Laura Kaczmarek’s Guide to the Best of Tel Aviv

From rowdy Latin parties to platters of exquisite mediterranean food, here's what you should do in the Israeli city.

Photo by Tina Willim

The other week, German photographer and skater Laura Kaczmarek grabbed her crew, Heckmecks, and dove into the mediterranean vibe of Tel Aviv to take photos for her upcoming photography book. You can treat your eyeballs to the sunny vibe by checking out some photos from the trip here—but if that isn’t enough to tempt you into impulse buying a ticket to Tel Aviv, we’re pretty sure that Laura’s guide to 24 hours in the city will be.

A near-perfect portrait of the sun-soaked dream, Tel Aviv is a seductive mix of majestic blue waters, exquisite mediterranean food, lethal party vibes and enough history to satisfy even the most bookish of grandparents. As a result, it’s attracted flocks of creatives over the past few years who have managed to develop a culture that is as far removed as possible from the rest of Israel’s politically turbulent atmosphere. Case in point: doing a little trip in Tel Aviv will take you through rowdy clubs, vibrant flea markets, futuristic art galleries and the chillest beaches of all. Need proof? See for yourself below.

Buy something old and weird AF to bring home at Jaffa Flea Market

Chances are, you’ll probably end up checking out Jaffa your first day in Tel Aviv. That’s because this ancient port was the whole starting point for Tel Aviv; as a result, it’s now an Old City full of winding cobblestone roads, delicious-smelling food stands, roadside cafes, museums and an old AF Clock Tower. While there’s plenty to do in Jaffa to fill up your day, you should make Jaffa Flea Market your priority. It’s a near-endless maze of antiques, secondhand stuff, trinkets, furniture and stuff that seems to serve no purpose other than looking old and mysterious. And by near-endless, we mean it sprawls of alleyways, walkways, hidden corners and outdoor verandas—a.k.a. you’ll definitely have enough interesting stuff to feast your eyes on. It’s open Sunday through Friday from morning to evening, but get there early to grab the good stuff.

🥂🍎🍯

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Willingly put yourself into a food coma at Shaffa Bar

You’re probably going to be a wee bit peckish after all that thrifting, so do the right thing and park yourself at Shaffa Bar to stuff your face with classic Israeli eats. Located within the flea market, it’s a super low key joint that boasts live music, tasty cocktails and traditional Israeli dishes made with seasonal ingredients. The grilled calamari is especially bonkers on the tastiness scale, but the fried cauliflower is nothing to frown upon, either. If you’re heading there in the evening, stick around into the night; Shaffa Bar usually turns into a street party that lasts well into the next morning.

Go for a dip in the bluest water pretty much ever at Frishman Beach

Tel Aviv is known for packing in tons of beaches defined by impossibly white sand, picturesque blue water warm enough to swim in and quite a decent assortment of perfected bronzed torsos. Of all of them, Frishman Beach is a nice one to start off with: it’s pretty wide, and the entry to the water is super shallow, making it pretty easy to just keep dipping in and out when the sun gets a little too crazy. It’s also right in front of a promenade full of bars and cafes, and if you’re feeling a little lazy to walk there even though it takes like three minutes, you can still nurse a lil’ cocktail with your suntan session at the eatery that’s right on the beach. There’s also beach Volleyball courts, if you’re the active type (we’re not, but good for you!)

Glace vanille chocolat sauce caramel #crème #telaviv #dizengoff

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People watch from behind gigantic cream cones at Dizengoff Square

Located in the centre of the city, Dizengoff Boulevard is probably Tel Aviv’s most famous promenade; in its heyday, it was even described as the Champs Elysées of Tel Aviv. Since the 70s, however, development came to a bit of a standstill until recent years, which saw an influx of young entrepreneurs pepper the street with coffee shops, bars, nightclubs, designer boutiques and, yes, ice cream parlours. Out of all the shops serving up ice cold creamy goodness, the standout is Crème: a very millennial pink-themed spot serving up classic flavours like strawberry and vanilla, but serving them up super, super well. You can also have cake and candy and stuff and even put meringue on your ice cream (!!!), so yeah, the Instagram potential is high AF. So grab yourself a cone the size of your head, settle into a chair and spy on all the people from Dizengoff Square as you devour one ice cream (or a few, no judgement.)

Hit the curbs at Gold Spot aka Dubnov Park

Nestled behind the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, Dubnov Park (or Dubnow Garden) is a staple public slice of greenery and chill-worthy architecture in Tel Aviv. However, it’s also become a go-to spot for the city’s skaters: with perfect brick ground and nice ledges all around, it draws crowds of skaters pretty much all the time a.k.a. you should probably go here to meet people if you’re traveling. Good times!

