- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, with its golden beaches and lively cosmopolitan outlook is Israel's most modern metropolis. Most visitors land here to soak up the sun, shop-until-they-drop in cutesy boutiques, and enjoy some serious foodie action at the city's renowned café and restaurant scene. The beach may be the major highlight, but Tel Aviv is more than its famous strip of sand. Nicknamed "The White City," the town was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2003 in recognition of its multitude of fine examples of Bauhaus architecture (an early 20th-century modernist style of building). The city itself is full of small museums and funky art galleries that provide excellent sightseeing opportunities. While Jaffa, just to the south, is a gorgeously well-preserved old city with an old port that has been in use for thousands of years and is now revitalized with restaurants and cafés.
Tel Aviv Beaches
Tel Aviv is defined by its coastal position. The beaches attract tourists and locals alike. On weekends Tel Aviv's strips of sand are crowded with sun-worshippers, posers, partiers, and people just chilling out. The most popular sandy stretches are centrally-located Gordon Beach, Frishman Beach, and Banana Beach where you'll find excellent facilities such as fresh-water showers, sun loungers for rent, and cafés.
A short walk south along the coast from downtown Tel Aviv brings you to the old Arab port town of Jaffa with its preserved acropolis remains and well-restored stone architecture. Much of the original bazaar area is now home to restaurants and artisan boutiques. It's particularly lively in the evening when the old town throngs with diners. The flea market here is the major attraction for visitors, full of the hubbub of a genuine souk, while St. Peter's Monastery and the Old Port area itself are also not to be missed. Compared to the big-city hustle of Tel Aviv, Jaffa is a wonderfully tranquil place for a stroll that, despite serious gentrification, still retains its old-fashioned charm.
One of Tel Aviv's most atmospheric neighbourhoods, the Yemenite Quarter is full of meandering alleyways lined by old-style architecture that has withstood the area's gentrification. It was first settled by Yemenite Jews in the early 20th century, and the original feel of the closely-packed streets is still very much alive. The neighborhood backs onto Carmel Market; busy, colorful, full of fresh produce and Tel Aviv's answer to Jerusalem's famous Manane Yehuda Market. If you're hungry in Tel Aviv and want a cheap meal, this is the place to head.
Dizengoff Circle and Surrounds
The hub of Tel Aviv is this central plaza, laid out on two levels with a raised area for pedestrians above the carriageway and topped by the peculiar modern-art Fire and Water Fountain designed by Israeli artist, Yaacov Agam. The plaza and the street running off it are named after Meir Dizengoff, Tel Aviv's first mayor after the city separated from Jaffa. From the circle, Dizengoff Street runs southeast to Habimah Square, Tel Aviv's cultural center and home to the Habimah Theatre, built in 1935. This is also where you'll find the excellent Helena Rubenstein Pavilion of Contemporary Art, which hosts a program of temporary art exhibits.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
A leading light in Israel's contemporary art scene, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art contains works by Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Henry Moore, Picasso, Jackson Pollock and the world's largest collection of work by Israeli artists. The ultra-modern building with its sophisticated architecture houses and highlights the artworks perfectly. As well as the permanent collection, the museum hosts regular temporary exhibits and other events.