Rain in Tel Aviv is rare, let alone thunderstorms and strong winds, but it happens – and there’s plenty to do in the city that never stops even when it’s pouring. Here are six suggestions to help you get the best out of your stay, even in Tel Aviv’s version of winter weather.
1. High-end erudition and shopping in Ramat Aviv
One stop brings you three museums: the Palmach Museum, the Eretz Israel Museum and the Rabin Center, where you can get in a full day’s activities and more with one drive. Just a short distance away is a fourth celebrated institution: the Museum of the Jewish People – formerly the Diaspora Museum, an easy stroll from the first three, with an umbrella.
Cooking soup in a restaurant in Kerem HaTeimanim. You can have food delivered from almost any restaurant. Photo by Tali Mayer
For a quality lunch break, Anina, the Italian restaurant at the entrance to the Eretz Israel Museum, is a step above the usual museum sandwich and snack bar. And in the Rabin Center, you can have your coffee overlooking a view of Tel Aviv. And if you get “museumed out” and want to go shopping or just sit and people-watch, the Ramat Aviv Mall, one of the most high-end malls in the country, is a short drive away.
A map of Tel Aviv-Jaffa
2. Get to know Tel Aviv like a book
Bad weather is an excellent excuse to get to know the local libraries, which offer a vast selection of books, magazines and movies. Library Tel Aviv, on the 11th floor of the Shalom Meir Tower (9 Ahad Ha’am St.) offers both space to read and work and a view of the city. The library was renovated and relaunched in 2011 to add working facilities for local entrepreneurs, and also hosts special networking events. Don’t forget to bring your laptop if you want to blend in.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art Library. Photo by Eli Dassa
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art Library has the biggest collection of art literature in the country and is the most beautiful library in the city. It offers over 30,000 art and design books on two floors with a clean, inspiring interior design that fosters calm and concentration.
The Beit Ariela library, at 25 Shaul Hamelech St., is run by the municipality. In addition to the main reading hall, the city says, there are specialist libraries on different subjects such as dance, music, law and more.
3. Shop till you drip-drop
Tel Aviv’s many malls have everything for a cold, hungry tourist in urgent need of a new coat and dry socks. All also have anchor tenants – supermarkets and banks.
Dizengoff Center, centrally located on the corner of King George and Dizengoff streets, is the biggest and most famous. Here you can find brands like Zara, Celio, American Apparel, L’Occitane, Apple and Israeli fashion chains such as Fox and Castro, as well as bookstores, gourmet and organic food shops, shoe stores and much more. There are two gyms, numerous restaurants and the “Lev” multiplex cinema, which screens quality films. There’s even a 24/7 indoor pool on the roof, which charges entrance fees.
On Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings to mid-afternoon, Dizengoff Center hosts a food fair, where you can stand around or find a seat somewhere and eat a snack or hearty hot meal, from a wide range of Israeli cuisines.
The Azrieli Center, a big and busy mall adjacent to the Shalom railway station. Photo by David Bachar
Another option is the Azrieli Center, a big and busy mall adjacent to the Hashalom railway station and the Azrieli towers. Here you can find brands like Gap, H&M, Nike and McGregor, as well as local chains, a wide selection of shops and a food court with a wide selection of eateries. This place is not for the faint-hearted: You need to climb hanging escalators to get from place to place, use transparent elevators and avoid loud shoppers.
The Ramat Aviv mall is considered to be among the most high-end in Israel, featuring shops and restaurants.
Kenyon Ayalon was the first mall in Israel, and is located in Ramat Gan. It features the Yes Planet cinema complex, which screens all the latest films, and for extra money you can opt for an IMAX screening or VIP service that includes a special lobby before the film with free food and beverages, and bigger, comfy seats.
4. Stay in – and keep things in order
Or you might prefer to stay at the hotel tucked up in a duvet, watching the rain and mothball-sized hailstones beat on the windows. But staying in bed doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the best of Tel Aviv cuisine. Almost all restaurants offer deliveries to most parts of the city, and so do many grocery stores (including organic ones), flower shops and even alcohol stores. Local television has a vast range of English-language programming: Some kiddie shows may be dubbed into Hebrew but the rest is shown in the original language with subtitles.
Tel Aviv's Ayalon River and highway flooded Photo by Moti Milrod
5. Catch a movie
Tel Aviv has a lot of movie complexes, one of the more classic ones being the Cinematheque. The cultural center for film at 2, Shprintzak St. has a rich program of movies daily, most with English subtitles, and boasts a small cinema library and an indoor café. Other cinema complexes include “Rav Chen” on Dizengoff Square, “Gat” near Rabin Square and “Lev” in Dizengoff Center. If you have a car you might want to drive to the Cinema City complex at the Glilot junction just north of the city, where you can find almost all the movies that currently play in cinemas in Israel. In all cases, you stand warned that the price of popcorn is outrageous.
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Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Has a rich program of movies daily. Photo by Moti Milrod
With writing by Allison Kaplan Sommer.