Tel Aviv Travel Guide

Where Miami meets the Middle East, meets Brooklyn on the Beach, meets Berlin in Manhattan! The city that never sleeps!

So many different influences, similarities, familiarities but yet this place is like no other…

Arrival at the airport

Airport & Transfer

I’m always so excited arriving at a new airport but I was a little nervous for my first trip here and if you are reading this then it’s probably your first. (Second was much less anxious!) I had read everywhere that passport control takes ages, is pretty intense and scary. I even read to be prepared for more questions in a side room, especially if you’ve been to an Arab country (which I had first time) But this wasn’t my experience at all. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but for me, other than asking more questions than I’m used to, they were professional and polite.

I also read about a lot of concern about the passport stamp from Israel causing problems getting in other countries. But again no need to worry – they don’t stamp it. It’s now done on a piece of paper you just keep safe.

So to the airport – it’s huge and also has free brilliant WiFi so don’t waste your data! In fact all of Tel Aviv was WiFi fantastic and friendly from cafes to shops! Which if you are coming from the U.K. will probably need as most plans don’t include Israel in its travel plans!

A note for when you are returning to leave the country – you need to get to the airport 3 hrs minimum before leaving whether you have luggage or not! This was not a rumour! It’s one of the safest but most stringent securities I have ever been through but that means it takes time. I had my passport checked 6 times! But the reason it all takes so long is their rigorous explosive searches at the X-ray machines. First time I was in that queue for an hour and twenty- so don’t throw that bottle of water away as you’ll end up needing it in the queue! It took me just over 2 hrs from arrival to the gate – no shopping, no toilet stop, no time! So I would have missed my flight if I’d done my usual sliding in 1.5 hours before. Second time we had fast track thorugh so was quick but no guarantees its quicker as its all about the volume. This was at T3, which is big with lots of shops but not much in the way of bars or tourist tat so do get that before leaving or you’ll spend a fortune and it’s limited choice.

But back to arriving…

First glimpse of TA leaving the airport

From the airport to Tel Aviv you have 3 options: Taxi, Gett taxi (download before you get there) or train. Train are twice an hour and only 18 mins and cheap – a few quid but you will most likely need an onward bus or cab in Tel Aviv. Except on Shabbat. First thing to note when visiting Israel is that from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown is Shabbat. This is, in simplest terms described to me as ‘the time nothing new should be created’ but think of it like how Sunday’s used to be – many things are closed.

Gett app is like Uber only can pay in cash and due to my data restrictions issues and no wifi directly outside the airport, I opted for a regular taxi from the rank right outside, well left outside! 😂 (Like many international airports make sure you go to the official rank where the marshals will get you a taxi. (If any randoms approach say no!) Expect to pay £25-£40 depending on time of day. I paid 150 shekels cash approx £30 and agree it before you set off.


For my first trip I was baffled at where to stay as I knew very little about TA, I love staying with sea views but equally this was a winter break. Turns out it didn’t really matter as it’s all so close/ walkable and cabs are cheap. I opted for the Poli House Hotel which is part of the Brown hotels – there are a lot of them in TA. I chose this one for its rooftop pool, obviously! 😜 I had no idea of it’s fun, fashionable, very instagrammable decor – lots of pink! 💖

(If pink isn’t your thing then I was also looking at other Brown Hotels: TVL Urban – also with an insta worthy reception and rooftop bar!

Brown TVL Urban Hotel reception

Or The Lighthouse – also with an incredible rooftop bar… no pool and the bar wasn’t open in the day (in winter) but insane views. So I opted for the Poli as they had a heated rooftop pool and were open all day.

The Sky Bar at the Light house hotel

So back to the Poli… The reception is located on the top floor which is a bit weird as you arrive to a bare basic concierges desk but are soon are wowed by the rooftop.

Poli house rooftop pool

The basic room was small, super clean with a free bottle of ouzo! 🤷‍♀️👏 No tea and coffee machine (always annoying) but excellent black out curtains (always dangerous for over sleeping!). The bathroom was equally clean, fabulous shower and amenities though the door was weird as was also the door for the shower. But it worked for us for a few days break.

Arriving in time for sunset with a rooftop pool was the perfect start. The main bar is actually enclosed in the winter but in the summer the roof comes off – this will definitely be a go to drinks destination. (This turned out to be very typical of TA – they love their rooftops and the need for winter warmth!) For all rooftops in Tel Aviv click here!

Poli house rooftop pool

My second trip I stayed at The Norman hotel dubbed the best hotel in Tel Aviv. It’s boutique Lux where you are made to feel at home.

