Tel Aviv is a vibrant modern city that is best known for its sun-drenched beaches, pumping nightclubs, designer shopping, crowded street markets and high culture. What it lacks in antiquities, Tel Aviv makes up for in commerce. One third of Israel's population have made this bustling metropolis home.
Over weekends, residents from nearby towns head to Tel Aviv looking for entertainment and relaxation and city-slickers spill out onto the city's beaches to soak up the Mediterranean sun. The diversity of the population is reflected in the architectural variations and influences, such as the Yemenite Quarter and the Vodka cafes of Allenby Street. Tel Aviv also provides an ideal base from which to explore other parts of Israel, including Jaffa, the Galilee area and Caesarea.
Visitors can go rock-climbing, browse street markets, dine on seafood in the Old Port, party the night away, sunbathe on the beach or tour a top museum. These are just some of the diversions available on a holiday in Tel Aviv, which, like New York, is a 'city that never sleeps'. Tel Aviv is the hip and happening commercial centre of Israel. A holiday in Tel Aviv is great for families looking for fun in the sun, shopaholics who lust for its many malls and markets, and young travellers who revel in the nightlife and young vibe of the city.
GMT +2 (GMT +3, Mar - Oct)
230 volts, 50Hz; European-style two-pin and round three-pin plugs are used
Hebrew is the official language of Israel. Arabic was an official language until 2018, when it was downgraded to having a 'special status in the state'. Most of the population also speak English.
There are no special health precautions required for travel to Israel, but insect protection from August to November is recommended due to the prevalence of the West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. A hepatitis A vaccine is sometimes recommended by doctors, as is a tetanus vaccine and an MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination for those who haven't already had it.
Medical facilities in Israel are excellent but treatment can be very expensive, so it is essential that travellers take out full travel health insurance. It should be possible to get all necessary medications in the cities but it is always advised that travellers who need certain medications take them along on their travels, along with the prescription and a letter from their doctor.
Tipping is expected in Israel, according to the level of service (unless a service charge is added to the bill). About 10-15 percent is customary.
Check with local embassies for the latest travel advisory notices.
Travellers in Israel should maintain a high level of vigilance and keep up to date with developments. The risk of terrorist attacks remains high and travellers to the region, including Jerusalem, need to exercise caution, particularly around locations specifically targeted by attacks in the past such as bars, nightclubs, markets and buses. Suicide bombers and other militants have targeted crowded public areas, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries over the years. Although foreigners have not been specific targets, many have been caught up in the attacks because they visited famous landmarks and religious sites.
All travel to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the eastern border with Syria should be avoided. Foreign nationals face an ongoing threat of kidnapping in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The frequent outbreaks of violence in these areas makes them extremely dangerous, even if tourists are not directly targeted.
Street crime is rare in Israel though, and generally only a problem in 'bad' areas. The mugging of foreigners is unusual but pick-pocketing is not unheard of in busy market areas, so visitors should take normal precautions against this kind of crime.
Israel is a largely religious society and religious customs should be respected. Indecent behaviour is not tolerated and offenders will be arrested and fined heavily or imprisoned. Care should be taken not to photograph any military or police personnel or installations, and visitors should be discreet about taking photographs in Jewish Orthodox areas and of Jewish Orthodox people. It is advisable to carry official identification at all times, and to dress modestly.
As the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Israel is densely packed with enough religious and historical attractions and experiences to last a lifetime.
Lovers of sun, sand and sea should head to the renowned Red Sea and enjoy floating in its crystalline waters; or for a rejuvenating experience, visit one of the many Dead Sea spa resorts. Israel's popular tourist destination of Masada, located in the Judean Desert, is a must for anyone in the area.
Some of the country's most fascinating attractions include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Citadel of David. Bethlehem is worth a visit, as is Nazareth - two of the most important Christian holy sites - while Yad VaShem is a moving and interesting memorial to the Holocaust, providing a multifaceted tribute to the millions of Jews who died during World War II.
