When I left the American Midwest and moved to Tel Aviv, Israel, I found the city to be quite overwhelming. Tel Aviv has almost 4 million inhabitants, and at first, all I could see were buildings and people and bustling streets for miles along the Mediterranean coast.
Nearly a year later, my perspective has changed quite a bit. I’ve gotten to know the ins and outs and unique characteristics of the different neighborhoods that make up the beautiful city I’ve come to call home.
Here is a short guide to Tel Aviv neighborhoods to help you plan your next trip or figure out where to live in Tel Aviv if you’re planning a move.
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Old North + Tel Aviv Port
I’m partial to this part of Tel Aviv because it is where I currently live. It’s a quieter area that is home to many families, located in the northern part of the city near the suburb of Ramat Aviv.
Park HaYarkon runs along the northern edge of the Old North. On sunny days, which are most days of the year, it is packed with people walking, running, kayaking, and picnicking. There is also a small zoo located in the park, as well as a few fenced-in dog parks. If you follow the park’s path to the west, you’ll arrive at the Mediterranean Sea and Tel Aviv Port.
The walk to the port is short, and I love going there to watch the sunsets. There are lots of shops, restaurants, and cafes to enjoy, and even a few exercise studios. It’s a fun place to spend an afternoon or evening exploring.
Related: Why I Left the U.S. to Live in the Middle East
Central Tel Aviv
Central Tel Aviv is the largest part of the city. It can be divided even further if you’re aiming to get extra specific. Although, what Central Tel Aviv actually encompasses is hazy at best. Most people think of the Dizengoff Center, a bustling, multi-story mall, as the epicenter.
Dizengoff Center isn’t far from the main beaches of Tel Aviv and Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market). Right next to the market is the Yemenite Quarter, which boasts many traditional Yemenite restaurants.
Rothschild Boulevard is a beautiful and iconic street around South Central Tel Aviv. It’s a gorgeous street with huge, twisting trees forming a canopy along the large pedestrian and bike paths that bisect the street. This area is nice, so the apartments here tend to be on the pricier side.
The surrounding area, known for its Bauhaus architecture, showcases an interesting period of Tel Aviv’s architectural history. Along the eastern edge of Central Tel Aviv are the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the indoor Sarona Market.
Neve Tzedek is the oldest neighborhood of the new city of Tel Aviv. It is located a couple of blocks from the sea, in between Central Tel Aviv and Jaffa. A few blocks away is HaTachana, which is the old train station that now houses an abundance of cute shops and restaurants, as well as a couple of small museums.
Neve Tzedek is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. Its streets make you feel as if you’re in the South of France or a little Mediterranean seaside village. The neighborhood is very quiet and tucked away from the bustling streets where buses and cars zoom by just a few blocks away.
There are many independent jewelry stores, art galleries, and cute cafes in Neve Tzedek, along with my favorite ice cream shop, Anita. It is one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon walking around, eating ice cream, chatting with locals, and escaping the chaos of the rest of the city. Also, if you like taking photographs, Neve Tzedek is unbelievably picture-perfect.
Florentin is an up-and-coming neighborhood that is home to an eclectic, artsy crowd. It was once characterized as being a poorer section of the city, but nowadays some people refer to it as Tel Aviv’s “SoHo,” since it is populated by many young, hipster types. It is technically the neighborhood bordering Tel Aviv and (New) Jaffa, which could be another reason for its wide-ranging population.
Florentin is known for its great nightlife and amazing street art. I took a graffiti tour in Florentin once and learned all about Tel Aviv’s graffiti culture. The Levinsky Market, specializing in dried fruit and spices, is also here.
Jaffa is one of the oldest cities in the world. In college, I took a Medieval Literature class, and Jaffa was on all of the maps we studied from pre-Medieval times. The cities of Tel Aviv and Jaffa blend into one another, which is why the two cities are frequently referred to as Tel Aviv-Yafo on maps and highway road signs (“Yafo” is “Jaffa” in Hebrew).
It is known to be the Arab neighborhood of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and is split into Old Jaffa and New Jaffa. Now, Old Jaffa is very historic, has an amazing view of Tel Aviv, and is home to the iconic clock tower and its famous flea market. New Jaffa, on the other hand, is predominantly where people residing in Jaffa actually live. Jaffa is easily reached by walking South along the water from Neve Tzedek.
One notable place in Jaffa is the generations-old, family-run bakery, Abulafia. Another is Abu Hassan, a small restaurant that, like many other places throughout Israel, only serves hummus, pita, and accompanying sauces and toppings. This place (arguably) has not only the best hummus in Tel Aviv but also in all of Israel.
Related: What Living in the Middle East Taught Me About Food
The combination of these unique neighborhoods is what gives Tel Aviv its beautiful, fun, crazy, delicious, artsy reputation. I hope you enjoy exploring the city as much as I have over the past year as a local Tel Avivian.
By Maddy Wolfe