The first word that likely comes to mind when you think of Israel is “dangerous”. Unfortunately, the country gets a bad rap thanks to media coverage that focuses on conflicts in the Gaza Strip, located on Israel’s southwestern border. However, don’t let that scare you off, because the city of Tel Aviv is actually one of the most underrated travel destinations in the world. Truth be told, it’s probably safer to go there right now than to any major European capital, as homeland security has had decades of experience dealing with threats from its not-so-friendly neighbors. Rest assured, they know what they’re doing.

Travellers in the know have tried to keep a lid on it to maintain Tel Aviv as something of a hipster haven for surfers and startup geeks alike, but word is getting out, with the city being praised as a beach paradise, surfers’ dream, startup hub, and party metropolis to rival the likes of Amsterdam and Barcelona. And as it happens, Cathay Pacific recently launched four weekly flights direct to Tel Aviv. On top of that, El Al Israel Airlines flies direct from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv with almost-daily routes (six times a week), getting you there in just under 12 hours.

It’s definitely not your typical destination, but that makes it all the more exotic as you take on the role of pioneering trailblazer through less-explored frontiers: a sunbathed world of desert winds, Mediterranean waves, and sandstone streets that have borne the weight of civilisation after civilisation for thousands of years. We’ve put together the top 10 reasons to go below — but first some practical information for transportation and accommodation. 

Getting Around

Uber and Gett are the easiest and most convenient ways to get around Tel Aviv. Taxi drivers will sometimes offer a “cheaper” fixed price to shuttle you from point A to B, but we found using the meter more affordable. There’s a train from the airport to the city, and regular buses that shuttle back and forth between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. However, if you want to get to more other places in Israel (and you should), booking tours — from day trips to full sojourns — is the way to go. Unless you’re willing to rent a car (we don’t advise navigating Israel on your own) or a driver, you’re better off casting your lot with reliable operators, such as Abraham Tours. Try their self-guided tours, including those to Caesarea and the Dead Sea, allowing you to explore sites at your own pace without having to worry about transportation.

Where to Stay

If you want to feel the beating heart of Tel Aviv’s city centre — in the midst of the nightlife and business district — stay at Lily and Bloom Hotel. Its Bauhaus design is an ode to the city’s UNESCO-acclaimed architectural Modern Movement, and their rooftop and alfresco terrace make for great spaces to chill out in between all the sightseeing. The boutique Shenkin Hotel, owned and operated by locals, is another option close to Carmel Market and the main thoroughfare of Allenby Street. As a bonus, they have a spa for those who need their pampering while on holiday, and a roof terrace with sun beds for soaking up the rays. 

And now, without further ado, here are our top 10 reasons for putting Tel Aviv on your travel bucket list: