What It’s Like in Tel Aviv, Israel

David Intercontinental Room View

Seeing Tel Aviv, Israel for the first time was completely shocking. I don’t know why but I expected desert and barren lands with minimal, if any, vegetation; I was totally wrong. I arrived to lush vegetation, large highways, and stunning sea vistas. Tel Aviv is often called “the city that never stops”. It’s lively with entertainment, culture, art, festivals, and a rich night life. As I walked the waterfront promenade on the Mediterranean seacoast, the city was bustling and my anticipation to explore more continued to grow. 

I arrived at Intercontinental David Tel Aviv just in time to shower and watch the sun set. My first view was from the patio of my suite. It over looks the pool and the sea. It was so amazing that I ran down to the pool area to get an eye-level view.

David Intercontinental Pool and Sea View

I then took a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade and watched dozens of people enjoying the fabulous weather. Couples relaxed along the water’s edge, joggers strode by with ear buds and phones, happily moving to a tune, bikers weaved along a path, and pet owners walked and played with their beloved pals.

Tel Aviv, Israel boardwalk

I caught a final glimpse of the setting sun and reflected on how life changing it is to actually experience new countries and cultures firsthand. We live in a world with so much beauty and light and I am fortunate enough to experience it.

Tomorrow I will tour Old Jaffa including galleries, Jaffa Port, Carmel and Levinsky markets, and Ilana Gur Museum. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-the-minute photos or stay tuned here and on the website for more Israel posts. I will be using the hashtag #IsraelBucketList during my 6 day visit.

If you have Israel photos to share, be sure to tag them #IsraelBucketList on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to become part of my Israel journey.

49 thoughts on “What It’s Like in Tel Aviv, Israel

    • It’s amazing what we can experience when we see it with our own eyes. I would have never thought Israel was so lush and the temperatures are very similar to Southern California. Even the palm trees were unexpected. Travel brings to light things we never imagined existed. I am grateful. Where have you visited that was totally different than you expected?


      • I went to a friend’s wedding once in Las Vegas, expecting it to be cheesy and sleazy; instead we were in an amazing penthouse with killer views, total luxury and beautifully appointed, great food, and when we went to the little chapel the setting was intimate and the minister said the most touching words. I was blown away and very happily surprised!


    • Have you been to Tel Aviv? It is my first time visiting and I will write about everything that I experience here. I have no intentions of just staying at the hotel or writing about only positives, but since I arrived today this is what I experienced. I casually walked for an hour alone on the boardwalk and saw so many others doing the same. Families, women, men, and children all enjoyed the sunset. Not all areas of Israel are filled with violence.

      Liked by 8 people

      • Tel Aviv seems to get a horrid press – It’s refreshing to see that there isn’t just violence and horror but beauty and normality too. The sun sets everywhere, every day. Surely it’s not all as you have seen today, but what a wonderful start in any case.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I, too, had envisioned Tel Aviv as a war torn destination. It is very gratifying to see that this world is not a seething, smoldering inferno, everywhere, as the Evening News portrays it to be. Enjoy your stay.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was not defensive about your comment. I was just saying that it was what I experienced upon arrival in Tel Aviv. I appreciate your comment and the comments of others. As I experience more of Israel, I will continue to post about what I see and take in for myself. Admittedly, I read many travel warnings before coming here and I will continue to use caution during my travels, but I use caution during all of my travels regardless of the location.

          You are 100% welcome to share your thoughts and express your opinion here. Hopefully, though, your concerns are not applicable to my journey in Israel.

          When I arrived yesterday, I saw no indication of violence or a war-torn country. The sunset and people enjoying the outdoors was what I had to share. I hope you continue following along as I share my experiences.


    • Tel Aviv is a vibrant, historic city with beauty and culture all around. The Arab and Jewish neighborhoods are side by side, as is the history and community. My dear friend who is Jewish, lives across the street from one of the largest mosques in the Old Jaffa area of TA… the call to prayer each day is part of the fabric of her daily life. I have always felt safer traveling in Jerusalem or TA than I have in most larger American cities. But media slants paint many places in the world, one color– something that does an injustice to the people and the places that deserve to be seen in their full vibrancy.

      Leslie, I hope you enjoy your time there. Let me know if you’d like to spend some time with a local and my dearest. She would have a lot to tell and show you! xox

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s kind of sad it seems like everyone is very defensive about my comment; mentions of Baltimore violence and defending the writer. I didn’t attack; I merely offered a differing POV. I’m Jewish, my grandfather was a rabbi, and a few family members have spent time in kibbutz. The level of violence can in no way be compared to Ferguson or Baltimore. Here’s a State Dept Travel Warning…it’s not all oranges and blue sky. I’m saying that a well modulated piece on travel to Israel should/would include this prudent warning:
        Personal safety conditions in major metropolitan areas, including Tel Aviv and Haifa and surrounding regions, are comparable to other major global cities. Nonetheless, the July-August 2014 Gaza conflict (see below) and subsequent political and religious tension associated with access to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem led to increased levels of violence, particularly in Jerusalem and West Bank environs, not seen in those areas in a decade. Attacks on individuals and groups have occurred in East and West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Bethlehem, as well as various places in the West Bank. We have no indication that U.S. citizens have been specifically targeted based on their nationality, however U.S. citizens have been directly affected. Six U.S. citizen residents of Israel and the West Bank were killed and others injured in multiple attacks in 2014. U.S. citizens involved in or observing political demonstrations have sustained serious injuries and the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all demonstrations for their own safety. Due to security concerns, U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses in Israel and the West Bank. See below for specific safety and security information regarding Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and near Israel’s northern borders.

