While Tel Aviv may not be known for being the most glamorous of cities, all the gritty humidity and noise is all just part of this town’s charm. You won’t see finely manicured lawns in front of fancy buildings but you’ll find the warmest people you'll ever meet, eat the finest foods you’ve ever tasted and party like there’s no tomorrow. Here’s my guide to all things fab in Tel Aviv!
Related story: Buro city guide: Ibiza
Top 3 coffee shops
1. We Like You Too
This place sounds very inviting - and for good reason. This very likable street booth is what makes Tel Aviv so vibrant. It offers coffee to go, healthy snacks and endless good vibes to the passers-by.
Tarsat/Ben Zion Boulevard, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 5 4574 7000
2. Ben Gurion Cafe
This coffee spot has the same owners and concept We Like You Too, but is located closer to the beach and is much greener. The booth comes equipped with comfy wooden benches and is situated on a busy boulevard, so it makes a great spot for people watching and dog patting (FYI: Tel Aviv is a dog-lover's paradise).
Corner of Dizengoff and Ben Gurion Streets
3. Rothschild 12
One of the most happening spots in town, this place is especially buzzing from 7am - 3am. It's perfect for an early morning meeting or brunch, and is also fun at night. Open until "the last customer" this is a second home for every Tel Avivan.
12 Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 510 6430
Related story: Buro city guide: New York
Top 3 restaurants
Israel's most controversial chef Eyal Shani's cantina has by far the most delicious menu on Earth (I'm not exaggerating). This is not your regular street-food joint but is instead a highly addictive and conceptual diner. Most dishes come wrapped in pita bread, so don't expect any gluten-free dietary options. Do yourself a favour and have the baked cornflour - it's perfect for lunch.
23 Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 716 8977
30 King George Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 631 7688
2. North Abraxas
Chef Eyal Shani is once again at the helm but this is a more dinner-like experience than Miznon. You can't go wrong with any of the dishes and I personally guarantee you won't forget this one in a hurry.
40 Lilinblum Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 516 66 60
3. Port Said
You might not believe me but this outdoor bar/restaurant is yet another genius invention of chef Eyal Shani. At first, you might think this overcrowded and noisy place is a bit bonkers, but then you realise there's no better place in town. Expect fantastic food, vintage vinyl music, rude service and a lot of fun!
5 Har Sinai Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 620 7436
Related story: Buro city guide: Moscow
4. Hotel Montefiore
By far one of the most stylish places to be seen. The hotel itself is small but very lavish. The beautiful restaurant is a magnet for stylish visitors and Tel Aviv natives. Great for all-day eating - breakfast, lunch and fancy dinner.
36 Montefiore Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 564 6100
This is one of my favourite restaurants in town. Being located in the old town of Jaffa means it's very unique with breathtaking views of the sea and magical food that only adds to the magic. Eating at Kalamata is like going to Greece without needing your passport. The food is so fresh and delicious it's hard to decide what to eat. It's no wonder I've found myself with half of the menu on my table. If you're a seafood fanatic this will become your regular spot.
10 Kikar Kedumim, Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 681 9998
The world-renowned Dinings Restaurant in London now has a second home in Tel Aviv. The restaurant presents a unique fusion of traditional Izakaya-style Japanese tapas and modern European cuisine. The third-floor rooftop view can be appreciated with the option of summer dining on the open terrace, overlooking vibrant Tel Aviv.
23-25 Nachmani Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 543 5555
Related story: Pack your bags: these are the world's 50 best restaurants
7. HaHalutzim 3
Tucked away in a small unassuming street on the edge of the Levinsky Market is this absolute gem. In this Florentine neighbourhood, chef and owner Eytan Vanunu serves up simple yet delicious dishes. Located in the middle of a very Mediterranean neighbourhood with inspiration and flavours borrowed from the Italian cuisine, it's a great mix of both worlds.
3 HaChalutzim Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 5231016
8. Juice Bars
Tel Aviv is filled with freshly squeezed juice bars so grab yourself one on your way to the beach!
9. The Delicatessen
This is take-away heaven! The Deli is functioning as a restaurant (breakfast and lunch only) and a takeaway bistro. I recommend sitting on the balcony of the second floor. It's a lunchtime paradise for all kinds of foodies.
