- Fabio Marcato
Tel Aviv is a sunny and spicy city that attracts tourists from all over the world. However, it can be very pricy, and was even ranked up there as the #1 most expensive city during 2022. But, with a bit of planning and smart choices, it's possible to have a great holiday in Tel Aviv without breaking the bank. Here's what you need to know:
Israel on the Go: The Most Convenient Transportation Options
Flights to Tel Aviv from anywhere are not the cheapest and it might makes sense to factor in a transfer somewhere. For example, from Italy, flights are generally cheaper than from Germany, therefore I opted for this option.
Once you are on the ground, taxis in Tel Aviv are expensive, with a trip from the airport to the city center costing around 50 euros (if you arrive on a public holiday, like we did 🙈, public transportation comes to a stand-still). Otherwise public transportation is your best bet and is less expensive than in Europe. There is a train that goes directly from the airport to the city center in just 20ish minutes
However, the very best way to move around the city is by electric scooter, which are fun to use, maximizes your vitamin D exposure, and allows you to reach places like the old city of Jaffa. Our choice was Bird. Everyday, we would purchase a day pass and with two of us on one scooter (we didn't say anything 🤣), we were facing some massive transport savings.
Should I get a SIM Card in Tel Aviv, Israel?
Once you've reached your destination, I suggest you go make an Israeli number. On the ground floor of the Dizengoff Center there are a couple of shops where you can evaluate the best offers for you. I took a one month prepaid card from Cellcom which had around 20 gigs for 35 euros. Data in Israel is exceptionally cheap compared to other places we've been.
Budget-Friendly Bites and Beats: Affordable Eating and Living in Tel Aviv
Dining in Tel Aviv can be quite expensive, and the first time you eat out, you may have a heart-attack when the bill arrives, but there are options for those on a budget. Consider buying delicious pita bread and hummus from a supermarket, as these are the only relatively inexpensive options 🤪. Wine is also expensive here. Better get a Goldstar, the local beer instead, which is a pleasant beer.
Nightlife in Tel Aviv can be quite expensive and may not be worth it. We paid around 12 Euro for a small glass (not even a pint) of beer in SHPAGAT, one of the popular gay bars. We’ve been told that the locals struggle with the cost of living, which is too high for their salaries so don't kid yourself too much that you will be offered a drink.
One way of hacking this system is going to a local convenience store, buying some drinks and smuggling it into the bar 🤣 but beware that alcohol cannot be sold past 11:00 PM.
We were even offered to buy drugs from a very forward Russian woman at absurdly higher prices. Among those is a drug called “Doctor”👨⚕️, which not even our friends in Berlin have never heard of. But soon this word became a meme for us.
How to Workout on the Cheap in Tel Aviv
If you're looking for a workout, consider hitting one of the free gyms on the beach or going for a run on the around 7km promenade along the sea. The average population in Tel Aviv is under 40 so you will be in good company. Most beaches are free to use and offer services like toilets with no cost.
Celebrate Pride in Tel Aviv: Featuring the Offer Nissim Concert.
If you're planning on attending the Pride parade, keep in mind that you won't be able to bring alcohol inside. Also we decided to sell our ticket on ticketswap for the Offer Nissim concert (they were around 85 euro each) once we realised the location was the same where they do the concert the day of the pride and we are not huge fan of his music anyway. Consider attending the other parties, like BEEF, but really don't make pride your main reason for visiting the country and funneling all of your money into it, as there are much better uses for your money...read on.
Experience the Best of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea: Day Trips.
Jerusalem is like an open-air museum and one of the most beautiful cities you'll ever see, especially if you're a sucker for history like me. Unfortunately, non-Muslim tourists may not be allowed to visit the Muslim part of the city on certain days despite trying all possible ways to get in...there is always a guard blocking the entrances. You can hop on the same train that took you from the airport to Tel Aviv (just go past the airport this time) and get ready to enter a completely unique world.
On a separate trip, head to the Dead Sea, which is nature's best spa, offering mud baths that will leave your skin feeling smooth and in Ryan's case, burn your eyes out 🙃. Entrance fees are not very high, but getting there by car can be expensive. If you choose to rent a car, be prepared for high costs, and just make sure you have a credit card instead of a debit card as the deposit they put on hold was over 500 euro (which they give back, but I didn't like having that 500 euro hole in my bank for 30 days after). Nonetheless, the service and options were good at this place, Best Car Rental (smart SEO naming strategy). Anyway it is totally worth it getting the chance to float on the lowest place on earth. On the way back I really wanted to visit the city of Jericho, named as one of the oldest cities in the world but got discouraged while driving and almost seeing a shooting. It was not clear what happened but it was not we were in no place to investigate. Nevertheless, in the Westbank we still unfortunately felt like we were in no man’s land.
In conclusion, Tel Aviv is one of my favorite places for a holiday, but I can’t really say you will have the wildest nights of your life without getting ready to spend a lot of money. But I was very happy to discover the other things this county offers with Ryan since it was our first holiday together 🥰. Definitely a country we would like to visit deeply in the future.