        Travelers should be aware of the risks presented by the potential for military conflict between Hamas and Israel. During the conflict in Gaza in July and August 2014, long-range rockets launched from Gaza reached many locations in Israel and the West Bank – including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other cities in the north and south. The Government of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system successfully intercepted many rockets. However, missile impacts also caused deaths, injuries, and property damage. There have been additional small arms fire and mortar and rocket launches from Gaza into southern Israel on several occasions between September and December 2014 that resulted in limited property damage.

        Visitors to and residents of Israel and the West Bank should familiarize themselves with the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened site. Consult municipality websites, such as those for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, for locations of public bomb shelters and other emergency preparedness information. Visitors should seek information on shelters from hotel staff or building managers. We advise all U.S. citizens to take note of guidance on proper procedures in the event of rocket attacks or other crisis events by visiting the website of the government of Israel’s Home Front Command.

        Travelers should also be aware of the heightened state of alert maintained by Israeli authorities along Israel’s border with Egypt. There have been cross-border incidents from Egypt, including rocket attacks and ground incursions, such as attacks that took place in August 2013, January 20 and October 22, 2014. Rockets and mortars were launched from Sinai in the direction of Eilat and Israel’s Negev region in January, July, and August 2014.

        Visitors should observe appropriate personal security practices to reduce their vulnerability to crime, particularly late at night or in isolated areas, including in the countryside. Visitors are advised to avoid large gatherings or demonstrations and keep current with local news, which is available through numerous English language sources.

        Liked by 1 person

    • There are periods of unrest in Israel as with other parts of the world. It is important to plan timing accordingly but from what I’ve seen of Israel so far, it is an amazing country rich in culture, history, nightlife, and natural beauty.


  1. I toured Israel in August 2014 for 10 days and it is a beautiful country. Tel Aviv was one of the places we didn’t get to visit though unfortunately other than the airport, I’m looking forward to going back there in the future though (and hopefully to Eilat!).

    I didn’t blog about my time there as I was afraid that all I would receive as feedback was a bombardment about the tensions surrounding Israel which I didn’t feel comfortable to engage with. I regret this now in hindsight because it was such an educational experience and I feel that by sharing my time there I could show a different perspective.

    It’s important to understand the situation though, and we had many debates, talks and presentations regarding all areas of the conflict, it was a very open space. It was incredible but also an emotional journey. Still, Israel is a fascinating country, although it is small it has so much to offer. The experiences which stood out for me were: climbing Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem. Have a great trip!


  2. I can’t wait to see more Leslie. I have a friend from Israel, so I know it’s not all desert, but at the same time, he lost his house to the bombing, so the war is very real. I know they are making a garden out of the desert in many areas, so I hope you will visit those places also.


  3. Last time I was there was in ’98 as a little 7 year old, and my memory looks exactly like your first picture. I’m pretty sure I stayed in that hotel, overlooking the pool in front. We left literally days before the ’98 bombings, and other than my memory of guards and snipers on walls, missiles hanging from helicopters, and some seriously painful sunburn, it was a beautiful place to be. Doesn’t look like it’s changed too much, despite the conflicts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Enchanted Seashells, I live in this beautiful country and it is perfectly safe. I think you need to understand the complexity of this region before making such loaded statements. Visit: http://www.rorosrantings.wordpress.com. I highly recommend everyone visit Israel – the reality on the groind is far, far different to what is reported in the media that is very biased. Btw, we have the largest delegation in the world saving lives in Nepal right now…


  5. Lesley, I am living vicariously through you this week! My time in Tel Aviv lasted long enough to arrive and depart at the airport, plus a quick stroll through Jaffa while it was raining buckets, as the pilgrimage was centered around Jesus’ life and ministry in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. I love so much about Israel – people, food, sites – but the perfect union between old and new is truly a match made in Heaven. I remember walking the cobblestone streets inside the Old City and I came upon an elderly lady sitting on the sidewalk selling fresh herbs and aromatic baked goods out of handmade baskets that looked centuries old. Meanwhile, a group of young children on a school field trip walked by taking selfies on their smartphones. Oh the history! The significance! The grandeur! The awesomeness that is Israel!


  6. Hi Lesley,

    I always appreciate your honesty in your blog posts, that even as an experienced traveler, you were willing to admit openly that your presuppositions of Tel Aviv were different than the beautiful reality you encountered there.

    It is so important to have travel bloggers like you who open others’ eyes to the beauty of the places you go. Otherwise we would be stuck hearing about other places only from the major TV news networks.

    Thank you for sharing! I’m loving your pics on Instagram today!


  7. Pingback: 2015 Bucket List | Bucket List Publications

  8. I’ve lived in Israel and spent significant time in Tel Aviv, though I lived in Jerusalem which was all kinds of levels more intense. We used to escape to Tel Aviv when we just wanted to chill out and watch the sunset. My Israeli secular cousins are always on me asking why I’d want to spend any time in Jerusalem. It’s so outside their reality. I’ve recently been enjoying a podcast by a person named Guy Sharret called “Streetwise Hebrew” which is very accessible for learning spoken Hebrew idiom. I recommend it for you next visit to Israel.


  9. BTW, nothing like visiting Israel a few weeks before you arrived for the period between Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut which a friend coined as the “Secular Zionist High Holidays.”


  10. So much about Israel was a (positive) surprise for me this summer. Not just the appearance, but the modern vibe and, most certainly, the tangible feeling that yes indeed, life does go on every day for Israel’s inhabitants despite what we westerners read and fret about. I did not feel unsafe at any time; in fact, most of the time I felt safer than I do in many American cities. I loved seeing the various religions and ethnicities coexisting in many places; we can’t gloss over the underlying conflict there, but there is cooperation visible on every street if you look for it. Did you get to Jerusalem? – I will have to go look through your other posts!


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