Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast is the party capital of Israel. Especially in the summer, many people look for entertainment on the beach and in the famous discos of the city. Where Jerusalem is serious, historical and political, Tel Aviv is cheerful, exuberant and sophisticated.
The beach and the promenade Tayelet constitute the main attraction of Tel Aviv. Most beaches are free, except for Hatzuk and Herzliya where an entrance fee is requested. On Friday, when the Sabbath is announced, the beaches flood full. Near the Sea Center at the marina and in the Hayarkon Park you can rent canoes and rowboats. Also fun is the water skiing in Park Darom. On the artificial lake you will not be pulled by a boat but by cables from a crane.
The first Jewish houses were built at the end of the nineteenth century, under the name Neve Tzedek. One of the first was the Rokach house, which is now a museum with photos, films and models on the foundation of Tel Aviv and the first residents of the new city.
Tel Aviv was still very small, but that changed in the thirties of the last century when one after another building was erected. Those buildings had to be functional and had little frills. They were designed in the style of the "New Building", better known as the Bauhaus Style. Those buildings around the Bialik square are therefore on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Beth Hatefutsoth, the Diaspora Museum
In the Museum of Art in Tel Aviv the focus lies on works of Jewish artists and modern art. But there are also paintings by European masters from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, including Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso.
The Eretz Israel Museum takes you back in time with its enormous collection of historical artifacts and archaeological finds. The various are divided into themes: glassware, ceramics, coins, copper objects, and Jewish religious art. Demonstrations on how in ancient times jewelry and pots were made are being given inside the museum. There are also weaving, bread baking and grain milling demonstrations. The museum is located near a very interesting archaeological site, Tell Qasile, where no less than twelve layers of civilization have been uncovered. The oldest parts of a Philistine settlement at this place are from the 12th century BC.
The former home of the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, remains in the same condition as when he lived there with his wife Paula. You can see the office and the library of the Israeli leader and also a film is being screened on the life of Ben-Gurion. Entrance is free. Between Neve Tzedek and the Habima theater runs the Rothschild Boulevard, which was already being constructed as early as 1910. On this beautiful boulevard stands the Independance Hall, where in 1948 Israel's Declaration of Independence was read.
Tel Aviv is a paradise for shoppers. Whether it's traditional markets, ultramodern shopping malls or branches of major clothing designers, it is all to be found in the city. The Carmel Market is a feast for the senses: fresh vegetables and fruit, exotic spices, fragrant bread, but also cheap clothes. Trendy shops are mainly in the Sheinkin Street and if the offer there is a bit too expensive for you, go and visit the large flea market Shuk Hapishpeshim.
In and around Tel Aviv
Halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa you can find the archaeological sites of Caesaria. The Phoenicians already had a settlement here 4000 years BC, but the city flourished in Roman times. After the Romans came the Arabs and then the Crusaders. Of all these periods remains have been found, including a Christian church of the Crusaders and a Roman amphitheater.
Jaffa, which is now a suburb of Tel Aviv, has a checkered history too. The old Jaffa is a beautiful example of an Arab city including the beautiful mosques Al Ajami and Nouzha. The port of Jaffa is downright quaint. The large warehouses at the port are now the home of seafood restaurants.
At about an hour's drive from Tel Aviv, in Rishon Letzion, is the amusement park Super Country. For someone who is accustomed to major theme parks, the park will not offer much of a challenge, but perhaps nice to visit if you are travelling with children. They will also have fun in the big water park Yamit 2000, which is closer to Tel Aviv, in Holon.
It may be difficult to find a parking place on the street in Tel Aviv, especially in the center of town. Only park next to blue or white painted curbs. Other colors indicate that parking restrictions apply there. It is easier to park your rental car in a garage or on one of the many informal parking areas like the ones you can find near the beach south of Opera Tower and along the road to Jaffa.
Ben-Gurion Airport is located 25 kilometers southwest of Tel Aviv. The airport is easily accessible by car and is right along the highway to Jerusalem. The route to the airport is clearly signposted.