Jetsetter Guides

Tel Aviv Like a Local

To celebrate the launch of Jetsetter's first Tel Aviv hotel, we tapped city insider Vanessa Betts for her tips on navigating the White City over a weekend

See recent posts by Rebecca Koffman l Photo by Carly Diaz

FRIDAY

10 a.m. Brunch is a weekend institution and the original Benedict offers one of the best in the city. There are more than 15 breakfast options, but the traditional Israeli version is a stand out, with eggs done any style, assorted cheeses and labneh (yogurt), plus a champagne cocktail. Staying South-Central, stroll bohemian Sheinkin Street for the quirky boutiques and people watching, then take on Carmel Market (Shuk Ha’Carmel), the city’s largest market, in the Yemenite Quarter. It’s buzzing just before Shabbat kicks in.

1 p.m. Head south on the beachfront promenade, five minutes away, and cut in to boutique-lined Shabazi Street in the chic Neve Tzedek district. Shops start closing around 2 p.m., so obey local custom and head for lunch. In the HaTachana complex, a former Ottoman-era railway station turned shopping hub, try the light tapas bites at alfresco Vicky Cristina, then save time for browsing the designer denims and jewelry.

5 p.m. This time of day looks best by the sea with a chilled drink in hand. Flag a cab north, to the renovated Namal (port). The expansive decking of Shalvata bar-lounge is the place to watch the sun dip into the sea. Experiment with Israeli wines — a glass of Yarden’s Sauvignon Blanc usually does the trick. Afterwards, unwind at the Alma Hotel & Lounge for a couple of hours, or browse for delicacies in the port’s indoor market.

8 p.m. Start a night out on the town sipping cocktails at 223, where staff (in gartered shirtsleeves and ties) are true mixologists. Expect a slice of jazz, celebrity and the neighborhood’s cool kids. Or take a taxi to Joz ve Loz’s (Yehuda HaLevi 51), a romantic Italianesque hideaway with a cute garden, then join an artsy crowd at Radio E.P.G.B. for edgy sounds and even a bit of punk.

SATURDAY

10 a.m. Hit Art-Deco-elegant Brasserie for breakfast under globe lights and mirrors. From here it’s a short walk to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (open till 4 p.m.), where the futuristic Amir wing is all angled planes and airy spaces. Brush up on your Reuven Rubins and Marc Chagalls, and seek out 21st-century works by Israeli artists in the changing exhibitions.

1 p.m. After your culture-shot, consider lunch at Chadar Ha Ochel (Shaul Hamelech Boulevard 23) in the museum’s front courtyard. It’s a kibbutz-inspired menu, perfect for sharing on the blocky tables. Alternatively, step round the block to Toto, a hot spot for its zingy flavors and swanky dining room. Plead for a seat at the bar and survey the scene. Now it’s time for some afternoon sun. Hop in a cab to Gordon Beach, a strong contender for the city’s prettiest patch of sand. There are loungers and places to get changed, and LaLa Land beach bar is good for a pick-me-up — as is the beachside gym.

6 p.m. For seafood, you can’t do better than the killer location of Manta Ray. The inside’s not much to look at — all discrete lighting and rustic wood — but the meze is outstanding (don’t miss the mullet ceviche with spicy sumac) and you’ll be front row as the sun sets into the sea.

9 p.m. Start the night in earnest at Yoezer Wine Bar in Jaffa, a short stroll south. The vaulted Ottoman interior feels like you’ve ventured into the wine cellar itself. Then bar crawl through Jaffa’s tiny alleyways and end up at The Container, a resto-bar-art space in a converted warehouse on the quay. For those still raring to party, mega-clubs TLV and Octopus, both at the Namal, fit the bill. In hipster Florentin, try out Haoman 17 or smaller dance-bar Lima Lima — where they know how to party until the wee hours.

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