Parallel Journeys Through The Holy Land: Tel Aviv, Israel
The coastline of Tel Aviv, where the metropolis meets the beach.
Co-written by Olivia Balsinger & Misty Foster.
In this series, two American millennial travel writers–Olivia Balsinger and Misty Foster–journey through The Holy Land of Israel. The difference? Olivia traveled on a Young Travel Professionals Media Program and Misty embarked on the journey over the holidays with her boyfriend and local pals. While entirely different journeys, both returned home rejuvenated, spirited and with many a story to tell. In this guide series, they will share recommendations about where to visit, sleep and what to eat whilst meandering through Israel. Up first: Tel Aviv!
What To Do
Attempting to pack all of Israel into one trip is a daunting task. For precisely this reason, many travelers decide to take an organized tour led by a local, experienced tour guide. Gordon Tours is a reputable company that offers visitors a variety of ways to explore the country–from mega group tours to boutique family factions, this family business of three generations truly offers it all.
Bike Tel Aviv: The Bike Tel Aviv tour through Gordon Active (a division of Gordon Tours) is the quintessential way to experience the bike-friendly city like a local. Cyclists will embark on a historically and culturally rich journey, witnessing the old Jaffa Train Station, the “White City”, Rothschild Boulevard, Neve Tzedek, Habima National Theater, the Rabin Memorial, David Ben Gurion’s home and HaYarkon Park (to name just a few!). The guide will be not only knowledgeable about the city’s history and monuments, but will be sure to keep the tour entertaining and of interest for all ages. (Multiple local coffee and cookie breaks throughout the ride help as well!)
Florentine: If in your vibe is more Brooklyn than the busy, flashy Manhattan or Miami, Florentine is the neighborhood to spend an afternoon wandering through. Located in south Tel Aviv, Florentine has yet to be gentrified and built up like many nearby ‘hoods.
Grab a falafel from a street stand (the neighborhood has both a traditional Jewish and Arab presence) and stroll through the Levinsky Market, lined with tiny stores selling specialist Turkish, Greek and Romanian products and an assortment of other goodies. (Tip: Try the dates. Everywhere you can.) Wander the streets of this edgy area of town and decipher the “writing on the walls”–the miles of graffiti showcasing creativity of both locals and world famous artists.
Taglit “State of Mind” Center: It’s called The Start Up Nation for a reason. In a country approximately the size of New Jersey, you are chatting about 3021 BCE one moment and innovation coming alive in 2019 the next. As stated on their website, this new innovation center, opened in June of 2016, “highlights Israeli achievements in entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology in a variety of sectors including agriculture, medicine, defense, cyber security, science, transportation, and aerospace.” Visitors can explore, test, create and learn about the modern contributions Israel continues to make to the world.
Street art in Jaffa.
Jaffa: That penetrating scent of hookah and incense tickles your nose. Men play cards as women whisk their children to the market for dinner preparations. The mosque bell tolls.
Jaffa not only a hot and trendy neighborhood in Tel Aviv, but also has its fair share of historical relevance–4,000 years of it in fact! Originally a port city, it is now a blending of culture and tradition, where Arabs, Jews and Christians intermingle and diversity inspires.
Sip tea and people watch near the market, share a hookah and beer with newfound friends in one of Jaffa’s nightlife “go to’s” or enjoy an Jaffa-Asian fusion at the aptly named Jasian Restaurant.
Looking for a place to stay smack dab in the midst of Jaffa’s action? The Market House Hotel, part of the Atlas Hotel group, is a chic, boutique hotel with 44 rooms that each have their own personality and balconies which lookout the bustling street below.
View from Royal Beach Hotel.
Where To Stay
Royal Beach Tel Aviv: Looking for dual convenience and luxury throughout your time in Tel Aviv? The very recently opened Royal Beach Tel Aviv, a member of the Isrotel Hotel Group, is perched right on the city’s beach and overlooks skyline.
According to the official rating of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the hotel is rate 5-plus stars. The hotel boasts 230 lavish rooms and suites–each one sleek and with all modern conveniences (cable, free wifi, bathrobes etc.) Many even have terraces overlooking the dramatic beach landscape or Tel Aviv’s metropolitan.
The hotel has plenty of choices activity wise–a fitness center, an outdoor pool, two bars popular with tourists and locals alike and even a restaurant serving modern and traditional Israeli food, The West End Restaurant. Though the hotel itself could keep a visitor occupied for days, it’s incredibly convenient location will make beach going, bar hopping and general urban exploring easy and accessible.