Tel Aviv on the Streets

by Natalie Lo
Tel Aviv on the Streets

Despite its rapidly growing skyline, Tel Aviv is still very much a city that you experience at street level. On my first afternoon, I walked through some of my favorite streets and neighborhoods. An unseasonably warm day, Tel Avians of all stripes filled the sidewalk cafes, rode their scooters, and walked their dogs.

I like to hear snippets of Hebrew on the streets, the earthy and direct quality of the words and expressions, a language that has stood the test of time.

We stopped first at Dizengoff Street, walking the distance between Nordau and King George Hamelech. There’s a renewed energy and vitality on Dizengoff Street; everything was modern and hip. I counted about five or six barbershops on Dizengoff, replete with the requisite bearded hipster barbers. Tel Aviv has always had a vibrant coffee culture and now the cafes are mixed with many different bakeries and juice bars.

In terms of shopping, there’s something for everyone: artisan shoe stores, cigar stores, specialty clothing stores from local designers and lovely children’s boutiques, such as Marioneta on 262 Dizengoff. I stopped at Naama Bezalel, the boutique on 212 Dizengoff. The precisely cut clothing is full of girlish charm inspired by Naama’s love of 1950s, 60s, and 70s fashions. The boutique sweetly mixes mid-century modern furniture and vintage accessories, such as kewpie dolls and porcelain cups. A graduate of the Shenkar College of Design, Naama has been a fixture on the fashion scene since the early 1990s and I’ve been a fan since shortly thereafter.  

The Carmel Market has been around since 1902, just ten years after the founding of Tel Aviv. Carmel Market engages all the senses: the bright colors of the fruits and spices, the wafts of aromas coming from the stalls, and the sounds of the bargaining and entreaties to tourists to come closer to view the merchants’ offerings. It’s best to come a little hungry, so you can sample the many halvah (hot chili, nutella, dates, to name a few), nuts, fresh fruit, falafel, and middle eastern pastries. For visitors staying in one of the cities many AirBnbs, pick up some fresh and inexpensive produce here for a simple meal prepared at home.

On nearby Nachalat Binyamin, a lovely art and crafts market meets twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Over 200 designers in small tables offer a wide assortment of jewelry, home decor, paintings, pottery and other original, handmade items.

Further south, Neve Tzedek is the oldest quarter in Tel Aviv and has an eclectic mix of bars, cafes, and boutiques along its narrow cobblestone streets. Shopping is best on Shabazi, a street lined with beautiful jewelry stores. A favorite is Agas & Tamar, (43 Shabazi) a twenty-year fine jewelry brand based on the collaboration and friendship of two designers, Einat Agassi and Tamar Harel Klein. Their jewelry has a stunning simplicity; the raw beauty of precious stones and gold is brought forth by the natural, organic sculpting of the jewelry. We also enjoyed visiting Wood boutique by Woodie & Talale, a tiny boutique on 63 Shabazi, exclusively selling wood jewelry and sunglasses. Neve Tzedek is also home to the Suzanne Dellal Centre, a cultural and performing arts venue.

Tips:

  • Walk as much as possible in the vibrant streets of Tel Aviv.  But, when you need a taxi, use the Gett app. Everyone in Israel uses Gett to order taxis. It’s the easiest way to catch taxis, especially during rush hours. Download and set up the app before arriving in Israel.
  • Purchases in Israel include a hefty 17% value-added tax. Tourists from abroad may be able to get a refund on items worth a total of at least 400NIS if purchased from certain shops and are exempt from paying VAT at hotels.

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