1. The city’s name means “Ancient Spring”
Chosen from multiple suggestions in 1910 after the creation of the settlement near the old port of Jaffa, Tel Aviv is composed of Aviv, Spring, and Tel, a layered hill created by superposed civilizations representing the heritage of a site. The old and the new come together.
2. It has the best ramen this side of the Euphrates
The new Sarona market is a wondrous treasure trove of some of the best food joints in a city that lives on and for amazing food. Chef Aharoni’s Free Style Ramen Bar is reason enough to go: with more cookbooks to his name than any other Israeli Chef, he is a local institution, and certainly a master of his craft. Should your palate be more sensible to other flavours, Sarona Market has got 91 different shops ranging from French Champagne bar to succulent Mediterranean specialities.
3. Become an underground soldier for 90 minutes
The Palmach Museum is dedicated to relating the history of a movement precursor to the establishment of Israel’s regular defence forces. Forget about your classic museum displays and texts to read: here you book a tour and delve into the life of the young recruits and their fights, from the beginning of the force to its end in a one powerful experiential visit.
4. The sea temperature during the 2-month long winter is 18–20 °C (64–68 °F)
And it goes up to 30°C (86 °F) during the 6-month long summer time. Make sure to pack your swimming gear, and make the most of Tel Aviv’s shopping centers to keep cool between your tanning sessions.
5. It’s home to the world’s strangest, and most interesting, theatre groups
One of the most unusual experiences to live in Tel Aviv is the Nalaga’at Centre, which name translates into “please touch”. It’s to a series of amazing experiences based on the senses, or lack thereof: Blackout Restaurant will see you dine in total darkness, served by blind waiters; the Theatre shows incredible performances by visually and hearing-impaired groups; numerous workshops help the able to understand the world of the less-able better. Humbling and essential.
6. It hides a Little Paris in its heart
One of the oldest boroughs of the city, Neve Tzeget is now one of its trendiest. It is the birthplace of tea and coffee culture in the city, and were it not for the warmer climate and the echoes of seagulls in the far, you could easily picture the Eiffel Tower round the next corner.
7. It has one of the best flea markets in The Levant
Start or finish your stroll amongst the stalls of Jaffa Flea Market with a gazpacho daiquiri at Popina. They change the menu regularly, but it keeps being awesome. Then (or before) dive into the market proper, where you can find many a treasure that other European capitals cannot offer.
8. There you can spend the morning in the desert and the afternoon in the sea
One of Israel’s most fabulous views can be found a two-hour drive away from Tel Aviv. Take the Route 1 – Route 90 option, which offers stunning views of the Dead Dea for half of the journey. At the end of the road awaits Masada Fortress, overlooking the Dead Sea and the desert of Judea from the top of a 400-m (1,300-ft) high cliff. Go up the so-called Snake Path to make the most of the experience – a cable car is available, but where is the fun in that.
9. It’s right next to one of the holiest cities on the planet
The bus ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is just under an hour – take the 480 to Jerusalem from the Arlozorov bus terminal, it leaves every 20 minutes or so and you can buy your ticket with the driver directly (make sure you carry some cash in this case). On the way back, the bus goes from Tachana Mercazit, Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station.
You can easily make it a day trip and be back in time for a sunset on the beach – unless you prefer to stay for the evening to sample some of the best humus in the world, in the streets of the three-times-holy city. We recommend Ta’ami and its Persian-Israeli fusion soul food.