Cheap flights to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is not your usual Middle Eastern city. This modern metropolis is all about the sun, sea and party after party. At just over 100 years old, Tel Aviv is a mere teenager on the scale of world cities, and it shows.
This is not your typical Middle Eastern city of crusader castles, mosques and churches. Instead it is one of colourful high-rise apartment blocks, cutting edge skyscrapers and a clutch of Bauhaus and Art Deco structures that look like they came fresh from Miami Beach. And just like its Floridian counterpart, Tel Aviv’s heart is where the beach is, making this one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Winter is a great time to discover Tel Aviv's increasingly buzzy city centre, with many cultural offerings and a new dining destination in the Saron Centre, a complex of renovated Templar houses of the late 19th century. Don't miss the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, a real treasure trove of Israeli painting with a fine collection of Impressionists. It also has a sculpture garden and revolving shows of contemporary installations by Israeli artists.
Take a bus ride north to the handsome university campus, and while in the neighbourhood visit two of Tel Aviv's most absorbing museums (one dedicated to the underground forces which helped establish the State of Israel, the other to the Jews of the diaspora and their world traditions).
Summer evenings are ideal for strolling Tel Aviv's long coastal strip, starting at the southern end in Jaffa, with its galleries and cafes and progressing up the promenade proper to Tel Aviv Port. Here locals line the boardwalk, dipping into late-night clubs like Shalvata, where you can enjoy cocktails with your toes in the sand, or enjoying street snacks.
For the first time ever Tel Aviv is celebrating its shoreline with a "Sail Festival", which offers much more than the name suggests. There will be sandcastle building on Jerusalem Beach, a fishing area at Tel Aviv Port, music and sailing-themed movies on the boardwalk near the yacht marina. Also check out the volleyball on Gordon Beach and the parties at Frishman Beach which tend to be an every-Friday event in season.
Take advantage of the free live music events held every Saturday night in July and August at the Summer Sounds Festival. It's in the city centre at 19 Shaul Hamelech Street, but those who don't want to leave the promenade strip will find every Friday night in summer sees an outbreak of spontaneous beach parties.
If you haven't yet visited the Sarona Center - a reinvention of 19th century Templar houses in the city centre as a dining and entertainment destination - the new Sarona Market provides extra impetus for discovery. A mix of upmarket gourmet shops and restaurants, it's open seven days a week and is a good place to taste Israel's superb wines as well as local cheeses, chocolates and pastries. 3 Kalman Magen Street.
Wander the full length of elegant Rothschild Boulevard, particularly on a Saturday when locals are out in force to socialise. Admire the Bauhaus buildings on either side and stop at one of the many cafes on the central reservation for refreshments - there's even a sushi bar.
For those who can't spend a Saturday without retail therapy, head for Jerusalem, which stays open when Tel Aviv shops close for the Jewish Sabbath. Explore the fantastic Tower of David Museum, which tells Jerusalem's story over the centuries within a fantastic old fortress built on Roman stones, overlook weekly devotions at the Western Wall and shop for spices and souvenirs in the Arab Quarter souk.
Take the train to Israel's third city, Haifa. This low-key but handsome city climbing up Mount Carmel deserves to be better known. On a day trip you can take in the beautiful Baha'i Gardens and nearby museums.
Head north on the train to the low key resort of Netanya for some autumn sunshine and a visit to Spicy Way, the emporium of homegrown herbs, spices and infusions which has taken Israel by storm. The train line also serves Caesaria, where the ruins of Herod's seaside palace are worth half a day's exploration, punctuated with a lunch or supper stop at Helena.