For International travelers who are not accustomed to Jewish tradition, you may not be familiar with Shabbat. It is A Jewish holy day or a day of rest. From Sundown Friday (approx 3pm) til Saturday approx 5/6pm (sometimes later), places close operation. Many businesses, services, and restaurants are unavailable including transport.
Whilst Tel Aviv is less affected than Jerusalem, you need to do your research. The hotels are mostly ok, some restaurants are open and Uber (in a limited nature). Jaffa has more options open. But don’t plan a full day of activities, be prepared.
So what can you do? Have a look at some tips below to fill your time.
If you’re staying in a larger hotel, they are mostly unaffected. Use Shabbat days to chill in your hotel, use the facilities and it’s easy enough to eat within your hotel. If you want a spa treatment, book ahead since many people have the same idea!
Arrange a tour
It’s the perfect time to get on a tour to Jordan, Masada and other sites close by. Check out Tourist Israel as a reputable site to use.
The ancient port city of Jaffa, just 20 mins walk down the promenade from central Tel Aviv has alot open on Shabbat. It is a good place to walk around as it’s a beautiful old city right on the beach. There’s also a free walking tour from the Jaffa clock tower running Saturdays at 11 am.
You’ll find a number of places to eat and drink that are open. A great seafood restaurant that offers 20 free sides is “Old man and the Sea”.
Check out the graffiti
Graffiti is all around Tel Aviv and you can easily see it. You can do a little walk and find some amazing art. Or you can even hire a bike or street scooter.
Check out the ‘White City’ or Bauhaus architecture in the city between Rothschild, Allenby and Neve Tzedek.
Sarona Market is also open and is a cool place to visit in Tel Aviv. It is a covered market and a meeting hub full of food stores selling meats, cheeses, breads, alcohol and also small eateries with Israel food, Japanese cuisine, pizza, pasta and more. We tried some great food here. It’s also ideal to visit if it’s raining since it’s indoors. A few cafes in the complex too like the ever popular Benedict is there.
Tel Aviv is right on the beach, so if it’s nice weather, head to the beach and relax.
Make Shabbat your day to work out. Head to Space Fix – HaYarkon St 75, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Keep in mind there’s narrower hours.
Public transport; buses and trains don’t run on Shabbat. You can use taxis and sherut (shared taxis) but you may have to wait. Use the Uber or Gett app. You don’t want to really be flying in or out of the airport on Shabbat.
Do you research to find places open for a meal.
We loved eating at Landwer cafe, part of a cafe chain that has a number of stores. They had an all day menu offering breakfast and coffee, brunch, salads, dinner and even wine. We ordered Israeli breakfasts, complete with omelette (including a vegan one), spreads, granola and a few bread rolls.
La Shuk is open on Shabbat and you can get a top meal there in central Tel Aviv. Mediterranean and middle eastern foods. Not cheap but the food is quality. We thoroughly recommend you visit, but do be sure to book since it was super busy.
We hope this helps you to find some activities to do!
For more details, this site is also helpful: