Top 10 things to do/see in Tel Aviv*:
1. Rent a bicycle
2. Carmel Market
3. Old Jaffa/Jaffa Port
4. Florentine neighborhood
5. Nachlat Benyamin Arts and Crafts Fair
6. Rothschild Boulevard
7. Benedict’s: Breakfast 24/7
8. Neve Tzedek neighborhood
9. Any cafe’ in the city
10. Steal one of the adorable Tel Aviv dogs and head to the beach**
*I realize there are so many wonderful things to see/do/eat in Tel Aviv, these were just my top 10 favorite.
**No animals were (successfully) stolen in the writing of this blog post.
After 3 months in Tashkent, I knew I was craving real coffee, sunshine and an American-style breakfast. Stepping off of the plane in sunny Tel-Aviv I realized the extent of my deprivation. How had I survived on instant coffee for so long?! Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d indulged myself in pancakes, bacon, eggs benedict, or a granola fruit parfait. Tel-Aviv was just what I needed. I decided the beginning of the trip would be filled with all things good for the soul: sitting, wandering, eating, and soaking up some sun.
Someone visiting Tel Aviv, might think that the only thing people do here is sit at sidewalk café’s and drink coffee. It’s true and it’s what we did first. Our flight arrived early so we dropped our things off at our AirBnB and wandered the streets towards Old Jaffa Port. Of course on our expedition to get a real cappuccino, we got lost in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood. This is a must see! There are so many beautiful boutiques, restaurants, and jewelry shops tucked away in this lush intimate neighborhood. My favorite shop was: Ronit Jewelry
I’m sure there is a lot to see in Old Jaffa but we went straight down to the port and the old hanger that has been changed into hip (expensive) restaurants. We sat down at Love Seat to watch the old fisherman, tourists and street performers. I had the best cappuccino and chocolate croissant, but again it could have been the deprivation. As we sat for hours in bright yellow chairs, talking and soaking up the sun, I felt a world away from Uzbekistan.
On our way back home we stopped at Carmel Market to pick up some pastries and fruit. Shopping at the markets is a great way to save money while traveling, especially when you are visiting a city as expensive as Tel Aviv.
On the second day, after breakfast on the roof, I’m ashamed to admit that we went to a mall. Uzbekistan has crazy clothing tariffs, so despite it being the middle of winter I was still trudging around without boots. I went to the mall determined to find boots and then get the heck outta there but I found myself running into stores wanting everything just because I hadn’t seen anything very stylish in a while. I quickly felt ashamed that I had so quickly been influenced by western materialism again and felt grateful that Uzbekistan had made me less that way.
From the mall we went to the Nachlat Benyamin Arts and Crafts Fair. The pedestrian walkway comes alive on Tuesday and Friday in the Fabric district. Parts of the city closed down at sundown for Shabbat, however the market stays open later. The market has street performers and various local handicrafts. Make sure to look up at the beautiful architecture and small balconies covered with lush plants and citrus trees. That night we walked down to Rothschild Blvd. for cappuccino at Espresso Bar and dinner at Café Louise. Oh sweet, sweet Café Louise. I had sweet potato gnocchi with zucchini, mushrooms, and basil pesto with turmeric tomato sauce and it was about the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. Until I had the warm milk, honey, cinnamon drink….and then it was all over. I was officially in love with Tel Aviv.
On our final day before the long journey south to the Red Sea, we went back to Rothschild Blvd. for an American-style breakfast at Benedicts: breakfast 24/7. It’s on the pricier side, but it’s entirely worth it. I’d tell you that we also took a tour of the famous architecture, but really we just spent our time eating. In an effort to be active and productive in a city filled with beautiful fit people, we then rented bikes. The city bike rental system in Tel Aviv is phenomenal. The cute green bikes are both stylish and cheap for both residents and visitors. The daily weekend rate is 23 NIS ($7). We got bikes in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood and started north on the beach boardwalk. It was a beautiful cool day. One of my favorite things about Tel Aviv are the dogs. EVERYWHERE. So of course they were all over the beach running and playing. We passed what appeared to be a huge dance party doing traditional dances, people playing volleyball and paddleboard, until we hit the northern jetty and then we headed back south to Old Jaffa. Maneuvering the crowds we reached the artisan market that takes place on Saturdays at Jaffa Port. I had more coffee, did more people watching, and even found my favorite treat: Cotton candy!