Where Jerusalem tends toward the sacred and historic, Tel Aviv hums with cosmopolitan energy. This Mediterranean coastal city is a sophisticated hot spot with a pulsating vibe emanating from its new restaurants, luxury hotels, world-famous markets and sparkling beaches. In Hebrew, Tel Aviv means “Spring Hill” and so we find ourselves awakening to the sights, smells and tastes of Israel’s largest city.
Of course, there’s plenty of history here, too. Set off on a morning sightseeing bike ride, expertly guided through the city’s historical and cultural landmarks, glimpsing UNESCO-listed Bauhaus architecture. Swap your wheels for your sea legs and embark on a Mediterranean cruise on a private yacht. Or, stay on land and visit the Independence Hall or Ben Gurion’s original home.
Stroll through the increasingly fashionable Neve Tzedek neighborhood and stylish HaTachana. Stop in to fascinating museums such as the Eretz Israel Museum, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Design Museum Holon.
For a slice of real life, spend a few hours at Carmel Market between the Yemenite Quarter and Nahalat Binyamin. A cacophony of sounds and smells pours over shoppers as they visit vendors selling olives, nuts, fruits and vegetables, cheese and fresh bread.
Move on to Jaffa, with its Arab heritage and revitalized Old City. While many parts of the city have been refreshed and updated, the famous flea market – with its busy, frenetic nature – is a must-see. Look for it south of the clock tower and plan to spend hours exploring the casual cafés, interesting boutiques and welcoming stalls selling everything from vintage clothes to locally crafted furniture. The boardwalk restaurants by the water are generally packed with locals and if you’re fortunate, on a summer evening, you’ll catch free entertainment.
With a foot (and perhaps both) firmly planted in the 21st century, and countless layers to unwrap, Tel Aviv nods to its historic setting while destined for a bold, bright future.