The best time of year to visit is during the spring (March/April) and autumn months (September/October), when the weather is cooler and more tolerable for tourists. Since travelling distances are not great in Israel, it's often better to drive to some places than to catch a plane. There are good public transport systems in place in the major cities. The best way to experience Israel is to hire a car and take a relaxed approach to seeing the country and exploring all the religious and historical sites it has to offer.
Tel Aviv is known for its lovely Mediterranean beaches, hip nightlife and colourful markets. The city does have an impressive arts and culture scene too and some of the most rewarding and popular attractions in Tel Aviv are museums. Using Tel Aviv as a base, visitors also have some wonderful destinations on their doorstep. The gorgeous holiday resort of Eilat on the Red Sea is great for scuba diving and snorkelling. The ancient port city of Jaffa, and the magical Underwater Observatory Marine Park are also worthwhile.
Museum lovers are unlikely to run out of things to see and do in Tel Aviv. Three of the city's best museums are the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, an absolute must-see for art fanatics, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora (Beit Hatfutsot), which tracks the history of the Jewish people all over the world, and the Eretz Israel Museum, which is a kind of exhibition park with several different pavilions housing their own distinct collections. Theatre lovers, should attend a show at the Nalagaat Centre, which is renowned for its performances and atmosphere.
For those keen to enjoy sun and sea, Tel Aviv's beaches won't disappoint. Some favourites with tourists are Hilton Beach and Gordon Beach. For those travelling in Tel Aviv with kids, Givat Aliya Beach is wonderful. The old Tel Aviv port area is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, combining the industry of the harbour with cultural attractions and some good bars and restaurants.
Tel Aviv is the irrepressible social hub of Israel, and has a great selection of trendy bars, grinding clubs and pubs with enough loud music, dancing and merriment to keep any party person happy. The saying in Israel goes 'Haifa works, Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays', and this should give visitors some idea of what they're in for.
During the summer months, many visitors kick things off with sundowners at one of the many beach bars, such as the popular Jerusalem Beach or Banana Beach. The nightlife in Tel Aviv doesn't usually get going until around 11pm, so it's best to ease into the swing of things by going out for dinner before hitting the bars and clubs. Even on Friday nights during Shabbat, the locals go wild, while Thursday nights are another big night out in Tel Aviv.
Clubs and bars are constantly changing, but the main areas stay the same. Allenby Street is a good place to start, with more than 20 clubs centred round the small area offering house, disco, funk and techno music. The Tel Aviv port and Rotschild Blvd areas are popular too; while those looking for a gay scene should head to the trendy Florentin district.
Expect traffic jams at 2am, as this city that never sleeps is capable of keeping you up way past dawn.
Tel Aviv's climate is dry-summer, subtropical, with hot summers and mild winters. Although it is close to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv has quite a different climate because it is not as highly elevated, making it hotter and more humid. The average summer temperature in Tel Aviv is 77°F (25°C), and the average winter temperature is 57°F (14°C).
November to April is the wet season, and humidity tends to be high year round. In winter rainfall comes in the form of heavy showers and thunderstorms; snow is extremely rare in Tel Aviv. Although summer is the hottest season, Tel Aviv can experience severe heat waves in spring. The city gets plenty of sun, even in winter. July and August are the busiest tourist months in Tel Aviv. October is when Israelis tend to take vacations, so at this time prices will also go up and finding accommodation may be more difficult. The best time to visit Tel Aviv is in March and April or September.
Israeli law does not criminalise same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in the West Bank but is illegal in Gaza, where it carries a 10 year prison sentence. Attitudes towards LGBT issues within some parts of society can be hostile. All public displays of affection, regardless of the gender or sexuality of those involved, may attract negative attention in more conservative areas. Homosexuality is largely taboo in Palestinian society.
Tel Aviv has a large, active LGBT community and is famous for its annual Pride Parade. An annual Pride Parade is also held in Jerusalem, but there has been a heavy security presence at the event since a fatal stabbing occurred during the 2015 parade. You should exercise extra vigilance if attending.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.