Planning a trip to Tel Aviv? Here are 12 key facts you need to help with your planning.
- Time Zone
- Getting Around
- Food & Drink
Tel Aviv is a Mediterranean City, almost in the middle (North to South) of Israel. It is North East of Cairo and South East of Cyprus. Flight time from London is around 5 hours non-stop. British Airways and Easyjet fly non-stop from London. Other airlines will connect between London and Tel Aviv. United and Delta fly direct from New York in under 11 hours.
Tel Aviv operates on Israel Standard Time (IST) between the start of November and the end of March at two hours ahead of GMT. In the summer months, Tel Aviv operates on IDT (Israeli Daylight Saving Time) which is +3 GMT.
The climate is more European than Middle Eastern. Winter months (November, January, February) will see the temperature drop as low as 10 degrees C and as high as 18. June, July and August will reach up the high twenties and may hit 30 on a hot stretch. On average, there are no days of rainfall between May and September. January is by far the wettest month.
We visited in late September, early October and found the temperature to be perfect for shorts and t-shirts or a nice dress. Along the beach/promenade it can get blowy (good for windsurfing) but that won’t make much of a difference. Even on cloudy days, the temperature was good. In the evenings, we didn’t need to bring a wrap or jumper.
Expect prices to be in Israeli new shekel (you can call them Shekels) with little reference to Euros or Dollars. Most vendors will accept card payments but make sure you have some cash when you land.
Most people speak perfect English so you don’t need to worry too much about speaking the lingo. However, most signs will be in Hebrew with little glimmer of a translation. Many addresses will be in Hebrew that don’t always translate to Google Maps. My tip is to build out your own personal Google Map with key landmarks, hotels, restaurants listed so you can simply navigate to your saved spots, and not wrestle with the local language. I’ve shared my random list with you here.
As you might expect, Religion is a big thing around here. Believer or not, it won’t make too much difference to your visit. But their observations of Jewish tradition, law and history can impact you. The Shabbat is strictly observed, meaning many places won’t be open on the Shabbat. In Hotels/restaurants that are Kosher, this will impact your ability to get certain foods or even a cappuccino on certain days. On major holidays, even the airport will be open but may have less resource, so travelling through may take a little longer. Research your dates and plans to make sure you don’t hit disruption.
Tel Aviv has a good bus system to get you round but it will be affected by Shabbat and religious holidays as above. A tram system is coming one day. There is no Uber but Gett Taxi is used widely. We registered for the app on arrival and used it for almost every journey. Taxi drivers speak excellent English and know more about the English Premier League Football than I do.
Electric Scooters are everywhere in Tel Aviv. Right now they run in a grey area of regulation. That means you will see them on the road, you will see them on the bicycle path and there is a chance you will get clipped by them on the pavement/sidewalk.
You can’t get a Gett Taxi from the airport., but you can get one back to the airport! Fixed Prices from the airport to all major destinations (including Tel Aviv and further afield to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea) are displayed on a handout you are given if you ask. We picked up the printed fare guide at The kiosk is located next to the Information Desk in at the ‘Meeters and Greeters Hall’, near Gate 03. Hailing a cab is another matter. There is a queue, there is a taxi marshal but if you are reserved, or British like us, you will be standing for a long time. Get brash and make yourself visible to the marshal and the drivers or risk waiting for a long time.
The ride into Tel Aviv from the airport is around 45 minutes.
Don’t expect to see many International brands/stores around Tel Aviv city, but you will find a lot of great independent or Israeli stores around the city. The main shopping streets are around Dizengoff Street. You can also find more stores in the pristine TLV Fashion Mall. For the artisan experience try the shops of the old town in Jofa. You can walk there easily from Dizengoff if you have a spare 40 minutes or hop in a taxi.
Food & Drink
Tel Aviv is a major foodie destination. You can expect to find hundreds of wonderful places to eat and drink. From fresh fruit juice stands to ice cream parlours and first class restaurants you will be able to find something to suit your budget and palette.
I think both expensive for Tel Aviv but were comparatively fantastic value compared to eating out in London or Paris.
Israeli wine, from the Golan Heights and the shores of Galilee are worth looking out for. Both the reds and the whites are delicious and much better value than imported French wine. Our suitcases were groaning out of duty free as we stocked up on Israeli wine to bring home. The Israeli Gin I tasted was more like Tequila but that may just my taste buds!
If you are heading further afield, you should try the Gat Juice in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market.
The major International Hotels are down on the seafront. Luxury hotels will cost from around £100 to £300 a night depending on room choice and season. The sea front hotels nearer Yafo are slightly back from the beach, with a major road running between. The hotels are insulated so you won’t hear the road unless you are by the pool. Further up the coast you can find hotels directly on the beach.
We stayed at the David Intercontinental which is nearer Yafo. The hotel was huge, the service was excellent and the place was perfectly situated between Yafo and Downtown Tel Aviv.
There are many Airbnb options to consider. I have yet to BnB so I can’t offer any perspective there.
Tel Aviv is like any major city. There is more of a police and military presence than in some cities but we have always felt safe around the city, walking day and night. As ever, it still pays to be cautious and not take risks. My lack of religiousness, wasn’t an issue and Pride is big in Tel Aviv.
You are going to have a great time! European mobile networks work as normal in Tel Aviv with 4G signal so you can always stay connected. A little planning ahead of your trip will make it run even smoother.
Useful Links for Tel Aviv