One of the nicest places to visit in Tel Aviv is the port of Tel Aviv – or Namal Tel Aviv as it’s known in Hebrew. Tearing yourself away from Tel Aviv’s gorgeous beaches can be difficult, but you simply must in order to visit this wonderful old port.
Well, actually not so old when compared with some of the ancient treasures in the Holy Land – the port was founded in the mid 1930s, and quickly flourished into the country’s biggest working port. With a shift to container shipping the port fell into dereliction but Tel Aviv has over the last few years transformed this once social outcast of an area into a place buzzing with culture, leisure, shopping and entertainment options. Options so plentiful you’ll never be at a loss for what to do next.
One of the first things that grabs you about Tel Aviv port is the dramatic wave shaped wooden deck that sprawls along the promenade, complete with a huge sandpit for the kids. A promenade of some 14,000 square meters to hold the throngs of crowds that visit; from family outings with the kids or grandparents during the day to party revelers at night, the area thrives with life.
Port market: The recently opened Indoor Port Market (located at Hangar 12) is a great place to catch some awesome food, including some of Israel’s finest cheeses, wines, and meats. Prices aren’t as cheap as somewhere like Carmel Market, but definitely worth a browse just for the atmosphere. The Market is open from 08:00 to 20:00 every day except Sundays. Also worth catching is the Farmers Market, held every Friday (until 15:00) and located just outside the entrance to the indoor market.
Fridays at the port: Fridays in Tel Aviv are usually buzzing with things to do, and Tel Aviv port is no exception. Check out the markets mentioned above, but also watch out for street performers such as The Human God, an acrobatic entertainer who keeps the masses entertained nearly every Friday (and if he’s not around, there’s always other performers to see). As sunset beckons, you could also join the throngs near the sea who celebrate the coming Sabbath (Shabbat) with song and prayer (not a religious gathering, but if you’re Jewish it might be nice to remind yourself that there is a Shabbat).
Restaurants and cafes: Head to one of the port’s many restaurants to satisfy your hunger. Port dining naturally tends towards upscale eateries such as Mul Yam (voted the fanciest Tel Aviv restaurant of 2011), exactly as you would hope and expect from the place which is one of Tel Aviv’s richest and trendiest areas. What could be more perfect than al fresco dining on sumptuously fresh seafood with the cooling sea breeze blowing through the air? Many of Tel Aviv port’s restaurants also double as excellent cafes, such as Shalvata. We’d suggest taking a look around and stopping at one of the many eateries that take your fancy. But if you are solely hankering for coffee, your needs should be met at one of Israel’s most famous coffee shop chains, Aroma.
Shopping: You won’t be disappointed if you’re in the mood to splash some cash, with many of Israel’s leading clothing chains represented here, including Replay, Castro, Bluebird, and Factory 54, as well as some interesting independent shops located around the port. Be warned: prices aren’t usually on the cheap end of the scale.
Nightlife: As the lights go down on the port area the day time crowds disappear only to be replaced by a different set. Young Tel Avivians and locals alike swarm the port at night in search of the next best party. Tel Aviv port is fast becoming one of the city’s most popular drinking spots and it is easy to see why. Check out Galina Bar at Hangar 19, or the neighboring Uptown dance bar to immerse yourself in the vibrancy of the port’s nightlife. When you are ready for something more lively, make sure TLV, one of Tel Aviv’s most famous clubs is on your itinerary. Alternatively, head down to Hamisbaa (Hangar 13) for some traditional Israeli songs and singalongs, or the adjoining Shablul Jazz for some contemporary Israeli jazz, with concerts every night.
Other things to catch in Tel Aviv port: The Dyada center (www.dyada.co.il), located in the middle of the port boardwalk, where you can let you kids run wild in the play areas as well as enjoy baby swimming classes and pre and post-natal exercise classes, AND Segway tours of the port for an awesome introduction to the sea, the beach, the port and much more besides (www.segwaytlv.co.il). Oh, and of course, the sunsets…
Tel Aviv port is a charming side of the city providing visitors just that little bit more, all in one location. But don’t be disappointed when the port fails to produce any ships as a testament to its past (though there are a number of old fishing boats often anchored). Simply look out across the sea with your latte in hand and watch the sun sparkle on the Mediterranean. This really is how port life should be.