When tourists (especially the first-timers) visit Israel, they usually head straight to Jerusalem, as it is the main attraction of the country. They cannot be blamed, as Jerusalem is the “holy city” and is home to centuries-old places of worship and other religious sites and quarters.
But don’t rule out Tel Aviv! This wonderful city offers a lot of places to see and do. At first, tourists would come to Tel Aviv often reluctantly… but they have found themselves falling in love with it! Tel Aviv’s famous reputation as a “non-stop” city, its art and architecture, beaches, as well as the warmth of the people are among the city’s selling points.
Tel Aviv celebrated its centenary in 2009 as the first new Hebrew city in (what was then) Ottoman Palestine. It was built on the outskirts of the ancient city of Yafo, (Jaffa) and so is known as Tel Aviv-Yafo.
One of the things that make Tel Aviv so interesting is that it offers a delightful contrast between the historic and the modern. You can see tall and shiny skyscrapers dwarfing the more ancient and historic buildings. Although Tel Aviv is a thoroughly modern city, the combination with Yafo also gives it ancient city status. Much of Yafo has been restored and is complete with alleys, artist colonies, restaurants and a port dating back to the biblical times.
Today, Tel Aviv is Israel’s second largest city. But it is the heart of a large urban conurbation (Gush Dan – Dan Region). Tel Aviv is the commercial center of Israel and prides itself as being the city that doesn’t sleep and the most modern and cosmopolitan city in Israel. It is also the country’s economic and technological center.
Tel Aviv is well known for its beaches and the beach lifestyle. All of its thirteen beaches are free and open to the public, and offer a wide array of seaside amenities, sports, fun and relaxation, and other sorts of experiences. There’s also the seaside promenade that offers uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are an interesting study of contrasts, likening it to siblings. While Jerusalem is a calm, sober, and pious older brother or sister, Tel Aviv is a fun and carefree younger sibling. So it is no surprise that Tel Aviv earns a reputation for being a shiny party town. All-weekend parties, lots of happy hour, and more-than-sizable numbers of the young and hip crowd that make the city the perfect place to let your hair down and forget all of your everyday cares for a while.
Tel Aviv is also home to the world’s most beautiful people — and the media and even the travelers themselves say so! But like many other cities in Israel, Tel Aviv is the city for all people, as Israel has a very diverse population of different religious and ethnic backgrounds that gives the country off a pluralistic vibe.
Tel Aviv has plenty more to offer – markets, Bauhaus architecture, museums, parks and Yafo. And can we afford to leave out the food? Oh, the glorious food!
Lonely Planet has named Tel Aviv as number three on its list of Top Cities for 2011. It highlights the tolerant international and cultural nature of Tel Aviv.
Enjoy the sand and the sea, and explore Tel Aviv’s other charms: