Photo4

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is Israel’s second city and the country’s cultural and commercial capital. Named “The Mediterranean Capital of Cool” by the New York Times, Tel Aviv is a city with a savvy attitude and cultural astuteness, “the city that never sleeps,” a center for nightlife, cuisine, culture, and liberalism. Bordered on one side by the Mediterranean and long stretches of sandy beaches, and the other by glass towers housing technology companies in what is considered to be the world’s second-most important high tech area, Tel Aviv has it all. Prominent museums; restored neighborhoods such as the ancient Port of Jaffa, Neve Tzedek, and the White City of Bauhaus-style buildings; and a young and diverse population make Tel Aviv a city that you can never stop exploring.

Learn More

Want to learn more about Israel? Check out these 68 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Israel

“The city that never sleeps.” “A city that you can never stop exploring.”

A short history of Tel Aviv…

Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 as a suburb north of the ancient city of Jaffa, believed to be the oldest port in the world. The suburb grew and grew, and eventually overtook Jaffa in size, merging with it after Israel’s independence to form a single municipality. Today, Old Jaffa is a collection of quaint lanes in the southern part of the city, whilst downtown Tel Aviv lies at the heart of the Israeli high-tech industry, known as Silicon Wadi. The city is also home to the Tel Aviv Diamond Exchange, the largest diamond trading center in the world.

Immigrants have come to Tel Aviv from far and wide, bringing with them their own styles of cuisine, culture, and architecture. As such, no matter what you are after, you’ll be sure to find it here. Over the past ten years, Tel Aviv has gained a reputation for high-quality restaurants and a world-class cafe culture, as well as a superb nightlife scene.

Tel Aviv: Cultural Center

Tel Aviv’s cultural scene is rich and diverse. Theaters, dance centers, and concert halls are plentiful and the city regularly hosts concerts by international musicians.

Tel Aviv also has a large number of museums and galleries around the city—from the world-renowned Tel Aviv Museum of Art to smaller, more specialist museums such as the Museum of the History of Tel Aviv-Yafo, and the Bauhaus Museum, which tell the story of the city and its unique architecture.

In 2003, Tel Aviv was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its White City. This area, around Rothschild Boulevard in the center of the city, has the world’s largest collection of international, Bauhaus, and eclectic-styled buildings. The area is slowly being restored to its original glory and is the heart of the city to this day.

The 1990s saw Tel Aviv move into a new era as the high-tech industry developed around the city, bringing with it new skyscrapers. The tallest of these, the Azrieli Center, offers an observation gallery with views across this vibrant, modern city.

Since the 1980s, gentrification has taken place in many of the formerly poor southern neighborhoods of the city, creating what are now some of the trendiest quarters of this cool city. Among these are Neve Tzedek and Florentin; these more Middle-Eastern style neighborhoods are at the heart of the Tel Aviv nightlife scene. Other areas to visit include Sheinkin Street, with its cafes and boutiques, and the redeveloped Tel Aviv Port (Namal Tel Aviv) in the north of the city. Nearby, Park Hayarkon offers a green oasis.

A visit to Tel Aviv wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Tel Aviv beach. Running the length of the city from north to south, many of the large hotels overlook the beach promenade.

Jerusalem

If most cities are three-dimensional, then Jerusalem has an added fourth dimension, a spiritual one—a surreal place holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians and therefore significant to over one-third of all people on earth. Beyond its religious and historic importance, Jerusalem has developed as the capital of modern-day Israel with West Jerusalem having a modern, vibrant center. Jerusalem has to be seen to be believed. Exploring Jerusalem individually works well for many, although there is a great selection of tours of Jerusalem should you wish to get even more out of your visit.

"Jerusalem has to be seen to be believed." "No visit to Israel is complete without a visit here, no matter how long."

The Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City of Jerusalem represents the historic and religious entities that make this city so special. Serene, surreal, and intense are all words that jump to mind when describing the Old City’s one-square-kilometer walled area, holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

The Western Wall, in the Jewish Quarter, the last remaining wall of the Jewish Temple compound, is the holiest site in Judaism, and the central focus for Jews in this city, which itself is the focal point of the religion. Christ died, was buried, and was resurrected in Jerusalem, and the Church of the Sepulchre in the Old City is shared between many Christian denominations. In Islam, Jerusalem is said to be from where Muhammad rose into the heavens, and the Dome of the Rock makes this city the third holiest for Muslims.

The four quarters of the Old City—Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian—contrast with each other, yet what remains constant is the way in which the residents rush about on their daily business. A great overview of the Old City can be had from the Ramparts Walk. The Old City of Jerusalem simply cannot be missed. The Half-Day Old City Tour or the Jerusalem Day Tour is a great way to get a fully-guided experience of this amazing place.

The Modern Capital City

Jerusalem is not all old, though. Modern, West Jerusalem is the capital of modern-day Israel, containing the functions you would expect of any capital city. Although not as liberal as its younger, more relaxed sister Tel Aviv (just a 45-minute drive away), Jerusalem has become a distinguished cultural center.

The wave of great cuisine that has swept across Israel has not missed the city, and there are some great restaurants in Jerusalem, especially in the German Colony and along Emek Refaim Street, which is a small oasis of modernity and liberalism among this conservative city. Likewise, modern Jerusalem contains the shops and institutions you would expect anywhere else. All this, however, with a slight twist, as all buildings in the city must, by law, be fronted with the magical golden Jerusalem stone the city is famous for.

The modern-day center of Jerusalem is the pedestrianized area around Ben-Yehuda Street, which features a large selection of restaurants, cafes, and stores. Just in the last few years, however, this area has come under competition from Mamilla, a pedestrianized mall leading right up to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City and containing very upmarket shops, restaurants, and hotels (including the Mamilla Hotel, one of our Summit hotel locations). Often overlooked, Jerusalem’s nightlife scene is vibrant and something that offers a totally different experience than Tel Aviv.

There is a fascinating array of museums in Jerusalem, some of which complete a visit to the city. Of these, perhaps the most important is Yad Vashem, situated on beautiful Mount Herzl; this site is Israel’s memorial and place of commemoration for the millions who perished in the Holocaust. The incredible museum tells the story of the Holocaust not only in words, but also via its chilling architecture and moving multimedia displays. Just down the road from Yad Vashem, the newly renovated Israel Museum houses a huge selection of artistic, archaeological, historical, and cultural displays including the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

And for kids in Jerusalem there is the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel’s most popular visitor attraction with a great selection of animals (including a Biblical theme, this being Jerusalem!) as well as some more common-day favorites.

Ultimately, Jerusalem is like nowhere else, a city where old and new jostle for space, along with the three religions that call this city holy. Incredibly intense, Jerusalem, the “City of Gold,” is somewhere beyond explanation, and no visit to Israel is complete without a visit here, no matter how long.