Tel Aviv: The Capital of Mediterranean Cool

The New York Times called Tel Aviv the “Mediterranean Capital of Cool”. It’s not hard to see why.

The city is alive with possibilities and adventures, between a sizzling nightlife, magnificent sea, arts, and a culture that grasps you by the arm and carries you merrily along.

A glowing city, after dark

One of the first things you’ll notice about Tel Aviv is the shine of its multitude of white buildings with alcove balconies and small windows. They’re all over the place. If you visit a friend who lives in one, you’ll have a fantastic view of the sun setting along the sea’s horizon line. It gives a sheen to the Mediterranean city, bathing it in golden hues.

At nighttime, the city truly comes alive as lights give a blue glow to many parts of it. City dwellers, tourists, and those visiting from the outskirts descend on the many restaurants and clubs Tel Aviv has to offer. For the non-stop partygoer, the city is also known for its 24 hours long, seven days a week party culture.

For the less enthusiastic and more restrained, a dinner at one of the sophisticated, upmarket restaurants will suffice — with a selection of delicious Israeli food on the menu, scrumptious enough to settle even the most ravenous appetite. Be warned, steak doesn’t come cheap, as the country must import it. But when served, it’s simply superb. Along with a fine selection of wines and other drinks, dining out is a cultural adventure.

As for the nightclubs, they make an excellent place to plan for the next party. There’s always one around. Or you can simply stay there the night and make new friends. Israelis are not shy people, and this is doubly so in Tel Aviv, where a local will likely join your table to make conversation. And if they like you, they’ll have no qualms about letting you know.

Making new friends is a great way to experience the city, as you’ll soon learn all the nooks and crannies that only locals know. Such as the hidden gems just waiting to be discovered: a shawarma shop with the world’s best laffa. Or a second-hand bookstore with rare collections hardly found anywhere else.

The gayest city in the Middle East

It’s invigorating to be accepted for who you are. In this sense, Tel Aviv delivers! Whatever your gender identity or sexual orientation, the city will welcome you with wide, rainbow-colored arms. Tel Aviv has a significant gay community who are open about their identity and warmly embraced in the city. As a result, you’ll find plenty of gay clubs and bars to visit. The city also plays host to an annual Gay Pride Week that draws an international crowd. Tel Aviv is the most open-minded and free-spirited local in the Middle East.

You may even find a nice bite to eat at a bar, gay or not, if stopping off at a restaurant feels too time-consuming for you.

Vegans are cool, too

If you’re not into meat or any animal by-products, you’ll be pleased to know that aside from the usual restaurants and bar meals, Tel Aviv is home to the most extensive vegan community in the Middle East. There are more eateries here than in most cities around the world. And the hip establishments are known for getting creative with their menus. So, you’ll find something exciting to eat no matter what. Even if you’re not a vegan, it’s well worth trying out what the eateries have on offer. Who knows? You may just end up a convert.

If you’re interested in discovering all that’s on offer, take a Vegan Tour to find the unique feasts available for the herbivores among us. It’s an excellent way to explore Tel Aviv as well. Whatever your food preference, you’ll want to ensure you’re well-fed for the city’s many activities.

Water sports and other activities to do by the sea

But enough about bars and restaurants. There’s more to life than eating and making merry in eateries and clubs. Such as day activities that give the city a sparkling personality.

There’s nothing quite like a vista of the sea from Tel Aviv. The Mediterranean is an amazing body of water, so why not hop in? If you’re a surfer, the waves will carry you to the shore in style. If you’re into scuba diving or would like to be, visit one of the diving companies in town and arrange a trip away from the shoreline. You’ll discover some interesting aquatic life as you swim beneath the waves in water with excellent visibility. Just watch out for crabs. Get too close, and they’ll get you in a pinch.

But the Medi isn’t the only place in Tel Aviv to do water sports. You can enjoy water skiing and jet skiing at Lake TLV, the leading water ski site in Israel. It’s a fun way to spend the day. Located in the middle of a green park in south Tel Aviv, it is suited for amateurs and professionals.

