The short answer is that Tel Aviv is incredibly safe. The information below will break things down a bit further, the way things are now, in 2023.
Most visitors to Tel Aviv never experience anything scarier than getting a rip-off tourist rate in a shop. I’ve put some “worst case scenario” information here because nowhere in the world is 100% safe.
Knowing what to watch out for will ensure your own Tel Aviv experience trouble-free. Just remember that while it’s always good to keep your wits about you when you travel, you don’t need to live in fear in Tel Aviv.
- 1 Is Tel Aviv safe from terrorism?
- 2 Is Tel Aviv safe from rocket and missile attacks?
- 3 What about Crime?
- 4 Is it safe to walk in Tel Aviv?
- 5 Are taxis safe in Tel Aviv?
- 6 Is Tel Aviv safe for solo travellers?
- 7 Is Tel Aviv safe at night?
- 8 Is Tel Aviv safe for women?
- 9 What is the current situation with the protests in Tel Aviv?
Is Tel Aviv safe from terrorism?
It’s very unlikely you’ll see anything to do with terrorism while here. Yes, one of the few things pretty much everyone knows about Israel is that there are occasionally terrorist attacks. Israel is so small, especially in American terms, that if you look at a map of where an attack has happened, it looks frightfully close to, well, pretty much anywhere else in Israel.
For Israelis, though, and people in Tel Aviv in particular, there is a clear distinction between your city (or even your neighbourhood) and elsewhere. Unless something happens right on your doorstep or somewhere you frequent, Israelis tend to be far less freaked out about things, because we know we’re pretty safe. The fact is, terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv are incredibly rare. It’s probably the safest city in Israel and safer than much of the world.
You’ll notice that shopping centres, public buildings, and even the trains have security guards checking bags. This is there to stop terrorist attacks. While it might appear invasive and strange if you’re not used to it, it does have an extra layer of security. If something does happen, emergency services here are among the best in the world at both “neutralising” (i.e. killing) the terrorist quickly and offering fast, effective medical care.
With the current psychotic government trying to do everything it can to start a war with the Muslim world, there have been more attacks than usual, including one in Tel Aviv. The last terrorist attack in Tel Aviv was exactly a year before that. So is Tel Aviv safe from terrorism? Less so than LA or London, but with an average of one incident or less a year and literally no other gun / knife crime, it’s still safer overall, unless you’re extremely unlucky.
Is Tel Aviv safe from rocket and missile attacks?
Tel Aviv is safer than Beirut (or Gaza, or Kyiv), not as safe as London or LA. Sometimes “rockets” do fall on Tel Aviv and that’s a fact, though it’s not a common occurrence.
There have been some so-called “wars” or “operations” with Gaza, where Tel Aviv got hit with a bunch of Hamas rockets. Although it’s not exactly a common occurrence. It’s certainly scary, but most of them are shot down without causing any damage, and even when there is damage, it’s only to property.
One thing to keep in mind is that these are usually not professional rockets. They are basically some metal tubes some assholes put together in a shed somewhere. Most of the fuel is consumed by the time the rocket / missile / whatever reaches Tel Aviv, so what you get is basically an empty metal tube flying through the sky. If it falls on your head, yeah, it’ll kill you. But the odds are pretty slim you’ll get hit at all.
I won’t lie to you: hearing the air raid sirens going off and the occasional explosion is not fun, and the last round of fighting even had people in Tel Aviv feeling the fear (though you still have to legally tell us not to go to cafés and restaurants during a round of fighting, which they actually did this time) . But once you realise that A. these things hardly ever happen, and never last for long, B. The explosions are usually not hits (they are usually the Iron Dome defence system missiles self-destructing because the Hamas rocket went in the sea) and C. Your odds of getting hit are insanely small, you’ll feel much better about visiting Tel Aviv. The odds of Israel being hit with any nuclear weapons from Iran and co are pretty slim, for reasons that should be obvious if you search foreign websites for information about Israel and nukes.
That said, with Israel’s current ultra-right wing, religious government, it’s worth keeping track of Israeli news before you go, as some ministers are prone to doing stupid things that may result in the wrong kind of action – short-lived, but unpleasant for all involved.
What about Crime?
Tel Aviv is actually very safe when it comes to crime figures. There is pretty much zero gun crime and you’re very unlikely to get mugged anywhere. Violent crime in general is very rare. It’s practically unheard of for anyone to be the victim of anything like that as a tourist.
There are areas in Tel Aviv that look pretty run-down and if you’re used to places that look like that where serious crime does happen, you might not like the looks of them. So let’s talk about the worst Tel Aviv can throw at you, to give you a bit of perspective.
For around eight years, I lived in what’s considered the worst crime area in Tel Aviv, Neve Shaanan (it’s “up and coming”, OK?). We have prostitutes on some streets, homeless junkies wandering around day and night and there’s a street not far from me where Google Streetview used to show a drug deal going on in broad daylight.
Neve Shaanan is also where Israel’s community of African asylum seekers live, and some Israelis are terrified of them, because they’re not used to seeing black people (especially black people who are not Jewish). You’ll hear a lot of bad stuff about this neighbourhood from people put off by the way it looks. This being Tel Aviv, though, the scary-looking people keep to themselves and nobody gets shot, stabbed attacked or robbed at all apart from some extremely rare cases.
That’s pretty much the worst it ever gets anywhere in Tel Aviv. Other areas generally look and feel a lot safer, so you won’t even need to see anything too gritty. You may encounter some dark streets (the city is a bit tight when it comes to lighting some neighbourhoods sometimes) but the odds of anyone robbing you are pretty nonexistent.
Pickpockets do operate in busy areas (like the markets, some busy restaurants / cafés, and the beach) so do take care of your stuff. Don’t take valuables to the beach with you, or don’t leave your bag unattended. Some beaches have lockers you can pay to put your valuables in, those are safe.
Break-ins are also common, so keep that in mind if you are renting a flat in Tel Aviv. Avoid ground floor flats unless all windows have bars on them and the door is a security door (Pladelet as it’s called here).
Is it safe to walk in Tel Aviv?
Tel Aviv is a perfectly safe place for a walk, as it’s generally a very safe city. It’s also small and mostly flat, and the weather is usually nice and sunny, so bring your comfortable walking shoes and use them often. Most locals walk around most of the year (apart from when it gets incredibly hot and humid over the summer, or when on the rare occasions when we get heavy rain). Apart from an occasional homeless person begging for money, or a guy chatting you up (see women’s section below), you won’t really get any hassle in most places. See below about night-time safety.
Are taxis safe in Tel Aviv?
Taxis in Tel Aviv are generally modern and safe, though busy city traffic means they are often expensive. Always choose a taxi that is registered either with a taxi company, or an app like Uber or Gett. Registered taxis have a prominent flag on top, featuring the name of their company or app.
It’s best to order a taxi through an app, but if you’re flagging one down, don’t get an unregistered one. This is particularly true if you’re a woman on your own. While mostly OK, unregistered taxis are not tracked, so if the driver is not what he seems, you will have no protection.
Is Tel Aviv safe for solo travellers?
Tel Aviv is great for solo travellers. Locals are generally very friendly and helpful and will offer assistance if you’re lost or are in need of any other advice. As crime rates are generally low, you are very unlikely to get robbed or mugged. Petty theft like having your wallet stolen will be your main concern, so make sure you keep your valuables on you in a zipped bag and don’t let them out of your sight at restaurants, etc.. Especially on the beach and in touristy areas.
If you are alone at the beach and worried your stuff might get stolen when you go in the sea, it’s perfectly normal to ask the people sitting around you to look out for your stuff so it doesn’t get stolen. Aim for mixed group of sunbathing locals, though, not the shady looking person not dressed for the beach!
Is Tel Aviv safe at night?
Most areas of Tel Aviv are perfectly safe at night and even the scary-looking areas are safer than most similar places in the world. That said, some places in South Tel Aviv (around the central bus station) can feel unpleasant at night and that area is one of the very few in Tel Aviv where muggings occasionally happen.