The Norman

The rooms were a little noisy but this was explained ‘as it was in a city’ lol. Also no plugs by the bed is a rookie oversight but one the manager is fixing – he told me! But the cleanliness and touches like the restocked water every day negated this. Oh and did I mention the beds. I am super fussy about beds and these go in my top 3 hotel beds ever!

Standard room at the Norman

Despite being a boutique hotel they manage to pack in 3 dining areas , a library bar and the icing on the cake – a rooftop pool! As you would expect it gets packed on warm days. Note that there are only a few beds facing the pool the rest have amazing city views, And do not miss sunset – it is super special.

The library bar located in the lobby packs a punch with its boujee vibes and crafted cocktails. It very much a Friday night hang out venue – not just for guests so get there early if you want to perch at the bar – always my favourite spot in a bar. And the staff were super lovely and welcoming. As they were throughout the hotel.

Exploring the areas of TA

The Prince Rooftop in Nahalat Benjamin

Much like London and NYC Tel Aviv is broken into areas that are very different. Nahalat Benjamin & Neve Tzedek was where we were based and good for everything from shopping to restaurants to rooftops and the famous Carmel market which is full of food and spices..

… fruit and veg – including the persimmon fruit or its nickname the Sharon fruit. Like a cross between a tomato and a apple & a plum – seedless, no core and twice the fibre of an apple!

Persimmon fruit

It also has a huge amount of tourist tat – so get your souviners here for 1/4 if the price at the airport! Also to note these markets are busy and bustling but nothing like the intimidating. souks I’ve been to in Morocco. These are vibrant and fun and I felt totally safe.

In Neve Tzedek there is an area south that is like a little country of its own located in the old train station. The oldest tree in Tel Aviv is the center piece to a Spanish inspired tapas Resturant Vicky Cristina – I usually would want to eat local when abroad but this came highly recommended and it was worth the switch to Spanish for the night though also felt like a Greek tavern! Either way was a fabulous fun place!

Vicky Cristina

Florentine and JAffa areas were more Bondi meets Berlin student hip vibe with amazing vegan restaurants – in fact the whole city was catered for vegan which my friend is and I’m allergic to gluten – also catered for well. Though the weirdest thing was, they don’t do gluten free bread. Most dishes were easily or they had specific GF options but not one single place had gluten free bread. 🤷‍♀️

Views from JAffa

Fun fact: Jaffa is actually the place Jaffa oranges come from and therefore JAffa cakes are named from! 😂

Yes, I ate a JAffa cake in JAffa on a rooftop!

Rainy days

The weather in Tel Aviv is glorious but like anywhere there will be rain so beach life and rooftops aren’t quite so fun. I headed to one of the malls also to do some present shopping – I picked TLV mall which was a short walk from either hotel. Was quite disappointed- really just full of the same brands as any major city. There was the odd unique shop but if you are looking for something different stick to independent shops

TVL mall

And with all malls you will be asked to show your bag on entrance and has armed guards which is actually just really reassuring. Likewise when going to galleries or museums. I went to their museum of modern art which was again like most art galleries but always nice to experience a new one. Note they did have a super cute alfresco dining area should you make a day if it.

Art museum

Some fabulous finds for food:

The first thing to say about TA is their food is a foodie’s dream and a dieters nightmare! . From little cafes in JAffa to fancy restaurants in White City – you can’t go wrong.

Breakfast over brunch is a thing here – often running most of the day so basically brunch! 🤣Shakshuka is incredibly popular and delicious – eggs cooked in tomato sauce with bread and tahini! Also almost everything always comes with a small super fresh salad and tahini! You will eat more tahini than you know you needed! Hummus is also a huge here – famous for it in fact – you can find it everywhere!


Port Si’ad

Not my usual go to but my first trip was a big birthday for my friend and she loved this place. She’s a Dalston girl and this was so east London – shared benches, little table huddles, heaters in the winter with great food and fabulous service including free shots! Turned out free shots is a thing here – don’t think tacky bars though – think kind and fun like an aperitif or digestive! Some places like here even offer you any shot you fancy! (Which is helpful as we all have that one shot we can’t even have again!)

The Brothers – Ha achim

This is where I had the second best lamb I’ve ever had. (Number one spot goes to Morocco weirdly with the friend I was with on this trip!). They are super friendly and fun – and the free shots were following! This was a great vibe – after work, date night, bday vibe. Also some tables were sharing, sat at the bar or outside. Was packed every night!

