September 20th 2012
The thriving contemporary metropolis of Tel Aviv
Urban adventurers can find a bit of everything in a visit to Tel Aviv, the pulsing nerve center around which Israel’s young, dynamic population is clustered in concentration. Colorful open-air markets, cafes and bistros, arts, nightlife, high fashion, seaside recreation and high commerce in sleek skyscrapers – it’s all happening, non-stop, in Israel’s liveliest, most cosmopolitan city.
At the Tel Aviv Marina, you’ll find water sports and fishing cruises. Rise early and join an exercise or yoga group on the beach. Go to the Tel Aviv Port, repurposed as a boardwalk-lined recreation area a few years ago, for glitzy restaurants, shopping, live music, kids’ activities and nightlife.
The Sheinkin neighborhood is crammed with trendy sidewalk cafés (good for people-watching) and quirky little shops. The nearby Nahalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall offers an arts fair on Tuesdays and Fridays, complete with curios, hand-made home crafts, fashion and street performances. Many of Tel Aviv’s 4,000 restored and preserved Bauhaus buildings stand in that area, so it can be a great stop on any tour.
Parallel to the Nahalat Binyamin Mall is the bustling Shuk HaCarmel open-air market. Join the locals bargaining for fresh produce, cheap clothing, anti-evil-eye amulets and novelty souvenirs.
Are you a culture vulture? The Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Gordon Street is worth a visit. Nearby on Dizengoff Street is the Israeli National Theater and the Mann Auditorium, where the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra plays. The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center houses the Israeli Opera and holds concerts and dance performances.
Take a walk down the Neve Tzedek neighborhood, where sunny, picturesque streets yield whimsical architectural surprises, good restaurants, boutiques and antique shops. HaTachanah, the train station that once linked Jaffa to Jerusalem, is back in force, but not for transportation. The elegantly restored Ottoman buildings house restaurants, fashion and design shops, galleries, and a Friday organic farmers’ market.
Food and drink in Tel Aviv ranges from casual to gourmet. Nosh on a spicy chickpea turnover in the shuk, then dress up for dinner in a world-class restaurant later on. And thanks to local caffeine snobbery, good coffee is available almost anywhere.