Tourism fatigue may not be a recognized medical condition, but every tourist in
Israel experiences it: being led like cattle – on the bus, off the bus; on the
bus, off the bus; standing around in a clump listening to a tour guide drone on
about this site or that site, before you get on the bus, to get off the bus
Sooner or later, the lack of action means your mind is wandering
off and your gaze shifts beyond the pile of historical rocks.
A new tour
in Tel Aviv aims to combat the exhaustion associated with tourism by making you
sweat for the sightseeing. EcoBike, a two-year-old Israeli bike touring company,
has just launched a new summer tour in mid- July called Tel Aviv Bike &
Beer, for visitors looking for an alternative way to see the city.
hope: that by pedaling while you’re listening, you’ll be interested in the
explanations; and with rewards of beer, you’ll be happy to pedal.
always offered bike tours in Tel Aviv,” explains Tomer Zaksenberg, who cofounded
EcoBike with Amir Rockman, another bike touring expert. “But I was thinking of a
way to make it more attractive, how to add a social aspect to it.
you connect people, the social involvement makes the whole tour more fun. We
added beer because beer makes everyone happy.
“You have a bike tour, it’s
not that difficult, and when you start sweating a bit, we stop at a nice pub.
It’s a gathering, it’s a happening.”
The route winds through central and
north Tel Aviv, stopping at Rabin Square, State Plaza (Kikar Hamedina), leafy
Yarkon Park, the chic Tel Aviv Port, and the northern Tel Aviv
Outfitted with a microphone that actually works, tour
guide Zack Novak points out the sites while you’re pedaling, meaning you don’t
even have to slow down to appreciate the sprinklings of Bauhaus architecture
throughout the city, or learn why the sycamores in the Square of the Righteous
Gentiles are so large (it was the former zoo before Ramat Gan).
that require longer explanations – like Rabin Square or the Power Plant – the
breaks are a welcome chance to stretch your legs.
Not that you’ll be
working too hard. The entire route is about six kilometers, or about three km.
EcoBike’s pink, yellow or green five-gear cruiser bikes (decked
out in Hawaiian flowers) will make you feel like the king of the bike path, as
you attract the attention of even the most blasé Tel Avivians enjoying
cappuccinos in the afternoon sun.
THIS ISN’T the typical three-hour tour
of Tel Aviv, and it shouldn’t be the only tour of the city for
“You won’t see the stone alleys of Jaffa, or the trendy
cafes in Neveh Tzedek, or the bustling Carmel market.
What you will see
is quiet alleys bursting with flowers, political landmarks, and real,
honest-to-goodness, live Israelis.”
Biking is one of the best ways to see
a city, because you see the places between the touristy sites, where people
actually live and play.
“You’re getting to know the city from the back,
and not the main touristic attractions,” says Zaksenberg. “We also see them, but
we try to show it a bit differently.”
“I’m really amazed at how green and
leafy Tel Aviv is,” Rose Golder-Novick, a tourist from Boston, says between
pedal strokes as Novak leads the group through parts of the city you could
mistake for a jungle. “I would have never gone to those places on my
And who could imagine a better summer job? “I get to work with the
coolest tourists out there,” says Novak, who’s meticulously timed the crosswalk
signals to ensure a smooth tour. “They’re independent travelers who want to do
different things – physically active, young and hip, and are looking to
experience down-toearth, local things.”
Local things, like the beer stop
at a quaint kiosk in the Yarkon Park. Sipping a lager next to a river as the
ibex and ostriches frolic in a nearby enclosure imparts a tranquility that is
quite rare in Tel Aviv.
Our tour ends just as the sun dips below a smog
cloud, a perfect Tel Aviv sunset.
“We’re really working on getting rid of
the smog so the sunsets are better,” jokes Novak, but he’s half
EcoBike, which partners with the green movement in Tel Aviv,
offers more than just a tour – it’s an alternative for tourists concerned about
their environmental impact on the places they visit. A six-kilometer bus ride
produces between five and eight kilos of carbon dioxide, depending on traffic.
But a three-hour tour powered by pedaling and drinking beer is
“We’re ecological freaks,” laughs Zaksenberg. “We use
recycled paper for all the advertising, all the business cards, whatever. We try
to cut out all the things you don’t have to use.”
Feeling warm and fuzzy
about the environment is a definite perk to the tour. But the best part comes as
I lean back on my helmet, stretch out my legs, and gaze out across the city of
Tel Aviv, digesting all the tidbits of interesting history along with an
Bike & Beer leaves from the Deborah Hotel, 87 Ben
Yehuda Street at 4:30, Sunday through Thursday.
Reservations are strongly
encouraged, but not required.
The three-hour tour includes bike rental
and helmet, tour guide, water and two beers for NIS 175.More
information: ecobike.co.il Hebrew tours or personalized tours available on