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.
Tel Aviv's lively Carmel food market can be a zoo, but it's delicious when you visit at lunchtime with a guide who knows the best stalls. Tourist Israel organises a lunchtime tour every Tuesday starting at 12.30 - expect a bowl of some of the best hummus in town and a few extra stops for drinks and treats along the way. A tad pricey at NIS150 but fun; www.touristisrael.com.
Grab a bike on 21 October, and join cyclist at the Tel Aviv Bike Festival, the city's largest cycling event. Join the starting line on Rokach Street, then choose from four courses covering the promenade, the city centre and the main artery of the Ayalon Highway. There's an inline skating course too - register at https://www.sovevtlv.org.il/RegSovevTlv_en.aspx
Wander Rothschild Boulevard to gaze at the heady mix of architectural styles. Tel Aviv's famous Bauhaus buildings sit side by side with designs of the Oriental school; book the city's free Bauhaus tour to see some of the best addresses with an informed guide. The central reservation of this beautiful wide avenue is a particular delight on Saturday, when families are out with their dogs and children, and the cafes on the green are packed.
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.
The Design Museum in Holon, outside Tel Aviv, is worth a visit as much for the spectacular building by designer Ron Arad as the exhibits. Eyeglasses across the ages will form part of the display until April 2017, and there's a fine permanent collection of furniture, textiles, fashion, jewellery and all kinds of unique objects. www.dmh.org.il
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a great time to visit Hatachana, the dining and shopping complex within the old Jaffa railway station an easy stroll from Tel Aviv's southernmost beaches. Its central plaza will be a hub of entertainment, and the upmarket shops will be tempting visitors with holiday specials. The holiday season runs most of the month from October 3, with the exception of October 11-12, when the city closes down completely for Yom Kippur.
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.
Visiting Petra and Wadi Rum across the Jordanian border is now a possibility from Tel Aviv within the time-frame of a long weekend. Early risers can choose between a dawn flight and a long bus ride, overnighting in Aqaba after visiting the ruins and before a Jeep safari and sojourn in Eilat the following morning. www.touristisrael.com
Make a break for Jerusalem on a Saturday if closed shops and restaurants bother you. Christian and Muslim populations keep this beautiful city open, and the Via Dolorosa leads right through the lively market, with the stations of the cross clearly marked. Stoke up with great hummus at Abu Shukri near the Fifth Station, then walk it off at the Tower of David Museum, which beautifully tells 2000 years of history within the ancient citadel which has survived endless occupations.
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.