It is hard to believe that Tel Aviv - this vivacious, sophisticated Mediterranean city - has not yet celebrated its first centenary. Born out of the sands, the modern metropolis of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, when a small group of Jewish families moved from the overcrowded, insanitary and hostile Arab town of Jaffa to a selected desert spot where the construction of Tel Aviv began. Since then, the city has sprung up beside the Mediterranean coast at a dizzying speed - its first-generation residents are as old as the city itself. Younger generations compare their hometown grandly to New York. The ceaseless energy and enterprise, the lively avenues, big squares and buzzing nightlife all excuse this exaggerated comparison.
The initial impression of many visitors upon arrival is that Tel Aviv is brash, soulless and hedonistic. Outlying areas on the approach roads in particular seem tacky and drab, however, those who are willing to explore further than their first impressions cannot fail to be moved by the idealism that has created this largest Jewish city ever to exist.
Above all, Tel Aviv is a beach city. A broad expanse of fine sand extends more than ten kilometers (six miles) along the seashore. City residents pour onto the beach for air, space and relaxation every weekend and at any opportunity during the day.
With its art galleries, flea market, antique shops and restaurants, Tel Aviv is a pleasant place to stroll and relax. Although mentioned several times in the Bible and developed as Jerusalem's principal seaport during Temple times, the old town of Jaffa gives little sense of its long history. Only a small section of Old Jaffa remains today, its lanes and stairways cleaned up and restored beyond recognition and the squalid centre replaced by a park. As well as having a multitude of attractions of its own, Tel Aviv is well-placed as a base for day trips to Jerusalem and Caesarea, while even the Dead Sea and the Galilee are within a two-hour drive of the city.
The ongoing state of affairs in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is volatile and dangerous, and situations are unpredictable, with frequent terrorist bombings and retaliation. It is recommended to take out travel insurance and follow your government's travel advisories.
Passport - Required for citizens of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US.
Visa - Not required for citizens of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US.
Inoculations - None required.
Work Permit - Required for all foreigners planning to work in Israel.
Driving Permit - Required for all those planning to drive. International Drivers' Licenses are recommended, but licenses from many English-speaking countries are considered valid.
Be sure to double-check on entrance requirements at the nearest Israeli embassy or consulate for up-to-date information before departure.
Be sure to photocopy the page of your passport with your photo, passport number, and other identifying information. Also photocopy any visas, travel insurance policies, plane tickets, or traveler's check serial numbers.
If you lose your passport, immediately notify the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate of your home government.
Ben-Gurion Airport receives flights from many major cities worldwide and transfers are easily made by sherut (a van shared by eight passengers).
Temperatures can vary widely in Israel, but even in winter they stay around an average of 50°C, making it a pleasant climate any time of the year. In the summer temperatures can reach highs of 90°C inland and over 110°C by the coast. Even in winter the temperatures stays mild and only gets chilly over the hills.