Exploring Herzliya

Just north of Tel Aviv is one of Israel's ritziest cities, home to two shopping malls, culinary hot spots and sparkling beaches.

This week, the first Israeli branch of the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain opened at the Herzliya marina, affording a perfect opportunity to survey one of the richest cities in Israel. Herzliya is divided into two parts: Herzliya Pituach, which lies along the beach and is home to multimillionaires living in private villas, and the city of Herzliya, lying to the east and inhabited by a mix of middle-class Israelis. Herzliya, generally speaking, is considered a very safe and clean city.

The new Ritz-Carlton is adjacent to the Arena Mall, a shopping center that overlooks hundreds of yachts docking at the marina. Arena Mall is home to familiar fashion chains, including the Gap, Topshop and Topman, the kids’ clothing chain epk, a large outlet of the luxury-brands chain Factory 54, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. As far as food and drink go, there’s an Irish pub, Murphy’s, and various other restaurants, all brimming with diners during the weekend. The marina itself is a scenic site, where you can take a leisurely stroll and gaze out at the Mediterranean.

Herzliya is home to another large shopping mall, the Seven Stars Mall (www.7star.co.il), that's located near the city's train station and is popular with the locals. There you can find chains such as H&M, Clarks shoes, Nautica and MAC cosmetics.

Herzliya is considered a culinary hot spot second only to Tel Aviv, with an assortment of quality restaurants located mostly in the city’s industrial area. There's pretty much every type of food you can think of there: Italian restaurant Joya (Aryeh Shenkar 9), the brasserie Sebastian (Maskit 33), the Japanese restaurant Kyoto (Aryeh Shenkar 7), the seafood restaurant On the Water (Ramat Yam 4, the Sharon Beach), the Asian restaurant Zozobra (Aryeh Shenkar 7) and the hamburger chain Moses (Aryeh Shenkar 11). The area also offers a large selection of nightclubs and bars, frequented mostly by a younger crowd.

If sea and sun are more your thing than shopping and eating, the Herzliya coast is divided into a number of beaches, and a walk along the coastline is pleasant, even in the winter months when it’s too cold to swim in the sea. The most popular beaches are Dabush, Acadia and Sharon (all of which have cafes and restaurants on site). But the most interesting beaches are further north: the Sidna Ali beach, beneath the Nof Yam neighborhood, is truly unique. On a cliff overlooking the beach are the Sidna Ali Mosque and an ancient Muslim graveyard. Not far from there is the Apollonia beach, which is wedged between the ruins of the ancient city of Apollonia and the sea -- and is only accessible by foot. The sandstone cliffs lining the beach are lovely but fragile: It is best not to sunbathe right beneath the cliffs, as rocks are known to fall there. Finally, there is a nudist beach near Apollonia as well, if that's more your style.

Avshalom Halutz
Moshe Gilad
David Bachar