81 Yehuda Ha Levi Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
Top 3 cocktail bars
1. The Library Bar
The Library Bar at the Norman is an elegant '40s colonial style bar located in a meticulously restored historical building. The bar, open daily from 10am, is situated next to the lobby and is the social hub of the hotel. It offers some of the finest cocktails to be found in Tel Aviv along with an impressive bar menu fit for the pickiest foodie. The relaxed but sophisticated atmosphere combined with the impressive service from dedicated mixologists has made this a favourite among locals, internationals and hotel guests alike.
23-25 Nachmani Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 543 5400
2. The Garden Bar and Rooftop Bar at the Brown TLV
Although the entrance to this popular, buzzing hotspot runs through the lobby of a boutique hotel this is a far cry from your regular hotel bar. Set against a gritty backdrop of narrow alleys in the heart of the city is this Eden-like urban garden. Sip on stylish cocktails under the open sky alongside the trendsetters and tastemakers of Tel Aviv. During the summer months the most coveted seats in the house are on the rooftop by the bar, with an impressive 360-degree view of the city.
3. Bellboy Bar
Ever drunk a cocktail out of a seashell or a mini bathtub complete with a floating rubber duck? No? Well, it's time you did! Bellboy at Hotel Berdichevsky is known for the quirkiest drinks in town. With its swanky '20s decor and its well-dressed (and super-hot) bartenders it's definitely where you want to spend your night.
Related story: 3 new bars you need on your radar now
3 suburbs to visit
You must remember that Israel is a very small country with a population of only eight million people. You can drive from north to south in only five hours. It's not really about suburbs here but about natural diversity. You can ride camels in the desert, dive with dolphins in the Red Sea and walk in Jesus' footsteps in the holy city of Jerusalem.
1. The Dead Sea
Is a must-visit destination, so no excuses! It's the lowest point on Earth's surface and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Only two hours' drive from central Tel Aviv and you're in a different world. The salty water will make you float with your feet up and the natural mud will rejuvenate your skin like no cream has ever done before. Try not to get the salt water in your eyes.
Graced with magnificent modern homes, ancient Caesarea offers tourists the ruins of unique and impressive buildings. Golfers can enjoy lush fairways and horse races are re-enacted in the huge hippodrome in the national park. While modern Caesarea's neighbourhoods are quiet and serene in the glory of contemporary architecture, ancient Caesarea is bustling with tourists who flock to see the wonders of the past constructed by one of the greatest builders of the ancient world - King Herod.
Needless to say, this historic city is a top destination for people across the world of all religions. Its spectacular spiritual atmosphere will leave you speechless. Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where it's said Jesus was crucified, buried and was resurrected. Since you're already in a spiritual mood don't forget to visit the weeping (Western) wall. Finish your religious tour with the best dinner in town at the Machneyehuda Restaurant.
Related story: Travel diary: discovering the Kreol Festival of Mauritius
Top 3 hotel suggestions
1. The Brown Urban Beach House Hotel
Opening this month, this hotel is introducing contemporary high-end hospitality to Tel Aviv's coastal area. It will cater to seasoned world travellers, executives and families who are looking for a stylish Tel-Avivian boutique experience with immediate access to the Mediterranean Sea. Sister hotel to the highly-acclaimed Brown TLV, it's designed like a luxury summerhouse under the title "Urban Beach Resort". It's perfectly inspired by Tel Aviv's unique combination of resort-like surroundings and urban vibe.
64 Ha'Yarkon Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 717 0200
2. The Norman
The Norman hotel, housed in two meticulously restored historical buildings, opened in late 2014. It offers a true boutique hotel experience steeped in luxury with its '20s elegance and impeccable sense of service. This luxurious haven of luxury features a rooftop pool with gorgeous views of the city, two restaurants, a citrus garden, the Library Bar and a wellness centre. The hotel has quickly established itself as the unrivalled place to stay for those seeking true indulgence. It was even voted one of the most Instagrammable hotels in the world, so get your filters ready!
23-25 Nachmani Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 543 5555
3. Indigo Hotel
This hotel to me is always comforting. Even though I live in Tel Aviv, I still sometimes like to stay here and have a relaxing day off. Start the day off with a yummy buffet breakfast at the Blackstone Bistro, then soak up some sun by the pool while you enjoy the spectacular view of Tel Aviv. Follow this up with a massage at the clarity spa and finish the day with a glass of wine at the bar. Now if that doesn't sound like the perfect day, I don't know what is.
