Tel Aviv Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Tel Aviv

The second largest metropolis in Israel, Tel Aviv started off as a humble settlement on the outskirts of the ancient city of Jaffa in the then part of Ottoman Syria. On 11 April 1909, 66 Jewish families gathered on a desolate sand dune to parcel out land via lottery organized by the Ahuzat Bayit building society. The lottery used 120 seashells collected on the beach, in which the society members' names were written on the white shells and the plot numbers on the grey shells. A boy drew names from one box of shells and a girl drew plot numbers from the other. As such, this lottery marked the outset of Tel Aviv.

Initially, the settlement was named after the building society that had initiated it – 'Ahuzat Bayit' which means "the Homestead", but a year later it was renamed 'Tel Aviv' (which is, literally, the "Tell of Spring") after Theodor Herzl's 1902 novel, Altneuland ("Old New Land"), the Hebrew edition of which – translated from German – was titled "Tel Aviv". The latter is an adopted name of a Mesopotamian site near the city of Babylon mentioned in Ezekiel, and it symbolizes both ancient legacy and renewal. As such, this name fitted the purpose quite well as it embraced the idea of a renaissance in the ancient Jewish homeland.

In 1917 the Ottomans expelled the residents of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, predominantly the Jews, and it wasn't until the end of World War I that they returned to their homes after the British took over Palestine. Tel Aviv was declared a city in 1934 prompted by its growing population risen dramatically after the Nazis came to power in Germany. Among the new arrivals were many German Jewish architects from the Bauhaus (Modernist) school of architecture, who came to Palestine and successfully adapted the Bauhaus architectural outlook to the local specifications, creating what is now regarded as the largest concentration of the International Style buildings in the world.

Tel Aviv made history in 1948 when the country's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed here the independence of Israel. Designed to become a clean, modern city right from the outset, Tel Aviv was largely inspired by the European cities of Warsaw and Odessa. Fueled by the immigration of refugees, mostly Jewish, who were drawn to Tel Aviv by its comforts, such as electricity, water, cleanliness, fairly good schools, busy social- and nightlife with lots of eateries and entertainment, the population of Tel Aviv soon outpaced that of Jaffa and in 1950, two years after the Declaration of Independence, Tel Aviv and Jaffa were merged into one.

In 2003 Tel Aviv's White City was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the official capital of Israel is a very popular tourist destination renowned for its liberal way of life. To see whether you fit in here or not, take this self-guided tour and explore this marvel of a city risen from the sand at your own pace.
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Tel Aviv Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Tel Aviv Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Israel » Tel Aviv (See other walking tours in Tel Aviv)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: max
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Independence Hall
  • Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall
  • Carmel Market
  • Reuven Rubin House Museum
  • Bet Bialik House Museum
  • Dizengoff Circus
  • Bauhaus Center
  • Ben-Gurion House
  • Tel Aviv Marina
1
Independence Hall

1) Independence Hall (must see)

Independence Hall is perhaps the most famous tourist sight in Tel Aviv. This place is where the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, read the Proclamation of Independence on the 14th of May 1948 at 4pm. Previously known as the Dizengoff Hall, the building has been preserved exactly as it was that day.

Upon entry, you will find the draft of that Proclamation document on display, along with the pictures of those who were present at that historic event. Also on the premises, on the first floor, there is the Bible Museum. At the end of the visit, guests may sing the Israeli national anthem – the Hatikvah ("Hope") based on a 19th-century Jewish poem – just like Israel's founding fathers did on the day their nation emerged on the political map.

Why You Should Visit:
A great place to learn about the events leading up to the Declaration of the State of Israel.

Tip:
Be sure to make advance reservations and join a group tour, or at least to watch a video presentation if you do not have a guide.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 9am-5pm; Fri: 9am-2pm
2
Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall

2) Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall (must see)

A visit to the Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall on a trip to Tel Aviv is a must. This vibrant and lively open air market is located in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Here you can shop to your heart’s content for attractive handicrafts, souvenirs and trinkets, whilst simultaneously enjoying the pantomime, music shows and other street performances.

The mall abounds in trendy cafes, where visitors can relax and soak up the unique atmosphere, and it also plays a regular host to the annual arts and crafts fairs in addition to housing, twice a week, the display of ceramics, jewelry and home decor. The mall's annual fair is world famous and attracts thousands of tourists with its vibrant variety of craftsmen, artists, materials, colors and enticing fragrances.

With its Bohemian setting, the Nachalat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall reflects the very essence of Tel Aviv's culture. Other than finding exquisite handmade items crafted to perfection, here you can also spice up your vacation by having insight into your future, written in the lines of your hand or hidden in the coffee grounds sunk to the bottom of the Turkish brew cup, with the help of a palm or coffee ground reader.

