Today, I’m excited to share my experience spending two days in Tel Aviv, one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in the Middle East. With its beautiful beaches, bustling markets, and lively nightlife, Tel Aviv is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Israel. It’s a surprisingly liberal and modern city and it will please you to hear that 2 days in Tel Aviv is plenty of time to catch the main sites and get a feel for the place. Join me as I explore the city’s highlights and discover the unique culture and history of this fascinating destination.
The first time I went to Tel Aviv, I arrived in Tel Aviv during Purim and was amazed by the fabulous costumes to be seen all around. Even the dogs were dressed in garlands!
Day 1: Carmel Market, Neve Tzedek and Tel Aviv Nightlife
Kick start your day with a traditional Israeli breakfast such as a Shakshuka (a traditional dish with a mix of eggs, tomatoes, onions, pepper and spices). You can also find healthy options such as fruits and muesli. I really recommend the Bucke Café. You’re then ready for a day exploring some of the best areas in Tel Aviv – Carmel Market, Neve Tzedek, Rothschild Boulevard and Florentin.
Morning – Carmel Market
Start your day by visiting the iconic Carmel Market, the largest outdoor market in Tel Aviv. Wander through the colorful stalls and sample local foods, including fresh fruits, pastries, and spices.
Carmel Market, also known as Shuk HaCarmel in Hebrew, is one of the largest and most popular outdoor markets in Tel Aviv, Israel. Located in the heart of the city, the market stretches for several blocks and is filled with colorful stalls selling a variety of goods, from fresh produce to clothing to souvenirs.
The market has a rich history, dating back to the 1920s when it was established by Jewish immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. Over the years, it has become a vibrant and bustling hub of commerce and culture, attracting locals and tourists alike. What I really love about Carmel market is the colourful and quirky street art.
One of the highlights of Carmel Market is its food offerings. The market is home to a wide variety of vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, baked goods, and local specialties such as falafel and shakshuka. Visitors can sample a range of flavors and aromas, and even pick up some ingredients to prepare their own meals at home.
In addition to food, the market also offers a range of other goods, including clothing, jewellery, electronics, and souvenirs. Bargaining is common in the market, so you are encouraged to haggle for the best prices.
Carmel Market is open every day except for Saturday (Sabbath – Shabbat) and Jewish holidays. The market is busiest on Fridays, as locals stock up on supplies for the Sabbath, and on Tuesdays and Fridays, when an organic food and farmers’ market takes place nearby. A visit to Carmel Market is a must for anyone looking to experience the lively culture and flavors of Tel Aviv.
Morning – The Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv
From Carmel market, it’s just a 10 minute walk to the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv – an iconic landmark that is considered one of the most beautiful synagogues in the world. Located in the heart of the city, it is a symbol of the vibrant Jewish community in Tel Aviv. Built in the 1920s, the synagogue boasts an impressive facade featuring a grand archway and two imposing towers. Inside, visitors are treated to stunning stained glass windows and intricate mosaics that adorn the walls and ceiling. The synagogue is not only a place of worship but also a cultural center, hosting a variety of events throughout the year. Whether you are Jewish or not, a visit to the Great Synagogue is a must when exploring Tel Aviv.
It’s been around 5 years since I visited this synagogue. Sadly, according to more recent reports, it has started to become a little ‘run-down’ looking as renovation is now due. Tourists can visit and there is a charge of 10 Shekels to enter, but be aware of changes to this schedule during synagogue services and Jewish special occasions such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Afternoon – Neve Tzedek neighborhood, one of the city’s oldest districts
Stop off for some fresh orange juice and falafel from one of the street vendors before exploring Neve Tzedek – a charming neighbourhood located in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel. It is considered to be one of the city’s oldest and most historic neighbourhoods, having been established in 1887 by a group of Jewish immigrants. This area is just a couple of minutes walk to the West of the Great Synagogue.
The neighborhood has a rich history, having gone through periods of neglect and revitalization. In the early 1900s, it was a thriving cultural and artistic hub, attracting many of Tel Aviv’s most prominent artists and intellectuals. However, by the mid-20th century, it had fallen into disrepair, and many of its buildings were abandoned.
In the 1980s, a revitalization effort began, aimed at restoring the neighborhood’s historic buildings and attracting new residents and businesses. Today, Neve Tzedek is a vibrant and fashionable neighborhood, filled with trendy boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. It has become a popular destination for tourists, who come to explore its charming streets and admire its historic architecture.
One of the highlights of Neve Tzedek is the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre, a cultural complex located in the heart of the neighborhood. The center hosts a variety of performances and events throughout the year, ranging from contemporary dance to classical music.
Another must-see attraction in Neve Tzedek is the Nachum Gutman Museum of Art, which showcases the work of the famous Israeli artist Nachum Gutman. The museum is housed in a historic building that was once home to the artist, and features a collection of his paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
Visitors to Neve Tzedek can also explore its many art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants, or simply wander its charming streets and soak up the neighborhood’s unique atmosphere. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and picturesque streets, Neve Tzedek is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Tel Aviv.
