Sea, Food & Sun in Tel Aviv
Starting from our first visit to Israel five years ago, we can’t help going back every year! Believe us, this country is unbelievable, with its ancient history. There are so many things to do, that you can easily spend one month visiting the entire country. Each city has its own unique vibe, from Jerusalem to Akko, Haifa, Tiberias or Tel Aviv. There are a lot of incredible landscapes to enjoy such as the Dead Sea, the fortress of Masada, the Negev desert and so much more. If you like history and Judeo-Christian religions, you will be pleased with visiting the city of Jerusalem of course but also Safed or Nazareth.
Tel Aviv or ‘The Bubble’ like Israeli people call it, is totally different from the rest of Israel because of its cool energy. People are open-minded, less religious and most of all they like to party! You can eat at any time of the day and all week long. Shabbat in Tel Aviv is followed less than the rest of the country. It’s the perfect place to chill out, eat and tan.
The sun shines almost all year long except from December to February, when it is usually rains. The temperature is between 18°C (January) to 31°C (August).
If you want to visit Israel and especially Tel Aviv, we highly recommend avoiding the city from June to August because it's the peak season and beaches are so crowded. We like to go anywhere from April to May. This time around, we decided to go for 10 days in May.
Getting to Tel Aviv?
Getting to Israel is pretty easy. It’s not far from most European countries. From Paris, the flight lasts only 4.5 hours. To get a good price, we booked our flights in December with Easyjet Airline. We ended up paying only 265 euros each with one checked suitcase.
If you’ve never been to Israel before, be aware that it has one of the most secure airports in the world, so wherever you take off it's highly recommended that you be at the airport 3 hours prior to departure. In fact, security controls could be very long because they may ask you several personal questions.
Once you get through security, instead of stamping your passport, they will give you a card containing all your personal information, that allows you to travel without any problem.
When it is time to leave Israel, plan to be at Ben Gurion airport 3 hours before take-off for departure. Security controls are very important, more so than any other country. They will interrogate everyone. Don't be surprised or shocked and stay natural, you have nothing to hide.
Your passport has to be valid for at least 6 months from the issuing country. If you have visited some Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, ask the local Israeli embassy if you will be able enter the country before buying your flights.
To get to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, you can take the train, which is the cheapest way (3-4 euros), or you can take a taxi which costs around 40 euros. The trip lasts 20 minutes.
Exploring the Brown TLV, The Montefiore and the Norman Hotels
This time we split our stay into three different hotels: The Brown TLV Urban Hotel, The Montefiore Hotel, and The Norman.
For the first two nights, we selected The Brown TLV, a boutique hotel located in the city center, because it was not expensive and the reviews were good. We paid 215€ per night for a classic room. We were disappointed by the small size of the room, it was just a room for two and nothing more. Apart from that, the hotel is nice and trendy with a great rooftop overlooking the city. We loved the style of the hotel, which was based on a retro design. The hotel offers a jacuzzi and a trendy bar on the rooftop. Ask the receptionist for their party dates.
The next stop was three nights at the Montefiore Hotel. We know it well, it was our third time in this lovely place. It's an old Bauhaus style building, renovated into a small boutique hotel with only 12 rooms. The rooms and bathrooms are spacious and fancy. Some of them have a small balcony and it's simply precious. The hotel also has a very trendy restaurant that’s inspired by refined French cuisine.
The only downside is that their reception is also the main entrance of the restaurant, and when the place is full which is always the case, the staff is not always available. The Montefiore Hotel is high end, the price per night is around 380 euros but it's often full so you need to book it several months in advance.
We went with The Norman, an exquisite five-star hotel, for our last 4 nights. The Norman is also a member of Small Luxury Hotel. This hotel opened in 2014 and is probably the most beautiful in The White City. The hotel restored two historical Bauhaus style buildings from the 1920’s. The Norman was crowned as the “Best hotel in Africa and the Middle East” by the luxury travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller in 2018 and “Best boutique hotel in the world”, by the Jetsetter Magazine.
It was our second time there. We love the atmosphere, which is designed in a very British way. The rooms are well decorated and done in the same style. All the amenities are provided of course! Having breakfast in the courtyard is one of the best moments of the day. The food is homemade, fresh and tasty. Most of all, there is a big rooftop infinity pool where you can relax and enjoy the sunset. It’s an absolute must in the center of Tel Aviv. (I want to encourage you to use language that expresses excitement instead of resorting to so many exclamation points. It could imply to the reader that you’re screaming at them and come off as aggressive or repetitive.)
These three hotels are in the center of Tel-Aviv, and walking distance from the Carmel Market or Shuk HaCarmel, the Sheinkin Street, the very lively Rothschild Boulevard, the very trendy Neve Tzedek district and the Yemenite quarter. The closest beach is at 20-minute walk away. You can easily rent a bike.
