Lay of the Land
The land is ancient, but the city is new and getting newer, contradictory as it may seem. Founded in 1909, Tel Aviv is Israel’s second-largest city (Jerusalem is the biggest), and it is growing at a seemingly unstoppable rate. The horizon is marked by a number of colossal, mostly interchangeable, chain hotels, and an equal number of cranes, representing the endless number of luxury properties staking their claim on the waterfront.
The city is comprised of several different neighborhoods, all easily explored in a day or two. Spending time at the beach is a must-do, with gyms, bike lanes and lively outdoor cafés lining the waterfront parkway. The old port city of Jaffa is about a ten-minute car ride from the main beach area and a great place to explore local shops.
Neve Tzedek is a neighborhood located in the area across the street from the beach and full of open-air markets, stores and galleries (like Ha Tachana, within a former train station). It is easy to combine a stop here for lunch, followed by a tour of the nearby Florentin area to see the classic Bauhaus architecture.
The beachside city, often called the Miami of the Middle East, is at its best during the spring and early summer, or in the early fall, when the water is welcoming and the heat is not too oppressive.
Israel is compact in size, so travel between its cities is easy and manageable. Jerusalem lies 40 miles to the southeast, Haifa is 60 miles north, and day trips to Jordan can be facilitated, although crossing the border is often tricky. Within Tel Aviv, it is best to travel by private car or taxi, and to avoid public transportation.