Wanna go back to Israel and these awesome chicks 🇮🇱❤️💯

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Eat hipster food, dance to klezmer music and feel magical at Salon Romano

Behind a completely nondescript door in the centre of the city exists Salon Romano: a restaurant/night club set in a sprawling courtyard with plants cascading off the balcony and live bands playing Klezmer music (traditional and energetic Jewish music). The upstairs area hosts a restaurant serving locally-sourced, inventive food that harkens to Berlin style, while downstairs the courtyard is absolutely stuffed with people dancing and drinking. You can get decent music and tasty food pretty much anywhere in Tel Aviv, but it’s the atmosphere of Salon Romano that makes it truly magical: with twinkling lights, bustling crowds and infectious energy that lasts all night, this is the place you need to go to if you’re looking for that one cool thing to tell all your friends about.

Slab a big ol’ slice of cheese on your night out at kitschy but awesome Atlanta Club Night

Alright, so heavy trap music by the likes of 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane isn’t exactly classically Israeli—which makes it all the more fun to get rowdy to in mediterranean settings. Enter Atlanta Club Night: a Thursday night staple in the city that blasts kitschy trap masterpieces all night, serves overpriced but lethal drinks and features club-goers whose fresh faces will definitely make you feel old getting buck on the dance floor. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon a night entirely devoted to blasting songs by specific trap auteurs like Future—buuuuut you probably won’t be lucky enough to avoid the headache the next day, just saying.

#food #foodie #pasta #sweetpotato #italinfood #ilovetoeat #like4like

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Hit up local classic Pasta Basta for aaaaaaall the carbs

Maybe you don’t want to sit at a fancy-shmancy restaurant, and maybe you’re not into spending three hours eating yet again. Simple stuff is good, too. If that’s the case, hit up Pasta Basta: an Israeli chain of build-your-own-pasta that populates the country’s major cities and has gained legendary status amongst locals. With a mix of Italian and Israeli influences in the cuisine, you can do classic tomato sauce or more unusual coconut curry; you can load up your pasta with all sorts of fresh veg, or you can go for smoked salmon. Like, even if you’re not a pasta person, just try resisting the lure of the aroma wafting out the windows post-party at 1 midnight. Bet you’re gonna cave, girl.

Photo via Time Out

Up your fashion game big time at Razili

Considered one of Israel’s most unique stores, Razili is basically the hub for progressive Israeli fashion design. Housing emerging independent labels, established classic ones as well as international brands with particularly finessed aesthetics, Razili is a meticulously curated oasis of styles and tastes that’ll defs catch your eye. Whether you’re in the mood for stumbling upon a one-of-a-kind kimono or picking up some sick streetwear, a stroll inside this place will definitely have you covered. PS their range of brands is pretty impressive – you’ve got adidas alongside maison margeila, for example – so you’re likely to find something uh-may-zing without blowing your budget.

Finally learn how to salsa dance at Alma de Cuba

Judging by the swarms of crowds Alma de Cuba seems to attract, the self-proclaimed “Best Latin Party in Israel” may very well live up to its name. With decidedly Latin-influenced cocktails, crowds of people ferociously salsa dancing and infectious Latin music including reggaeton and EDM remixes here and there, Alma de Cuba is the real deal. It’s the first and only Cuban bar in Israel, which means all the Latin expats living in Israel usually flock there for a long night of dancing, dining and drinking. ‘Cause this is Tel Aviv, and no party’s a party without some food: if you get peckish after teaching your feet to step in time to do some salsa, they serve up some sick seafood for you to snack on.

Too much? Or not enough?

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Channel your inner Hemingway over a mediterranean feast at The Old Man and the Sea

By now you’ll probably be into dosing yourself with olive oil and tabbouleh for dinner, so head down to Jaffa Port to stuff your face with awe-inspiringly good mediterranean food at The Old Man and the Sea. Named after Hemingway’s 1952 novel of the same title, it’s a roomy establishment literally on the sea—which, by the way, is a view that goes quite well indeed with the gallons of fresh lemonade you’ll be drinking. They offer starters, mains and desserts but honestly? By the time you make it through the starters including myriads of citrusy, herbed and vibrant veggie-packed salads and are done smearing your crackling pita bread with thick globs of garlicky hummus, you’ll be more than full. That said, be valiant and brace yourself for trying at least some of the main course; the fish is amazing.