Steeped in ancient architecture and with a thousand tales to tell of times gone by, Tel Aviv might seem to be a city of the past. In recent months and years, however, it has been reviving its very cultured image. While monuments of long-gone eras are still very much present on the local scene, this Middle Eastern city is sampling a more modern way of life; the place is now bursting with contemporary restaurants, structures, and cultural gems. Brimming with unexpected places on practically every corner, Tel Aviv is the adventurer’s dream city, inviting travelers from around the world to come and discover what can be found within the city limits.
Previously a city surrounded by desert and sand dunes, Tel Aviv has been given a thoroughly modern makeover, and now its architecture is doing all of the talking for it. Perhaps the biggest icon of modernity is the Design Museum Holon, a sprawling space imagined by architect Ron Arad. Spherical and swooping, the exterior of the museum has been likened to the Guggenheim, and while the building certainly does take influence from the New York landmark, it’s also very much inspired by the Tel Aviv scene. Its frame changes from every perspective, causing the city light to shift and move with every step. The gallery inside is minimal and bare, offering an insight into local design and the aesthetics of the Middle East’s best designers.
There’s more to the city than just architectural sights, however. A coastal city at heart, Tel Aviv offers some stunning sea views. If you want to get your fill of the local landscape, going on a hiking trail will serve you well; while walking the city streets is a great way in which to get your bearings, you might want to try taking your search a little further afield and head to the coast. The stretch of sandy shores will allow you to take in the best of the urban skyline as it showcases the best of both worlds. Contemporary city architecture opens up onto the rural expanse of the ocean and beyond, giving visitors and locals alike the chance to really breathe it all in.
When it comes to local eating spots, the city is undoubtedly making a name for itself, and now some of the very best chefs can be found in local outposts. Herbert Samuel is the perfect place to get a taste of contemporary local cooking, combining the traditional with the new to incredibly popular effect. While there are a number of excellent choices on the menu, seafood is the main event, with most dishes being served up from fresh, local catches. The chefs at places like Herbert Samuel also understand the beauty of local produce, incorporating the tastes of the city in their otherwise international dishes. It’s all about balance here.
Local culture is high up on the list of Tel Aviv’s priorities, and while tradition is very much alive and well, a strong case is being made for a more modern sensibility, too. Bars and cocktail joints stay open well into the night, making it easy to enjoy a different, darker side of the sun-drenched city. You can stay up until the morning in this city, meeting a host of international travellers before returning back to your room; the place might never sleep, but it sure knows how to relax.
Tel Aviv is a city of two halves, and yet it never feels at odds with itself. By embracing its past and looking towards a new future, the place has managed to carve a very individual niche for itself. When it comes to enduring, it’s not all about looking forward; by keeping one eye on its past, Tel Aviv has created a city spirit that is very special indeed.