If you’re going to or from the central bus station at night and are not familiar with the area, take a bus or a taxi if you’re on your own. Same goes for the Hagana train station which is nearby. As a general bit of advice: if you’re feeling uncomfortable or unsafe at any point, listen to your intuition. You might be overreacting (and locals will probably tell you so) but why feel unsafe and scared if you don’t have to? It’s perfectly fine to turn around and walk down a better lit street, get a taxi (see women’s section below) for more information) or get a bus rather than walk.
Is Tel Aviv safe for women?
The short answer is yes. You can happily travel in Tel Aviv alone as a woman and not have any problems. Of course, like in any major city, it helps to be aware of your surroundings.
In terms of street harassment, you’re not likely to get grabbed and molested on the street as you would in, say, India, but you may well get unwanted male attention in the form of occasional catcalling and men approaching you and asking for a date. If you go to the beach on your own or in a female only group, you’ll get all kinds of guys trying to chat you up. They are usually harmless, but can be annoying.
Actual rapes do happen, though, the same as anywhere else. Date rape is still the most common form, though, so you’re not likely to get attacked on the street. As always, though, it’s best to play it safe.
Safety tips for women in Tel Aviv:
Avoid getting into unregistered taxis. Watch out for a little flag on top of the taxi. That means the taxi is either registered to a company or working with Uber or Gett. To be 100% safe, only use a taxi that has one of these flags if you’re on your own.
Israelis are nice but we’re not that nice. If a man you’ve just met invites you to his house, he’s probably hoping for some action. That’s fine if you are too, but if not, don’t assume innocence and be firm about boundaries. Like anywhere else, if you give someone your number, they’ll see it as the universal sign of you being interested in a date.
Roofies are a thing in Tel Aviv. It’s not common, but apparently more common than we think. Watch your drink in bars and clubs. Yes, I do know women who got dosed, and yes, there have been some famous cases. GHB is common in Tel Aviv and is the drug most often used to dose women.
If you feel uncomfortable walking down a dark street or a lonely stretch of beach or park, listen to your intuition and don’t do it. Our animal instincts haven’t died out completely and they are there for a reason. Tel Aviv is not 100% alley rape free. Nowhere is.
If you’re being followed and harassed by someone – ask someone nearby for help if you don’t want to make a scene, but feel free to make a scene, swear and shout. Don’t ever feel the need to be polite to someone who is harassing you. Israeli women generally aren’t!
The area around the central bus station (the aforementioned Neve Shaanan neighbourhood, mostly) and the nearby Hagana train station is not the nicest at night. To be honest, it’s generally harmless, but it looks like it isn’t and on rare occasion women have had hassle here. You’ll sometimes need your angry face and brisk walking pace to navigate this area at night. If you’re easily spooked and not used to poor neighbourhoods, save yourself the stress and avoid it if you’re alone. You can get shared taxis and cabs from just outside the station building to get anywhere else in town.
What is the current situation with the protests in Tel Aviv?
The anti-dictatorship protests and strikes in Israel / Tel Aviv are currently ongoing, but while they’ve been getting more “lively”, they are currently concentrated in Kaplan junction (where the Azrieli Center is) and, occasionally the Ayalon Highway. If you are not interested in joining the protests, they’re most likely to be a nuisance, rather than a danger. Kaplan is a major junction, and protesters have been blocking the Ayalon Highway, which is a main traffic artery in Tel Aviv.
If you’re not joining the protests, avoid the area around the Azrieli Center on Saturday nights, when the protests tend to happen. Keep in mind that 300-500K people go to these, so the crowds will stretch further than just the junction. If you’re driving in and out of town then, use alternative routes or plan to do it earlier in the day or, even better, another day. Ask your hosts when other events are planned. This information is readily available to everyone in Israel. Alternatively, you can take Google Translate for a spin on this Twitter account, run by protesting Israeli high-tech workers that details further actions.