Experiencing a Saturday in Tel Aviv is a unique and special experience unlike other cities in Israel. Compared to Shabbat in Jerusalem, Saturdays in Tel Aviv are different and offer both visitors and locals an array of activities. With the new launching of public transportation on Friday nights and Saturdays in Israel, travelers can now move more freely around the city. Here are a few fun things to make the most out of a Saturday in Tel Aviv.
Understanding Shabbat in Tel Aviv
Beginning at sundown on Friday and ending at sunset on Saturday, Shabbat signifies the Jewish day of rest. In Israel, religious Jews do not work during Shabbat and many refrain from using electronics, driving, cooking and using the telephone in order to “keep Shabbat”. Shabbat most often commences with a Shabbat dinner where families and friends gather to welcome the start of Shabbat and enjoy a meal together. On Saturday mornings, Jews will attend a morning service at the synagogue as well as a Havdallah ceremony in the evening on Saturday night at the end of Shabbat.
Recently, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality decided to start offering free public buses on Friday nights and Saturdays across the city and surrounding areas. For more information about the buses, see here.
Why is Shabbat in Tel Aviv different?
In Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, most restaurants and shops are closed over Shabbat but in Tel Aviv, this is not the case. In fact, many cafes and bars remain open over Friday and Saturday filling up and busier than regular days of the week. On Saturdays, in Tel Aviv, the beaches are busiest, packed with locals and visitors enjoying the day off. On main streets like Rothschild and neighboring Jaffa, many cafes remain open while places like the Carmel Market will be closed on Saturdays.
Here are a few things to do on a Saturday in Tel Aviv:
Go to an authentic Shabbat Dinner
Since most Israelis enjoy a Shabbat meal with their families, joining a family dinner can be one of the best ways to learn about Shabbat and also enjoy some traditional cooking. Shabbat dinner includes lighting the candles, saying a blessing over wine and eating a special bread called Challah. For those travelers that have local connections, if a Shabbat dinner invitation is extended it is polite to accept and bring a small gift for the host such as wine or flowers. If the home is kosher, always make sure to purchase kosher wine which is clearly labeled in the stores. If it is not possible to visit a local home, many restaurants and hotels offer a Shabbat meal that is open to guests.
Hang out at the beach on Saturday in Tel Aviv
Saturdays in Tel Aviv are the most popular beach days when locals flock to the sandy shores to relax and take in the sea air. In the summer months, the beach is literally packed with locals and tourists alike all soaking up the sun and enjoying the Mediterateranan sea. From Alma Beach to Hilton Beach there are many to choose from. For those who don’t want to swim or lay in the sand, enjoying a leisure walk along the Tayelet (boardwalk) which stretches south to north along the shore makes for a perfect Saturday walk.
Check out Street Art in Tel Aviv
Since the streets are much quieter in Tel Aviv on Saturdays, this is one of the best days to explore the city’s street art scene. From Florentin in South Tel Aviv to Jaffa and all around the city, extensive and impressive graffiti and street art can be found. For those interested in learning more, our Street Art tour covers more information offered on Mondays and Thursdays.
Explore Tel Aviv by bike on Saturday
Tel Aviv is a very bikeable city, but on Saturdays, it is a special experience to explore by bike. Since there are few buses and many people refrain from driving, the streets are much emptier making it more comfortable to bike around. Check out more about biking in Tel Aviv to make the most out of enjoying a Saturday in Tel Aviv by bike.
Enjoy Breakfast in Tel Aviv
What can be better than enjoying a decadent and delicious breakfast on a Saturday? Enjoying it in Tel Aviv! Some of the best breakfasts in Tel Aviv are open on Saturdays making it the perfect time to sleep in a little and enjoy all that the Tel Aviv culinary scene has to offer on a Saturday morning.
Watersports in Tel Aviv
From surfing to kitesurfing, there are many watersports to choose from in Tel Aviv. Windsurfing and stand-up-paddle boards are also popular options which can all be found along the beach in Tel Aviv and a perfect activity on a Saturday.
Walk through Jaffa
Not all shops and restaurants are open in Jaffa however many are busting with energy. Shuk Hapishpishim is closed on Saturday but other small design shops, clothing stores, and home accessory shops are all open along with many bars and cafes. A casual stroll through the old city of Jaffa is a perfect way to spend a Saturday in Tel Aviv.
Explore the streets of Jaffa at night while sampling local Israeli wine on the Wine Tasting by Night in Old Jaffa Tour. The tour will lead you from the German Colony to the Jaffa Flea Market, the beating heart of the area.
Hike Masada and see the sunrise
For those who are early risers, waking up to watch the sunrise while hiking the famous Masada fortress and the snake path is one of the most memorable and unique experiences to have in Israel. Our Masada sunrise tour operates every Saturday along with other Masada tours including a Masada Yoga tour where a yoga session takes place at the top. One of the best activities to enjoy on a Saturday in Tel Aviv while the city is quiet is to visit Masada. One the same note, a visit to the Dead Sea on Saturdays is also a great time to experience this once-in-a-lifetime destination.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Israel’s largest art museum, the extensive Tel Aviv Museum of Art offers an impressive collection of both temporary and permanent exhibits. Beyond the many works of art showcased in the architecturally exciting complex, the Tel Aviv Museum also showcases foreign films at the museum cinema. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art remains open on Saturdays from 10:00 – 16:00
Party in Tel Aviv
Fridays and Saturdays are some of the best nights to go out and party in Tel Aviv. From Pubcrawls to some of the best rooftops in Tel Aviv, and hidden bars there is something for everyone in the city that never sleeps. Thursday nights are also one of the busiest and most popular nights to go out on the town in Tel Aviv!