New meets ancient and progressive meets conservative in a completely unique way in Tel Aviv and Old City Jaffa! Known as one of the best beach cities in the world, Tel Aviv attracts an entirely different kind of person than the rest of Israel. But then there’s the Old City of Jaffa, which was the largest port city in ancient Israel. Here are a few things you need to know before you visit Tel Aviv-Jaffa on your trip to Israel and the Holy Land!
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Tel Aviv is a Modern City
No doubt about it–Tel Aviv is a modern, vibrant, progressive city unlike anywhere else in Israel. And it is certainly the opposite of Jerusalem. The difference may give you culture shock at first! You’ll go from seeing people covered from head-to-toe, to people walking around in bikinis on the beach. (Somewhere in the middle is appropriate, too, for your packing purposes!)
Fun fact: While the area that’s now Tel Aviv does not have ancient roots, it is historic in the fact that it was the first Hebrew city in modern history, established in 1909.
Dress to impress: What to Pack for Your Trip to Israel and the Holy Land
Old City Jaffa is Home to Biblical Sites
Tel Aviv may be new, but Jaffa is truly old. Jaffa Port is often referred to as Joppa in the Bible, and Joppa is the port from which Jonah set out to avoid going to Nineveh. We all know how that “whale of a tale” turned out!
But what you may not realize is that Peter lived in the house of Simon the Tanner, who was in Jaffa/Joppa. Why does that matter? Because this is the same house where Peter had his dream in Acts 10 that led him to realize Christianity was for all, not just the Jews. This is also the same home where Peter raised Tabitha (aka Dorcas) from the dead in Acts 9. Don’t miss the biblical sites in Old City Jaffa!
This is the Place to Be for Shabbat
If you’re in most of Israel during Shabbat (Friday evening through Saturday), you might have a hard time finding a restaurant that’s open, or you might even be disappointed that a site you wanted to visit is closed! This is because Shabbat happens every week for the practicing Jews around the world, but especially here in Israel.
But Tel Aviv-Jaffa is different. There are more secular and non-practicing Jews living here than elsewhere in the country, so it’s a little easier to find restaurants and businesses that are open on the weekend. If you can, plan your trip around being in Tel Aviv-Jaffa for Shabbat.
Also read: 5 Things to Know Before You Visit Jerusalem
Come for the Food, Stay for the Sunsets
I was only in Tel Aviv Jaffa for a short time, but I saw some of the best sunset views here. There’s just something about a sunset over the Mediterranean Sea that gets me! Try to get a dinner reservation with a view that coincides with the sunset, or just be out walking around at sunset time. You’ll love it!
There are Beaches Here!
This one surprises first-time visitors! When you think of the Middle East, you often think of desert and desolation, right? Seeing sand dunes for miles comes to mind. But that’s not entirely true of the Middle East, and it’s certainly not true of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. A huge portion of Israel meets the Mediterranean up and down the coastline, and that means you’ll get to experience Mediterranean beaches, surfing, paddle boarding, paragliding, etc. Bring your bathing suit!
And don’t forget to check out All the Reasons Why You Need to Go to Israel and Palestine with Elevation Journeys!
Want more? Take a look at How to Prepare for Your First Trip to Israel and Palestine, and my dedicated Israel and Palestine Page!
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