Layover in Tel Aviv: Old, New & Iconic!

James Oliver is a pilot with a US airlines
Country Airport Place
Israel TLV Tel Aviv

A layover in Tel Aviv is best spent on a bike. Even if you are new in the city, you don’t need to look for places to go, just follow the bike lane and see where the road takes you. While the tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard and the funky Neve Tzedek Quarter are must-visits, some off-beat and lesser-known places have enriched my experience all the more. So it’s my pleasure to share some of my great finds over several layovers in the city.

Get Acquainted With Tel Aviv’s Charming Neighborhoods

A layover in Tel Aviv is the perfect opportunity to experience the not-so-common blend of modernity and traditionalism. While the city willingly accepts change, it doesn’t let go of its old-world charm, clearly evident through strolls across its unique neighborhoods. I love exploring a new neighborhood each time, some of my favorite experiences are:

  • Enjoy Florentin’s Hipster Vibes

    If you want to experience the youthful Tel Aviv, Florentin is the place to be. Transformed into a hip neighborhood by students, this previously immigrant area is the true representation of Tel Aviv’s booming graffiti and alternative culture.

    With cool cafes, bars, and restaurants lining the street, the place is always filled with party vibes. I was lucky to visit here on a Saturday night, after Shabbat, and it was a treat in every sense. The bars and restaurants buzz till the early hours, street food vendors line up at Levinsky Market, and Mexican delights and tequila overflow.

    Sprinkle the delicious food with tranquilizing Arabic and DJ live music, and you’d never want to leave Tel Aviv because you feel at least 10 years younger when you are here.

  • Go Back in Time at Yemenite Quarter

In striking contrast to the bohemian Florentin, Yemenite Quarter is Tel Aviv’s nostalgia personified. Locally known as Kerem HaTeimanim, Yemenite Quarter has preserved its age-old feel in its mazy narrow streets and unassuming eateries offering hard-to-find authentic Jewish flavors.

The no-frills eateries here offer some of the best hummus and home-cooked Israeli food in the world! The local favorites are also my favorites for obvious reasons. I love eating the Shlomo & Doron hummus and when I crave some soul-nourishing home food, I go to Anat’s Kitchen. The charming granny there welcomes everyone with a huge smile, and it feels like being fed, or rather overfed, by your own grandmom!

Therefore, even with the lack of modernity, the neighborhood sees sufficient footfall. And as the name translates into the “Vineyard of the Yemenites,” you can find some authentic Israeli-brewed liquor at the Beer Bazar.

  • Soak In The Historic Jaffa

Coming to the most famous and must-visit neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Jaffa is everything you could imagine of the Middle-Eastern world. It is not just the oldest part of the city, but one of the oldest cities in the entire Mediterranean basin.

This city is the perfect place for photography enthusiasts like me. Standing atop a cliff, Jaffa offers an unparalleled range of attractions, including, mosques, churches, ancient clock towers, wishing bridges, and whatnot! Being an old Arab port town, Jaffa offers iconic stone architecture, the original bazaar area, also known as the ‘Souk’, and countless artisan boutiques. It’s the perfect place for souvenir shopping and seafood gobbling because the restaurants here offer the freshest calamari straight from the sea!

When you’re done eating, strolling, and admiring the city, head to the HaMidron Garden, offering tall minaret-like structures doubling as observation towers to stare endlessly at the vast shoreline.

Unique Tel Aviv: Attractions You Won’t Find Elsewhere

A layover in Tel Aviv is unique in many ways. While its quirky neighborhoods offer vibes you won’t find anywhere in the world, the city also offers some very unique attractions and experiences that you shouldn’t ever miss!

  • Admire Israel Through A Different Lens At The PhotoHouse

    As I have told you before, I love photography and any place remotely related to it is always on my bucket list. Therefore, I love visiting The PhotoHouse when I have a layover in Tel Aviv.

    It’s one of the lesser-known or almost hidden gems of the city, offering one of the most unique collections of historical photographs. However, the place is not so hard to find because you will bump into it while strolling the incredibly famous Carmel Market.

    Admiring the beautiful black and white photos feels like witnessing Israel transform in front of your very eyes. And the best part is that you get these photos in almost all shapes and sizes to take home with you. I always pick up a few postcards and sometimes small canvasses also, if I can carry them along.

  • Yet Another Unique View From The Hot Air Balloon TLV

Although my profession keeps me in the air for most of my awake time, riding this old-school piece of technology has its own serene charm.

One of the most iconic ways of sightseeing, I always recommend the Hot Air Balloon ride on a layover in Tel Aviv. The view from 120 meters in the sky is simply unparalleled, especially for photography enthusiasts looking for the perfect aerial shot without a drone!

But the best part is that the rides are available even at night, giving you some breathtaking glittery views of the city lights like you’ve never experienced before.

  • A Brand New Perspective At Nalaga’at Center

Although performing arts is quite commonplace throughout the world, Tel Aviv adds its unique charm to it. During our very recent layover in Tel Aviv, the crew and I visited Nalaga’at to watch a play. We thought it would be like just another play but we were in to get our minds blown!

Unlike any other play, the show was enacted by differently-abled performers who couldn’t hear or see but still presented a flawless performance just by sensing the drumbeat vibrations! The performance was so moving that I would want to revisit it as many times as possible.

Also, to further experience their unique life, the center has an in-house restaurant where you have a delicious meal in complete darkness, served by visually-impaired waitstaff. The aim is to create awareness and employment for these uniquely talented individuals! I was totally touched!

Iconic Tel Aviv – Shoreline, Bauhaus, Musical Fountain!

A layover in Tel Aviv can never be complete without exploring some of the most iconic aspects of the city. While there are so many museums and buildings to explore, Namal and Dizengoff Circle are simply unmissable.

  • Chill at Namal Port Area

    While Jaffa offers the old world charm and a distant shoreline view, Namal Port Area gives you an up and close view of the ocean, along with being the perfect port-side partying destination.

    With a slick waterfront café strip, you will never have a dull moment here. So, whenever we have a short layover in Tel Aviv and just want to relax, we always head to Namal. I love strolling and rollerblading on the boardwalk under bright sunshine with relaxed ocean waters doing their thing.

    Also, on most weekends, the port is adorned with free live music concerts that enliven the whole vibe. And to mark your visit to this gem of a city, you can even take a selfie at the iconic “I love Tel Aviv” sign.

  • Experience Art & Architecture at Dizengoff Circle

    Although most of Tel Aviv is hip and modern, it does have some finer streets with art galleries and museums too. Dizengoff is the best-known place for such finer indulgence. One of the most iconic sights to behold in the circle is the Fire and Water Fountain.

    Designed using Kinetic Artistic Style, the fountain spews water in unique forms at various times of the day with lights and music making it look even more beautiful.

    Along with that, the street is one of the best places for upscale shopping, salons, and fine dining. But the most iconic part of it is the whitewashed buildings built adhering to the Bauhaus Architecture School.

Shalom, Tel Aviv: You Charmed Me!

Although the city offers much more, one layover in Tel Aviv is never sufficient to explore it all. I have heard that Lake TLV offers adrenalin-pumping adventure sports, and Sarona market is the best place to experience the new wave of food in the city. So on my next layover, I am super excited to explore these parts of the city and experience what they offer.



Related Posts