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Tel Aviv for Virgins

How to Make Your First Time Unforgettable

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Tel Aviv for Virgins

Tel Aviv street art

Photo: Anthony Grant
Are you a Tel Aviv virgin? I can’t pay for you to come here, but if and when you do, I will do my holy best to speed your initiation to this Mediterranean capital of cool.

Are you taking notes?

1) Take your time...if you want. Like many large cities, Tel Aviv is the kind of place you can dip into for a few hours or stay much longer, but even a short visit can give you a sense of what makes the beachy, boisterous city tick. Begin by exploring the neighborhoods and you'll get a sense of how Tel Aviv balances, sometimes crazily, the old and new. The rhythm is frenzied but unhurried: whether that's intrinsically Middle Eastern or unique to Tel Aviv may be up to each visitor to decide.

2) Realize that Tel Aviv is a 24-hour city, which means that if you get up late you'll be right on time. In fact, one of the most quintessentially Tel Avivan things to do is linger over a leisurely breakfast, which on most days is for all intents and purposes brunch. Expect a lot of great coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice just about anywhere you go. And what pancakes are to American diners, shakshuka is to tables in Tel Aviv. Most cafes serve the dish, which centers on two poached eggs in a zesty tomato stew with onions and a touch of pepper. Yum!

3) Skip the museums. That's what Jerusalem's for. But if you do want to explore culture, remember that Tel Aviv does have an incredible array of museums. My favorite is this one.

4) Hit the shops. Tel Aviv is the commercial capital of Israel and a great shopping city. For a swift introduction to some of the leading Israeli designers, head to the HaTachana marketplace, an old railway station that's been transformed into a breezy outdoor mall with a fantastic assortment of boutiques and restaurants. Allow 2 hours to check out all the stores, including the MadeinTLV souvenir emporium. It's located at the entrance, in the former train depot.

4) Soak up the Bauhaus. Bauhaus is a functional style of architecture that took off in he 1930s and is noted for its curvilinear forms. Its concentration of white Bauhaus buildings gives Tel Aviv the nickname “The White City” and was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003. Streets to focus on are Bialik and Rothschild Boulevard, but Bauhaus buildings are found all over the city. If it's your first time in Tel Aviv, consider taking a guided walking tour of the central Bauhaus district. Tours last about two hours and cost $15. Or dispense with the (very interesting) archi-details and just wander on your own.

6) Get a sunburn. Any visit to Tel Aviv would be incomplete without experiencing the city's famous seaside promenade and beaches. Different sections of the beach go by different names, such as Frishman and Trumpeldor, but it's all essentially one long line of sand from the Port area in the north to Jaffa in the south. Recuperate from your sunburn at any number of cafes.

7) Learn how to say betay'avon! If the beach is where Tel Aviv goes to relax, the city's myriad bars and restaurants are where they go to fuel up. To experience the cosmopolitan flavor of Tel Aviv at its best, try a trendy restaurant like power chef Jonathan Roshveld's Tapas Ahad Ha'am, or go for a sexy meal at Raphael.

What? You're no Tel Aviv virgin, you say? OK. Take it to the next level.

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