This treasure trove of trinkets, arts and crafts is open on Tuesdays at 10 am - 5 pm, or Fridays at 10 am - 4:30 pm.
3
Carmel Market

3) Carmel Market (must see)

Amid an array of exciting activities a tourist can engage in in Tel Aviv, there is a great choice of shopping opportunities as well. Visiting Tel Aviv's markets is one of the best ways to find great bargains much as to have a great time. The Carmel Market, otherwise known as the “Shuk Ha’Carmel”, found at Sheinkin Street and the intersection of King George and Allenby Street, is one such place.

Featuring a line of colorful stalls stretched along the sides of a narrow alley, it offers a wide variety of exotic spices, dry fruits, olives, pastry and bread proudly presented by vendors. Citizens of Tel Aviv frequent this market to purchase fresh produce like fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and cheese. Apart from that, there is also footwear and clothing to be found and, if you shop hard enough, you may get a very attractive bargain.

Why You Should Visit:
You can hardly find a more authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere than here anywhere else in Tel Aviv.
Excellent fresh food is in rich supply throughout the market, as well as the nearby streets.

Tip:
Ideal time to come is early morning. Avoid Friday noon when the market is packed beyond belief.
Make sure you don't overspend at the food vendors, as they tend to overcharge.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 8am-8pm; Fri: 8am-3pm
4
Reuven Rubin House Museum

4) Reuven Rubin House Museum

One of the most famous art museums in Tel Aviv, the Reuven Rubin Museum House is the former residence of Reuven Rubin, recognized worldwide as one of the greatest artists of his time. Here the painter had worked and lived with his family from 1946 to 1974. Reuven Rubin was born in Romania and came to study at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Israel in the early 20th century. This property at 14 Bialik Street was built in 1930 and was inaugurated as Rubin's museum in 1983.

The exhibit area is dominated by the ground floor main gallery, featuring a selection of Rubin’s paintings. These are periodically mixed with guest exhibitions as well. The second floor is taken by another gallery attached to a reading room and a library. Rubin's studio on the third floor is preserved exactly as it was during the artist's lifetime. This floor also carries a display of sketches, documents, photographs and other biographical items set to help understand the essence of Rubin as a person.

In the attic, there is a screening of Rubin documentary, while in the basement you will find a children’s play area opening out to a backyard.

Why You Should Visit:
To enjoy a gorgeous profusion of post-impressionism and naive style wrought around the establishment of the state of Israel.
The museum staff are extremely helpful; the audio guide is excellent.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed, Thu: 10am-3pm; Sat: 11am-2pm
5
Bet Bialik House Museum

5) Bet Bialik House Museum (must see)

Haim Nachman Bialik, a Hebrew poet and painter, was a great inspiration to the younger generation of Hebrew poets. A house in which he lived until his death in 1934 is now a famous museum in Tel Aviv. It holds a special place in the hearts of Israelis who flock here to pay homage to the incredibly gifted artist. If you plan on a trip to Tel Aviv, a visit here should not be missed.

The Bet Bialik House is also a major architectural icon renowned for its unique combination of Mideastern and international styles. The museum comprises the poet’s library, dining room and writing room, all preserved exactly the same as they were when the owner still lived here.

The library contains all 94 books written by Bialik, complete with their translations in 28 languages. The collection also includes letters, photographs, paintings and other artifacts showcasing life during the pre-independence period. The museum guides speak Yiddish or Hebrew only. There is, however, a brochure in English. The admission is free.

Why You Should Visit:
A charming place, great for those wanting to see something different from a 'typical' museum.

Tip:
The Bialik House sits on the same block as the Reuven Rubin museum which is yet another lovely house museum showcasing his artwork.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 9am-5pm; Fri-Sat: 10am-2pm
6
Dizengoff Circus

6) Dizengoff Circus

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus art school, which originated in Weimar Germany in 1919, the city of Tel Aviv successfully completed the restoration of Dizengoff Circus – likely the world's only "Bauhaus Piazza" – to its original design created by architect Genia Averbuch. Inaugurated in 1938 and regarded as the White City's traditional center, this place is striking for its simple layout: a round space, surrounded by nearly identical buildings, featuring curvilinear horizontal slit balconies.

Complete with lawns, benches and the renowned Fire and Water sculpture fountain at its center, the simple, elegant architectural language of this beautifully renovated square makes it a paradigm of local modernist architecture. Whenever strolling around it, you will find plenty of locals and tourists of all ages lolling about on the grass, taking a breather on one of the benches or simply using the place as a convenient, traffic-free thoroughfare.

