ISRAEL Why Tel Aviv is taking off
The launch of low-cost flights make Israel an even more alluring destination says Anthea Gerrie
THE ADVENT t hi s month of low-cost flights from the UK to Tel Aviv marks a new chapter in I s r a e l ’ s tourism fortunes. It should spur whole new groups of travellers to discover this buzzy metropolis at the apex of three continents while rejuvenating the traditional markets and whetting everyone’s appetite for more of a larger-than-life country which it is now possible to visit little and often in digestible bites.
Jews who have not visited for 20 or 30 years, those who go regularly but only beat the same well-trodden path and, especially, those who have never been at all, are now being offered return flights of £159.98 — half the price of New York, less even than Greece or southern Spain — and for Manchesterbased travellers, to whom Thomsonfly is offering the same thrice-weekly, flydirect deal, a downright mitzvah.
At this price Tel Aviv becomes a viable destination for a long-weekend city break. And what a fine city break destination it is, with its beach life, buzzy restaurants and bars, worldclass museums and architecture and eclectic shopping — think Barcelona with hummus and flip-flops.
Extend that three-day weekend to five and you could throw in Jerusalem (now only 45 minutes away by new toll road), or a Med resort like Herzliya or Netanya. Make it a week and you could do Dead Sea spas and Masada or even bask a night or two in Eilat.
While fares remain low and sterling buying more than eight shekels to the pound, there has never been a better time to catch up with the fine changes — in quality of hotels, food, service, new museums and transport infrastructure — which have transformed Israel’s tourist offering over the past decade.
Although they surely meant to describe Tel Aviv as “the city that never sleeps” in their advertising, Thomsonfly were not inaccurate in calling it “the city that never stops”…building and improving, that is.
What many of us who once rushed past Tel Aviv to somewhere more historic, more relaxing or more exciting remember as a scruffy, noisy, slightly nondesript conurbation will today find Tel Aviv transformed into a worldclass metropolis awash with buzz and, in many once-neglected parts, a beauty you could not see until the city washed its face properly. That transformation
Tel Aviv: the buzzy, bustling seaside city is now affordable for a weekend break in the sun