5 Aholiav Street, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 930 0033
Related story: The 13 most expensive hotels in the world
Where to shop for local and international designers
Kikar Ha Medina (meaning the 'state square') is the luxury shopping district of Israel. Here you'll find Burberry, Gucci and Dior flagship stores along with some amazing multi-brand stores. One of those stores is Helga Design whose brands include Prada, Miu Miu, Givenchy, Marni, Dries Van Noten and many, many more. It's a must visit!
12 Hey Beiyar Street, Kikar Hamedina, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 695 5488
Comme il Faut
Tel Aviv's first and biggest concept store is located in the port of Tel Aviv. Aside from stocking their own collection they also have a wide range of Israeli fashion and homeware designers. You'll also find pieces by local artists for sale. Comme il Faut has a very feminist agenda and it's all about girl power in this store.
Hangar 26 Namal Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 544 6101
Lara Rosnovsky (Jaffa Flea Market)
Lara is a local artist and designer whose endless travel to exotic destinations inspire her ethnic chic designs. The store is located in the eclectic Jaffa Flea Market and her dresses are the perfect fashion souvenirs for all fashionistas visiting Tel Aviv. There's an amazing range of prints with a Mediterranean twist.
14 Ami'ad Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 524 1340
Related story: Travel diary: the people and culture of Ghana
Best places for live music
This music and art-focused institution is a night-time hub for all the cool kids of Tel Aviv. It's the perfect summer hangout with its open-air courtyard. On any given night, the sound system emits eclectic electronic, house, hip-hop and ethereal tunes from DJs or live musical acts. Open until the last drunk leaves! (ie. very late...)
10 Mikveh Israel Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 656 5155
It's known for being a great live music venue so it's no wonder The Container is a favourite spot for all music lovers. Whether it's rock 'n' roll or Middle Eastern beats you're after, this is where you'll find them - live and loud! It's an ideal spot for an entertaining evening with a fun crowd, and of course, some tasty food. You're in Tel Aviv after all,
Warehouse 2, Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 683 6321
This is a chain of Tel Aviv's top music venues where you can listen to local and international performers. On my last visit Kelis performed and boy, did I boogie!
24 Raoul Wallenberg Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 762 6666
Related story: The 5 hottest beach destinations you've never heard of
Top 3 galleries
1. Contemporary by Golconda
Contemporary by Golconda is a leading gallery in the local art scene. Located in the south of Tel Aviv, the gallery resides in an 80-year-old building that was formerly a tahini factory. The gallery strives to showcase promising contemporary artists and ensure exposure of their work to the Israeli and international public. The gallery runs solo and group exhibitions (sometimes two at a time) in its two exhibition spaces. The ground floor is a large space with very high ceilings and an industrial look; while the upper floor is a more traditional white cube, in which more experimental exhibits are usually displayed.
117 Herzl Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 682 27772
2. Alon Segev
Since opening in 2000, the Alon Segev Gallery has become a very important contemporary art gallery in Tel Aviv with a focus on both young and established contemporary artists, both Israel-based and international. The gallery displays all aspects of contemporary art such as installations, sculptures, drawings, paintings and video. It's where one of Israel's most promising young painters, Guy Yanai, made his mark on the local art scene before moving on to have an ever-growing presence on the international stage. With exhibitions in London and New York, Yanai is now set to further cement his place as a vibrant one-to-watch in the global art scene.
6 Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 609 0769
3. Tel Aviv Museum of Art
If you want a glimpse of the creative energy that fuels this city, I can thoroughly recommend the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Our biggest contemporary art centre, the museum is a symbol of hope to a healthy mix of both established international artists and up-and-coming local ones.
27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, the Golda Meir Cultural and Art Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 6077020
Related story: Travel diary: the sights and personalities of Cambodia
3 best places to hang out
The coastal strip of Tel Aviv is rather small so choose any of the beaches along the promenade and just enjoy the sun. My favourite beaches are Gordon and Hilton Beach.
2. Rothschild Boulevard
This main street of Tel Aviv is the connecting artery for everywhere you need to go. This lively green boulevard is great for people watching, with its many cafes and restaurants. It will be your second home while you're here.
3. Park HaYarkon
Our equivalent of New York's Central Park, this large green park is perfect for a weekend picnic or an early morning jog. If you have time, you can also rent a little boat and cruise around the Park HaYarkon Lake.