Things to do in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a surprising city. We have some thoughts about the country, but we can't think of another city that is so energetic and so secure. The people are really cool, peaceful and they love dogs and cats. They love to live outside. The streets are always lively and coffee shops and restaurants are always full. Tel Aviv is known as The Non-Stop City!
Going to the beach in Tel Aviv is a must do. There are several beaches and they are all clean. We usually go to Banana Beach. You can rent a sunbed for 12 shekels (2,9€) and an umbrella for only 6 shekels (1,5€) per day. We recommend that you go to the beach during work days because it's less crowded than the Shabbat: Friday and Saturday.
There are some beach restaurants along the seaside if you want to have lunch, eat a snack or have a drink. Watching the sunset in Tel Aviv is amazing. The sun sets in the sea!
Go to Frishman Beach to have a look at the rainbow facade of the Dan Hotel and the beautiful lifeguard tower repainted with graffiti by Edgar Rafael. This lifeguard stand was converted into a pop-up three-room hotel in 2017. Pretty cool, huh?
Every time we are in the city, I try to run at the end of the day when the temperature is cooler. I like to run along the Mediterranean Sea on the Tayelet also known as, the Tel Aviv promenade. It's very pleasant to run from Jaffa to Frishman Beach. It’s about a 4 kilometer run.
This year we decided to visit the Florentin, a Hipster neighborhood close to Neve Tzedek. It’s known as the Brooklyn of Tel Aviv. We strolled the streets for almost 3 hours, looking for colorful walls designed by Israeli street artists. They use graffiti to express their political or religious opinions. All the paintings aren’t terribly interesting but some of them really are. We loved the Florentin spirit, especially for the food. There are plenty of great places to eat!
Good to know: Florentin was a working class and unsafe neighborhood years ago, but for a few years now the area has undergone a total renovation.
Jaffa is the oldest part of the city of Tel Aviv and one of the oldest harbors in the world. After exploring Florentin, we went to Yafo (in Hebrew) by foot, it’s about a 20-minute walk. It's always pleasant to walk the old streets of the city. Try to go later in the afternoon to witness the golden light before sunset and head back to Tel Aviv along the sea. The ambiance is awesome!
There aren’t so many things to do in Yafo except for wandering the streets, seeing the clock tower from the Ottoman period, eating falafel and of course visiting the flea market. And you know what, this time we didn't go there because I was too busy taking photos! But people say that it's a must-see. For us, it’s one more reason to go back to Tel Aviv!
We spent the rest of our time, doing some shopping in our favorites places: Sheinkin Street and of course Neve Tzedek. We love the energy in these two districts. There are plenty of restaurants, music, and shops.
If you are around, we recommend that you take a walk on Rothschild Boulevard on Thursday night because it’s the last day of work in Israel and people take advantage of it to go out. Then visit the Modern Art Museum of Tel Aviv for its collections but also for the incredible design of the building, and if you have more time you can do a 1-Day trip to the holy city of Jerusalem.
How we can manage to be Vegan in Tel Aviv
Being vegan in Tel Aviv is so easy! There are plenty of creative vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the city. Most of them offer vegan/vegetarian options and sometimes they’re gluten-free.
This time we found three new spots, in three different styles: Bana, Cafe Casbah, and Arte Italian Ice Cream.
Bana is the new trendy plant-based restaurant located in the center of the city, at Nahmani St 36. The decoration is pretty and they have some tables outside, in a small pretty courtyard. We loved everything we tasted. We went there several times for a snack and for dinner. We also had dinner with friends who didn't know about the place and aren't vegan. They loved it too! The kitchen is open, and they prepare the dishes in front of you. The menu changes almost every day, which makes you happy to come back.
Tips: If you want a table, book in advance.
We read good reviews about the Casbah in Florentine and during our exploration of the neighborhood, we had lunch there. The place is decorated in a pretty, kind of Bohemian Hipster way. The food is simple and tasty.
Can you believe that in Tel Aviv you can also find a lot of vegan ice creams?! Of course, religion helps because most of the gelaterias offer some lactose-free flavors but we found a gem: Arte Italian Ice Cream. They have the largest range of vegan ice cream. It's located in Shuk HaCarmel. If you like jazz music, they schedule concerts every Thursday evening in front of the gelateria. We loved it! Believe us, we went there every day to have ice cream.
As we said, the city is full of great vegan-friendly restaurants. Here is a list of our favorite ones:
- Anastasia, a vegan cafe (Frishman 54). A great place to have your breakfast or lunch.
- Meshek Barzilay, a healthy organic vegetarian restaurant nestled in Neve Tzedek (Ahad Haam 6). Very good food and a large choice of dishes which change according to the season. A nice place to have dinner.
- Zakaim, one of the most well known in Tel Aviv (Simtat Beit HaSho’eva 20). The menu is Persian inspired and it changes constantly. The decor is eclectic, arranged with a lot of second-hand furniture.