From Madonna and Rihanna to Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama and even the Kardashians... the A-list and world leaders alike have long been drawn to the awe-inspiring views and remarkable history of Israel. Only earlier in 2018, Prince William made headlines by choosing to visit the country in the first official trip of its kind by a member of the British Royal Family, and was clearly moved by the sights of Jerusalem. But it’s not just the Holy Land that makes Israel a must-see; for all its tradition and spiritual significance, Israel is also home to modern and vibrant city life - and, for that, the destination is Tel Aviv. Here’s how to spend three days in the city.
The sunset from Esperanto Bar, Tel Aviv
Morning: Explore Jaffa Markets
Walk along the beach to the old town of Jaffa - where the light-stone buildings with balconies feel oh-so-Romeo and Juliet - and wind your way around the streets to explore the shops and market stalls. Stop off at Milk Bakery for a refreshing iced coffee with almond milk (take note, dairy-free travellers, Tel Aviv always has an option for you!) and a selection box of sweet treats, including the traditional twisted pastry called rugelach.
Lunch: Eat well at Miznon
Lunch can be found back towards the Florentin area, at an edgy little restaurant called Miznon where the expert-chefs change regularly and the food is often served straight off the paper tablecloth. Popular choices are the whole roasted cauliflower and the charred corn as well as the stuffed pitta (which are handed straight to you).
Evening: Watch the sunset from Esperanto Bar
For a light bite in the evening, head to Esperanto Bar at the Carlton Tel Aviv hotel - a pretty little terrace built over the beach that offers a spectacular sunset view. It's both a perfect date spot and a great place to go as a group of friends, with super-fun cocktails and a winning menu of sharing plates as well as more substantial mains.
Morning: Coffee near Carmel Market
Have yourself a cappuccino in the leafy backyard space at Jonesy Gardener - where the breakfast oats come Israeli-style, with oodles of date syrup, nuts, and plenty of colourful fresh fruit - then take a stroll through Carmel Market, open every day except for Saturday.
Lunch: A vegan feast at Meshek Barzilay
Wander up to nearby Neve Tsedek for a divine vegan lunch at Meshek Barzilay, where there's no such thing as a small portion and everything looks (almost) too pretty to eat. The roast pumpkin 'steak' is hugely popular, and the battle for the best pudding is too close to call - so you'd best to try both the tahini chocolate shavings and the 'drunk' pear tart.
Then, because you *will* need time to walk off your lunch-time feast, use the opportunity to explore the design scene in Neve Tzedek. From uber-stylish fashion outlets to one-of-a-kind jewellery designs and colourful works of art, this little high street is perfect for an afternoon exploring the creative character of the city.
Evening: Cocktails on the beach
Walk back down to the coast in the evening and enjoy a drink with a view of the water (Gordon's is a great place for friends and couples alike) or simply follow the sound of singing - lots of bars host live music in the evenings, and you'll see plenty of buskers on the promenade. Indulge in a bit of people-watching as Tel Aviv stays lively well into the night - not just its social life, but sport life too. Expect the beach gyms and volleyball courts to be in use long after sunset!
Early Morning: The spectacular Masada Sunrise Tour
Don't miss the sunrise tour offered by Abraham hostels (book online, by phone, or in person in advance). The 2am start is well worth it for an organised trip out of the city to explore some beautiful cultural hot-spots. First up: a challenging but incredible hike up to Masada - the site of King Herod's castles - in time for a breathtaking sunrise. Then it’s a quick visit to the cool water springs of Eid Gedi before, finally, the experience of bathing in the Dead Sea.
Lunch: The best sandwich you'll ever sample
You'll arrive back in Tel Aviv not long after lunch and, after all that, a big meal is more than justified. For a healthy dose of carbs in the best sandwich you've ever eaten, head to Urban Sandwich off of Allenby Street - the chef's favourite is the purple cabbage with Goat's cheese, and it is extraordinary. In Neve Tzedek, Alma café will also hit the spot - try the classic Shakshuka or the vegetarian breakfast for a plate full (really full!) of flavour.
Evening: Drink where the locals do at The Prince
End your day at The Prince - a rooftop venue loved by the locals where the wine, cocktails and aubergine chips are a hit.
Where to stay in Tel Aviv:
For a luxe Air BNB experience, look up onefinestay.com - or scout out a budget-friendly alternative via Booking.com or Air BNB. You can also check out hotels like Browns, the Poli House, the Intercontinental David and Tel Aviv Townhouse.
Visiting Jerusalem from Tel Aviv:
Travelling to Jerusalem is easy enough from Tel Aviv - the direct bus from Tel Aviv’s main station costs around 16 shekels each way and takes under an hour - and whilst many people choose to stay there separately to their Tel Aviv visit, it’s also possible to make a return trip for the day and still see a number of the spectacular, historic sights in that time.
How to get to Tel Aviv:
Wizz Air flies from London Luton Airport to Tel Aviv Monday-Thursday and on Saturdays and Sundays, with fares starting from £64.99 (one way, including all taxes, non-optional charges and one small cabin bag). For more information about Wizz Air’s routes or to book, visit wizzair.com.