Best views of the city
There isn't just one place for that! Tel Aviv is full of amazing rooftops for you enjoy the view. One of them is at the Carlton Hotel. The Shalom Tower is also a great option, but the best way to see the view of Tel Aviv is to find a local friend with a penthouse!
Top 3 tourist attractions
1. Carmel Market
When it comes to Tel Aviv there's one ideal place that combines the spirit of our Mediterranean nature and passion for all things yummy. The Carmel Market is the best place to taste and feel the fresh and vibrant nature of our town. At the market you'll find tons of exotic fruits you may never have tried before, as well as local delicious (and cheap) stuff like falafel, burekas and lots of grilled meat and fish. It's also the perfect spot to get those typical souvenirs everyone expects you to bring back.
Corner of Allenby, King George and Sheinkin Streets, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
2. Bauhaus Centre
There are over 400 Bauhaus-influenced buildings in Tel Aviv. These were built in the early years of Israel by architects who immigrated from Europe and were influenced by this German method. A lot of these buildings are UNESCO-heritage protected and as we speak are being renovated to be brand-spanking new. For more details about the 'White City' you can visit the Bauhaus Centre where you'll find guided tours, souvenirs to take with you and books about the subject. Remember, while you're strolling around town, don't forget to look up as you never know where you'll spot that perfect Instagrammable Bauhaus building.
99 Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 522 0249
3. Jaffa Flea Market
Whether you're a fan of retro or not, I guarantee that in no time you'll find yourself hunting for a vintage object of desire. Jaffa's flea market is the ultimate eclectic mix of authentic antique dealerships and cool and trendy shops. You can easily pass a few good hours here just walking around the vibrant alleys and hunting for bargains.
Between Jerusalem Boulevard and Yeffet Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
Related story: Travel diary: into the Wild West
Watch out for the bikes
The best mode of transportation in Tel Aviv is by bike. People often ride on the pavements and sometimes the commute can be a bit dangerous, so consider yourself warned!
Where to drop in for an exercise class
The Gordon gym and pool
Are you after a tough TRX or boxing class? Or do you want to go for a refreshing swim in a chilled outdoor pool? This is the perfect place for all of your exercising needs. The Gordon pool is the equivalent of Bondi Icebergs in Sydney as it's located right on the Marina of Tel Aviv and just by the surfers' beach. So if you're a homesick Aussie this will give you a good taste of the surf, like back home.
14 Eliezer Peri Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 762 3300
Best day spa
Coola is a women-only spa located right on the beach on the Port of Tel Aviv inside Israel's biggest concept stores Comme Il Faut. Apart from having a spectacular view and incredibly relaxing atmosphere the spa now offers a special 'phone-off' treatment in which you have to give up your phone for the duration of your stay in order to properly unwind and disconnect from the stress of everyday life.
Hanger 26, Tel Aviv Port, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 544 6101
Related story: Travel diary: A weekend in Istanbul
Where to buy homewares
1. Sharon Brunsher
If you're a sworn minimalist like me, then the Sharon Brunsher store in Jaffa will be your idea of nirvana. Just like in my own wardrobe you won't find a pattern or drop of colour here, as it's all about monochrome! This store is the perfect place to get beautiful stationery, bed linen, and all your wardrobe essentials (like fine jersey T-shirts, cosy sweatshirts and comfy pyjamas).
13 Amihad Street, Jaffa, Tel Aviv
+972 3 683 1896
4 Rabi Yochanan Street, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 7 460 2706
This wonderful store has a great selection of Israeli products and gift ideas. Here you can find anything from locally branded stationery and alternative souvenirs, to fun kitchen supplies and miscellaneous accessories for your home. All proudly made in Israel.
8 Yehuda Margoza, Jaffa Flea Market, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 604 1405
3. Irit Goldberg Ceramics
This fine handmade ceramic collection is presented at Irit's pastoral gallery in Old Jaffa. Irit crafts her collection of stylish yet functional pieces at her private workshop, producing each individual piece by hand. Items come in various colours and extraordinary textures, and some include elements of gold and silver. Her pieces are the ultimate objects of desire. She also designs and creates custom pieces to order and offers express delivery service all over the world in case you can't make it to Jaffa or want to share her wonderful designs with someone abroad.
2 Shimon ha Bursekai Alley, Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
+972 3 682 9512