Frequently Asked Questions About Tel Aviv

Visiting a new place is always an adventure, but it helps to know the important things in advance. Here’s a list of the most common questions I get asked by people visiting Tel Aviv for the first time, a collection of Tel Aviv “spoilers”, if you will.  Do you have any questions that are not answered by this post? Please feel free to contact me and ask and they might end up here and help other people!

 

What is the weather like in Tel Aviv?

The weather in Tel Aviv is generally nice, though summers are very hot and humid, and are progressively getting longer. From June-July till about October, most Israelis hide in air conditioned spaces. Stores, trains, buses, and most hotels (apart from very cheap ones) have air conditioning. Spring and autumn are the best for visiting, as the weather is sunny and warm, but not overly hot / humid. Winter varies. There are occasional storms that last several days, and temperature can go down to single digits (Celsius), but daytime temperatures in the 20s are common, and it’s usually pretty sunny. Rain, when it happens, is usually brief.

What is the best time of year to visit Tel Aviv?

The best times to visit Tel Aviv are spring (late March to June) and autumn (Late September – December). The weather is sunny and warm but not overly oppressive or humid, and rain is extremely unlikely, or brief.

The High Holidays in autumn, and Passover in spring are best avoided, though, unless you are specifically visiting family for the holidays.

Do people speak English in Tel Aviv?

Most people speak English in Tel Aviv, and many places offer English menus and signs, including buses, trains, and street signs. Locals are always happy to switch to English to help out a tourist. Russian is also very commonly spoken, and a growing French population means you might hear it spoken too, or see the occasional French sign or menu.

Is Tel Aviv walkable?

Yes! Tel Aviv is mostly flat, distances are relatively small and the weather is usually nice. Tel Aviv is also very safe, so you’re not likely to get into any trouble walking around. Bring a pair of comfortable shoes (or sandals if you’re there from around April-September). In the summer months (June – October, generally nowadays. You know, global warming) always carry water around with you, as it gets very hot and humid. Most locals prefer to take air conditioned public transport or taxis in the day and do their walking at night if they can.

Can you cycle in Tel Aviv?

Being mostly flat, Tel Aviv is good for cycling too. The weather is mostly pleasant and again, distances are small. However, traffic and Israeli drivers are an issue and cycle paths are not as plentiful as one would like, although the situation is improving. Most locals cycle on the pavement (sidewalk), which is officially illegal. Although not always enforced, you can still get fined if you’re unlucky enough to get caught.

Are there any bike rental apps in Tel Aviv?

The city’s communal bike scheme, Tel-O-Fun, is currently the only app-based rental for standard pushbikes. However, the bikes are very poorly maintained, so are not recommended. If you have a driving license from any country, you can rent their electric bikes, which are somewhat better. Israeli law requires that anyone riding an electric bike or scooter needs to have passed a driving theory test. While there are no other apps renting out bikes, there are plenty renting out electric scooters.

Is Tel Aviv expensive?

The short answer is yes. Tel Aviv is expensive. In fact, it has been voted “most expensive city in the world” recently. Accommodation will be your greatest expense, though you’ll also find food and alcohol to be as expensive as it is in other major cities (or more so).  Want to know more? I’ve written a whole post about how expensive Tel Aviv is and how to save money while visiting.

For more information about everything to do with Tel Aviv, check out the full DIY Tel Aviv guide.

Is Tel Aviv a party city?

Tel Aviv’s party scene is world-famous, and for a good reason. Locals love to party, and there are plenty of clubs, dance bars, rooftops, and other cool party venues. In summer, there are also some parties on the beach. The standard of DJing in Tel Aviv club is very high, with both local and international DJs playing everything that’s hot right now. Israelis have eclectic musical tastes and are up to date with both popular international trends, and obscure hipster music from all over the world. Find out more about Tel Aviv’s party scene here.

Can you drink alcohol in Tel Aviv / Israel?

Yes! And you can get it pretty much everywhere in Tel Aviv. Cafés, restaurants and even takeaway pizza places sell it and serve it 24 hours a day. There are, however some restrictions on when you can buy alcohol in shops / supermarkets.

The bar owner cartel successfully lobbied and now you can’t buy booze in shops between 11pm and 6am. So if you want to get drunk at night, you’ll have to do it at at a bar / restaurant / café and pay extra for the pleasure, or get your booze in advance and drink it in your hotel room.

Officially you’re not supposed to drink alcohol in public spaces at night (including the beach), so if a cop thinks you’re being drunk and disorderly, they can fine you and take away your drink.

What is the drinking age in Israel?

