Making friends at a new place is not always easy, and if you’re an English speaker in Hebrew-speaking Tel Aviv, it can be even more difficult to find people to hang out with. While Tel Aviv is, on the whole, a cosmopolitan city with residents who speak enough English to give you directions or serve you food, not everyone you meet will be able to speak more than that.
If you’re a digital nomad, or are otherwise visiting Tel Aviv for a while, you will probably want to find people who speak your language.
Here are some tips for making new English-speaking friends in Tel Aviv.
- 1 Go places that are relevant or popular with English speakers
- 2 Hit a language exchange event
- 3 Sign up to some English language activities
- 4 Sign up to an English language tour
- 5 Sign up to a Hebrew class or course
- 6 Try a meetup group
- 7 Volunteer
- 8 Bonus: Embassy and language institute events for speakers of other languages
Go places that are relevant or popular with English speakers
Some people will tell you to go to Mike’s Place, a rather boring, mainstream sports bar type place that’s known to be mostly frequented by tourists and staff from the American Embassy. Sure, there’ll be English speakers there, but will they be ones who share your interests? Maybe not.
There are far more interesting places where expats and visitors hang out.
Try Café Xoho, Nola’s Bakery or The Streets, which are all somewhat American-influenced. These are in the Lev HaIr / Old North neighbourhoods, and are unsurprisingly popular with American and British expats.
Vegan and health-conscious locals and expats also love Anastasia.
In Florentin, the Casbah Café is popular, while left wing English speakers often hang out in Jaffa’s Yafa Café.
Let’s face it, bars are usually better for meeting people than cafes. Try the city’s more cosmopolitan offerings first. There are several upmarket bars at hotels, which draw both locals and foreigners. People there are likely to have a higher level of English all round. Try the Imperial Cocktail Bar, or any of the bars at the hotels run by the Brown Hotels chain.
The Teder Bar, while generally aimed at the local hipster population, is famous and interesting enough to draw a mixed crowd. Tables are long and so are often shared, which helps provide opportunities for meeting people.
The Shpagat Bar is a cool place to hang out if you’re gay, though it’s also straight-friendly.
If Tel Aviv’s hipster culture is a bit too cliquey for you, you might want to try one of Gugy’s bars on Rothschild Blvd. or off Nahalat Binyamin. They are both relaxed and friendly, and popular with both locals and visitors who want a good night out without trying too hard to be cool.
Tel Aviv’s Abraham Hostel hosts regular events and runs tours for English speakers. It also has a bar where people who stay at the hostel hang out. While it’s mostly aimed at (young) tourists, locals sometimes also go, especially if there’s a live band or an interesting event on.
Hit a language exchange event
There are a few that happen regularly in Tel Aviv, catering to a whole bunch of languages. One of these is Fluent, where you can sign up as an ambassador and attend for free, in return for having a conversation in your native language with those who wish to learn it.
Sign up to some English language activities
Apart from some fun crafting events hosted by Abraham Hostel above, there are also English language yoga and Pilates classes around town, as well as organisations and events specifically aimed at English speakers. Try The Stage, if you’re a theatre lover. They offer English language theatre courses, stand up / spoken word nights, and even musical theatre.
If you’re into a particular sport that’s popular in an English speaking country (like rugby, American football, cricket, etc.), a quick Google search may find you a local group, which may well have some English speakers in it.
Sign up to an English language tour
Tours are a great place to meet people, and some of the more interesting ones are actually attended by locals too. Try one of CTLV‘s fascinating tours for some interesting options. You can also find Bauhaus architecture tours, bar crawls, and even vegan tours.
Sign up to a Hebrew class or course
Let’s face it, Hebrew is a difficult language, and you’re not going to pick up enough in a few lessons to be able to have a very interesting conversation. However, the people on the course with you are likely to be in the same boat as you. If you hit it off, you may well find exciting new friends to hang out with.
Try a meetup group
These can be hit and miss, depending on what you like, but there are plenty of these in Tel Aviv, including Facebook groups, and websites, both general and more specific. For example, here’s one for LGBT olim, which is open to any queer English speakers in Tel Aviv, and here’s a book club specifically aimed at English speakers. All of these are good places to find events aimed at English speakers.
There are plenty of volunteering opportunities in Tel Aviv, which vary in the level of commitment required. If you’re staying in Tel Aviv for a while, this could be a good way to go. Apart from being a good thing to do, you’ll also meet other good people who share your passion for giving back to the community. A quick Google search will find you some opportunities, or you can start on The Tel Aviv Municipality’s own website.
More grassroots volunteering options include the Garden Library, working with the local refugee and migrant worker community. You can also try one of Culture of Solidarity‘s awesome volunteering projects, though they are not specifically aimed at English speakers / foreigners (and their website is in Hebrew, so you’ll need Google Translate). Their projects include cooking, packing, and delivering food parcels to needy families, volunteering with asylum seekers / refugees, elderly people, and more.
Bonus: Embassy and language institute events for speakers of other languages
If your native language isn’t actually English but rather French, German, Swedish, Italian, etc., it’s worth keeping an eye out on the consulate or embassy websites for your country, or things like the Goethe institute, Instituto Cervantes, etc. as sometimes there are some cool events that are likely to be attended by local expats. This is especially true around holidays, or special occasions in your home country.