Israel is a vibrant country, full of energy and positive vibes, weaving together past and future, tradition and modernity.
Whether you are looking for Tel Aviv’s stunning beaches, sea views and entertainment or Jerusalem’s mystique, history and archaeology, make sure to spend time in both and allow yourself to soak up the special atmosphere.
Neve Tzedek is one of Tel Aviv’s oldest districts - at the same time it’s young and full of life. Its fashionable style, combined with boutiques, galleries and craft shops make it a really popular choice for visitors and natives alike, looking to experience Europe style in the Middle East. You can also find trendy European restaurants, alongside stylish bistros.
If you are looking for a fun night life, the area’s al fresco cafes turn into live jazz bars and cocktail lounges, where you can meet locals and get to know the neighbourhood intimately.
Jaffa's Flea Market (known more commonly as "shuk hapishpeshim") is the top spot for colorful kilim rugs, antiques and furniture. There is also a range of eateries and local designer boutiques, where you can enjoy and get to know the local culture.
If you want to see how well you can haggle with native Israelis, this is the place. It's worth having a walk among the clothes stalls, second-hand stores and tasting the delicious Middle Eastern street food.
The Tel Aviv Port (the "Namal") in central, north Tel Aviv has something for everyone - stunning sea view and blue sea, morning and evening walks and biking along the 9-mile promenade , bustling markets, shops, bars and restaurants, activities for youth and kids and a very happening night life scene.
The 9-mile wooden promenade is the perfect location to bike, jog, rollerblade and even fish. During the summer, the port is jam-packed with young and old people alike, enjoying the sea-breeze. Boutique shops and restaurants are open until late, especially during the summer. The Namal is close to the Metzizim Beach, for those who want to fit in a trip to the beach.
If you want to buy fresh food, the Namal has a brought selection of market style stores. The Namal Food Market on Hangar 12 has a broad selection of high quality, fresh food - bread and wide range of Tel Aviv's best produce: delicious cheeses, salamis, wines, fruits and vegetables, chocolates, pasta.
You will also find cafes along the port, free yoga classes at EllaYoga studio, as well as the finest restaurants, including Rokach Shuk, Kitchen Market, Yulia Every Friday morning you can join a fun, free yoga lesson at the Tel Aviv Port, courtesy of EllaYoga studio.
Moving on from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, you won’t be disappointed by the range of activities one can enjoy. Here are a few suggestions:
The Western Wall or kotel is the surviving retaining wall of Jerusalem's Temple. It's well worth wandering through the magical Jewish Quarter during the day or the evening and absorbing the special atmosphere. If you can, make a point of spending time there over Shabbat, seeing young and old dressed in special clothes.
Worthwhile historical sites in the Old City, are the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, at the southern end of the Western Wall Plaza; the Western Wall Tunnels, which take you under the city, back to the level of the original city; and, the Jewish Quarter Street (Rehov HaYehudim), the main lane of the district, and the side streets where you'll find quaint synagogues and religious sites.
There are also plenty of take-outs and eateries in the Old City area - from falafel, burgers and pizza, to more formal restaurants. In the evenings there are a variety of walking tours you can choose from, most leaving from the Jaffa Gate area, soaking up the special atmosphere of the City of Gold.
The First Station ( or as natives call the 'tachana rishona') is a very popular cultural and recreational area - especially in the evenings and over the weekend. You will find a range of eateries and more formal restaurants, as well as health food stores and arts and crafts exhibits. They often have singers and performances in the central, covered area, which has bars on both sides. It's also a perfect place for young families as there is a well-equipped playground with fun ice-cream and candy stores.
You can’t experience Jerusalem without a visit to the Machane Yehuda Market popularly called, the “shuk” – where you can absorb the multiple variety of colors, aromas and personalities which makes the shuk so authentic. There are often artists, craftsmen and musicians performing there, especially at night.
A bustling marketplace, you’ll be able to interact with traders who are genuine “Yerushalmim,” you can do your weekday grocery shopping, and also sit down at one of the hip restaurants or cafes. In the evenings – especially on Thursday and Saturday night – the shuk and connected side Jaffa and Agrippas Streets, bursting with young and old, drinking, dancing and talking.
Whether you visit Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, you are assured to have a fun time, enjoying the food, music, ambiance and diversity of people and cultures. Israel is not just a young country – but also a country that brings together old and young in a way that no other does - and in that way is truly unique.
This article was written in cooperation with Dan Hotels