This vibrant city on the coast of the Mediterranean is an ideal large family destination with everything from historical markets, modern malls and top-rated beach vacation all rolled into one.
Tel Aviv is the second most populated city in Israel after Jerusalem. This was our third family trip to my partner’s country of birth. Each time we find more and more to enjoy with our large family in this vibrant, sun-kissed country in the Middle East.
Each neighborhood carries its own unique stories full of history and people all trying to etch out a living in one of the busiest cities in Israel. Tel Aviv includes the old city of Jaffa, an ancient port city that has been revitalized and is now one of the main tourist attractions within greater Tel Aviv.
If you love warm waves that wash up on soft sandy beaches, then the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv will be the first stop on your list. There are numerous beachside restaurants for takeout or dine in meals with kid-friendly menus and a spacious boardwalk to wander. The city-run chair and umbrella service is quite good and the fee is nominal for a full day use.
This 9-mile stretch of Mediterranean waterfront has numerous beaches each with its own unique characteristics, restaurants, change rooms, public washrooms, and feet washing stations, playgrounds and activities.
Travel Tip: In Israel, most schools and businesses close early on Friday for the Jewish Sabbath and do not open again until Sunday. The beaches will become very crowded on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Plan your beach days during the weekdays.
2. Carmel Market
The main “shuk” is open every day except after 4 pm on Friday and all day Saturday. (To recognize the Jewish Sabbath.) Stalls full of fresh fruit, meat, juices, candy stands and other goods like linens and souvenirs – it is a feast for the senses.
Grab a fresh juice and wander up and down the long corridor for an authentic experience of a bustling Middle Eastern market.
Let the kids spend some of their shekels on bags of candy or stock up on fresh fruit, nuts and fresh olives for a beachside picnic. Whatever you do in the market is an experience to remember.
3. Tel Aviv Port
Adjacent to the Metzizim Beach, (part of the 9-mile boardwalk on the shores of the Mediterranean), in the central north part of Tel Aviv is Namal Tel Aviv. This fun, family-oriented area is perfect to explore with your large family.
Highlights are the antique carousel and well lit outdoor playground that is open year-round for younger children. Tons of brand name outlet stores will entertain the older kids and there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Full of activities and events it is a great way to end a day in Tel Aviv.
4. Ice Cream
Tel Aviv is known for world-class ice cream and gelato. There are as many ice cream cafés as coffee ones on each block. For a treat, try a different one every day and see if you can tell the difference between the different shops. Of note: GOLDA’S Ice Cream although in all honesty – all ice cream is good ice cream in Tel Aviv.
5. Art Market and Shopping
There are a few types of shopping in Israel. Market shopping, mall shopping, and Dizengoff shopping. This street is a neat place to take a stroll, check out the local Israeli boutiques and then pop into the mall if you get too hot. After a stop for lunch at Piazza, make your way off Dizengoff to the Nachlat Binyamin Art Market.
Open Tuesdays and Fridays, this is an amazing place to visit while in Tel Aviv. The streets are closed making it safe for families to stroll the entire street as art vendors like jewelers to glass blowing showcase their talents.
6. Neve Tzedek
For a change of pace visit Neve Tzedek, one of the first Jewish neighborhoods built outside of Old Jaffa.
A trendy and revitalized neighborhood, do not miss a visit to the Dallal Bakery to enjoy some delicious baked goods.
7. Sarona Market
If your family wants a little more modern culture, head over to the Sarona Market. A trendy, modern indoor food market in downtown eastern Tel Aviv, it opens up into a beautiful square. Let everyone choose their own food adventure at the over 40 gourmet eateries enjoying a picnic style meal out in the grassy areas while the younger children play at the nearby park.
8. Gordon Pool
If you and your family are craving a break from the beaches, head over to Gordon Pool. Overlooking the Gordon Beach, this 200 square meter facility offers lap pools, a large family pool, and children’s pools.
For a per person fee, you have access to all the facilities including beach loungers and umbrellas. It’s a nice respite from the beach and will change up your routine while visiting Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv – Jaffa (Yafo)
9. Old Jaffa
The best way to approach Old Jaffa is to walk from the seaside. You can view the breathtaking view of downtown Tel Aviv before making the climb up the stairs and pathways. There are gardens, artist alleyways, shops and much more to find in this magical place. Follow your feet and check out the Zodiac path, a narrow bunch of staircases that lead down to Jaffa Port. See if you can find a special store called, Adina Plastelina where a mysterious room holds hints of the history of this ancient city.
Travel Tip: A visit to Old Jaffa is best done in the morning or early evening. The old stone pathways and buildings can hold the daytime sun making it a bit unbearable for younger family members during the warmer months.
10. Jaffa Port
The ancient port of Jaffa is a must visit place for anyone traveling to Tel Aviv. Within Old Jaffa, this port has been revitalized although still retains its fishing port character. It is a popular area for patio side dining and nightlife. Ensure to catch one of your memorable Tel Aviv sunsets while dining in Jaffa Port.
There is something for everyone when visiting Tel Aviv from soft sandy beaches, to historical treasures and modern food markets. Pick and choose your favorites and enjoy.
This article is number one in a three-part series on our family’s recent trip to Israel. Please check back for future articles on Caesarea/Jerusalem as well as Dead Sea/Masada/Eilat.