You can also view the waters from above and enjoy paragliding over the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. It’s a way to take flight and see the sea from a different perspective. Enjoy the clear, brisk air up there are you fly by, little engine propeller spluttering behind you.

When you’re done for the day, enjoy a soda or cold drink on the beach, preferably late afternoon, when the heat is dying down. Tel Aviv can get quite hot for those not used to the Middle Eastern climate, even in winter. Now that you’ve got that exuberant energy out the way, maybe it’s time for some arts and culture the day following.

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Tel Aviv is rich in culture despite its youth

Tel Aviv is just over 100 years old. It goes to show — some things only get better with age. Tel Aviv was first established as a township on the outskirts of Jaffa, itself an ancient trading port, in 1909. European Jews looking for a place to settle built it up, and eventually, they annexed Jaffa into the same municipality. But it’s okay to hang out with the old folks, and the two separate but incorporated areas now have a common administrative destiny. In fact, the view from Jaffa of Tel Aviv is incredible, especially at night, with the city lights extremely bright.

In any case, Tel Aviv is alive with culture. For one thing, travelers must not miss out on the astounding and awe-inspiring Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Its mission is to preserve and display modern and contemporary art, not only from Israel but also around the world. If you’re a cultured person interested in the history of art and enjoy the experience of gazing at some of its finest pieces, the museum is for you.

Some of the significant art movements include Russian Constructivism, Cubism, Futurism, and more. Amongst its many displays, you’ll find pieces by Pablo Picasso, and several sculptures by Jacques Lipchitz, among others. There are thousands of art displays to stare at in appreciation of genius here. There’s even a mural by the legendary Roy Lichtenstein designed especially for the museum.

And, of course, there’s plenty of sublime Israeli art to be appreciated, too. A note on Israeli art: it encompasses everything bizarre and wonderful, as there is a multitude of influences on the country’s art movements. This is because of the wide variety of Jews from different countries and cultures bringing their ideas with them into Israel’s melting pot of molded national identity. From traditional pieces, gouache paintings, obscure sculptures, and surrealist scenes, Israeli art is fundamentally a churning cultural identity of the Jewish people, the zeitgeist of Israel, if you will. One made up of complexity and intricacy and well worth visiting Tel Aviv’s art museum to see.

Even the streets are art

Aside from the organized art displays, there’s also an urban culture of street art that brings the walls alive in color and form. It’s genius, with some of Israel’s most remarkable artistic street talent giving various areas a funky, ecstatic, and electric personality.

Walking around town and capturing them on camera is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. As street art is an expression of youthful exuberance, it marks the upcoming artistic culture of a city. At the very least, it gives it some added je ne sais quoi. That’s a French loan phrase for an almost-indescribable quality. And perhaps, half the time, that’s the point.

Tel Aviv is for everybody

Its sophisticated nightlife, daily activities, cultural sites, and status as the country’s commercial center make Tel Aviv the place everyone should visit sometime in their lives.

It’s also where many start-ups begin their lives as businesses, companies keep their head offices, and Israel’s economy is kept going strong. People work very hard here, giving the shekel (the country’s currency) its substantial buying power.

From its glorious views on the beach promenades to the sights and sounds while walking through the busy streets, this Mediterranean city is contradictory in its strong work ethic and laid-back way of life. It’s a city with a deep appreciation of culture and a deeper appreciation of frantic partying.

If you decide to visit Tel Aviv and other parts of Israel, you may wish to brush up on your Hebrew, so you too can make friends easily and find directions to the best restaurants, the most happening parties, and the awe-inspiring museums. So, take a course with the Rosen School of Hebrew. We’ll get you talking to the fun-loving, hard-working locals through our unique approach to online learning. Then, at the very least, you can ask a Tel Aviv resident, “Hey, where’s the nearest party at?”

About the author

Anthony FreelanderAnthony Freelander is a lifelong student of linguistics and history. His interest in Hebrew stems from a deep-rooted connection to it and its speakers. He’s been writing professionally since 2005.

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