Article by: Tori Kempter
From the moment I arrived in Tel Aviv I knew: this is the beginning. It felt like the beginning of a great journey, an adventure. The beginning of change. Tel Aviv does that for you. It brings out your wild side, the sun lighting up every dark thought you might have, the beach washing away every last fear.
Still, many people are scared of traveling to Tel Aviv or rather Israel, as it is surrounded by war zones and likely to become one itself at any given moment. I’ve hardly ever felt as safe in a city as I do in Tel Aviv. It’s protected by the best middle defense system and there are many soldiers that you see all over the city.
To me, there are two approaches to describe the Tel Aviv vibe, the horribly cheesy abbreviation YOLO and the beautiful Hebrew word “balagan”.
If you are a person that thinks of herself to live in the moment, have Tel Aviv put you to the test — it’s all about embracing the now. How could it be different in a tiny country existing with the knowledge that every single one of its neighbors is not, let’s put it lightly, their biggest fan?
Balagan whatsoever is a word best described as „beautiful chaos“, which matches Tel Aviv like banana matches peanut butter. Public transport, for instance, gives you the following options: the train, which is basic and easy but really doesn’t take you anywhere within the city. Here the bus line network comes to play. Crosslinking the whole city – if not country – in a confusing but somehow functioning way, never on time but reliable outside of Shabbat. For Shabbat – beginning Friday afternoon and ending Saturday after sunset – sheruts are your best friend. And they too illustrate balagan in a way: you never know when they come, sometimes you don’t even know if they come, but they reliably drop you off wherever you feel like.
THINGS TO DO
Discover Jaffa’s stories and mysteries
The ancient port city is the oldest part of Tel Aviv, famous for its association with the biblical stories. Its small alleys resemble Mediterranean charm and hide many galleries and cute boutiques. Be sure to make your wish at your zodiac sign on the wishing bridge!
Hit the beach
A city that shuts down every weekend for 36 hours completely needs to have something else to offer: the Beach. No matter if you SUP, surf or sunbath (or burn) the broad coast extending along the cityscape is worth spending an afternoon or a full day!
The Shuk is an experience in itself with its many stands of fresh produce and exotic spices, middle eastern treats, jewelry, makeup - anything you can imagine, really! Here you also find the best and cheapest humus I have gotten my lips on so far. At the center of the Shuk, look for an entrance captioned with the big beautiful word humus. As for dessert, be sure to try some flavors of delicious Halva.
Tel Aviv is kind of a spiritual Mekka and offers many great opportunities to deepen your practice. Next to to Yoga festivals and Dynamic Osho Meditations, there’s regular events and classes all over the city. Go to Facebook to find out about the latest Sunset- or Yoga in the Park-events and check out donation based "Yoga to the People" in Abraham Hostel.
Check out whats going on on Secret Tel Aviv
As an English speaker, your (social) life is more or less made possible by Secret Tel Aviv, keeping you up to date with all events, parties, and trends populating the city.
FOOD & DRINKS
Israeli cuisine itself is a pure treat: Hummus, Falafel, Pita, Eggplant, Veggies – my personal Mekka. But Hummus isn’t the only thing you get to enjoy here and the vegan scene especially is flourishing.
A one hundred percent Vegan cafe offering breakfast, brunch, and lunch. No sugar, no wheat, no animal products and fresh produce. My personal recommendations are the chickpea-omelet-sandwich and their acai-bowl. Oh, and you really shouldn’t miss out on the shakes!
54 Frishman Street, Tel Aviv-Yafo | facebook
Another fave. Not completely vegan, Xoho offers healthy food that still invites you too indulge. Creative creations are to be awed at especially regarding pancakes (vegan options for these, too!). My former non-vegan me would have recommended their eggs with the delicious gluten-free bread. And Vegan-Tori won’t stop dreaming of their matcha smoothie topped with crumbles of the local specialty Halva.
This vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free Indian restaurant makes you wonder why you’d ever want to not be vegan! Crepes made of fermented rice filled with different curries and mouthwatering desserts.
You want a drink with that? You better! The community garden of Alphabet – Phi – offers the best cocktails for any healthy foodie: when chosen the type alcohol you get to decide between fresh-pressed juices and tea to mix with it.
Feel like doing Happy Hour and grabbing some dinner with it? Cafe Dizengoff has you covered! The cocktail card is short but creative as it is delicious. My absolute fave is the Eggplant Sabich (another local specialty consisting of eggplant on a bed of tahini, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and an optional egg.
Artsy rooftop garden-vibes right around the corner of Shuk Ha’Carmel. This bar draws in a crowd of cool kids, mixing delicious cocktails and offering good food. The portions aren’t too big – which is good considering that my favorite ice cream shop is right around the corner.
Another vegan Mecca, Bana lures you with creative and beautiful dishes, a lovely atmosphere and 1+1 on all cocktails on Sundays and Mondays.
Prepare for the best falafel in town! Don't believe me? Luckily enough you get to try a piece of its gorgeousness while waiting in line. Another extra: you're free to take as much as you like from their salad and salsa. My personal fave is the classic falafel in a gluten-free pita.
This fancy location is booked out constantly for a reason. Make sure to get your table with famous cook Sharon Cohen in time!
