Most tourist think Jaffa can be “done” in one afternoon, and local patriot Tel Avivians talk about “Yafo” as if it was some far-far away land over the rainbow. The truth is wherever you happen to be in the White City, you are half an hour beach side walk away from the Southern neighborhood of Tel Aviv. And it has so much to offer…
This month my Time Out Israel editor, Elianna Bar-El asked us writers to pick a favorite Tel Aviv neighborhood, sharing the most exciting hot-spots. As I’m a true Jaffa kid, I got to write about the places I love, and visit all the time. I warn you, it’s so cool over here, once you go South, you might never wanna go back…
The Old City
While many calls it “the ancient Arab city”, the area has been an important sea port for different great empires and civilizations for over 6000 years.
The old city’s romantic streets overlooking the White City give home to art galleries. For the true local experience dance the night away with the local Arabs and Jews at a hidden street of the edge of the old city, Anna LouLou bar – the funnest ones are their queer parties.
The harbor’s ex ship-hangars turned into trendy cafés and restaurants – a popular meeting point for locals and tourists.
Try LoveEat, offering fresh organic coffee or The Container for delicious dishes both for seafood lovers and vegans, often spiced up with live music, flashed down with chilled local beers.
The Flea Market
Jaffa’s flea market is the current “hip” place, aligned with chic and vintage boutiques, stylish bars and industrial pubs. Check out everyone’s favorite Pua Café, the super-cute home décor store, Sofi’s and admire the unconventional creations of Israel’s young artists at Asufa design store.
Jaffa’s central square with it’s iconic clock tower and shisha bars offers authentic Arabian nights atmosphere, and on hot summer days we’re all heading to closeby beach – just under the Jaffa Sea Wall Promenade.
Doggies are allowed, more over, expected.
Sderot Jerusalem and Noga
Party people, start at hipster-favorite Casino San Remo on Jerusalem boulevard – the “Rotschield street” of the South, with a sense of irony. Religious shops, Arab barbers, bakeries, old fashioned and up and coming clothing stores – all wrapped up in a dusty, odd-romantic atmosphere.
Check out the young designer stores in Noga neighborhood, just behind Gesher Theatre – Gal Angel’s retro swimwear, Ugly Duckling will take your breath away.
Walk deeper into the jungle to the corner of Yehuda Hayamit, and sit together with ladies wearing hijabs and Israeli soldiers wearing uniforms, sharing the same terrace in Peace of Cake bakery’s Café Alma (the taboulleh salad is perfection, the vegan almond swirl for breakfast is heaven on earth).
Time to write home, and check what’s new on social media?Take your laptop to Kaymak Café, a secret favorite in Michelangelo street, where the coffee is Arab, the bread is Ethiopian and the freshly squeezed orange and pomegranate juice is Israeli – just a bonus, their prices are surreally cheap compared to central Tel Aviv cafés.
The Maronite Quarter
For romantic walks and fun with kids and dogs out of the craze – walk down Yehuda Hayamit to the sea – with a little stop at nr. 61. Time for shopping for organic cosmetics and handmade raw delicacies from Teva Tari, local-favorite organic store. Arriving to the junction with Yehuda Margoza don’t miss the Middle East’s very best hummus at Abu Hassan’s at 1.HaDolfin street.
To work it off, climb the hill of the Maronite Quarter – breathtaking view to the green park stretching by the sea shore of Ajami, a peaceful neighborhood of crumbling old Victorian palaces, luxury townhouses and tiny huts for keeping chickens, who elegantly cluck on the dirt roads.
Out from the Flea Market, into the beautiful diversity of people: artistic, young families, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian kids share their playgrounds, the hummus is always warm, and church bells are ringing while the muezzin is calling for prayer.
Got to work on your tan? Givat HaAliya aka Ajami beach is a beautiful walk away to the South – it’s not often that you see on the very same beach ladies wearing black burkas as swimwear, and blonde cool kids riding the waves with their surf desks.
Where to Stay?
Book a bed or a private room at the cozy Old Jaffa Hostel – secret tip for backpackers: the rooftop tent is the cheapest option. If you like it posh, check out Casa Nova Boutique Hotel and have your own private terrace facing the shores of the majestic Mediterranean Sea.
Backpackers and youngsters love artie Overstay hostel, but for really feeling like a local go with AirBNB – there are dozens of cool flats for rent. Tel Aviv is still just around the corner… not that there is no nightlife around here.
To get to know all the secrets about Tel Aviv’s neighborhoods, pick up a Time Out Israel (English Edition) at one of the big hotels or visitor centers. All photos are from my Instagram or the official Facebook pages and websites of the venues. Follow me on Instagram – @WhitecityBoy, and Facebook here, Magyarul pedig itt.