November 4, 2022
By Krizia Mojado
Business trips to Tel Aviv are becoming increasingly common as Israel has proved to be an amazing start-up nation. Israel has long been a front-runner in the technology industry, but today is also important for other key industries, ranging from security and communications to agriculture. Tel Aviv is the country’s new business hub and the most advanced city in the Middle East and welcoming many business travellers.
If you find that you are going to be travelling to or via Tel Aviv, why not maximise the experience by enjoying some good downtime experiences during a layover? Whether you have a whole day or just a few hours, there are a number of fun places to visit that are conveniently close to the airport.
Whilst it may well be tempting to simply stretch out on one of the city’s beaches that fringe the Mediterranean, you may want to discover this vibrant city’s world-class restaurants and famous coffee culture. There are plenty of things for you to enjoy if you find yourself a passenger in transit and these will certainly enhance your business travel experience.
In this article, we'll take a look at:
There are three ways to get into the centre of Tel Avi from Ben Gurion Airport – train, bus, or taxi. A train is a good option as there is a direct line into the city and tickets are priced at 13.50 ILS. The 445 bus operates every hour on the hour and travels from the airport into central Tel Aviv (a ticket costs 9.30 ILS). Taxis are another option but are probably best to use if you are running short of time. Fares start at 135 ILS.
● It is important to remember that if it is Saturday which is Shabbat in Israel (the Sabbath) a taxi will be your only option.
Tel Aviv is quite a compact city so if you are happy to walk, this is the ideal way of getting around – especially in the Old Town. There are plenty of buses to hop on and off and they are both numerous and cheap, but again on Shabbat, there is a very limited service.
Cycling is popular too and Tel Aviv is a cycle-friendly city with designated cycle lanes. There are 75 Tel-O-Fun cycle rental points around the city and a real bonus is that you don’t have to drop the bike back at the same point. Cycling around Tel Aviv port can be great fun.
● A word of caution. It is essential that you use the designated cycle lanes whenever possible as you could get fined if you don’t.
A great place to explore during your downtime is Neve Tzedek – the city’s oldest district. This relatively tranquil part of Tel Aviv is the perfect place to wander as it has quaint narrow streets that are filled with a variety of shops including craft shops where it is fun to pause and watch the artisans at work. There are numerous tiny restaurants too, where you can enjoy a leisurely brunch too.
Rothschild Boulevard is one of the oldest streets in Tel Aviv and is a real mixture of ancient and modern. It is situated within Tel Aviv’s ‘White City which is a collection of Bauhaus-style buildings that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rothschild Boulevard has an attractive leafy canopy and numerous little kiosks where you can buy cool drinks and coffee. Sheinkin Street is also in ‘White City’ and is well known for its boutiques filled with all the latest fashions.
● White City is situated between Allenby Street in the south, Begin Road and Ibn Gvirol Street to the east, the Yarkon River in the north, and the Mediterranean to the west. White City is 28km from the airport and takes about 35 minutes to reach.
If you are a passenger in transit, you have plenty of choices when it comes to museums in Tel Aviv! There are large, famous museums such as the Tel Aviv Museum of Art which is regarded as one of the best museums of modern art in the world. Beit Hatfutsot is a museum that tells the history of the Jewish people and is situated just north of the city.
There are specialist museums such as the Museum of the History of Tel Aviv – Yafo and the Bauhaus Museum and just south of the city is Design Museum Holon which is housed in an internationally acclaimed building designed by the architect Ron Arad. The museum highlights many ideas from the world of design in three rotating exhibitions.
● There is a direct train or bus (445) from the airport to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art which is in Sharona. The journey takes about 40 minutes. The journey time from Ben Gurion Airport to the Design Museum Holon is about 25 minutes (22km).
Shuk Ha’Carmel – the Carmel Market – is the perfect place to explore if you are a foodie as it reveals the city’s vibrant food scene and is definitely the place to learn about the new tastes and ingredients that are being showcased by young Israeli chefs on the world food scene. The market started in 1920 and is a traditional bazaar-style market that is tucked down an alleyway where King George Street, Allenby, and Sheinkin Street meet.
Great buys include fresh spices and Turkish coffee. If you feel hungry there are kebabs and other street foods to buy. As well as food there are great gift ideas including customised tee shirts, your name printed in Hebrew and various beauty products made with salt from the Dead Sea – just remember how much spare space you have in your luggage!
● Carmel Market has situated 23 km from the airport and the journey takes 30 minutes. The market is open from 07.30 – 19.00 between Sunday – Thursday and closes at 17.00 on Friday evenings.
Jaffa is well worth visiting by day as it has 4,000 years of history to discover and is a fun place to try bartering in one of its numerous little shops. Jaffa is one of the oldest ports in the world. It is fun to take a leisurely stroll by the water’s edge and along the narrow alleys between the cream-coloured buildings. The flea market is fun too and the old walled city is well known for its excellent jewellery shops. Everything can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace as Jaffa is much quieter than the centre of Tel Aviv.
● Jaffa lies just 24 km from Ben Gurion Airport and can be reached in just under 30 minutes.
Further afield, the Holy City of Jerusalem has many famous sacred spots including Via Dolorosa for Christians. This was the path Jesus walked before the Crucifixion and it ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Temple Mount (the Golden Dome) is a holy place for Islam and the Western Wall is one of the most important monuments for the Jewish faith.
● Jerusalem lies 55km from the airport and the journey takes 50 minutes. There is a direct train departing from the airport to Yerushalayim/ Yits’hak Navon. Trains depart once an hour from the airport and operate every day of the week. The train journey takes approximately 30 minutes. There is also an hourly bus service (not on Shabbat) and the journey takes about one hour.
If you want to just relax and take a stroll along the beautiful promenade it stretches for 14km and is popular with everyone including joggers. You can stretch out on the sand or rent a deckchair or join in some beach volleyball. There are several bars and restaurants along the way for a leisurely meal. Watching the sunset is special too and the beach is a great spot for star gazing too.
● The Grand Beach on the promenade is 27 km from the airport and takes 40 minutes to reach. You can take the train from the airport (line 4) or bus no 445.
If you are going to be in Tel Aviv in the evening, you can enjoy a really excellent meal in one of the city’s restaurants or head for the nightlife which is focused on Rothschild Boulevard. As well as popular nightclubs, there are a number of rooftop bars, including the Speakeasy Bar which is well-known for its cocktail menu.
The best restaurants are in White City and include Taizu which offers Asian Mediterranean cuisine – with plenty of seafood options. The Norman and Alena restaurants are two of the most sophisticated restaurants in the city. Claro (in Sarona) is a more relaxed farm-to-table style restaurant and Madhya which is situated in the Mendeli Street Hotel (in the city centre) is a contemporary restaurant showcasing a fusion of Israeli and Moroccan dishes.
Some fun alternative restaurants can also be found in Jaffa where there is also some great street food to buy. Doctor Shakshuka in Jaffa Flea Market is well known for its excellent Tripolitan dishes. Shakshuka is the signature dish which is eggs baked in tomato sauce – and there are many variations to try!
● The popular time to eat in Tel Aviv is 20.00- 21.00, but you can usually get an earlier meal if you have a flight to catch.
If you have a long layover with plenty of time to fill, you could look at booking trips such as the tour of Old and New Jerusalem or a day tour to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. There are also half-day tours to Nazareth available. The Dead Sea, which is the lowest place on earth, is also well worth visiting.
If you are making a corporate travel booking, at TruTrip we specialise in global business travel and can help you find the best flights for your trip. Whether you are going to have a short or long layover, we can ensure you have the best business travel experience. Try us out and book a demo or sign up for a free trial.
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