The White City district refers to a collection of 4,000 registered historical buildings, the world’s largest collection, built in the Bauhaus/International Style of architecture. Because the buildings are spread out in different central neighborhoods, you’ll need to walk, bike or scoot around to see them. Emblematic of Tel Aviv’s urban landscape, the light-colored buildings — with ribbon windows, flat roofs and geometric shapes — are functional structures in a living city, housing theaters, cafes, bars, hotels, residences and start-ups. Many have undergone preservation and are photo-worthy, but others are dirty and deteriorating. In 2003, UNESCO declared the White City area as a unique world-heritage site. You don’t have to be an architect to appreciate their beauty.
BTW: Take a guided tour of the White City district to hear the stories behind the buildings. The Bauhaus Center runs a tour every Friday morning, and the White City Center (address mapped below) runs group tours on demand.
29 Idelson St., Tel Aviv, Israel
Yarkon Park (Ganei Yehoshua)
The green lung of Tel Aviv, this park is to Tel Aviv what Central Park is to New York City. About 16 million visitors are drawn annually to its extensive lawns, sports facilities, water park, concert venues, dog parks, artificial lakes, ornithological center, biking and walking paths, gardens and playgrounds. Exercise buffs swarm in the early mornings and early evenings. Families set up picnics or barbecues en masse on Saturdays and holidays. Acts like Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel and Madonna have all performed in the outdoor concert venue. The Yarkon River cuts through the park, and even though it’s not appropriate to swim there, the river is used for boating activities. The park stretches from the northeast high-tech area of Ramat Hahayal to the Mediterranean Sea.
BTW: Renting a bike or scooter on the street will help you see more of the park. Just make sure to stay on the bike paths, because you will be fined for riding on the pedestrian pathways.
Go to the beach
Although Tel Aviv has only recently been lauded as an international beach destination, for locals, beach life is a major part of the culture. With 300 sunny days a year, Tel Aviv residents spend a lot of time outdoors — and, specifically, at the seashore. People walk, run, cycle or use scooters on the long promenade along the city’s western edge. You’ll always find locals at the beachside free outdoor mini gyms as well. There are 13 beaches to choose from in the city, each with its own character. Centrally located Hilton is the LGBT community’s stretch of sand; Gordon is the ultimate urban one; and Metzitzim is the most laid-back. If you’d prefer to hang with the locals away from the main hotel strip, you’ll find them on North and South Hatzuk (Cliff) beaches as well as at Tel Baruch Beach (mapped below), all three in the northern part of the city with perfect sunset viewing spots and sports facilities.
BTW: The beaches are lined with restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors and clubs, and although they have the prime location for people- or sunset-watching, be forewarned these establishments hike the prices exactly for this reason.
Tel Baruch Beach, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
Carmel Market (Shuk HaCarmel)
The busiest and biggest market in Tel Aviv that tourists come to for the exciting sensory experiences and locals come to for their shopping. The centrally located, open-air market is always busy, and you will have your ankles nipped by at least one local trying to navigate the crowds with a shopping trolley. Vendors stand over stalls with colorful fresh produce, gourmet cheeses, spices, flowers, meat and fish, sweets, toys and discounted clothing — and they often sing praises of their goods to woo shoppers. Come hungry: This market is also home to cool cafes, chef-owned food stalls, Middle Eastern fast food, juice stands and bakeries.
BTW: Take a guided tour with Delicious Israel around the market and backstreets of the adjoining Yemenite Quarter neighborhood to better understand the foods and foodstuffs on sale as well as which stalls to shop and eat at.
HaCarmel Street, Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv is known for its public squares and their iconic artwork. Locals and tourists come to Habima Square to play or read in the sunken garden, attend an outdoor event, for a performance, sit at a cafe or to watch the crowds. This is a culture plaza — flanked by the country’s national theater and a contemporary art museum, and home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, all built in the International Style of architecture. Since Habima Square is right in the center of the city, it tends to teem with people at all hours. The “Three Circles” sculpture by artist Menashe Kadishman, which logic says should fall, has become a recognized symbol of the city.
BTW: Each public square holds a piece of the city’s history. Closest to Habima Square is Dizengoff Square, with the famous “Fire and Water Fountain” sculpture by artist Yaacov Agam.
2 Tarsat Ave., Tel Aviv, Israel
Ilana Goor Museum
This city brims with first-rate museums displaying Israeli art, contemporary masterpieces, archaeological artifacts and antiquities dating back thousands of years. But there’s no place quite like the Ilana Goor Museum. Housed in an 18th-century building in the Old City of Jaffa, the museum itself is an architectural masterpiece with a wild history that includes being an inn for Jerusalem-bound pilgrims. Goor, herself an artist, has culled together an eclectic and diverse treasure trove of over 500 works of art by acclaimed contemporary designers, like Frank Gehry and Gerrit Thomas Rietveld; celebrated Israeli artists such as Yigal Tumarkin and Yaacov Agam; and numerous foreign pieces. The view of the Mediterranean Sea from the rooftop is unparalleled.
BTW: Use a visit to this museum as the starting point for a walking tour of Jaffa’s old winding alleyways, ancient stone buildings and open courtyards. Take time to pop into art galleries, small shops, lively cafes, fashion boutiques and designer workshops like Ben Zion David’s stunning handmade Yemenite silver jewelry, on the same street as the museum.
4 Mazal Dagim St., Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv 68036 Israel