Regardless of whether this is your first time to Tel Aviv, a frequent visitor or a new resident of the city, Dizengoff Street is an area you will want to visit time and time again. One of the main hubs of the city, this bustling and busy boulevard was once referred to as the ‘Champs Elysees of Tel Aviv’. A period of decline in the early 1980s led to this title being somewhat ironic, but a recent resurgence has led to Dizengoff becoming a major point of culture, commerce and leisure once more. It’s one of the best places to take a stroll and people-watch, while its complete mixture of bars, cafés and shops are not to be missed.
Architectural styles can act like a city’s thumbprint, making an entire space unique. This is absolutely the case in Tel Aviv’s White City, a collection of more than 4,000 buildings designed in the Bauhaus style, beginning in the 1930s when the original proponents of the movement fled to Tel Aviv from Nazi Germany. The Bauhaus Center opened in 2000 to document and celebrate this architectural heritage, as well as explore Bauhaus as a movement that reached beyond architecture into other mediums of design. The centre has a library, gallery and shop, the latter selling items by local artists, plus it offers tours of the White City from knowledgeable staff, as well as an audio self-access guide.
Dizengoff is well known for its numerous bars and outside drinking; with so many to choose from, you can’t really go wrong with one called ‘Sidewalk’. Rightly famous for its excellent breakfast selection, which is served all day, Sidewalk also serves great Israeli and American-style cuisine with a few contemporary twists. There is a full bar, and the interior is decked out in classic NY-speakeasy style, complete with authentic décor which wouldn’t look out of place in the Big Apple itself.
This formal sculpture of a reclining male by Israeli artist Evie Pollig sits close to Dizengoff Square. And the emphasis is on sit. Rather than adopting the usual neo-classical or inspirational action poses, this statue instead sits on a large chair, head lolling back and legs akimbo. It’s an inspired choice for Dizengoff, the street where people come to de-stress, and the figure’s evident exhaustion is also particularly easy to relate to when walking along on a hot day.
Visitors to this cocktail bar – also just called ‘Spicehaus’ – are greeted upon entering by a skeleton hanging near the door, and then by a bartender dressed as a white-coated pharmacist. The suited waiters are ready to take your order from the great variety of modern and imaginative cocktails on offer; drinks that aim to stimulate the sense of smell and vision as well as taste. The smell of a multitude of spices fills the air, and the extraordinary décor is modeled on an early 20th-century pharmacy and perfumery, full of unusual and intriguing found-objects that fit this theme. Even your sense of hearing is played with: a visit to the bathroom treats you to a recording of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’ read by James Earl Jones, most famous for being the voice of Darth Vader.
Held twice a week on Tuesdays (11am to 9pm) and Fridays (7am to 4pm) this busy and bustling market hosts a number of stalls selling all kinds of antiques and exotic objects, from oriental rugs to turn-of-the-century telephones, jewelery, rare books and vintage clothing, as well as a sizable collection of international Judaica. Much more than this though, many of the stalls have been booked by Tel Aviv’s young artisans, meaning you can buy some truly unique design and clothing items, as well as support emerging local talent.
One of the many highlights of walking around central Tel Aviv are the outdoor kiosk cafés, often placed at the intersections of boulevards and main streets. La Ca Phe is one excellent example, situated where Dizengoff meets Ben Gurion Boulevard. What sets this kiosk apart from the others is that, along with excellent coffee and the freshly made sandwiches and cakes, La Ca Phe specializes in Vietnamese street food. This means you can get a steaming hot bowl of delicious pho soup with your coffee as you sit and read or people watch. Extras such as complementary table-water with mint and lemon, and free treats for Tel Aviv’s dog-walkers are well-received by the regular and varied clientele.
The fountain in the center of Dizengoff Square was originally built in 1986, designed by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. It was a defining example of kinetic sculpture, where the discs it is composed of would move against each other, rotating their multicolored surfaces to create an engaging and slightly disorientating optical display, while music played and water and fire streamed from the top and sides. Nowadays, the fountain is mostly stationary, although there are some evenings when the cogs rotate for a fire, water and music show once again. Its main charm now is that the fountain always, regardless of its activity that day, serves as an excellent landmark and dazzling point of reference for those who might have gotten lost wandering about.
Tel Aviv is very well known for its coffee shops, and the quality of its coffee in general. Landwer’s is one of the better known and established coffee and roasting franchises in Israel. Founded in Berlin in 1919 by Moshe Landwer, the family opened its first coffee shop in Tel Aviv on Allenby Street in 1933 after escaping Nazi Germany. Since then, Landwer’s has opened in several locations in Israel, with one of the best examples on Dizengoff Street very close to the square and fountain. A range of excellent espresso-based drinks, Turkish-style coffee and a very well developed menu make this an excellent spot to hit your caffeine craving.
You might notice queues squeezing out of this establishment well into the street, surrounded by numerous, full tables of people enjoying the atmosphere outside. It’s certainly a popular place, and with good reason. Cookeez specializes in one simple treat: an ice-cream sandwich, made from two delicious, chewy cookies, a generous helping of one of many flavored ice-creams in the middle, with the whole lot covered in hot chocolate or fudge sauce, even maple syrup. There are as many cookies to choose from as there is ice-cream and the whole gooey, sticky product is ridiculously fun and tasty. There’s also good coffee available, and this is a fun place to stop and indulge your sweet tooth, especially in the summer months when the ice cream is a great refresher from the heat.Do you have a soft spot for cookies and cupcakes? Discover the best places with our list of top spots to get that sugar fix in Tel Aviv.