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»Digital Ladies Travel« – Tel Aviv

The Bauhaus has also left its mark on Tel Aviv, no other city has more Bauhaus-style houses. Discover the new destination of our »Digital Ladies Travel« travel series together with Sivan Askayo who shows her favorite places of the city in sisterMAG. Are you planning a trip to Tel Aviv? Then this travel guide will surely be of good help!

»Digital Ladies Travel« – Tel Aviv


When people who have never been to Israel find out I am originally from Tel Aviv, they tend to think I am from a provincial Middle Eastern city with slow-motioned camels, armed soldiers everywhere, and ancient Biblical monuments. I don’t even know where to begin to prove them wrong. Tel Aviv is a stylish, contemporary Mediterranean metropolis filled with chic and bustling cafés and restaurants, an exciting culture, trendy boutiques, beautiful, lively people and a roaring nightlife.

The city is renowned for its clubs, restaurants, art galleries, and cultural events. But the city’s real seduction comes from the people who call it home. You notice it in the crowded cafes, buzzing with laughter and conversation almost 24/7, from the masses that spill out of the theaters, music halls, and night clubs, and even in the way people dress. It is not a coincidence that city’s slogan is ‘the City That Never Sleeps’. Indeed, New York has a rival.

In recent years, Tel Aviv has seen a surge of development: new high-rise buildings are being constructed, old ones are being demolished or restored, some turned into chic boutique hotels. The contrast between new and old, chic and conservative, and local and international flair is what makes Tel Aviv so special. And let’s not forget the beach. Tel Aviv’s entire west side faces the Mediterranean Sea and boasts 14 kilometers (9 miles) of sandy beach. The coastline attracts locals and tourists, both young and old, who enjoy sunbathing, surfing, kayaking or just a place for meeting your friends and hanging out.

And last, but not least, Tel Aviv has the largest number of buildings in the Bauhaus/International Style of any city in the world. A collection of more than 4,000 buildings in ’The White City’ of Tel Aviv was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (2003)

Here are some highlights for your next visit to Tel Aviv:

Cozy cafes

Israelis LOVE their coffee and there is a great coffee culture in Israel. When you tell your friend, »lets meet for a coffee«, you actually mean let’s meet for a two- to three-hour chat about life. As a Mediterranean city with warm weather most of the year, the majority of cafés are outdoors, or at least having an outdoor seating area. Alongside international coffee chains, there is an impressive number of cozy, independent, home-roast cafes across the city. The coffee kiosks along the leafy boulevards are especially unique to Tel Aviv. In addition to getting your coffee on your way to work or while sitting on a bench under a tree, these coffee kiosks also offer delicious sandwiches and patisseries.

Shopping and unique souvenirs: Jaffa Flea Market and the Saga Store

The Jaffa Flea Market, or Shuk Hapishpeshim in Hebrew, is a highlight of the ancient port city. (Jaffa is a 4000-year-old city adjacent to and a part of Tel Aviv). The Flea market has expanded and developed dramatically in the last couple of years. Next to antique stores and vendors who have been there for ages selling genuine antiques, wood crafts, Judaica, and silver, you can find new boutiques of young Israeli designers, galleries, and many bars and restaurants with live music. One of my favorite places to shop is Saga; which also has a gallery and hosts and promotes unique art and products by Israeli designers. You can find home accessories, lighting, books, posters, jewelry and more. The gallery’s display is constantly changing and each visit to the store offers a different experience.

Bar to meet locals: Ramesses

Tel Aviv establishments pride themselves on staying open until the last customer. Case in point: Ramesses, a restaurant and bar that takes over an entire pedestrian street in the Greek Quarter of Jaffa’s flea market area. The best time to visit is on a weekend evening, or on a Friday afternoon. Even though the place might be packed, this is when you can experience the true vibe of the place. Some of the special cocktails are: Eros – beetroot gin, raspberry, hibiscus, coriander or Aphrodite – gin married with olives, homemade syrup from olive leaf and Persian lime, fresh lemon juice.

Dinner with friends: Port Said

Effortlessly cool and decidedly hipster, Port Said is the culinary child of chef Eyal Shani, a TV personality (Israeli Master Chef) and one of Israel’s most renowned chefs. He is known for his highly theatrical, down-to-earth approach while serving food on flat cardboard or directly on the bar. The food is Middle Eastern with a twist: a blend of Egyptian (masabaha and lima beans) and Eastern European (herring with crème fraîche), for example. Besides the delicious food, trendy crowd, and DJs, I love Port Said’s location in the shadow of the Great Synagogue of Allenby street.

Hummus for lunch

Hummus is perhaps the most popular Israeli street food for a quick on-the-go lunch. There are many great Hummus joints all over Tel Aviv, and there is a constant debate among locals over which one is the best. Admittedly, it is impossible to argue over a matter of taste.

One of my favorite places to take visitors is Abu Hassan/Ali Karavan in Jaffa. Some might call it a »hole in the wall« for being a very simple place, but if you can get a seat before the hummus is gone (it is first-come, first-served), you will be treated to one of the most delicious pleasures in town.

But trust the Tel Avivians to take things to the next level when it comes to hummus. In the Yamenite Quarter next to HaCarmel Market, diners sit shoulder-to-shoulder on plastic chairs at Shlomo and Doron. This place has been around for 82 years (four generations) and serves mostly hummus. The recent menu serves specials which are new variations on the classic dish. There is Matbuchka, a hummus shakshuka made of smoked matbucha salad with green tahini;bMexican, which is hummus with a mash of Mexican and fava beans and chopped jalapeno; and Tanduri Dal, with Indian lentil dal in tanduri curry.

So if you thought that hummus is more or less always the same, I highly recommend trying one of these specials. You’ve definitely got it wrong ;)!

Best sunset Beach

Any beach, really. Some people love to start their day at the beach, and some enjoy watching the sun slowly go down to disappear behind the waves. You’ll be happy with either. And hey, why not both?

What tourists might miss but locals love: Food markets like HaCarmel and LeVinski (especially at night)

When I travel abroad, I hardly if ever visit the local markets (unless I get a special recommendation from a local). Tel Aviv is famous for its foods markets, such as HaCarmel Market (Shuk HaCarmel) and LeVinski Market (Shuk Levinski). In recent years, alongside fruit and vegetable stalls, you can find small food joints, falafel, hummus, meat-only restaurants, coffee roasters, and more. There are also various food tours in these markets, which are very popular and highly recommended. But while tourists might enjoy these markets during the day, the locals enjoy going to the tiny restaurants and bars which are exclusively open at night. The markets have a completely different vibe when the sun goes down. I highly recommend visiting the markets during the day (preferably on a food tour) and coming back to dine there later on in the evening.

Unique architecture – Tel Aviv Museum of Art + Design Museum in Hulon by Ron Arad

Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s recent wing (2011) named after Herta and Paul Amir, is made up of 430 angular concrete geometric surfaces that form a gleaming white triangle, or a »waterfall of light«, as the American architect Preston Scott Cohen called it. It houses an Israeli architecture archive, and section for photography and visual arts.

Design Museum Hulon – The building, in the city just south of Tel Aviv, is a work of art in itself, created by Israeli-born, London-based architect Ron Arad. This architectural icon was built using five curvaceousruby-red steel bands. Some tourists take a 20-minute taxi from Tel Aviv just to see the building from the outside. Check it out from different angles to get an idea of what truly makes it special.

Elemento Store: 

One of my favorite stores, from which I get lots of inspiration for color and texture, is Elemento.

Elemento is a furniture store that carries colorful and modular furniture (couches, lamps, tables) made by the talented designer Yossy Goldberg. There is also a collection of contemporary paintings and photography by local Artists.

Yossy’s sense of style, attention to details and high quality, comes through in every piece he creates and designs.

Even though I can’t afford any pieces of furniture (yet), I love to visit the store quiet often and get updates on Yossi’s creations. The store is located in the old part of Jaffa, in a beautiful Ottoman building.

The best hotel for a short stay: The Norman

If I have to recommend a great place to stay in Tel Aviv, it would be, without any hesitation, the Norman Hotel. Not just because I photographed it over the course of six months before it opened, but mostly for its luxury and exceptional service, which set a new standard in the city’s hospitality scene. The hotel is located in King Albert Square, right in the heart of the White City. It is comprised of two elegant, beautifully restored buildings. The main building of the hotel (in beautiful light blue) is modern and features clean lines and wooden shutters (à la 1920s architecture), and the second building (light brown) is eclectic with some oriental accents. The interior of the Norman incorporates antique elements from the interior of the original building, including Israeli art works. Aside from the Classic, Deluxe, and Grand Deluxe rooms, there are six different types of suites, each of them unique. Highlights of the hotel include the Library Bar, which is designed in 1940s colonial style, and the rooftop infinity swimming pool, which offers an impressive view of Tel Aviv.