Yom Tov Cafe

Perfect for breakfast & coffees and drinks – the cutest little cafe, best enjoyed inside for its library quirky vibe though as it was winter and we could sit outside we obviously did! At then night it transforms to a trendy bar and restaurant using the fresh food from the Carmel market next door!

Haj Kahil

The stuffed lamb

The restaurant itself isn’t at all fancy – in fact if you didn’t know about it you’d miss it but it’s famous for this stuffed lamb dish and OMG it was incredible – an absolute must especially if you walk from tel Aviv to JAffa you basically deserve it!

Cafe Europa

Cafe Europa

Gorgeous interior – very chilled date night vibes with good food to match.



This was a vibe with incredible food and huge portions – you don’t need a starter!! Sadly the service was terrible which did let it down but am including as hopefully that will improve with feedback!

Social Club

This was your fun buzzy Friday night vibe – music a bit loud for dinner but all part of the crowd. Food was fabulous definitely one for girls night!



The portion sizes were slightly more manageable here – highly recommend the chocolate pudding that does look slightly wrong but so light and delicious!

Georg & Jon

Saves the best for last…. This was fine dining in a beautiful setting with spot on service. Loved everything about it.

Beaches & Rooftop bars

There are 13 beaches that all run into each other – one is called banana 🍌 beach and yes I had to eat a banana on banana beach!! 🤪

Banana beach

There are beach gyms and lifeguarding huts that brings to life the Miami meeting the Middle East description. There’s even the famous sculpture and tribute to the late Prime Minister, Ben Gurion on Frishman Beach who used to do his daily exercise here. So one for you to snap or indeed replicate!

Here you can also find the giant deck chairs with Tel Aviv ❤️ me for you to climb in – tho warning getting out is less easy!

Another great photo opportunity is down on Charles Clore Park on the boarder of Jaffa. An insta worthy frame capturing JAffa behind is a must!

And lastly if you head up north to the port you can get snapped at the TE❤️IV sign. Here you will also find waterside restaurants and shops though it is super busy on the weekend and felt a little lacking in soul compared to the rest of TA.

The one thing missing was great restaurants on the beach – partly due to being winter but partly there aren’t as many as I expected. Second trip I found a few more as it was spring – and they were boujee! . Hilton Bay was a vibe. Weekends more pretentious so definitely enjoy in the week for a slower pace but as it has a lil rooftop it’s a must!

There was also a fab little find – not directly on the beach but it has all the vibes you could want and I am totally counting as a lil rooftop bar with its Hawaiian hat and sea views – its a must!

Though there is also a beach club at one of my top 10 my all time favourite rooftops – at the Carlton Hotel. But it’s really about the roof – wow of wow rooftops! It has everything: the views of the sea, harbour, city, beach and sunset. A bar, restaurant, pool and a jacuzzi! What more do you need! Well the lottery win to move in there!! 😜 (More info on my rooftop page)

Some top TA travel tips:

1. It’s one of the safest places to visit. I had a few people worrying me after I’d booked my first trip asking this. And yes – I felt SO safe.* Yes there are armed police at shopping malls and wandering the streets but that’s only a bit unnerving you aren’t used to it. They are unobtrusive and helpful! *Obviously, like anywhere in the world, things can change so always check the government website before travel.

2. They say it as it is. Even in their signage! Their directness is refreshing but for a Brit could be a little confronting.

3. I’ve heard the weather in the summer is HOT. We went in Jan and it was 16-18 in the day and right down to 7-10 at night. And March/ April where was early 20s by day and 14/ 15 by night. Actually perfect for city exploring but less so for sunning ourselves. Still out hotel rooftop did get hot enough for us to swim and sunbathe!

4. Tipping is a thing and it’s around 10- 12%. With their directness they will ask too: ‘service isn’t included how much do you want to add?’ If you feel it’s been good then say the percentage rather than an amount. If it’s been dreadful be direct back!

5. It’s expensive! Dubbed the most expensive city! Think London/ NYC prices plus!

6. Water is safe to drink from the tap (except at the Dead Sea) and as I have a very sensitive stomach but was totally fine.

7. Carry ID for bars

8. If you are a woman, men are very direct – they will tell you if they find you attractive but it’s not sleezy or creepy but it can get boring if you aren’t interested (first world problems right there)

9. It’s the gay capital of the world so many rainbow flags, so warm and welcoming to all – including all religion’s. It’s a hugely religious place, as you’d imagine.

10 Tel Aviv is a perfect base to explore Israel from – so don’t confine yourself to TA. Go explore Masada, Jerusalem the Dead Sea and so much more. Click here for those guides.

Blue Sky Rooftop at The Carlton

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