Evening – Rothschild Boulevard and Florentin
Experience the vibrant nightlife of Tel Aviv by visiting one of the city’s many bars and clubs. Check out Rothschild Boulevard, a popular area with a range of bars and restaurants, or head to the trendy Florentin neighborhood for a more alternative scene. I really like Shuffle Bar in Florentin.
Day 2: Jaffa, Gordon Beach and Tel Aviv Port
Spend the morning of your second day exploring the historical area of Jaffa – the ancient port city of Tel Aviv. Then head for a relaxing afternoon on one of Tel Aviv’s gorgeous beaches.
Morning – The Ancient Port City of Jaffa
Explore the ancient port city of Jaffa, located just south of Tel Aviv. Wander through the narrow alleys of the Old City, visit the famous Clock Tower, and enjoy the panoramic views from the top of the hill.
Here’s a guide on what to see in Jaffa Old Town in Tel Aviv:
- Clock Tower Square: Start your tour at Clock Tower Square, the heart of Jaffa Old Town. Admire the iconic clock tower, which was built in 1900, and take in the bustling atmosphere of the square.
- St. Peter’s Church (pictured above): Visit St. Peter’s Church, a beautiful Catholic church located just a few steps from the square. Explore the interior of the church, which features stunning stained glass windows and frescoes (my favourite Church in Tel Aviv!)
- Jaffa Flea Market: Wander through the vibrant Jaffa Flea Market, which is filled with antique shops, second-hand stores, and food stalls. Bargain with the vendors and sample local foods, such as hummus and falafel.
- Jaffa Port: Walk down to Jaffa Port, one of the oldest ports in the world. Admire the views of the Mediterranean Sea and learn about the history of the port, which dates back to ancient times.
- Old Jaffa: Explore the narrow streets of Old Jaffa, the historic heart of the city. Admire the beautiful Ottoman-era buildings and visit the Ilana Goor Museum, which showcases contemporary art and design.
- Kedumim Square: End your tour at Kedumim Square, a lively square filled with street performers and cafes. Relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea as you reflect on the history and culture of this unique and fascinating neighborhood.
This walking tour of Old Jaffa should take approximately 2-3 hours, depending on your pace and how much time you spend at each location. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, especially during the summer months when it can get hot and humid in Tel Aviv.
Also another important tip for walking around Old Jaffa is to dress conservatively – women should cover their legs and shoulders and have little or no cleavage showing. This is because there are a few interesting religious buildings in Old Jaffa (including an Armenian Church) that you can enter for free if you are appropriately dressed.
Travel tip – It is possible to walk from Tel Aviv to Jaffa and it’s a beautiful walk along the seafront. Another great option is to hire a bike or a scooter for the trip around the coast.
Afternoon – Relaxing on Gordon Beach or Frishman Beach
Spend the afternoon relaxing on one of Tel Aviv’s beautiful beaches, such as Gordon Beach or Frishman Beach. Gordon Beach is my favourite – it’s located near Atarim Square, on the beachfront right next to the marina. Soak up the Mediterranean sun and enjoy the sea breeze. You might also want to take a walk through some of the beautiful sea front parks including Spiegel Park and Independence Park.
If you’re still eager for more culture, you may decide to skip some beach time in favour of one of Tel Aviv’s amazing museum – I recommend the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Evening – Food and Drinks at Tel Aviv Port
End your trip with a visit to the Tel Aviv Port, a trendy area with a variety of restaurants and bars. Enjoy a delicious dinner overlooking the sea, or dance the night away at one of the area’s nightclubs. I highly recommend ‘The Fishermen’ for a mouth watering meal with Kebab’s or fish.
If you are looking to dance the night away, why not head to Shalvata? Located on the water’s edge, this bar and club is one of Tel Aviv’s hottest nightlife destinations. With its stylish decor and live music performances, it’s a great spot for a night out on the town.
Of course, there are many other things to see and do in Tel Aviv, so feel free to customize this itinerary based on your interests and preferences.
Day Trips from Tel Aviv
If you are lucky enough to have an extra day in tel Aviv then consider doing one of the following day trips…
- Day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea from Tel Aviv.
- From Tel Aviv: Guided Day Trip to Nazareth & Sea of Galilee
- Day trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem from Tel Aviv.
Most people tend to travel on from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if they have more time in Israel. The best way to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is by bus, because the train station is located a little outside of the city of Jerusalem and you would have to get a taxi into the city from there. Although a day trip to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv is worth it, you would do better spending at least 3-4 days in Jerusalem as there is a lot to see.
Further Reading on Israel
If you are travelling to Israel and looking for more information then you might also like to read the following articles:
- Solo Travel Israel – The Ultimate Guide
- How to plan the perfect Jerusalem Vacation.
- City of David – The Real Ancient Jerusalem
- My top Churches in Jerusalem
- How to spend 3 days in Israel