TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
Tel Aviv is a special place. Colourful, friendly, cosmopolitan and modern, yet it still manages to retain the charm of the beautiful old city. It is the perfect blend of culture and relaxation, thanks to its location right on the Mediterranean Sea.
Perhaps the most surprising thing to learn is that it is a simple five hour flight from London. So depending on how you feel about flying (I quite enjoy it!) it is just about close enough for a weekend getaway.
However if you can give it slightly longer i'd suggest 5-7 days to be able to incorporate a short trip North of TA to explore a bit more of Israel. If you don't have that long, three or four nights in TA will be fabulous all the same.
Where to stay:
I stayed in two parts of the city. The first location was more towards the centre of the city, then after the trip up to North Israel, I came back and stayed in Old Jaffa. AirBnB has masses of amazing flats and private rooms available at a range of prices. The Israeli people are unbelievably hospitable so I am sure wherever you choose to stay you will get excellent service.
If you're looking for a no frills room / apart-hotel I stayed at the K Suites by TLV in the centre of town. The location was great and it is a less expensive option if you just want a room to store clothes and sleep in!
Of the hotels I had fancied Brown Hotel, which looks to have an amazing rooftop sundeck, but sadly it was fully booked for my dates.
If you're going for a special occasion, check out The Jaffa Hotel in the old part of the city.
Where to eat / drink:
Before reading this list, just note there are AMAZING places for food and cocktails in TA. A few are listed below but anywhere you find will be delicious, TA is well-known for its brilliant cuisine.
- 'Sabich', this is the traditional Israeli sandwich. The shop often has long queues so go for an early lunch at midday. The shop front is not much to look at but prepare to be rewarded for trusting me!
- DOK for a traditional Middle Eastern / Israeli menu, great for dinner
- Santa Katarina for Mediterranean mix with Middle Eastern food, really good fun for dinner pre night out, excellent cocktails
- Port Said is lively at night for a drink
- Shlomo and Doron, it's a big statement, but this is the best hummus i've ever had
- Papua is a fun little coffee shop on a street corner with outdoor seating, Bali vibes
- Way Up is another fun coffee shop with great cake and awesome baristas
- Cafe Lix is yet another great coffee shop, I went here every morning for a flat white and to read my book in the sun
- PUA is a fun and relaxed dinner spot, delicious food and a great buzz
- Jericho is an awesome place for cocktails, it occupies a super spot on the back streets and is ideal for a sundowner
- Otello for ice cream is pretty brilliant
Where to visit:
- Any of the beaches - great for swimming, people-watching and sundowners
- Old Jaffa Port - very picturesque (and touristy!) with cute little shops dotted inside the city walls
- Jaffa Flea Market
- Watch volleyball matches on Jerusalem Beach
- Cycle through Park HaYarkon
- If you're training for a Triathlon (which I was not) there's an Olympic size pool called Gordon Pool
- If you're a runner the Tel Aviv Promenade early in the morning would be a great route
- Carmel Market
- Sarona Market
- Tel Aviv Port
- Hire a bike to explore the city, take a bike lock so you can dip in the sea wherever takes your fancy
- Uber to and from the airport is super easy (I arrived on my own at 2am and felt very safe)
- I went in November - it is very warm during the day - if you need a sunshine retreat during the Winter it's an ideal time to visit
A trip North:
If you'd like to hire a car and head North, put aside two nights to stay in the wonderful Assaf Winery. It is in the Golan Heights, right on the border with Syria.
Assaf Winery is completely stunning. It is a family run winery with divine food and the family members, who are too delightful, live on site. The winery is ever-expanding so be sure to book a room which is at the back with undisturbed views of the local area. It feels very remote but a fascinating place to read up on the history, and of course sample some amazing wines in the tasting room.
If you're really into your politics and history, take an ATV tour around the Golan Heights to get super close to the border with Syria. Then go back and watch The Spy with Sacha Baron Cohen to really get your historial fix.
On the drive back to TA, it is worth a quick stop off in the walled city of Akko. A rooftop sundowner at the Efeki Hotel is truly special.