Is Tel Aviv expensive? Well, yes, it’s an expensive city, but there are ways to cut the costs and enjoy it on a budget. Here are some insider tips that will help you save money when you visit Tel Aviv.
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Budget accommodation in Tel Aviv
Accommodation in Tel Aviv is generally very expensive. Tel Aviv has a great selection of really beautiful and expensive boutique hotels. These are tempting but not intended for the budget traveller.
The city also has a nice range of hostels, some of which are quite affordable. It’s a good option if you need to secure your accommodation in advance and of course, if you want a community of other travellers to hang out with.
Those who are not into the hostel scene still have a couple of alternatives.
There is a friendly CouchSurfing community in Tel Aviv where you can seek free accommodation.
If you’re out of luck and can’t find a host, search Airbnb for a local flat.
Airbnb is massively popular in Tel Aviv, so you’ll have plenty of choice. To save even more money, use this link to get a discount on your first booking.
Check out my guide: How to Book on Airbnb for easy and detailed step by step instructions
Another option is house sitting – one of the best ways to find free accommodation when you travel.
Find a home to look after while the owners are away, and take care of their pets or plants in exchange for a free place to stay
If you book an Airbnb flat or find a house sitting you’ll get to live more like a local than a tourist and get access to a kitchen so you can cook for yourself. Some hostels in Tel Aviv also provide kitchens for their guests.
This leads us to the next pain point for any budget traveller: Tel Aviv’s restaurants are so expensive!
Food in Tel Aviv on a budget
Generally speaking, food in Tel Aviv isn’t cheap at all, but Middle Eastern food, such as falafel and hummus is the most affordable option.
You will find it sold just about everywhere when you walk around the city. Portions are usually generous, sometimes with a free refill option.
You can easily have a light meal at a very reasonable price at Coffix. It is an innovative chain where each food and drink item is sold at a flat price of 6 shekels.
The food items include sandwiches, pastries, salads, sweets and even small portions of pasta, rice and sushi. Vegan options are marked in the menu.
You can have a cup of coffee for 6 shekels, while the nearby cafe would charge you at least twice as much…
Coffix has many locations across the city, as does a competing chain called Coffizz, that follows the same pricing policy (I often can’t tell them apart).
Just look them up on Google Maps and you’ll find the location closest to you.
If you’re staying at a local flat and have access to a kitchen, you can cook your own meals.
You can buy your groceries at one of traditional markets in Tel Aviv, the most famous of which is the very centrally located Carmel Market, loved by locals and tourists alike.
Insider tip: Visit the markets on Friday afternoon, just before they close down for the weekend, and you’ll get the lowest prices possible.
For more money saving tips, check out my post Travel doesn’t have to be expensive
Getting around in Tel Aviv on a budget
Tel Aviv is a very walkable city. It’s flat and fairly small in size, you can go anywhere by foot and there’s hardly any need for the relatively pricey buses. Taxis are expensive as well, so avoid them.
In fact, sometimes walking or cycling may be faster than public transport, because of the heavy traffic.
There’s a growing network of cycling lanes across the city. The path along the beach is one you must try at least once.
You can rent a city bike, also called a green bike or Tel-O-Fun with a daily or weekly access card (there’s also an annual subscription if you plan to stay longer). There are detailed instructions on the Tel-O-Fun website .
On the downside, pedestrians in Tel Aviv often walk on the bike lanes, and the network of lanes isn’t complete yet, so you’ll sometimes find yourself having to cycle on the road.
So if you’re not in a hurry, I think walking in Tel Aviv is nicer than cycling. The city is quite small and walking is free.
While you can go online at any cafe or restaurant in Tel Aviv, eating out isn’t cheap, so here’s the free alternative: Tel Aviv has a free WiFi network called FREE_TLV.
It’s provided by the municipality and you’ll find it all around the city. It’s an open network (no need for a password) with a high speed connection.
You can get a good signal along the beach and on main streets like Dizengoff, Rothchild and Alenby. If you’re near some cultural institute, you’re likely to get a signal (for example: the Tel Aviv Museum or the National Theatre HaBima).
Free WiFi is also available in some parks, markets and squares.
Free internet is also available at train stations and on trains, with a different Wifi network operated by Israel Railways, which is also open (no password needed) and relatively fast. Intercity buses will often have free and open WiFi too.
If you’re a digital nomad in Tel Aviv or simply looking for a coworking space, check out my guide to free coworking spaces in Tel Aviv.
More free things in Tel Aviv – the beach!
Tel Aviv is sunny most of the time, with a very short and mild winter (from December to February).
This means that the rest of the time, one of the main tourist attractions in Tel Aviv – the beach – is available to enjoy for free.
The many cafes along beach are expensive though, so avoid them and bring your own food and drinks with you.
Tel Aviv nightlife can be free too!
Tel Aviv is known for its incredible nightlife and with a huge selection of bars, clubs and music venues, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Alcohol is expensive in Tel Aviv. I’ve had countless visitors from Western Europe who just wanted to go for a beer and were appalled by the prices.
Make sure you ask for the price before you order your drink, otherwise you may have an unpleasant surprise when you get the bill.
Most bars have a happy hour, usually between 6 or 7pm until 8 or 9pm. You’ll normally get a 1+1 deal on the drinks menu. There’ll be very few people around, because Tel Avivians go out late at night and bars start filling up after 9pm.
Another insider tip: There are some nightlife venues that consistently offer free entry or relatively cheap entry to parties and music gigs, such as:
I suggest you check their links above to see what’s on and plan your night out. Note that most events start a little later than advertised.
To find more free gigs, you can join the Facebook group dedicated to free music shows and check out the page Free Shows in Tel Aviv. These are partly in Hebrew and partly in English, so you may have to use online translation tools and prepare to be amused by the results.
To save you the effort, check out DIY Tel Aviv. It has weekly listings in English of cool events around the city, including some free events.
All in all, if you’re willing to walk, pass on fine dining and fancy hotels, drink less alcohol and do a bit of research online before going out at night, you can visit Tel Aviv on a budget and enjoy a lot of what it has to offer.
If you have more tips on how to make Tel Aviv affordable, share them in the comments below.
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