In a city as fast-paced and bustling as Tel Aviv, the abundance of public gardens and city parks offers space for a much-needed afternoon repose, midday meditation, a bike ride or lunchtime picnic. From the Old North to the districts downtown, there are parks with playgrounds for children and dog-friendly zones, too.
Botanical Garden, Park, Sports Center, University, Zoo
HaYarkon Park is Tel Aviv’s answer to NYC’s Central Park, attracting more than 13 million visitors every year, with a water park and a ‘Sportek’ that features mini-golf, basketball and tennis courts and a climbing wall. Located in the Old North, the park is famous for its outdoor concerts and wide range of activities for families, groups and sports-lovers. It even boasts a petting zoo, a lake, six gardens, a bird sanctuary, pedal and rowboat hiring facilities, and a 30km (18-mile) bike trail that ends in Rosh Ha’ayin. Picnics and barbecues are allowed in designated areas.
Founded in the 1950s, the botanical garden recently underwent ecological rehabilitation, unveiling an impressive park with new ponds, fruit orchards, wild plants that grow in the sands and swamps of Israel and 160 different animal species. Located in the Abu Kabir district, the gardens span four acres, with fish pools, turtle ponds and a zoological garden with wild animals unique to Israel, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, some of which are endangered. During the visit, visitors are likely to encounter deer, seagulls and pelicans that roam freely – an opportunity to see the species in their natural habitat up close. Note, there’s an entrance fee of 10 NIS (£2.35).
Built on the grounds of a German Templar Village from 1871, ‘Sarona’ (a name given by its German occupants) underwent extensive restoration in 2014 to reveal a charming historic neighbourhood that is now a local favourite. Surrounded by glistening skyscrapers and residential projects, Sarona Gardens is a green haven with winding paths, a children’s playground, green lawns with plenty of shade and picturesque lily ponds. Purchase some delicacies from the Sarona Market and enjoy them al fresco, or head to one of the cafés and restaurants that border the park. Best enjoyed during the week as it can get busy with visitors on weekends.
Set on a hill along the coast, this park affords beautiful sea views and extends around the grounds of the Hilton Tel Aviv with expansive lawns for picnics, walking trails, a children’s playground and shaded outdoor gym popular with personal trainers. Its generous size affords a serene and peaceful atmosphere. On-site is the mausoleum of a holy Muslim figure, Abd al-Nabi, and a memorial for soldiers who fell during the 1948 War of Independence. The park is a popular spot to watch dramatic sunsets, as well as for uphill running and open-air meditation. Seafront cafés can also be found on-site.
The old world and the new come together at Abrasha Park, with archaeological ruins dating back 3,500 years and coastline views that extend to Haifa on a clear day. Child-friendly with grassy lawns, the park features abandoned cannons from Napoleon’s conquest of Jaffa in 1799. Look for the sculpture representing the fall of Jericho and for the amphitheatre where free concerts take place every Saturday from 9pm in July and August. The Wishing Bridge hovers above the foundations of an old wishing well with a mosaic of the zodiac signs; facing the sea, make a wish as you hover your hand over your zodiac sign.
A popular park among families with children and dog owners, the urban green park is located in the city centre, behind the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Centre and Museum of Art. Named after Simon Dubnow, a Jewish historian and writer from Belarus, Dubnov Garden attracts young families taking to the playgrounds in the afternoon, and students gathering around the outdoor gym and the free-weight equipment. Locals often find a bench during lunch to take in the fresh air, and cyclists cruise along the indicated bike routes. The dog park on site is enclosed.
Known as Tel Aviv’s first grand road, Rothschild Boulevard is an iconic address known for its distinct architecture. It was at Independence Hall on this boulevard that the country’s declaration was signed in 1948. Running from Neve Tzedek to Habima Theatre and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and along rows of well-preserved Bauhaus buildings, the gardens of Rothschild Boulevard offer dog parks, lawn bowls, playgrounds, a water fountain, free sun loungers, book stations, bike and pedestrian lanes and trendy cafés and eateries. The old trees lining the boulevard provide plenty of much-needed shade for afternoon breaks during the hot summer months.
This historic park dates back to 1940s Tel Aviv and is named after the city’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. A major renovation project led by the municipality has brought Meir Park back to life, with a fish pond, green lawns and a basketball court, as well as an outdoor gym and a dog-friendly zone. With plenty of greenery, a shaded area and a playground for children, the park is open seven days a week. Bring snacks purchased at the Carmel Market, or get a coffee to go from Millie Vanillie, a coffee shop on the premises, and enjoy a serene morning read.