In June 2016, I went to Tel Aviv, Israel. It was my first time going to the Middle East, and I could not have asked for a better introduction to the region. It was an amazing few days, and I recommend everyone try to make their way to Tel Aviv at some point. I could come up with infinite reasons to fall in love with this city, but I’ll narrow it down to my top five.
It is like entering a completely different world
Israel is among one of the most exotic and different countries I have experienced so far. Having spent the majority of my travels in Europe for the year and a half prior to going to Israel, it was one of the bigger culture shocks I had experienced in a while. There really are not a lot of tourists in Tel Aviv, and the city is almost entirely Jewish, meaning that I stuck out like a sore thumb. There were different traditions and garments and an unrecognizable written and spoken language. The buildings were a unique style of architecture that I had yet to see, and the lifestyle was completely different.
Staying in an Airbnb was a fantastic choice as I really got a taste of what it was like to live in Tel Aviv. No air conditioning, eighty degrees at 7 AM… I hated and loved every second of it. I live for adventure, and experiencing something as new as Tel Aviv was a thrill. Almost everyone does speak English, and despite Israel being constantly in the news for something terrorist-related, it is one of the safest I have ever felt while in a city. Trust me, I had my doubts about going after hearing about a terrorist attack just days before I was supposed to go. I followed through and had the time of my life.
The beaches are incredible
Heading into my trip to Tel Aviv, I really did not know what to expect. I definitely was not expecting to spend a lot of time on a beach. In fact, I did not even know Tel Aviv had beaches, but it does and they are amazing. It gets hot in Israel, and there’s no better place to take a dip than in The Mediterranean. It’s not just the crystal clear water, either. The entire area by the beach is abuzz with life and activity. It’s hard not to be cheerful when you’re by the sea, and it just emanates an aura of happiness from everyone around you. From the people jogging and biking and walking their dogs, to the ones just relaxing and taking in the fantastic weather, you can’t help but be happy with them. It truly reminded me of the vibe I got from strolling down Barcelona’s boardwalks, but a lot less crowded. Tel Aviv is easily in my top five favorite beach cities.
Fresh fruits and fresh seafood makes for a happy stomach
I can’t even count the amount of smoothies I had in four days here. I spent most of my time riding bikes throughout the city and by the beach, and made frequent pit stops for whatever exotic beverage I could get my hands on. I could not tell you even half of what I drank or ate, but they were all amazing. There’s so many unique fruits here, and make your way down Carmel Market to get your fill on fresh fruits and fresh smoothies. The seafood here is also incredible. I usually eat just about anything, but I do have very high standards for seafood. Tel Aviv went beyond those expectations. Get your fill on some great Mediterranean dishes. It’s hard to be upset after an incredible meal.
Don’t even get me started on the nightlife
I was told that Tel Aviv was the Miami of the Middle East. Honestly, that is beyond an understatement. The place may not have massive clubs on every street corner, but it makes up for it in quality. There’s a club for every type of music you’re into, and the DJs are top-notch. We went out on a Monday and Tuesday and both nights were a damn good time. I can only imagine what a Friday night would have been like. Even if a club or a bar isn’t your thing, you’ve got the Mediterranean Sea at your doorstep. Why not pop open a beer and drink by the water? It was a fantastic way to end my time in Tel Aviv.
Oh, and a side note. The people here are beautiful. Everyone has to join the military after high school, which has the side effect of literally all of the young people having immaculate bodies to go with how gorgeous they already are. You can’t go wrong experiencing world class nightlife in Tel Aviv with some of the most beautiful people in the world.
The people here are unbelievably friendly
I don’t speak a lick of Hebrew, aside from the two or three words I learned from Fiddler on the Roof. That did not matter as mostly everyone spoke English and was happy and eager to help a poor, lost, little tourist like me. My favorite interaction was with this older man in Carmel Market. The first day I went to the market, I stopped by his shop and he had an entire conversation with me in Hebrew. As in I answered in English and he spoke to me in Hebrew and neither of us had any idea what the other was saying but he was so ecstatic that I didn’t know what else to do. I went back to the market the next day and he recognized me and started freaking out because my long, luscious hair from the day before was in a bun today. At least, I think that’s what he was saying because he kept gesturing to my hair. Again, neither of us understood the other but he kept hugging me and laughing and patting me on the back. It was like I was his long-lost son.
Seriously, the people here are so friendly that you won’t want to leave. People would stop to help us just because we looked lost. People at the bars, clubs, restaurants, beach, grocery stores, everywhere, were just beyond welcoming. It alleviated any doubts I had about coming to Tel Aviv, and is the number one reason you will fall in love with the city. Hanging out with the locals and meeting people while traveling is my favorite part of seeing the world, and I think very, very highly of Tel Aviv’s wonderful people.