Tel Aviv with kids is super-easy. We tried two locations for a summer break and loved them both.
Tel Aviv literally sparkles. The glass-clad highrises vie for the Mediterranean sunshine and beam it right back at ya. Usually directly into your eyes as you drive.
But that twinkling skyline is exciting. Coming from the pale and dusty limestone streets of Jerusalem, where division hangs heavy, a day trip to Tel Aviv is like an eight-hour mini-break.
So when we wound up stuck in the holy land for the hottest months of the year (thanks Corona), we opted to decamp to this super-cool city by the sea and soak up some holiday vibes. Twice.
Part one: Boho break in Nachalat Binyamin
First base for our city/beach break was near Carmel Market. Mr. Carmel is a block of super-sleek serviced apartments and hands down the best place we’ve stayed in Israel.
Our two-bed apartment was in a beautifully restored, UNESCO-listed ice cream pink property on a pedestrianised stretch of Nachalat Binyamin. Conveniently placed next door to a fabulous gelato shop, Arte Italian Ice Cream (win!), and with a birds-eye view of the twice-weekly art market (Tuesdays and Fridays).
If only we didn’t have a car to park, it would’ve been perfect.
But it was a ten-minute walk to the beach and we were within stumbling distance of too many lovely cafes and restaurants. Plus you could practically smell the most vibrant street market in town.
A daily wander through the shaded alleyways of Carmel Market was a must for us. It was on our way to the beach after all. And there were cold beers or fresh juices to buy on the way.
Picture: Twice-weekly art market at Nachalat Binyamin
This traditional shuk, or market, is Tel Aviv’s biggest and runs down the narrowest stretch of HaCarmel Street. It’s an assault on the senses and a test of your people-dodging skills. Fresh fruit and vegetables literally spill into the thoroughfare, and brightly coloured clothes, toys—and now masks—hang from every rafter.
Getting lost in the narrow streets of Kerem HaTeimanim was a highlight too. Every day we’d take a different alley from Carmel Market and wander through this old Yemenite area, now home to a mix of uber-cool bars and traditional eateries. The shady side streets are crammed with tiny tables and feel a world away from the blinding highrises.
Family-friendly hipster hangouts
Our favourite spot, though, was just a short mooch down Nachalat Binyamin Street. Bicicletta is a tapas bar and restaurant with a cute garden and relaxed hipster vibe. Our 5yo declared the fish and chips ‘beachy style’ the best she’d ever eaten. Perfectly cooked, soft fresh fish with ever-so-subtle spices. And tonnes of ketchup. Obvs.
Nachalat Binyamin is a pretty, central neighbourhood. It definitely won us over with its quaint streets, boho-meets-hipster vibe, and beautiful, eclectic-style listed buildings. And our first-floor apartment was a stylish retreat from the buzz below; cool and clean and surprisingly quiet.
Check out Mr. Carmel; it’s one of several properties managed by TLV2GO and proof you don’t have to compromise on style to do Tel Aviv with kids.
Part two: Location, location, location in the Old North
After five fabulous days in Tel Aviv, we decided there was only one thing to do; book five more. This time, even closer to the beach.
So we headed to the Old North, somewhere between the Marina and the Old Port. And our not-so-pretty on the outside but super-cool on the inside two-bed apartment was a winner location-wise.
In under ten minutes, we could be on the beach. Unless the 5yo got wind of the awesome play area in Independence Park.
Inside the slightly grubby Bauhaus-style building, the minimalist shine of crisp white walls and cool marble tiles was a joy. A super-chill abode, quite literally, which saved us from the heat and humidity of August in this city.
Shame about the parking. Again. But that’s Tel Aviv. It’s nothing to spend 30 minutes— or more—driving around in search of a parking space.
This part of town has a different feel to the south; the streets between the main thoroughfares are quiet, shady residential areas. Apartments are hidden behind blinds and shutters and cascading pot plants. But there are plenty of places to eat, and our corner of town was breakfast bliss.
Two of our favourites were Benedict, for total breakfast blow-outs (think giant pancake stacks, any variation of eggs Benedict and Israeli-style mini breakfast buffets), and the very cute cafe Under the Tree (fab coffee, croissants and petite but perfect sandwiches). Both are open 24/7, so it doesn’t matter what time you’re rudely awoken.
Beach days are the best days
When we weren’t eating breakfast, we were mainly at the beach; Metzitzim Beach or Gordon Beach. Metzitzim is great for families; sheltered with lots of shallow water. The top end of Gordon Beach is reserved for watersports and is much more exposed – perfect for bodyboarding, but the white water can get a little rough.
If it’s really hot, you might want to try the open-air Gordon Pool, near the marina. Built in the 1950s and restored about a decade ago, the gated complex has an Olympic-sized pool, family pool, and a small splash pool for toddlers. But be warned—the saltwater is COLD! Apparently about 24°C (I don’t believe it), and guaranteed to make you yelp.
Despite the heat, beach days are the best days. But it is a good idea to go later in the day; partly so you can stay for sundowners. There’s nothing like an Aperol spritz, toes in the sand, and a Mediterranean sunset to make you feel the holiday feels. And LaLa Land at Gordon Beach is a great place for all three.
The Old North is definitely an area we’ll come back to. It’s perfect for families and what it lacks in hipster hangouts, it more than makes up for in convenience. And an easy life is a happy life!
We booked our apartment through Plum Guide. They pick and review the best properties from about 25 different sites, so you don’t have to.
Tel Aviv with kids: Our Top Tips
Tel Aviv with kids is perfectly possible. If you love the beach AND the buzz of the city, this is the perfect spot. Read our top tips for a family-friendly summer vacation in this city-by-the-sea.