Day 1: For the foodies
Head to Carmel Market in the morning and brace yourself for an assault on your senses. Vendors shouting, people pushing, Mizrahi music blaring and the smell of foods as diverse as Venezuelan arepas and Libyan deep-fried borikas wafting in the air. Wander down the long strip, observe your surroundings and sample some of the culinary delights on offer. Then, head to the market’s backstreets (on the right-hand side, if you’re entering from Allenby Street) where you’ll stumble upon the enchanting Kerem HaTeimanim – the Yemenite Quarter.
A neighbourhood that outdates the city of Tel Aviv itself, the Kerem, as it is referred to by locals, is characterised by its modest and authentic restaurants, charming houses and tranquil atmosphere – a welcome change of scenery from the adjacent shuk. For those curious to taste authentic Yemenite soul food, try Shimon the King of Soups and Cooking. Hummus lovers, look no further than Shlomo & Doron and for the best Ethiopian restaurant in town, go to Balinjera.
After all this walking and eating, you’ll probably want to relax. Luckily for you, the beach is right at the bottom of the Kerem. In the evening, go to The Prince on Nachalat Binyamin, near Carmel Market, for food and drinks at one of Tel Aviv’s coolest rooftop bars.
Day 2: Art and hipster neighbourhoods
Tel Aviv is home to numerous galleries and excellent museums, most notably the renowned Tel Aviv Museum of Art. But to get a real feel for the city’s dynamic and exciting art scene, we recommend booking a tour with Oh So Arty, an international contemporary art tour company whose knowledgeable guides will take you inside the studios of the city’s most talented up-and-coming artists. For those interested in street art, book a tour with Guy Sharett, a former journalist who will show you Florentin’s best street art and explain the meaning behind each piece.
After touring the neighbourhood’s graffiti, be sure to explore Levinsky Market where you’ll find spices and an eclectic mix of eateries. For dinner in Florentin, try Dalida, a trendy restaurant serving delicious food and cocktails and then, head to Teder for some live music while rubbing shoulders with the city’s cool kids.
Day 3: Hummus and ancient streets in Jaffa
Jaffa deserves a whole day in your itinerary. A city in its own right that became part of the Tel Aviv municipality in the late 1940s, this is one of the oldest ports in the world whose long and tumultuous history dates back to biblical times. Today, it is an enchanting mix of cultures, ancient cobbled streets and buildings, bustling markets, boutique stores and trendy restaurants and nightspots. Getting here is easy: we recommend renting a city bike and cycling south along Tel Aviv’s coastline (there’s a designated bike lane, making this a safe and scenic journey of around 15-20 minutes). Upon arrival, try to unearth some gems at Jaffa’s Flea Market and Greek Market.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, eat at Abu Hasan, considered by many to be the best hummus in Tel Aviv. With the ensuing food coma, you’ll probably want to chill out, so head to Jaffa Beach where you’ll find stunning views of Tel Aviv’s coastline. Stick around for the evening, as Jaffa’s nightlife and culinary scene are unmissable, personified by Ramesses and Shaffa Bar. For a feast, The Old Man and the Sea is an experience: at this Arab Israeli establishment, you will be bombarded with endless mezze dishes and tasty fish – just make sure to come hungry.
For those looking to dance, go to Anna Loulou, a bar where everyone from Israelis and Palestinians to gay and straight dance the night away to its eclectic mix of music, from Latin and Arab tunes to old-school hip-hop and Israeli songs.
Day 4: Historic buildings and bars in central Tel Aviv
Known as lev ha’ir in Hebrew (the heart of the city), exploring this area is a great way to experience the best of Tel Aviv. Check out Bialik Square and meander down Ahad Ha’am Street, which runs parallel to Rothschild, to see some of the White City’s most beautiful and historic architecture; walk down the nearby Sheinkin Street for trendy boutique clothing stores, restaurants and cafes; and grab a coffee while watching the world go by from one of Rothschild Boulevard’s charming outdoor coffee kiosks. In the evening, go to Dizengoff Street, which is lined with bars packed with young and good looking Israelis drinking and eating, or bar hop on Rothschild Boulevard and top the night off with a burger at Susu and Sons.
Day 5: Shabbat adventures
If you’re in Tel Aviv for five days, chances are you’ll experience Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest that begins every Friday evening until Saturday evening. During Shabbat, public transport does not operate, many restaurants and stores close and the roads are noticeably quieter. Rent a city bike and explore HaYarkon Park in northern Tel Aviv, a vast green space with a lake running through it. Have a picnic and relax in the shade before renting a paddle boat and drifting down the lake. For dinner, head to the nearby Cafe Zorik on Milano Square, just off Ibn Gvirol, for tasty food in a relaxed, quintessentially Tel Aviv atmosphere.