This Israeli city is notoriously expensive, but here’s how to experience… Tel Aviv for under £100 a night
- Stay in a clean, functional and nicely-located pod at The O Pod Hotel – some rooms come with sea views
- Feast on velvety hummus at Ali Karawan — Abu Hassan, one of Israel’s most famous hummus restaurants
- Go on a stroll through the alleyways, courtyards, old mosques and churches of the ancient ‘city’ of Jaffa
Tel Aviv is apparently the world’s costliest city – but prudent travellers need not be priced out of visiting
It’s a label you might expect to pin on Paris or New York. Yet Tel Aviv is apparently the world’s costliest city — not least because of the weak pound and strengthening shekel.
Prudent travellers need not be priced out of seeing this vibrant Israeli city, though.
A magnet for foodies and lovers of history and culture, you can enjoy all this, as well as the long, sandy coastline, without spending a king’s ransom.
WHERE TO STAY
There’s a 1970s sitcom vibe to this 12-room, two-star hotel.
It’s on Ben Yehuda Street, a bustling parade of shops and cafes, and is only a five-minute walk to a beach. It’s also close to Dizengoff Square — home to Tel Aviv’s Fire and Water Fountain.
Prices from £72 for an economy double room (booking.com)
Check into the super-clean, uber-modern hotel/hostel WOM Allenby from £71 per night
Classic king or double pod style rooms at WOM Allenby feature a safe, a desk, sink, towels, robes and slippers
Fabulously located, this super-clean, uber-modern hotel/hostel is five minutes from Tel Aviv beach and offers all necessities: a safe, a desk, sink, towels, robes and slippers. There is also a supermarket nearby, which will help to keep bills low. Bathrooms serve three rooms, but they’re cleaned after each use. You can check if they are free on the WOM app.
From £71 per night for a classic king or double pod (staywom.com)
The O Pod Hotel
The tiny pod-style rooms at The O Pod Hotel are clean, functional and nicely located
Opt for a pod with a sea view at The O Pod Hotel (above)
If you’re literally looking for a bed for the night, here’s where to stay, since the O Pod must offer the tiniest rooms in Tel Aviv.
They’re just large enough to sleep in, capsule-style, with a single or double bed, shared bathrooms and a communal lounge. But they are clean, functional and nicely located in Neve Tzedek, one of the oldest neighbourhoods, with quaint cottages, gardens, winding alleyways and beautifully restored buildings.
From £67 for a double pod with a sea view (theopodhotel.com)
This one-bedroom micro-loft apartment sits in the heart of Florentin, the hipster neighbourhood in the south of the city, where old warehouses have given way to bars, cafes and music venues.
From £50 per night (airbnb.co.uk/rooms/54275112)
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Cruise along the prom
Stretching for a mile and a half along the Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv’s promenade throngs with walkers, bikers, and skate-boarders
For me, Tel Aviv’s promenade, or tayelet, encapsulates the city because it pulses with life — day and night — as people of all ages take their exercise.
Stretching for a mile and a half along the Mediterranean coastline, the prom throngs with walkers, bikers, and skate-boarders as music drifts from bars and buskers. On the beach you’ll find shaded outdoor gyms and volleyball nets.
If you don’t fancy the sea, swim in the Olympic-sized pools by the marina.
Explore Tel Aviv on one of the city’s Tel-O-Fun green bikes, which cost roughly £2 per hour to use – plus a £4 unlocking fee
An easy way to enjoy the city is through Tel-O-Fun green bikes (traditional and electric, tel-o-fun.co.il/en), which you’ll see dotted around.
They can be located on the app and unlocked for a £4 fee, which gives you use for 30 minutes. After that you’ll pay roughly £2 per hour.
The Independence Trail
Set off on a self-guided walking tour of Tel Aviv from the tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard (above), home to Tel Aviv’s first coffee kiosk, which was set up in 1910
Learn more about the founding of Israel and Tel Aviv on a 1 km self-guided walking tour, which links ten landmarks. At each, you can download details on an interactive map.
The trail starts on tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard, home to Tel Aviv’s first coffee kiosk, set up in 1910. From there, simply follow the brass strips set into the ground.
Above is a spice seller at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, which has a claim to fame as the city’s oldest and largest open-air market
On a visit to Jaffa, check out the Shuk Hapishpeshim flea market (pictured)
Tel Aviv’s oldest and largest open-air market, Shuk HaCarmel (en.shuktlv.co.il), is surprisingly cool as its stalls form a canopy against the fierce sun.
The ancient hill-top ‘city’ and port is full of galleries, shops and places to eat. But I prefer to soak up its history ambling through the alleyways, courtyards, old mosques and churches.
The flea market, Shuk Hapishpeshim, adds to the experience. For views of the Tel Aviv coast go to Jaffa park, which also has ruins dating back 3,500 years.
This museum was the home of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. You can see his library, study and family rooms (free entry, bg-house.org).
WHERE TO EAT
Ali Karawan — Abu Hassan
Amble through the alleyways, courtyards, old mosques and churches of Jaffa (pictured), before heading to the area’s Ali Karawan — Abu Hassan restaurant for lunch
Enjoy a portion of velvety hummus from Ali Karawan — Abu Hassan. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons
In Israel, hummus is far more than a middle-class dip. It has a starring role. And this is one of the most famous hummus restaurants in the country.
Located in the Jaffa area of the city, velvety hummus, made to a family recipe, has been served here for almost 50 years. A typical dish comprises a bowl of the chickpea dip heaped with tahini sauce, made from sesame seeds, parsley and olive oil, all mopped up with some pillowy pita bread. Go early. Hummus is made daily and when its gone, the shop closes (14 Shivtei Israel Street, Jaffa).
Unbelievably cheap food and no menu variations, just doughy, fresh pita stuffed with six big falafels and a choice of three toppings, including pickles, hummus and Israeli salad (chopped cucumber, tomato, onion and peppers). All for £2.50 (King George Street 17).
Located in the Jaffa area of the city, velvety hummus, made to a family recipe, has been served here for almost 50 years. A typical dish comprises a bowl of the chickpea dip heaped with tahini sauce, made from sesame seeds, parsley and olive oil, all mopped up with some pillowy pita bread. Go early. Hummus is made daily and when it’s gone, the shop closes (14 Shivtei Israel Street, Jaffa).
Street food that fearlessly lines the stomach. A portion of kubba bulgur dumplings — spiced ground beef rolled up in filo pastry then baked — is £6, though if your stomach and pocket stretch to it, opt for the Moroccan sandwich crammed with crispy fried schnitzel and warm, glossy aubergine salad (£9, Carmel Market).
The sabich is a staple of Israeli-Iraqui cuisine — a sandwich of pita or laffa bread stuffed with fried aubergine, hard-boiled egg, chopped salad, parsley and tahini sauce. This classic will set you back about £9 — but you won’t be able to eat for the rest of the day (sabichtshernechovski.co.il).
Kiosk food on the go, Suduch is a chain of restaurants hinging on one signature dish — toasted meat sandwiches drenched in your sauce of choice, such as chilli or garlic mayo. About £9 a go (HaYarkon Street 121, Gordon Beach Promenade).
HOW TO GET THERE
Easyjet flies direct to Tel Aviv from Manchester and Luton. Wizz Air flies direct from London Gatwick. While Virgin, British Airways and El Al fly direct from London Heathrow.
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