish) will change how you think about rice.
Café Shapira: the first in southern Tel Aviv | © Yifat Yogev