First time visitors to Israel may be surprised to learn that things pretty much close down on Friday afternoon through to Saturday evening. While not all Israelis are observant Jews, the retail trade for the most part keeps Shabbat. You will, however, find many restaurants and cafes open. Just don’t expect to do any shopping or use public transport. Think of Sydney in the late 1960’s when you had to rush up to Woollies before 12 on a Saturday!
The roads are quiet with less traffic and the din of traffic abates. The streets are less hectic, and everything is slow and peaceful. It might be quiet but if you are into people watching head down to the Shlomo Lahat Promenade which snakes along the Mediterranean coast for a few kilometres from Tel Aviv Port down to Old Jaffa in the south. There is a good choice of eateries and plastic lounge seats on the sand where you can enjoy a beer or glass of wine.
I spent almost an entire day walking along the Promenade last week and had a great time! I enjoyed classical music, dancing, singing and watching people exercise outdoors.
Joggers and power walkers pound down the pavement dodging bike riders. There is a dedicated bike track,although in some of the more narrow sections, it gets a bit tight so you need to keep an eye out.
Surfboards and paddle boards are available for hire, but for an Aussie, the surf was not much to write home about. Speaking of surfing, the sand on the beach is pretty good. Pale gold- grey and small grain size so comfortable on the feet but NOT squeaky! There were people out surfing (in wet suits) but no swimmers. According to the signs, swimming is prohibited.
The Leonardo Art /Hotel building (a disused shopping mall??) which straddles a road has some interesting street art.
The dancing was fascinating. Tel Aviv’s answer to boot scooting. A large group of more than 100 people dancing in a circle to traditional folk tunes. I asked a woman in the crowd and she told me it happens every Saturday. Some come alone, some in groups or with their partner.
There is exercise equipment, a swimming pool and plenty of space for beach volley ball (mostly younger people) or a version of noisy tennis with hard rackets and a small ball (Mostly older people).
These photos show some of the fun from that day. I would give it a 10 out of 10 for a cheap day out depending on how much you stop and eat and drink. Allow yourself three hours at least. Not so great on a cold, windy wet day but you could visit the Museums that are open if the weather is nasty!