I had to wake up painfully early this morning (around 4:00am) but it was definitely worth it - I was flying to Israel! I had to take another expensive taxi back to the Larnaca airport which was a pretty nice medium sized airport. My plane was a tiny bit delayed but nothing too bad. The flight was so short at about forty minutes and it was so cool to fly in right over Tel Aviv and be able to see the city!
Before I go any further I want to give special thanks to my good friend Jennifer for all of her recommendations for both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - they were fantastic and made the trip amazing! Literally, she recommended everything that I did it was so incredibly helpful and made my life so much easier for two days.
When I landed and went through passport control I learned that Israel no longer gives passport stamps - I had heard this but now saw it for myself. I had brought both of my passports just in case but it ended up being a non-issue. For those that don’t know having an Israel stamp causes major issues with entry into a few countries so that’s why I was extra cautious. You do get a little slip of paper that you can keep both upon entry and exit so at least there was something! Entry into the country was almost surprisingly easy (just considering where I was) and I then made my way to the train to take into the city. It is significantly cheaper than taking a taxi and was really quick and easy.
The train stations are all along the east side of the city and my hotel was on the west side, so I just chose the closest station and then had to take a taxi. I used the Gett Taxi app while I was there as it is really common and very similar to Uber (except it is obviously for taxis only). My first trip went poorly as the driver never even showed up but from then on out it was smooth sailing. I took about a $10 taxi to my hotel, Dave Tel Aviv.
Dave Tel Aviv is located in the heart of the city and is a brand new hotel! Literally, there was fresh paint and construction being finished. It was so nice, though, and a very quirky little boutique hotel! The staff were so helpful throughout my stay, including helping to store my bags for the day as I had arrived so early that my room was not yet ready. After checking in and leaving my bags I then headed out for the day!
My first stop was to walk along Dizengoff street from near my hotel to my lunch spot. It was a really nice walk along one of the major streets in town. I walked through the Dizengoff shopping center just to see it along the way, and really enjoyed my first taste of the city. I took the street to Sarona Market where I was going to eat lunch! Sarona market was incredible. There were tons of outdoor shops and restaurants in a beautiful set up (it had a bit of an Italian feel), but my favorite part was the indoor market.
There were so many cool restaurant spots! I walked around basically drooling for a while before finally deciding to eat at Meat Bar Burger. And trust me, it was a hard decision. I could literally eat in just Sarona Market for months and still want to go back - literally, everything sounded so good! My burger was incredible - perfect flavor, tasty fries, and awesome sauce. It was a great decision but not kidding I would go back to Tel Aviv just for Sarona Market.
After Sarona Market, I walked along Rothschild Boulevard which was beautiful. The center of the street is bike and walking paths and the street is lined with trees. It was a really nice walk to my next stop, Rothschild Allenby Market. I was obviously too full to eat again but I just wanted to see this market, and it was another cool one! It was really new and filled with tons of great spots. From there I then made my way to Shuk Hacarmel Market (also known as Carmel Market). It was crazy but in a good way! There were so many people, stalls, and stuff everywhere. It was so fun to just walk through everything and I really enjoyed watching the craziness and seeing everything that was for sale.
After finishing walking through Shuk Hacarmel I made my way to some cute streets in town, known collectively as Neve Tzedek. My favorite was Shabazi Street which had tons of cool shops and I stopped to get some tasty gelato and rest for a bit before continuing my walking heavy day. My next stop was Jaffa Old City, and on the way, I had my first sight of the water! Tel Aviv sits along the Mediterranean Sea and it was stunning. My entire view for the rest of the day involved walking along the water it and I definitely wasn’t complaining.
The walk to Jaffa was a long one but totally worth it. It was such a unique part of the city and had a completely different feel. It was obviously more touristy but it was interesting as well! I didn’t spend a ton of time there but was glad that I went, especially as the views out over the city and the water were amazing. You could see everything from Jaffa! After taking another quick rest I started my long walk back. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have walked the entire hour back to my hotel for my feets’ sake but the walk along the water was just too pretty to care. I enjoyed the entire walk along the coastline. That is actually the only major downside to Tel Aviv that I saw - the lack of easy public transportation. There are busses and they are working on a light rail but it’s not there quite yet!
When I arrived back at Dave Tel Aviv I checked into my awesome room! It was perfect and very cozy as well. And then I made a huge mistake - I laid down. And fell asleep. For five hours. It wasn’t ideal, but after having walked over eleven miles on no real sleep it seemed pretty inevitable. I then was awake from about 10:00pm until 5:00am which I realize is the opposite of ideal, but there wasn’t too much that I could do. Luckily I fell back asleep for a few more hours before my day visiting Jerusalem tomorrow!
I had an incredible day in Tel Aviv and definitely recommend it! It’s a big city for sure but with a lot of great food, markets, history, and a beautiful coastline. I wish I had more time to see even more of the city but it was a great first visit!
62 countries down, 135 to go.
Read about my second day in Israel here.
To learn more about Dave Tel Aviv click here.