Between the year-round sunshine, nine miles of sandy beaches, superb gastronomy and legendary nightlife, few cities can compete with Tel Aviv as a summer travel destination.
Given the sheer volume of different experiences on offer, you’ll be in no doubt as to why this vibrant, cosmopolitan Mediterranean city is so often referred to as the “cultural capital” of Israel.
Here is your definitive guide to making the most of Tel Aviv this summer.
A trailblazer of the modern Israeli kitchen, Animar is the brainchild of Chef Hillel Tavakuli. Combining his Jewish-Persian-Libyan upbringing with inspiration from Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, Tavakuli uses in-season produce and plenty of fresh herbs and spices to make dishes that are both sophisticated and surprising. Like the spicy wild fish, a fish tartare with spring onions, celery, cilantro, cashews, and lime vinaigrette, that is tangy and fresh, or the equally flavorful Persian lamb cigars, crunchy savory pastries filled with ground lamb and spicy merguez sausage.
Alena at The Norman
The Norman has long been considered Tel Aviv’s most elegant boutique hotel and now it has a dining concept to match. As of last year, the hotel’s Alena restaurant has been led by lifelong friends Omer Shadmi Muller and Daniel Zur, two charismatic young chefs with a unique vision that combines their Jewish-Ashkenazy heritage with their Galilean roots and time spent in some of the finest restaurants around Europe. Order the beef tartare with crispy cabbage leaves and horseradish cream, and the remarkably tender charred octopus skewer cooked in lamb fat.
Did you know Tel Aviv has its own High Line? Except, it’s technically a “low line”, built at ground level. Park HaMesila, or train track park, follows a disused Ottoman-era railway line running all the way from Rothschild Boulevard, via the charming and picturesque Neve Tzedek neighborhood, to the beach. Popular with families, groups of friends, dog walkers, runners and bikers, the park is brimming with cafés, street art and shady spots ideal for al-fresco picnics or drinks.
George & John at The Drisco
Take one of the sexiest boutique hotels in Tel Aviv. Add a sought-after culinary destination with an interior design to die for. The result is George & John at The Drisco. Once you’ve sampled chef Tomer Tal’s ultra-decadent crab pasta with sweet corn cream, brown butter and bottarga, or the lighter, but no less flavor packed, charcoal-grilled kohlrabi with pomegranate vinaigrette, you’ll be left in no doubt as to why this spot is currently the ninth best restaurant in the Middle East and North Africa according to the prestigious 50 Best list.
Soho House Tel Aviv Jaffa
Commonly known as the “cultural capital” of Israel, Tel Aviv is arguably one of the most—if not the most—progressive cities in the Middle East. How apt, then, that Soho House, the London-based private members’ club for trendy, creative types, selected this location for its first club and hotel in the region. Set in a turreted former convent dating back to the 1883, and featuring a club, garden, swimming pool, as well as indoor and outdoor bar and dining options, and 24 bedrooms, Soho House Tel Aviv Jaffa is undoubtedly the place to see and be seen in Tel Aviv right now.
The Common at The David Kempinski
Not only is The David Kempinski Tel Aviv’s hottest new beachfront hotel, it is also home to a brand-new bar from the city’s favorite mixologists. By the team behind the acclaimed Imperial Cocktail Bar (just across the road) comes The Common, delivering a casual, yet sophisticated setting, a superb selection of classic and signature tipples, as well as Israel’s first Cohiba Atmosphere cigar lounge. The food menu includes butcher cuts grilled to perfection, charcuterie plates perfect for sharing, crispy green beans, and a refreshing tuna sashimi.
The first sign that you might be onto something here is the crowd of trendy-looking people outside the door. The second is when you catch a glimpse of the food. Set on the ground floor of the lovely Renoma Hotel, Bar 51 burst onto the Tel Aviv food scene right before the pandemic. Fast-forward to today and it’s more popular than ever. The concept is simple: an expertly curated wine list and small plates made for sharing. The result is a winning combination of superb service, delicious food, and an infectiously lively atmosphere that will keep you coming back for more.
Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv’s ultra-cool Florentin neighborhood has been up and coming for a while. During the pandemic, cars were banished from Levinsky Street, creating seating space in a road once jammed with traffic and parked cars, making the area even more appealing. There are too many hip new spots around here to count but the trendiest of them all might just be Tirza. By the team behind Tel Aviv’s premier fine-dining establishment OCD, this small wine bar’s menu features around 50 wines by the glass, as well as delicious bites by superstar chef Raz Rahav.
If there is one place that captures the heart and soul of edgy south Tel Aviv, it might just be Kuli Alma. This nightclub-come-art gallery-come-vegetarian eatery brings an eclectic blend of unexpected and unorthodox content to a heady mix of people from far and wide. Run by a local DJ collective, there’s plenty to keep you busy here until the early hours, from the buzzing dance floor, to the outdoor courtyard filled with graffiti and greenery, and a snack bar in case you get peckish.
This beachfront restaurant enjoys the kind of perennial popularity that most can only dream of. Between the energizing sea breeze, the unobstructed views of the Mediterranean, the fresh seafood and the warm service, it’s no surprise that Manta Ray remains such firm year-in-year-out favorite. Kick things off with a selection of mezzes, or small plates of freshly made salads, accompanied by warm Balkan bread with oil and vinegar, before moving onto the main event. The seafood linguine with flying fish roe is a winner, as is the sea bass fillet with gnocchi, eggplant, and cashew, in lemon butter and cilantro.