For the people of Tel Aviv, it will be a Philosophical question what is south of Tel Aviv. Most will agree that it’s the area south of Yehuda Halevi Street and HaRakevet Street. Excluding Yafo which is a different part. The area is the less developed area of the city with a poorer population.
The Neglected side of Tel Aviv
Since the 60's the area was known to be the poorer side of Tel Aviv. and as the rest of the city was advancing and developing, the South was neglected by the people and the authorities.
In the last decade, illegal immigrants and refugees from Africa started to settle in this area. At the beginning, mainly people from Sudan and Eritrea were infiltrating the border with Egypt. When they came in small numbers Israel accepted them.
The numbers of people who tried to infiltrate the border have increased dramatically with a peak at 2008 with more than 8700 people. Israel wasn’t ready for that kind of immigration and didn’t have a plan of how to take care of these people. At 2012 Israel has built a fence with the border with Egypt to stop any infiltration, of illegal immigrants and terrorists of IS from Sinai.
Today there are estimated 50,000 illegal immigrants and refugees in Israel, most of them living in the south of Tel Aviv. Because the state didn’t have any plans of what to do with these people, the situation in those neighborhood has developed into a crisis. Combine it with the facts that these neighborhood were poor and neglected before, Walking in those areas especially at night can be unpleasant. The area around the central bus station at night become a center for junkies and prostitutes.
There are many organizations working to improve the area and all kind of communal projects.
It doesn’t mean there are not interesting stuff around. It is a different side of Tel Aviv. People usually will not recommend you to visit south Tel Aviv, it is raw and not touristic. Most chances they don't go there as well. Despite the bad reputation, I never heard of anyone who had troubles in those areas and I think that during the day it is safe to go there. Still, as a tourist don’t go there a night.
Tel Aviv Central Bus Station- Exploring
On the map
Not a lot of people know, but it’s the second largest Bus Station in the world. It’s a huge building that was designed to help you get lost and not finding your destination. The building was meant for glory, but somehow things didn’t work along the way. The construction started in 1967 and it was finished and opened for public only in 1993! Along the way, the project got huge resistance from the people living in the area, had economic problems and the construction was halted for many years several times.
A Big Confusing Maze
As they finally opened it in 1993, they realized that what they thought will be a sophisticated cool design is too complex and not effective. People are getting lost, the shopping center inside has some shops that were never rented to anyone, the building is ugly, it stuck in the middle of a neighborhood and no one likes it.
Today people are still getting lost, but there are more directions signs. The shopping center is a big fail.
Foreign Workers culture center and a market
On the bottom floors, a sub-culture of foreign workers mainly from the Philippines and India is flourishing. You can get some of their food and products in the shops there and might forget you are visiting the holy land…
If you have spare time I recommend to explore the place.
Bizzare less known fact:
Underground there is an Atomic shelter for 16,000 people and a huge generator room that can provide electricity to all Tel Aviv! I bet even your Tel Avivian friends didn't know that.
Some areas of the building are yet to be explored by mankind.
Another special place in this bizarre building is the Yiddish museum. It is quite small but very special, unfortunately, I don’t know if it operates anymore. It is also really difficult to find it. located on the 5th floor on gallery number 5008. Each shop has a number, just go by the numbers until you get to 5008. this place is related to the Klezmer basement in Jerusalem.
good luck finding it!
Neve Sha'anan Street
On the map
Not your usual touristic walking street or the usual "Things to do in Tel Aviv". The place became the city center of the foreign workers and African immigrants to Israel.
You can find all kind of African food here, from the Ethiopian injera to Sudanese Kisra. The place is also an active place of prostitutes and junkies. The place is not a touristic spot. It is raw and some people won't appeal to that. I wouldn’t recommend walking around late at night or alone. Although I never heard of any violent there.
I can recommend a Sudanese restaurant at 21 Neve Sha'ana Street. happy people and good food.
If you are looking for a raw, not touristic, off the beaten path experience, South Tel Aviv is the place to go.