Experience Tel Aviv for Free
Among the world’s top destinations, you’d be surprised to find Tel Aviv in the list. But this city-by-the-sea has consistently ranked as one of the top three most preferred cities in the face of the planet and is considered also as one of the Top 10 most action-packed metropolitans that should be visited by travellers.
Tel Aviv’s shoreline even had National Geographic at hello. And it is not just about the architecture that is distinctly Bauhaus or the quaint ice cream parlours around – there is something more than meets the eye for this city voted as a place full of beautiful people, according to Travellers’ Digest.
Of course, there are the open air markets, glorious museums, green parks, beach boardwalks, trendy shopping sites and awesome nightclubs. You need to have cash in order to fully enjoy these sceneries/establishments.
But when it comes to experiencing Tel Aviv for free, here are your top choices.
An eight-mile stretch of fine sandy beaches can be found on the west side of Tel Aviv. Bring your most comfortable towel, a good book to read and you can never go wrong in this so-called “Miami Beach on the Med”, courtesy of National Geographic magazine.
Gordon Beach in particular is a favourite among locals and tourists as well as sun worshippers, joggers and all sorts of folks. Whatever time of the year, it is hustling and bustling with eager crowds wanting to take a piece of the sun, sea and sand. In summer time from 8 PM to 10 PM, Israeli folk dancing abounds here. Or you can also drop by on a Saturday from 11 AM to 2 PM during winter time to experience the same local spectacle.
Banana Beach is famous for the singing, dancing, and drum circles ever Friday nights – luring all bohemian crowds to this lovely beach on the southernmost part close Jaffa.
Metzizim Beach is a hit among families with young kids because of its playground where everyone can enjoy a game of local paddleball or matkot.
There is plenty of free stuff to do along the shoreline of the magnificent Mediterranean Sea.
2. Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade
The Old Jaffa in the south maintains its connectedness with the northern neighbourhoods of Tel Aviv, thanks to the busy walkway called the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Promenade. If you are a big fan of people watching or gorgeous sunset revelling, then you have come to the right place and it doesn’t cost you a shekel! It is also littered with street performers of classical music that will serenade you for free (donations are highly encouraged). But of course, if you have the money to spare, then don’t miss out on local fares that would delight your palates to the seventh heaven.
3. Hayarkon Park
About 16 million visitors arrive at this lush park of Tel Aviv every year. Also dubbed as the “Central Park of Tel Aviv”, the urban green lung of Israel’s capital is sprawled in a 3.8 kilometre site where you can find botanical gardens, mini zoos, well-manicured extensive lawns, artificial lakes and dozens of play areas for children. If you’re a fitness fanatic or an outdoor lover, its walking paths and bike paths would entice you to spend a shekel-free day here.
There are also paddleboats for hire here as well as a children’s train, a climbing wall. A water park, an aviary and lots of other entertainment options. Traverse the Yarkin River so you can go from North Tel Aviv and end in the Mediterranean Sea.
4. Old Jaffa
As the home to the world’s oldest seaport, Old Jaffa is a must-visit if you want to experience Tel Aviv to the fullest and for free! As one of the oldest cities on the face of the planet, it is a complex contrast of the old and new – from museums and galleries to designer stores and restaurants – you’ll find something here that would appeal to your traveller’s spirit without ruining your budget. Don’t miss the NaLaga’at Centre which is an artistic complex under the management of deaf and blind Muslim-Christian-Jewish community. And of course, there are the flea markets teeming with good finds as well as the famous Clock Tower.
5. Tel Aviv Port
A lovely farmers’ market is not the only thing that you can find in Tel Aviv Port. It is filled with cafes and trendy shops as well as nightclubs and bars. But you don’t have to spend a shekel here if you want to feel the amazing vibe of Tel Aviv. Just walk along its wooden deck promenade that is uniquely designed to have you appreciate the gorgeous sunsets here.
Weekends are crazy here because of musicians, balloon artists and outdoor festivals that seem to be always present whatever season of the year.
6. Carmel Market
As the heartbeat of Tel Aviv, the Carmel Market is not your ordinary ready-to-wear clothing hub. And enjoying this market is not just for big spenders. Take in the sights, sounds and smells as you jostle past colourful stalls.
And then there are fresh produce and souvenirs everywhere you look. The spices and dried fish are worth spending the money for. And don’t resist the gourmet food stands that would allow you to take a remarkable gastronomic experience while in Tel Aviv.
You can find Carmel Market between the corner of King George and Allenby streets. It closes for just one hour before Sabbath every Friday, but other than that, it is open from 7 AM to 7 PM.
7. Levinsky Market
If you’re particularly fond of dried fruits, nuts and spices, the Levinsky Market won’t disappoint you. It also is the centre of Tel Aviv for salted fish, exotic meat cuts, pickled produce, boutique cheeses and traditional pastries.
You’d be wondering what locals do at the narrow Levinsky Street every Friday morning. That would be the bakery shops and delicatessens that offer mouth-watering baked goods to anyone hungry enough to try it.
Start your free tour here from Tel Aviv’s SoHo of the working class and the uber cool crowd – the Florentin neighbourhood. Don’t forget your camera because this place is worth taking more than just a shot or two.