The drinking age is 18. As a tourist, you’re not likely to get carded in Tel Aviv, unless you have a real baby face, but a passport or a driving license should be enough.

Is smoking allowed in Tel Aviv?

Smoking is allowed in Tel Aviv, though there are some restrictions, which are sporadically enforced. The smoking age is 18, but you’re not likely to get carded unless you literally look like a child. Restaurants and cafés all have smoking areas that are usually open air during the dry months and enclosed in winter. Some clubs turn a blind eye to smoking, while others are more strict (depending on how likely they are to be targeted by inspectors). Officially you are not allowed to smoke indoors and in some public areas, so make sure you pay attention to signs and to what the locals are doing. If they all drop their cigarettes on the ground and look scared, you might want to do the same.

Is marijuana / weed legal in Israel / Tel Aviv?

Weed is illegal in Israel, though personal use has become kinda decriminalised. For small amounts you’re looking at a fine for your first offence, unless you’re really unlucky. You’ll be smelling it soon enough if you’re out and about in town. Be careful when going out of Tel Aviv, though, especially to the north of Israel or out of town nature parties. Those are the places where cops are more likely to want to make an example out of you.

Semi-decriminalised or not, weed is still not something you can just buy in a shop in Israel.

Is Tel Aviv safe right now?

Tel Aviv is likely to be one of the safest places you’ll ever visit. The answer to this question is pretty much always “yes”, regardless of when you ask it. Crime rates are relatively low, the terrorism threat is low and being hit by a missile is very unlikely, because the city is heavily protected. For a longer post about all aspects of personal safety in Tel Aviv, read my dedicated post.

Can you drink the tap water in Tel Aviv?

Yes. Tap water is perfectly fine to drink in Tel Aviv. People who’d tell you otherwise and insist on drinking mineral water instead are doing it either because they prefer the taste or because they are overly precious. Israel has too much plastic waste already, so please don’t contribute to it by buying too much mineral water unnecessarily.

Can you dive in Tel Aviv?

Yes, though there’s not too much to see compared to, say, the Red Sea. Still, there are several diving clubs in Tel Aviv, though, who can show you the few local dive sites or take you further afield for some more exciting stuff.  There’s one in the Tel Aviv marina.

Can you swim in Tel Aviv?

Generally, Tel Aviv’s beaches are OK for swimming in, or at least wading in and enjoying the water. This part of the Med is generally pretty warm, too, especially in summer. There are, however, some things to be aware of. The most crucial thing is to be aware of the strong currents that affect the beaches in Tel Aviv, some of them are dangerously close to the shallows. When the lifeguards are on duty, they will hassle you constantly to stay in the safe areas with everyone else. However, official bathing season in Tel Aviv is relatively short and lifeguards don’t generally work that much, so they might not be around when you’re there. Another thing to be aware of are stinging jellyfish. They usually appear around July. They won’t kill you, but being stung is unpleasant and if there is a swarm around, the water itself will sting. Pouring vinegar on the sting will neutralise it. Lastly, the Tel Aviv municipality is not above allowing raw sewage to occasionally be poured into the sea. There are occasionally pollution scares, though usually not in summer when more tourists are around.

Tel Aviv beach

Can you use Uber in Tel Aviv?

Uber is active in Tel Aviv, but because of legal restrictions, you will get a normal taxi that will charge you their usual rate. Still, this means you can pay with the app.

There are several other taxi apps active in Israel that do the same thing. One such app is Gett. Lyft is not active in Tel Aviv.

Is Tel Aviv vegan friendly?

Yes! Tel Aviv is one of the most vegan-friendly cities you’re ever likely to visit. There are vegan options on almost every menu and a whole load of vegan restaurants and cafes to choose from. Cafes also readily serve soy, almond and other plant milks instead of cow’s milk if you ask them, though often for an additional fee. Here is a longer post about visiting Tel Aviv as a vegan / vegetarian.

Is Tel Aviv good for digital nomads?

Nice weather, good, readily available Internet (even on the street!), and a strong café culture with relaxed attitudes towards laptop users make Tel Aviv a great place to visit as a digital nomad. You’ll need a steady income, though, as Tel Aviv is an expensive city. You can find out more about what it’s like to be a digital nomad in Tel Aviv here.

Can you get the morning after pill in Tel Aviv?

Yes you can! It’s called Postinor (Post-ee-norr) and is available from all branches of the Superpharm chain, plus many independent pharmacies / chemists.

What are the most surprising things about Tel Aviv?

I wrote a whole post about that, which you can read here.

For more information about everything to do with Tel Aviv, check out the full DIY Tel Aviv guide. You can buy it on tis site, and it’s also available from Amazon.