You might remember that I really wanted to spend a month or longer in Tel Aviv after visiting the city last year, which is why I was stoked when the opportunity arose to return this month, finally, about twelve months after my first visit. It wasn’t a month-long visit, unfortunately, but I got to spend a week in Israel to research how to spend a weekend in Tel Aviv on a small budget.
I was a bit nervous, not sure if I’d still love the city as much as I did last year, but I didn’t have anything to worry about. The minute I stepped off the plane and felt the warm Mediterranean air, I knew I’d have a great time. After checking into my apartment I went straight to the beach to watch the sunrise, followed by a delicious Israeli breakfast. It felt amazing coming from chilly Germany to summery Tel Aviv, where temperatures were still in the 80s and the Med was warm enough to go for swims in the sea.
Being in Tel Aviv on a budget challenge was an interesting experience – on the one hand I realized that Tel Aviv is indeed quite pricey, but on the other hand I found a ton of free stuff to do (I’ll be sharing my budget tips for Tel Aviv shortly). My favorite free activity? The beaches, no question! Every day in Tel Aviv has to involve a visit to the beach – ideally during sunset, or a long run along the promenade. The agenda for my second visit? I wanted to revisit old favorites but also experience a few things I didn’t get around to doing last year. I strolled through the narrow alleys of Jaffa again, took in the vistas over the city from there, had what is supposedly the best hummus in all of Israel (and I can now confirm that it really is the best hummus in Israel!) and visited the amazing Ilana Goor art museum (a first for me, and so worth it). I also made time for a visit to Carmel market, a walk down the beautiful Rothschild Boulevard, and for some gift and souvenir shopping in Jaffa Flea Market.
Last time I didn’t have time to go on the street art tour in the Florentine neighborhood I was keen on checking out – this time, I got was able to join it and it was fantastic! It’s run by Guy Sharret, who also hosts the StreetWise Hebrew podcast which I love, and I got to see so much more street art than I would’ve found on my own, even though I was staying in Florentine. Speaking of this cool neighborhood: I also got a taste of the nightlife in this area of Tel Aviv, I visited some of the gay and lesbian bars I didn’t make it to on my first trip, and I joined the superb Tel Aviv pub crawl (because I still had great memories of the pub crawl in Jerusalem I went on last year). Another first: renting a Tel-O-Fun bike, a public bike sharing program similar to New York’s Citibikes or London’s Santander Cycles. For only ILS17 (US$4.50) per 24 hours, they turned out to be the best way to get around the city on the budget. Of course I also ate my way around town, I made new friends, got an invitation to try kite-boarding next time I’m in town (check out the awesome KB4girls if you plan a visit to Israel), and I am already contemplating my next trip to Tel Aviv. I still feel I have only scratched the surface of all the great things the city has to offer, and once again I have to say: Tel Aviv deserves a longer visit, and I hope I can make a extended stay there happen rather sooner than later.
For more information on Tel Aviv and Israel, check out GoIsrael.