Tip:
Conveniently located at the circle, LA SHUK (open daily: 12 noon – 12 midnight) is a great place to get a feel of Tel-Aviv's ambiance, cuisine, and service. Favorites include sea fish carpaccio and tartar, perfectly cooked fish and seafood flavored with local spices.
7
Bauhaus Center

7) Bauhaus Center (must see)

There is a strong reason why tourists in Tel Aviv do not leave without visiting the famed Bauhaus Center. This center is a dynamic mix of museum, exhibition space and a shop that sells Israeli designs inspired by Bauhaus.

The center was established in 2000 by Dr. Micha Gross, Shlomit Gross and Dr. Asher Ben-Shmuel, and was definitely not one of the randomly conceptualized buildings in Tel Aviv. The very idea of constructing it was to get a public recognition of the “White City” as a unique cultural and architectural site.

The Bauhaus Center is noted for its four intrinsic parts, namely the gallery, the library, the shop and the famed walking tours of the White City. The gallery, alongside permanent collections depicting Tel Aviv’s people, culture, architecture, photography and design, hosts a number of guest exhibits as well. The library features rows of old and new books telling all about the exquisite Bauhaus architecture that has inspired the evolution of Tel Aviv. If you are passionate about architecture and wish to purchase books on the unique Bauhaus styles and designs, you can find them at this center.

Otherwise, you can take advantage of the highly informative guided walks which will take you around the city to some of the stately Bauhaus buildings constructed during the 1930s-40s. Shopping at the Bauhaus can be just as enjoyable, particularly if you are keen on jewelry, Judaica, interior design or fashion artifacts.

Why You Should Visit:
A great place for those interested in architecture, Bauhaus in particular.

Tip:
Fantastic 2-hour walking tour in English starts at 10am every Friday!
After the tour, pop into Cinema Hotel at Dizengoff Square nearby to see its Bauhaus/Art Deco style interior. Highly recommended!

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 10am–7pm; Fri: 10am–2:30pm; Sat: 10am–7:30pm
8
Ben-Gurion House

8) Ben-Gurion House (must see)

The Ben-Gurion House is a single-family dwelling constructed in 1930-31 by engineer David Tuvia, and is located in the very first neighborhood of Tel Aviv, established by Keren Kayemet LeYisrael or the Jewish National Fund. The building enjoys the distinction of being one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tel Aviv, as its first inhabitants were David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, and his wife Paula.

The couple purchased this house for 350 Palestinian Pounds, paid in installments. In 1960 they renovated and expanded the property, making it their permanent home for a long period until they decided to settle down in Sde-Boker. David and Paula lived between the two homes simultaneously all the way until Ben-Gurion’s death in 1973.

The items used by Ben-Gurion and his wife, while in here, are now on display, preserved and accompanied by some newer exhibits and souvenirs added before this house was opened to the general public. Here, you can also find an exhibition of the life and legacy of Ben-Gurion. Many study groups and seminars on a range of issues, both political and social, are hosted here regularly. There is also a library containing over 20,000 books covering different topics in different languages.

Why You Should Visit:
Interesting collection of historic appliances & furniture, lots of souvenirs from major international leaders, plus a phenomenal library.
In the back of the property, there's a short documentary on Ben-Gurion's life showing; a free audio tour of the house is also available.

Tip:
You're supposed to leave your backpack/bag in a small security building before entering.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 8am-5pm; Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun: 8am-3pm; Fri: 8am-1pm; Sat: 11am-2pm
Free admission
9
Tel Aviv Marina

9) Tel Aviv Marina (must see)

In the northern part of Tel Aviv's promenade, overlooking the Mediterranean shore, lies the first and the largest marina in Israel. A notable attraction for those looking for a great coastline vista, this modern place is very well organized and makes one feel like walking on a wooden deck at a yacht exhibition. The marina can hold up to 400 yachts at a time and many proud owners stay right here on their boats.

Other than the boats there are many other points of interest to be found, such as a diving center, a sailing school, a pool, shops and more. South of Hilton hotel, at 181 Hyarkon Street, there is a remarkable piece of architecture, lovingly referred to by the locals as the “Crazy House”, built in 1989 by the French architect Leon Guneyva and featuring a combination of Oriental and Art Nuovo styles.

An ideal place for a stroll, be it in the early morning or late afternoon, the marina is always lively, but never too crowded, and is just as comfortable – even on a hot day – with its charmingly breezy environment. The abundance of good restaurants and bars, complete with the magnificent sunsets (particularly stunning with the yachts in the backdrop), create a romantic appeal. Good food with a great view, what else can you possibly ask for! Alternatively, you can pass the time away watching the leisurely crowd – jogging, cycling, walking with strollers, playing paddle ball, volleyball, or paddle surfing at the beach.

Why You Should Visit:
Ideal place to walk over and have a dinner in one of the restaurants or simply to enjoy the beach view and the man-made breakwater that offers respite from the party of Tel Aviv's coastline.
Beautiful clean beaches and sunsets. Nice coffee shops and playground for kids. Great place for gelato!

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