Prepare for delicious creations and – a rare sight – lovely staff. My recommendation: share the starters and roll with the seafood!
Arte Artesian Ice Cream
A hidden gem on Nahaliyat Binjamin, Arte offers not only a wide variety of vegan flavors (think three different types of chocolate), but also forgoes the extra sugar in the delicious fruit flavors. My favorite combination (so far): passionfruit and peach-lavender
Tel Aviv’s streets lure you in with many boutiques featuring handpicked pieces local and international designers in every price range. Tel Aviv artists give their jewelry a creative spin that is definitely influenced by the local and their personal culture alike. Next to the many jewelry stands at Shuk Ha’Carmel and on Jaffa’s Fleamarket here are some of my favorite shops to browse and treat myself with a little extra.
This was the first Jewish neighborhood outside the ancient port of Jaffa. Since the early 1980s, Neve Tzedek has become one of Tel Aviv's latest fashionable and expensive districts, with a village-like atmosphere.
Take your time to wander down Dizengoff street, checking out the fun boutiques featuring many local brands. And if you’re craving one or the other international brand, it will lead you right to the Dizengoff Center Mall.
Nahalat Binjamin and Matalon Street are a paradise to get inspired: stores filled with beads and chains, feathers and flowers, tulle and fabrics. So no matter if you prepare for one of Israel’s fabulous holidays such as Purim, for an insane week at Midburn or you just like to add some extra glitter to your life – be sure to bring a friend, time and bargaining skills.
My absolute favorite. The two locations of this artesian shop give you the amazing opportunity to customize everything. Love the idea, the colors not so much? Change the beads? Their designs give a hippie-vibe while staying on the elegant and fragile side, using delicate chains and beautiful pearls.
This local artist engraves prayers, mantras, and wishes onto small pendants so they can only be read with a magnifying glass. The pendants are gems, carved to perfection into hearts, rounds or hamsa, the delicate carvings are gold.
Daniela Dor (Jaffa) is a local jewelry designer with an elegant hippie vibe and unique pieces.
Stone Age is paradise for all you magical crystal lovers out there. A store filled with gorgeous gems and love. The owners and staff authentically keep the spirits high, gladly sharing their knowledge and stories.
Tel Aviv’s nightlife is often compared to the raving weekends of Berlin. Take it from a Berlin-lover: Tel Aviv is way less pretentious and you won’t spend hours in lines. That said, there are definitely similarities in the music scene. It’s mostly Techno, followed by HipHop or, as the trend globally seems to be going there: Reggaeton. As for the Locations…
Supposedly inspired by Berlin’s infamous Berghain, The Block is the kind of techno club asking you not to use your phone, giving one the freedom to live the moment and let go.
One of my fave locations, a fusion of bar and club, giving you the chance to dance the night away or enjoy the bar – indoors or outdoors.
The collective involving my beloved bar Phi gives space for techno parties under the names of Alpha and Gamma. The community garden – Phi – offers the best cocktails for any healthy foodie: when chosen the type alcohol you get to decide between fresh-pressed juices and tea to mix with it.
One of the more renown clubs, Bootleg throws many parties that are great for those not too keen about the techno scene. The colorful underground club invites you with a wide variety of sets that bounce from deep house to disco, creating a modest yet vibrant atmosphere.
Voted the best bar in Tel Aviv by locals, the first thing I heard about it was from my roommate: „They have Vodka Slushies!“ So no matter if you go for the hype, the drinks or the dance floors – one for DJs, one for live music – Kuli Alma is worth a visit.
Despite being a city that literally never sleeps (except for maybe all Saturday on the beach, as the city more or less shuts down – including public transport – for Shabbat), you need to get your well-earned beauty-rest.
In for a super fancy treat? Setai has you covered from head to toe luxury.
22 David Raziel, Tel Aviv
The contemporary boutique Hotel is your spot if you want to find a stylish yet cozy home on the beach – a soulful tribute to the iconic 1950-60’s Miami beach scene.
Poli House Hotel
This distinctive modern design boutique hotel in Tel Aviv is the embodiment of the urban eccentricities, diversity and personalities that shape the city. The stylish gem is located right on Shuk Ha’Carmel, giving you the opportunity to feel the pumping heart of the city.
In case you’re traveling on a budget or just up for some adventures, Abraham Hostel is the place to be. The coolest hostel by far lures locals and tourists alike with its hospitality, offering everything from in-house yoga classes to tours and events all over the country.
21 Levontin Street, Tel Aviv, 6511604
Born in New York and raised in an idyllic small town in Germany, Tori grew up with two hearts pumping in her chest. After working with Carolina Herrera in New York after graduation, she returned to Germany for a bachelors program of Communications, Culture and Management at Zeppelin University. Her studies brought her to the vibrating heart of Berlin, where she worked with the feminist online magazine EditionF, as well as the breathtaking nature of Sun Valley, Idaho where she wrote for BigLife Magazine and travelled America’s beautiful Wild West and the West Coast. Having had pieces published by ZeitOnline and BusinessInsider Germany, she continued her journey to Tel Aviv. Besides working with and publishing at The Perspective, she’s on the constant quest to explore all things revolving around nutrition, yoga and spirituality. Her big dream is to follow her heart around the world as a yoga teacher and share her experiences in writing.