IS­RAEL Why Tel Aviv is tak­ing off

The launch of low-cost flights make Is­rael an even more al­lur­ing des­ti­na­tion says Anthea Ger­rie

The Jewish Chronicle - - Travel -

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

PHO­TOS: ANTHEA GER­RIE

Tel Aviv: the buzzy, bustling sea­side city is now af­ford­able for a week­end break in the sun

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