One of Europe’s most hedonistic cities is also conveniently easy to visit on a European city break. Located on the far end of the Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv has it all: beaches with plenty of adventure sports, 24-hour nightlife, an amazing culinary scene and a café culture that makes it easy to meet locals. With hot summers and mild winters, Tel Aviv also makes for a great holiday at any time of year, though the beaches are best during the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn—when there are fewer tourists and the temperatures aren’t quite as hot as in the summer.
Though Tel Aviv has plenty to offer for those with loose budgets, it’s also surprisingly easy to get the most of visiting Tel Aviv with tighter purse strings. Last month I managed to visit Tel Aviv with a strict budget of 69€/day including my accommodation—that’s less than $75/day! And while I splurged a bit on some things (like a really cool street art tour and a long night out at a gay club), I mostly managed to stay within my budget. All-in, with one of the many cheap flights from Europe to Tel Aviv, there’s plenty to see and do on a budget. And not just for backpackers—you can still enjoy a luxury Tel Aviv experience with a pretty modest travel budget. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and where to spend your money.
Accommodation in Tel Aviv is notoriously not cheap, however there’s a trick to get a decent place to stay at a reasonable price. Ignore the many boutique hotels (as beautiful as they are) and opt for a holiday apartment rental instead. Airbnb has a wide selection of accommodation choices in Tel Aviv. Look for less central neighborhoods (though still convenient) such as Florentin. You’ll save a lot of money by staying close to the beach, just not too close. Most apartments in Florentin will only be a 15-20 minute walk to either central Tel Aviv or the beach.
Sure, Tel Aviv has some great tourist attractions, museums and galleries, but for those visiting in the warmer months (which is an amazing 8 months of the year), there’s something better: the beach. Tel Aviv has some of the world’s best beaches (and beach parties!). The beaches closer to central Tel Aviv, near Allenby Street, will be touristy—but who really cares? The water’s just as good, the sand just as soft and the people-watching still pretty sexy. Head to the beaches further north, though, for the chance to meet more locals. Gordon and Frishman beaches are popular with many twenty-somethings, while Hilton Beach is a popular gay and lesbian beach. To save some money, bring your own towel and avoid the lounge chairs on the beaches. Those belong to the many beach bars and you’ll have to pay to use them or order food & drinks. Better to pack your own lunch which is easy to do by stocking up at a local convenience store like AM:PM or one of the food markets.
Tel Aviv has a number of great bike paths—the beach boardwalk runs the entire length of Tel Aviv, making it easy to get all the way from Jaffa in the south to the Tel Aviv port in the north. The Tel Aviv municipality even runs their own city bike program, called Tel-o-Fun, making it easy to rent bikes by the day, week or month. For a day, you can pay just 17 shekels and you can use the bike an unlimited number of times in 30-minute spurts. Renting a bike is easy at any of the rental portals, plus there’s a great app called Telobike which shows you pick-up and drop-off points using your geo-location, as well as specifying how many bikes are parked at each location.
As one of the world’s leading tech startup hubs, it’s no surprise Tel Aviv is the birthplace of a number of great apps. The free Telobike app makes it easy to find and rent one of Tel Aviv’s city bikes—probably the cheapest way to get around the city in good weather. The free DIY Tel Aviv app, founded by its namesake blog, features a regularly updated event directory, including a specific category for free events in Tel Aviv. It’s probably going to be your best resource to find cool, local, alternative events.