“Tel Aviv” and “budget” are not often found in the same sentence. Known as one of the world’s most expensive cities, this Middle Eastern city is generally not a wallet-friendly destination. With everything from the price of hotels to a glass of beer costing more than the average European getaway, it can seem tricky to make a vacation in Tel Aviv work according to your own budget. However, with a few tips and tricks from our local experts, you can enjoy a holiday in Tel Aviv that doesn’t break the bank. Here are our top tips for seeing Tel Aviv on a budget.
Visit the markets
The Carmel Market lies at the heart of Tel Aviv and a few minutes walk from the sea. Here you’ll find everything from popular souvenirs, food shops, and tons of fresh local produce. While simply walking around this constantly-bustling market is entertainment in itself, visitors can snag some great deals here. Of course, that all depends on how much you’re willing to bargain. Twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays, there is also a local crafts fair right next to the Carmel Market on Nachlat Binyamin. Here you’ll find artisans from all over Israel coming to sell their work. You can find some truly unique gifts here that won’t break the bank.
Another great place for shopping in Tel Aviv on a budget is the Shuk Hapishpishim in Jaffa. This market is more for recycled second-hand items, and you’ll see a lot of locals shopping around to furnish their apartments. However, there are also some great vintage finds like jewelry and clothes.
Enjoy the street food
There are tons of chef restaurants to sample if your wallet allows. However, if you’re visiting Tel Aviv on a budget, then the local street food will do just as well to satisfy your tastebuds, if not better! Typical Israeli foods like falafel, sabich, shawarma, or a bowl of hummus typically cost between 15-40 shekels, making these lunches filling and good for those wishing to save on the cost of fine dining. The markets are also a great place to try both Israeli food and dishes from around the world that offer a Mediterranean twist. Not only are foods like falafel, sabich, or shawarma budget friendly, but having your food stuffed into a pita means that you can take it with you to continue sightseeing so that you don’t miss a beat!
Use public transportation
The public transportation in Tel Aviv is a great way to get around. Between buses, trains, and shared taxis, there is virtually no area of the city that isn’t covered. You can buy a bus pass, called a Rav Kav card in many grocery stores or pharmacies, fill it up with your desired amount, and use the bus system to tour the entire city. No need to rent a car and sit in traffic, there are buses that go everywhere. You can also use the train to go from the south of the city to the north in just a few minutes. That way, you can explore different neighborhoods and attractions, like Hayarkon Park, in no time at all.
It is important to know though, that public transportation does not operate on Shabbat, Friday afternoons until Saturday night. However, there are still shared taxis available that pick up the slack for some major bus routes. Simply flag one down when you see it, jump in, pay the driver, and let him know when you want to get off. Share taxis, otherwise known as a Monit Sherut, are an absolutely necessity if you’re visiting Tel Aviv on a budget.
Self-guided tour with bikes & scooters
If riding in buses or taxis isn’t your thing, not to worry. You’re still not forced to take an expensive taxi or rent a car. There are tons of shared low-cost transportation options in Tel Aviv. If you want to bike around the city, then bicycles from Tel-o-Fun or Mobike can be easily rented from your phone for as long as you want to use them. Otherwise, there are tons of electric scooter companies that have recently set up shop in the city. You’ll find tons of Bird, Wind, and Lime scooters all over Tel Aviv, and even more people using them to get around! Using one is as easy as downloading the app. Then you can easily explore the city at your own pace and budget with the wind in your hair.
Did someone say happy hour?
Bar hopping in Tel Aviv isn’t the cheapest. But, if you go to the right places at the right times, you can have a great night that won’t leave your wallet feeling too light. During the week, a lot of bars have great happy hour specials where you can get deals on both drinks and food. Check out the bars on Dizengoff street, such as Spicehaus. You can get great cocktails at a 2 for 1 price and a discounted food menu usually until around 8:30pm. Salon Berlin is another great option, with a happy hour that extends until 1am. Many bars in Tel Aviv have outdoor seating. It’s great for people watching, enjoying the beautiful evening weather, and mingling with locals.
While the city has some great hotel chains and boutique hotels, they’re not always the best if you’re trying to see Tel Aviv on a budget. Hostels have become a popular choice. Depending on the season, you can get a bed for around $25 a night. Over the last few years, the hostels in Tel Aviv have become a lot higher quality, so even the most weary traveler will find it to be a pleasant stay. There are also a ton of Airbnb options so that you can feel like a local in your own Tel Aviv apartment.
Hang by the beach
Lastly, if there’s anything that you should be doing when visiting, it’s the beach. If you’re here visiting Tel Aviv on a budget, there’s no better way to do it than by relaxing by the water. You can rent a beach chair and umbrella for around 20 shekels. Or you can simply bring a towel and some watermelon and enjoy the Mediterranean sun and waves. On the weekends, walking down the tayelet (boardwalk) is a hectic but enjoyable experience. You’ll likely see a variety of different street performances in a stretch of only a couple kilometeres.
Tel Aviv is an expensive city. If you know where to go and when, you can make your visit here a lot more budget-friendly. What you save in accommodation, food, and shopping, can easily go towards fun day trips to get you out of the city for a few hours. Check out our amazing day trips from Tel Aviv and start planning your next vacation with Mazada Tours!