Tel Aviv never sleeps, so maybe a weekend isn’t enough. I’ve prepared a guide with places to visit in Tel Aviv in 48 hours that will help you get the most out of the city in as short as time as possible.
It’s hot and dusty. Concrete shimmers in the white heat of the Mediterranean sun. A salty breeze drifts through the air and the streets from the coast, which cheerily provides a constant soundtrack of surf, though you may not always be able to see it. Off the main boulevards and down the cozy side streets, cafés become restaurants, and restaurants become bars. People gather around their beers, chilled wines or espressos, engaged in a heated debate or chilled out conversation.
As the evening begins to descend, why not warm your palette at one of the city’s top wine bars and mingle with the city’s beautiful set? Tucked away down a series of narrow side-streets is Jajo Vino, which is almost as famous for its romantic atmosphere as it is for its vinous range (no doubt there’s some relationship between the two…). Opened ten years ago, its location and history allow it to straddle the line perfectly between established hang-out yet somewhere that takes a determined bit of exploration through Neve Tzedek to uncover.
Places to visit in Tel Aviv: Hotel Montefiore and Shakuf
Ben Gurion International Airport’s Terminal 3 serves as the first glimpse of Israel for many international visitors. Designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, with leading Israeli architect Ram Karmi consulting, passengers are greeted with graceful, vast columns of sandy-coloured stone before being shown out into the almost blinding Israeli sun.
From there, take a 20-minute taxi ride into town and check in at the boutique Hotel Montefiore. This intimate 12-room hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv’s White City is the district epitomised. A beautiful rendering of inter-war Mediterranean meets Bauhaus design. The luxury boutique has quickly established itself as one of the go-to destinations in the city. Part of its appeal lies in its Vietnamese restaurant, where guests and the city’s à la mode assemble and lounge over aromatic creations.
If Vietnamese isn’t your thing, Shakuf, a short walk away in Jaffa’s old city, provides a fresh take on Mediterranean cuisine. Serving fresh, locally sourced, seasonally inspired, organic food, there’s also a dab of the theatre supplied by the open kitchen where one can watch Shakuf’s top range chefs.
A word about the districts
With its western edge against the sea, Tel Aviv is orientated in a relatively easily navigable rectangle shape – especially when compared to other significant metropolises – defined by the Yarkon River to the north, the Ayalon highway to the east, and Salame Road to the south. Founded in 1909 by Jewish settlers on the northern outskirts of the ancient port of Jaffa, the city consequently developed from south to north. Now, the districts of Jaffa and the ‘old north’ of the Neve Tzedek Jewish quarter have become the city’s cultural centre, where many of the city’s older working residents rub shoulders with the young, the artistic and the small-scale business owners. Here, galleries and cafés spring up while the underground clubs and bars lurk in the darkness.
Places to visit in Tel Aviv: The White City
Venture further north, and you’ll find the bustling official city centre, the diplomatic and architectural core of the town, home to the UNESCO world heritage Bauhaus site, the White City, and some of the city’s plushest restaurants and most interesting museums. Finally, cross the Yarkon River to the north to see the quieter, leafier Tel Aviv, where families and the sophisticated professionals reside in suburbs of (relative) quiet solitude.
Places to visit in Tel Aviv: Rothschild Boulevard
The Rothschild Boulevard, home to the Rothschild Hotel, is a favourite among Israeli and international visitors. The hotel has nevertheless lost none of its luxurious appeal, nor has its lustre been dampened. Located in an exquisitely preserved townhouse, the contemporary style of the interior is sleek and modern, with crisp, clean lines offset by warm natural materials such as hardwood floors, cotton linens and leather furnishings. We recommend suite 47, which reaches the boulevard’s treetops.
Places to visit in Tel Aviv: Noga Gallery
Once you’ve checked in, venture north to the White City district and to the leading light in Tel Aviv’s array of contemporary art galleries, Noga. An essential Want To Go destination for enthusiasts, experts and casual observers alike, the gallery is nestled on Ehad Ha’am Street and is a critical conduit between Israeli artists and the domestic and international audience, representing names such as Orly Maiberg, Eti Jacobi and Joshua Borkovsky.
Places to visit in Tel Aviv: The Port Market
Next, head west to the Port Market of Tel Aviv and to Rossi Shirit’s Kitchen Market. A veritable Mecca for foodies in the city and beyond, the cooking at Kitchen nominally centres, perhaps unsurprisingly, on seafood. However, the menu is suitably diverse enough to represent the sheer variety of products available in Israel but delivered with a focused and studied attention to detail. Everything, from the preparation to the cooking and final delivery, is carefully watched to match Shirit’s characteristic flair, resulting in food that is at once light and intense. With a beautiful seafront view overlooking Tel Aviv port, Kitchen Market also doubles as an excellent space for after-dinner drinks.