Tel Aviv is not only one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations as reflected in all of the major polls and surveys, it also offers its visitors a plethora of nature attractions right in the heart of the city. Primary among these would be the Yarkon Park. Many have dubbed this Tel Aviv’s “Central Park”. Some have even claimed that it is second only to the beach as an urban retreat within the Tel Aviv Metropolitan area.
This lush urban park, dissected by the Yarkon River, attracts some 16 million visitors annually. It is a vast recreational area that spans some 3,500 dunams. Visitors will enjoy a wide variety of sights and activities. It stretches all the way from the plains of Ramat Gan, forming a significant section of the old northern quarter of Tel Aviv, and eventually merging into the Reading Estuary. The park is wide in the East and narrows as it extends towards the sea.
This well-groomed and meticulously clean park boasts extensive lawns and botanical gardens as well as sports facilities along with an aviary and a water park interspersed with rivers, inlets, creeks and lakes. You will constantly experience pleasant surprises as you enjoy fresh vistas at every turn.
It all began in 1969 when the planning process took wing, and the park was officially opened by the Tel Aviv Municipality in 1973, and its official name became Ganei Yehoshua, in honor of Tel Aviv’s Mayor from 1969-1974, Yehoshua Rabinovich.
The park is roughly divided into six interwoven gardens, some of which honor the fallen as well as a cactus, tropical and rock gardens. The rock garden is a true landmark and represents one of the largest examples of such a construct extent in the world today. Visitors to the rock garden will gain knowledge about Israel’s complex geological diversity. The garden spans a 10-acre space and includes some 3,500 species of plants, many of which are rare cacti. The Tropical garden is truly majestic with its wood plank walkway which dips and rises right on the banks of the Yarkon River. Some claim that pollution has taken its toll, but efforts have been made to keep things clean, and the huge abundance of biodiversity observed in the area supports this claim.
As mentioned above, the River runs right through the park and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. This tributary area marks the northern border of the Tel Aviv Port, one of the city’s major entertainment, and tourism centers featuring waterfront restaurants, bars, and cafes.
As mentioned above, the activities and attractions are quite varied and include paddle boat rental, pony riding, low horsepower boat rentals, as well as a visit to the legendary Safari. For the more adventurous, there are also small sailboats for rent, as well as kayaks. Visitors can also enjoy a round of mini golf on the northern shore, and for those who want to test their climbing skills, there is wall climbing attraction, complete with ropes and safety harnesses. Many people simply bring a ball along and strike up a spontaneous soccer match on one of the many fields available to the public.
On the Northern Shore, close to the Estuary, you will find the Sports Center. Professional crew rowing athletes operate out of this complex, and there is also a tennis court and other sports activities offered through this complex. One of the primary activities chosen by visitors is bicycling. Bikes can be easily rented through the Tel Aviv Municipality’s rental scheme. There is an intricate network of amazing bike paths that wind through the park. Many cyclers begin their ride in the Western park sector near the sea and proceed with dips and rises on intricate bridges. They peddle on towards the lakes at the eastern-most portion of the Park near Ramat Gan and then return on the opposite bank of the river for a complete overview of the park.
Make sure you place the Yarkon Park high up on your bucket list when visiting Tel Aviv. There is a little of something for everyone. Contact Mazada Tours for any further information or assistance that you might require.
By Brent J. Mitchell