Tel Aviv Backpacking Travel Guide

Information on hostels, transportation, cheap food and drinks, sights to see, activities and more.

Search for Tel Aviv hostels at Hostelworld and budget hotels at Agoda.com

About


Tel Aviv is the city in Israel with the largest metropolitan area. It is on the Mediterranean coast, about 60 km north-west of Jerusalem. The official name is Tel Aviv-Yafo and reflects the fact that the city has absorbed the ancient port city of Yafo (Jaffa), to the south of the new city center. Tel Aviv is the economic center of modern Israel and is less religious and more secular than Jerusalem. Tel Aviv, while not the capital, is Israel’s modern epicentre, culturally, economically, and especially socially.

Hostels


Little Tel-Aviv Hostel

The Little Tel-Aviv Hostel has a newly renovated and decorated interior with a contemporary style. The back courtyard has a beautiful garden great for relaxing. The hostel is clean, has a cooking area, kitchen, patio, and bar in the back. Bed was comfortable, showers hot. Recommended!

Florentine Backpackers Hostel

Florentine Hostel is small home-style, meant for the young crowd, kind of hostel. It's the kind of hostel where you know everybody else in the hostel within the first day. It is located in the up-and-coming Florentine neighbourhood of Tel Aviv. Inhabited by hipsters, students, artists and musicians. The neighbourhood was an industrial area, which is now the best place for socialising, partying and living. The most vibrant part of Tel Aviv. Only 10 min walk to the beach and to old Jaffa and the flea market, and 15 minutes to central town. It's a very social hostel and a good choice if you're travelling solo.

Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv

Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv is located only 50m from Rothschild Boulevard and within walking distance of the beach, Old Jaffa and the Florentine neighbourhood, the Levinsky market and the city’s main cultural attractions. The hostel has great facilities, lots of showers and toilets on every floor. The nightly activities in the bar area make it very easy to socialise and make friends with other travellers. There is a large communal kitchen and breakfast is included.

Sights and Highlights


Beach

Tel Aviv is stretches out along the Mediterranean for what seems like forever. The beach is completely intertwined with Tel Aviv culture and identity. With so much beautiful coastline and an absolutely perfect beach climate, it's easy to see why. Crowds of buff Israeli's converge to take to lie in the sun and turn the bodies brown while listening to the "thwock, thwock" of matkot until the sun sets when it is warm enough.

On Friday evenings make sure to head to drummers beach to listen to musicians from around Israel that descend on the small stretch of paradise on the northern side of the Dolphinarium to pound out the week’s frustrations and welcome Shabbat in with a melody. Read more at itraveltelaviv.com/.../tel-aviv-drum-beach/

The Beach

Jaffna Free Walking Tour

Jumping onto a free walking tour is always a great first activity in a new city. Neweuropetours.eu operate 2 walking tours in Tel Aviv. Their Free Tour of Old Jaffa starts at 11 am and 2pm every day of the week and departs from the Old Jaffa clock tower.

Jaffa port

Florentin Street Art

Florentin is a neighbourhood in the southern part of Tel Aviv. For many decades the area suffered from urban decay and poverty. However, today most of the residents are young and the neighbourhood is now becoming known as a hip place to be in Tel Aviv with coffeehouses, markets, bars, galleries and parties.

While graffiti is illegal in Israel, the municipality of Tel Aviv turns a blind eye to works of graffiti work in Florentin. There are several street art tours available in Florentin but disappointingly, they are all quite overpriced with the cheapest around 100 NIS (25€). A really good option is to check out the do-it-yourself street art guide at touristisrael.com/street-art-tel-aviv/. I have created a google map to go with this guide to enable you to use GPS to guide you. Check it out here.

Wall Art - Tel Aviv

The White City (Bauhaus Tel Aviv)

The White City refers to a collection of over 4,000 buildings built in a unique form of the Bauhaus architecture style in Tel Aviv from the 1930s by German Jewish architects who immigrated after the rise of the Nazis. Tel Aviv has the largest number of buildings in the Bauhaus of any city in the world. In 2003, UNESCO proclaimed Tel Aviv's White City a World Cultural Heritage site. The Bauhaus Center in Tel Aviv organises regular architectural tours of the city. A guided tour is also available using a portable audio guide supplied by the centre.

White City

To Eat


Hummus Felafel and Pita

These three simple foods will form the backbone of any trip you make to Israel. They are all such simple foods, two of which are made from chick peas, yet when combined are absolutely delicious. I finding it difficult to write about it without constantly salivating. I absolutely love Israeli felafel and hummus with vegetable in a pocket pita. Not only is this your go to quick take-away food in Israel, but pita and hummus is often provided by many of the hostels in Israel as well.

There are thousands of felafel stands in Tel Aviv. I have created a map showing some of the top rated felafel joints in Tel Aviv. I have collected this information from a few blogs I found on the topic. Find the map at here.

Green falafel sandwich

For Drinking


Cofix

Cofix is known for their cheap 5 shekel coffee, but in the evening their drinks are just as cheap. They have several bars spread out across the city and all are in nightlife hotspots. This makes them great for getting a few cheap pre-drinks in before heading elsewhere. The bars tend to be very small, so arrive early and grab a spot outside. Search for Cofix on google maps to find them.

Dancing Camel Brewery

Craft beer lovers are sure to list the Dancing Camel as one of their all time favourite bars. Aside from being the first microbrewery in Israel, this bar is very inviting. In either location, you feel a sense of belonging, and then there’s the beer, which is just an experience on its own. They take American brewing methods and Israeli ingredients and combine them to make the most delectable beer.

Beer Bazaar

Hidden in the bustling alleys of Shuk haCarmel is an Israeli Beer Lover’s dream, and right in the heart of this city landmark is the Beer Bazaar’s fabulous stand. It’s small and seems innocuous but it is a real winner — it hosts tons of local Israeli brewers and it’s a popular place for new brews to make their debut. Besides the acclaim, it is just a fun place to sit and have a beer as you enjoy the people watching afforded to you by the busy marketplace.

Norma Jean Bistro Bar

A really good bar located just down the road from the Florentin Backpackers Hostel. Great service, tasty food and a massive selection of Belgium and English beers. They also stock a well rounded selection of whisky.

Transportation


From the Airport

The majority of travellers arriving in Israel will do so via the Ben Gurion International Airport . The easiest way to get from the airport into Tel Aviv city center is via train. The Ben Gurion railway station is located in the lower level of Terminal 3. From this station, catch a train into Tel Aviv HaHagana station. From here you can make the short walk into the Tel Aviv central bus station and catch a local bus to your accommodation.

A route map for the Israeli rail network can be found here.

Local Buses

There is an extensive bus network in Tel Aviv. This bus network is well integrated with google maps meaning you can get bus numbers and bus timetables by asking for directions. If you are simply after a route map for a particular route, you can find these at dan.co.il/eng/lines/

Getting In and Out

Jerusalem

Trains run between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem roughly every hour starting at 5:50am and the last one running some time in the evening. The best station to catch the train from is Hahagana on account of it being near to the central bus station in Tel Aviv and therefore easy to get to. You will arrive at Jerusalem-Malha station. Tickets cost 20 NIS and you get them from the self-service machines or ticket office at the station. No reservation is necessary or possible. The self-service machines accept credit cards, banknotes & coins.

Haifa

Trains run twice an hour between Tel Aviv and Haifa starting at 5:40am. The best station to catch the train from is Hahagana on account of it being near to the central bus station in Tel Aviv and therefore easy to get to. You will arrive at Haifa Center HaShmona station. The journey time is just over an hour and tickets are 27 NIS. Buy your ticket from the self-service machines or ticket office at the station.

Mitzpe Ramon

First you will need to make your way to Be'er Sheva a city in the north of Negev desert, by train. The best station to catch the train from is Hahagana on account of it being near to the central bus station in Tel Aviv and therefore easy to get to. This train will cost 27 NIS and you will arrive at Be'er Sheba Center station. The Be'er Sheva Central Bus Station is located just across the road. From here get bus 60, 64 or 65, they depart from every 20-40 min.

(Header image Tel Aviv Jaffa by israeltourism under CC BY-SA 2.0)

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