Mapping out Tel Aviv for you. Tips regarding things to do in Tel Aviv, as well as living, staying and eating in this fine city. This blog is written by a young married couple living in Tel Aviv. We have lived in the city for several years and know it really well. Our goal is to help both tourists who are coming to visit Tel Aviv during a short stay and people who live here themselves find the best out of all the things Tel Aviv has to offer.Mapping out Tel Aviv for you. Tips regarding things to do in Tel Aviv, as well as living, staying and eating in this fine city.This blog is written by a young married couple living in Tel Aviv. We have lived in the city for several years and know it really well. Our goal is to help both tourists who are coming to visit Tel Aviv during a short stay and people who live here themselves find the best out of all the things Tel Aviv has to offer.
Getting around Tel AvivOne of the things that may seem very confusing when you first arrive to Tel Aviv is how to actually get around the city. The city is rather large, so walking all over it can be hard, if you want to see a lot. Renting or buying a bicycle is a great option, if you can do that, but if you are not in great shape or visit or stay in Tel Aviv during the summer, that can get rather sweaty too.There is however, a great alternative to regular buses in Tel Aviv, and those are the service cabs, or monit sherut as they are called in Hebrew. These mini buses have specified routes, but pick you off and drop you off where-ever you want along that route. So familiarizing yourself with the routes of the moniot sherut or service cabs, is a great start. If you see that there is a service cab that drives along the route you are interested in, you just stop it whenever you see it (if it has room, it will stop) and tell the driver when you need to get off. The service cabs have limited seating, however, so if they don't stop for you, that's probably why. In central Tel Aviv, the moniot sherut 4 and 5 (which we take regularly ourselves) seem the most popular.There are also service cabs that go to other cities from Tel Aviv as well, such as to Jerusalem, Petach Tikva and Netanya. So you can even use this solution if you are going out of town, something well worth considering if you need a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or something, since most people prefer to sit in these smaller buses when travelling long distances.The price for a monit sherut is supposed to be the same as when you take the bus, but when we are writing this (January 2012), the service cabs are actually a bit cheaper, since the fares of the buses in Tel Aviv just went up, but the service cabs do not seem to have adjusted their prices accordingly.Some of the service cabs even run on Shabat (especially ones going out of town).If you prefer regular buses, however, there are plenty of those as well. Most buses within Tel Aviv are Dan buses, and Dan actually has a English website with some useful information about their buses, so if you are looking for buses in Tel Aviv, we really suggest you check out their site here. When getting out of town, however (like a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, for instance), you will probably take a Egged bus instead. Egged also has some information in English about their buses, which you can find here.The buses can get crowded, especially during rush hour, and sometimes they don't run exactly according to schedule, but they do work rather well. One word of warning though: When taking the bus sometimes you might have to visit the central bus station in Tel Aviv, and that is not always a pleasant experience. It's a rather poorly managed, dirty and confusing place, so if you do not need to go to the bus station, try to avoid it. (It is not dangerous or anything, however, just not that nice looking or easy to find stuff in)There are of course some cabs you can take as well. Cabs in Israel should not be expensive, at least not compared to international prices, but unfortunately some cab drivers may try to take advantage of tourists. So if anything feels weird about the cab driver, just ask to be let out of the cab and get another one. Most cab drivers are okay, even to tourists, but unfortunately we have heard some stories where tourists ended up paying more than they should have.We especially advise against taking a cab right outside the train station at Azrieli Center, we have run in to several rather shady cab drivers there, so the drivers who are waiting for passengers there might not be the best ones in town. If you find yourself in this area, walk a bit further and stop a driving cab (pretty easy to do, most of the time) instead of taking one that is clearly waiting for tourists to come by.Even though scamming tourists IS rather uncommon, it can happen, so here is a list of weird things we have heard of cab drivers in Tel Aviv trying to pull, so that you are aware of them:
- Telling you that the meter doesn't work. If so, just tell them you are not comfortable going with them without a meter and get out. Many times, you will at this point notice that the meter miraculously starts working again!
- Offering you a fixed price instead of using a meter. Sometimes the suggested price might actually be okay, but more often than not, especially when tourists are concerned, you will end up paying a higher price like this. So again, insist on a meter!
- Making you pay full price but taking other passengers in the car as well (and charging them full price too). While some people might not mind sharing a cab, it should at least mean that you get some kind of discount if you do. So insist on that.
- Telling you when you have already started your journey that they cannot drive to your desired destination because of traffic jams or some other reason (usually because they want to stay in an area where they can easily get someone else instead of you). Being dropped off at a different location might not always be a good idea, though, since it can be hard to know how far you have to walk from there. So if you have previously insisted on a meter, just tell them that it is fine and that you want to go all the way to your destination. Suddenly it probably won't be as impossible as they told you!
- Choosing longer routes than necessary. This can be hard to spot if you are new to the city, but try to learn how the surroundings of your apartment/hotel/other location look like as soon as you can, since this will make it easier to notice if something like that is going on.