8. Nahalat Binyamin
Every Tuesday and Friday, there is the arts and crafts fair that Nahalat Binyamin hosts in order to showcase the unique, clever and humorous creations of artists and crafts people of Tel Aviv.
Free entertainment is offered by clowns, musicians and street performers along the pedestrian mall.
9. Neve Tzedek and historic train station (Tachana)
As the first neighbourhood ever built outside of Jaffa, the Neve Tzedek is considered as one of the most awe-inspiring neighbourhoods of Tel Aviv. If you fancy a quiet and romantic stroll with your significant other, then you’d love its alleyways and small streets filled with immaculately restored buildings.
At the heart of Neve Tzedek is the Suzanne Dellal Centre dance and theatre complex. Visit its courtyard for a dollar-free yet satisfying time. Of course, the neighbourhood welcomes anyone who wishes to indulge in the good things of life for just a few bucks – lovely shops, hip cafes, gourmet restaurants, boutique hotels and designer stores – all catering to the whims of every kind traveller.
The Tachana is the historic train station that can be found at the southern edge of Neve Tzedek. It has been newly restored and currently offers visitors a wonderful cultural experience within its compound. It also has a shopping centre that is filled with affordable and high end merchandise.
10. Bauhaus Architecture
Exemplary architecture is something that Tel Aviv is unparalleled to. The white Bauhaus establishments here (international style) is the dominating character of this so-called White City. Tel Aviv’s White City was declared in 2003 as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The best buildings here can be found in the Neve Tzedek neighbourhood and along the Bialik and Dizengoff Streets as well as around the Rothschild Boulevard
11. Free Walking Tours
Top sights in Tel Aviv offers free guided tours in the English language. Put on your most comfortable gear at the start of the day and roam around the municipality to your heart’s content! There is no need to make advance reservations. All you have to do is show up at the designated meeting point.
If you want to join the 11 AM Saturday guided tour that meets at 46 Rothschild Street (corner of Shadal Street), then you will get to know the story of Tel Aviv and learn more about the Bauhaus architecture along Rothschild Boulevard.
A 9:30 AM Wednesday guided tour that meets at the Clock Tower will take you around the Old Jaffa – from the Flea Market area to the Old City site. You will also get past Hapisga Garden and some of the most interesting archaeological sites of the city,
The 11 AM Monday guided tour that meets at Dyonon bookstore, campus entrance (intersection of Einstein and Haim Levanon streets) will take you around the Tel Aviv University. You’d get to know here the stories of the buildings and its architects as well as environmental sculpture and landscape design. You would also learn about the Israeli architecture on campus, its different styles and international influences.
12. Tel Aviv Greeters
Free walks is organized by local residents volunteering to share their love of the city to any visitor who wish to get Tel Aviv up close and personal. The Tel Aviv Greeters are members of the Global Greeter Network, an informal virtual association of Greeter programs throughout the globe.
It doesn’t matter if you are a solo traveller, with your friends, or holidaying with the family. The Tel Aviv Greeters will customize the free tour around the city so you can gain a deeper understanding of the city and still have lots of fun doing so. You have to make reservations at least a month before your vacation in Tel Aviv. The most requested hotspots include the Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv Port, Florentin Quarter, Yemenite Quarter, Hayarkon Park and Neve Tzedek.
13. Culture Square
Though most of the music halls, art galleries, orchestras and museums around Tel Aviv ask for an entrance fee, you can still find entertainment options here that won’t require a dime at all. Head out to the Culture Square which can be found at the end of Rothschild Boulevard. It is home to the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel – the historic Mann Auditorium. You can also find here the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art as well as the Habima National Theatre.
The pavilion has a gorgeous public courtyard that features a water fountain and flower garden. It is very soothing to the senses, which is why it is a favourite among locals and foreigners.
14. Dizengoff Street
Dizengoff Street has the Fire & Water Fountain that entices you to just sit down on one of its benches and just engage in people watching. Every Thursday from 4 PM to 11 PM, you can find here great creations of fashion designers as well as graphic, plastic and industrial artists.
15. Tel Aviv Rollers
The Tel Aviv Rollers is a nickname for a loose confederation of in-line skaters hitting the streets every Tuesday night. They zip along the 20-kilometre route along the city with police escorts by their side to keep them safe. It gives a different kind of rush to be part of this high-energy activity. Meeting point is 10 PM at the Habima National Theatre.
16. Tel Aviv University’s Botanical Gardens
At the heart of the Tel Aviv University is the magnificent Botanical Gardens sprawled across 34,000 square metres of an overabundance of flora and fauna that would make you literally hold your breath with awe and inspiration.
17. Rabin Square
It is named after the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated on November 4, 1995. This main plaza just outside the City Hall features a monument that stands at the same spot where the public servant was killed. About 16 basalt stones taken from the Golan Heights were used by the Israeli sculptor Yael Ben-Artzi. He sunk them into earth as a symbolism of the deep connection and love for Israel of Rabin.
18. Ben-Gurion House
At 17 Ben-Gurion Boulevard you can find the historic house museum that served as an auxiliary home to David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. Here you can take a free guided tour to learn more about his life, work as a public servant and relationship with his family.
The Holy Land is filled with stunning, enigmatic and interesting sights and sounds that can be enjoyed without ruining your budget. Enjoy your Tel Aviv vacation!