An Insider Guide to Tel Aviv

Explore The City’s Thriving Creative Scene

Tayelet, Tel Aviv’s seaside promenade, gloriously stretches along the Mediterranean, from Jaffa’s old port in the south to the city’s new port in the north. Framed by the rainbow-coloured palette of Dan Hotel and towering palm trees casting shadows on the sidewalk, sunkissed surfers descend from the waters as families play “Matkot,” Israeli beach tennis. Celebrated for its coastal outline and year-round sunshine, Tel Aviv urges you to spend days by the sea, soaking in aforementioned vistas, followed by culinary sprees at bustling food markets or design-driven restaurants. But the city has so much more to offer, from Bauhaus-inspired buildings in the White City to Florentin’s thriving art spaces and Jaffa’s vintage treasures. Have we mentioned Tel Avivians’ inherent drive and energy?

“Tel Aviv is all about love, passion, food, and party,” say French-born photographers Annael and Lauren Tolila. To them, Tel Aviv is where cultures and ideas uniquely collide, shaping the city’s unparalleled character. Originally from Nice, France, the sisters moved from one Mediterranean shore to the other a few years ago, and continue to divide their time between both places. “When we moved to Tel Aviv, we found a similar sweetness of life as in Nice and just loved the city’s multicultural vibe,” Lauren adds. With their work spanning travel, fashion, and design content production, their coastal lifestyle is ubiquitously ingrained in their work. “Everything that is solar, colourful, and positive has always been a drive and an inspiration for us,” Annael says, adding that experiencing new cultures equally informs their photography. When they aren’t creating visual narratives, you can find them meandering Tel Aviv’s quieter neighbourhoods, browsing food markets for regional produce, or taking a dip in the ocean.

Annael and Lauren Tolila’s Guide to Tel Aviv

The Best Local Neighbourhoods And Markets

Meaning promenade in Hebrew, Tayelet is where to find Tel Aviv’s best beaches. A popular playground for surfers, swimmers, joggers, and strollers alike, you can’t miss the sound of people playing beach tennis as you hear the rubber ball against the wooden racket echoing all along the promenade.

Neve Tzedek is a serene oasis in the heart of the city, with cafe and gallery-lined Shabazi Street as its main draw. Come for the area’s sunny terraces, design-driven concept stores such as Edition by Sagit Goldin, and beauty of its small gardens and private residences. Ice cream? Anita, at the corner of Shabazi and Pines Street, one of the best in Tel Aviv.

A small and rather residential area with low-ceiling buildings and narrow streets, Kerem Hateimanim translates to Vineyard of the Yemenites due to the Yemenite Jewish population that settled here at the beginning of the 20th century. Probably one of the city’s most authentic corners, the “Kerem”, is where to go for hummus and anything homemade. Opt for Komplet, which is the real deal: Hummus with hot bean sauce, a hard-boiled egg on top, dipped in onions and pickles. Have brunch at Yom Tov Cafe, a popular enclave among locals with a great international vibe.

Jaffa’s historical flea market, Shuk Hapishpishim is characterised by the sounds of its eclectic cast of vendors. For an olfactory sensation, visit Zielinsky & Rozen and fall in love with their unique scents, soaps, and candles. Today, the area’s ancient buildings are home to numerous contemporary art galleries. To glance at Tel Aviv’s impressive skyline, just walk up Jaffa’s hill – on your way down, the vibe is more nostalgic, with old fishermen catching fish near the world’s oldest seaport. Hungry? Head to Abulafia, an Arabic bakery, for freshly baked pita bread with Za’atar. From there, make your way to Puaa Cafe for red tahini. If you’re spending the evening in Jaffa, indulge in a quintessential Middle Eastern dinner at Onza.

The Best Food and Restaurants

Hacarmel Market is Tel Aviv’s largest and most hectic market, with narrow streets lined
with colourful stalls and shops. This is where to get a true taste of Israeli lifestyle: Go for that quintessential smell of Middle Eastern spices, a falafel sandwich, and freshly squeezed
pomegranate juice.

Possibly one of the most laid-back places in Tel Aviv, with its vinyl collection and daily menu changing according to local produce, Port Said is where locals meet for after-work drinks. Focussed on vegetarian dishes, everything is marinated and grilled in a set of unique flavours. Order a bit of everything to share: the minute steak, the avocado bruschetta, the sweet potatoes, the slices of bread with crème fraîche, and the ratatouille with tahini. Also, try Israeli beer, Goldstar.

The Levinsky Market, or Shuk Levinsky, is known for its family-owned food shops and eclectic array of flavours and tastes, from Polish salted herrings to Greek olives, Turkish Burekas, and Tunisian sandwiches. Chat with the vendors who always have the most incredible stories to tell and book a culinary tour with Delicious Israel to learn more about the neighbourhood’s roots. Stop by Café Levinsky 41 for Gazoz, a fizzy drink made of a refreshing concoction with flowers, herbs and fruits.

Serving creative dishes by culinary extraordinaire Eyal Shani, Abraxas represents Tel Aviv in a nutshell: a vibrant atmosphere meets delicious food. The ambience is warm and convivial – don’t be surprised if the waiters just throw food onto the table; eating chocolate mousse off a tablecloth is a thing here. Some must-haves include the cauliflower, baby zucchinis, and hamburgers.

The first luxury hotel of its kind in Tel Aviv and located in the heart of the old city, Jaffa Hotel was once the complex of a 19th-century French hospital. Though recently renovated, the ancient building’s heritage is apparent in every corner. You can’t miss the Chapel, a church-cum-bar and its original arched ceilings and stained-glass windows.

Photography by Lauren and Annael Tolila

What to pack