Some Tel Aviv History
The Jews were expelled from the land by the Romans 2000 years ago, but all this time there were Jews in the land in a small amount. Those Jews were very religious and were living in communities in Jerusalem, Sefad, Hebron, and Tiberius.
With the beginning of the Zionist movement in the 19th century, secular Jews started coming with the idea of establishing a Jewish homeland, one of the cities they established was Tel Aviv. In 1909 the founders gathered on the sand dunes they just bought and made a lottery of how to split the land. They wrote their names on seashells and a child was picking them randomly. This is how Tel Aviv was established.
After the massacre of the Jews in Jaffa in 1921, most of the Jews of Jaffa moved to Tel Aviv and it became the center of the Jewish urban life in the land.
When the state was established, Jerusalem was a conflict zone with the Jordanian army who controlled the old city and East Jerusalem. Because of this situation, slowly all the culture and business centers developed in Tel Aviv. Although today Jerusalem is developing and starts to compete with Tel Aviv on nightlife and young people and as a cultural center, It is still behind.
How to get From Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv?
Except for Shabbat, you have a train from the airport the whole day/night, It is located on the bottom part of terminal 3. It costs around 13 NIS and the traveling time is 20 min. You can check for more details on the Israel Train site.
From other places and more details, check the public transport page.
Note that in Tel Aviv there are 2 buses compounds:
- Central bus station
- Arlozorov bus/train station
Tel Aviv Central Bus Station
On the map
You can read more about this special place here. And when I say special it is not necessary for a good reason.
Note: The station area and its surrounding is not a pleasant area to walk around, especially late at night. The surrounding area became a center of homeless people, prostitutes, and illegal immigrants. Although I never encounter any problem myself I wouldn’t recommend walking around at night as a tourist.
- The Egged buses floor is the sixth floor and above floors. Buses to northern Israel are usually on the 7th floor.
- If you need to take a Minibus (Sherut), it is located outside of the station on the east side on Tsemach David Street.
- You need to pay 1 ILS for using the toilet. On the staircases, there are small toilets for free.
Arlozorov public transport compound
On the map
Except for the central bus station, there is another public transport compound which is located a bit north of the city center. This place is a train station but also a big open air bus terminal.
The confusing thing about this place is that it has several names:
The train station - known as TLV merkaz ( center) or Savidor.
The buses - call it Aarlozorov terminal or terminal 2000.
Why visiting Tel Aviv?
So in a way, this young innovation spirit of everything is possible to still exist in Tel Aviv. It’s the secular's capital (although there are some small religious communities) and a lot of the young people in Israel will live in Tel Aviv for at least short time or will have friends who live there.
The city itself with its 30's and later 70's crumbling buildings is not beautiful. It's not Paris or even Jerusalem. There are some architecture points of interest. But that’s it.
The People of Tel Aviv!
The place just has a cool atmosphere and you can actually feel it.It’s a very open-minded place with chilled and very friendly people. Will be easy to start a conversation with people on the streets and make new friends. There is also a very accepting, not formal atmosphere. You can sit in a bar or a restaurant with flip flops and shorts, mature people riding skateboards and there is a big gay community.
The best way to experience the city is not reading this guide but trying to make as soon as possible a local friend who will take you to all the cool stuff that is happening right now.
5 Things You Must Visit in Tel Aviv:
You can relax, there is no such thing. No marking V here.
Tel Aviv is a young city, most of the historical places are not interesting for tourists, although I will mention some of them later. No special buildings or squares to visit. You don’t visit sites here, you experience the city, Mainly by visiting the beach, walking around, eating yummy stuff and going out.
Tel Aviv insights:
The White City
In 2003 UNESCO declared some areas of Tel Aviv as a world cultural heritage sites. Most of the people in Tel Aviv had no idea what they were talking about and here is the reason quoted from UNESCO site:
Criterion (ii): The White City of Tel Aviv is a synthesis of outstanding significance of the various trends of the Modern Movement in architecture and town planning in the early part of the 20th century. Such influences were adapted to the cultural and climatic conditions of the place, as well as being integrated with local traditions.
Criterion (iv): The new town of Tel Aviv is an outstanding example of new town planning and architecture in the early 20th century, adapted to the requirements of a particular cultural and geographic context.
If you are not an architect I guess you didn’t understand anything, well probably also if you are. But suddenly some Tel Avivians discovered that their crumbling buildings from the 30's are special.
In the 30's as Tel Aviv grew up fast, there was a need for a plan for expanding and building. at that time many Jews fled from Germany to the land, among them there were architects who were chosen to design the buildings. They were affected by the Bauhaus style and modern architecture. And that’s how some areas of Tel Aviv that were built in the 30's got a distinct look.
Tel Aviv has a bike sharing rental system. It can be quite useful for cruising around and get to feel the seaside breeze in your hair. Note that it’s a heavy clumsy one gear bike. Not your descent mountain/road bike from back home. If you are thinking of doing some serious cruising around and cover distances I will recommend renting a proper bike.
In Tel Aviv, there are many small supermarkets spread all over the city center. Unlike other places in Israel where the 24/7 supermarkets are more expensive in Tel Aviv, because there are so many of them, they are relatively cheap.
You will find those on the ground all over the city center. The municipally tries to fight what most people see as littering. Can also create awkward moments if your kid picks it up and ask what it is.
If Israel is a vegan-friendly place, Tel Aviv is the capital of veganism in Israel. It won't be hard to find vegan restaurants or vegan dishes in regular restaurants and even vegan ice cream.
this place serve a vegan kebab and burgers
the city is known to be a very gay-friendly place with a lot of special events and active community.
people of the city just love dogs. Seems like everyone has one.
if they don't have a dog they will probably have a cat. and the ones who don't have either of them just spoil the street cats. there are many street cats which forgot how to hunt and are just parasites on the society.
South Tel Aviv
Check South Tel Aviv page.
Surfing In Tel Aviv
Many surfers, not much waves. don't count on Israel as a surfing destination. There are few days a year, mainly in winter when the conditions are good for surfing. "The surfing" spot is in front of Hilton Hotel.
Best beaches to surf in Israel are in Ashkelon, Haifa, and Nahariya. surfing competition in Nahariya.
Tel Aviv is a good spot for kitesurfing and windsurfing. If you are into it check Eilat where it is better and cheaper.
Shabbat in Tel Aviv
Wait, what is Shabbat? Check here.
As a tourist, you will barely feel any different. Compare to Jerusalem where the city center becomes a ghost town, in Tel Aviv, it’s the opposite, the beaches become even more crowded. Most of the restaurants and 24/7 supermarkets will be open. Only one big difference is that there will be no public transportation except for some minibusses with specific destinations.