Is Tel Aviv expensive? Well, yes, it’s an expensive city, but there are ways to visit Tel Aviv on a budget.
UPDATED: March 2020
Why is Tel Aviv so expensive? Asked every tourist ever.
The answer is complex and has to do with all sorts of Israeli political and economic issues that we won’t go into here.
Instead, my aim here is to give you some good tips, hacks and workarounds, so you can visit Tel Aviv on a budget, cut your costs and enjoy your holiday even more.
Here are my best insider tips on how to save money in Tel Aviv.
Cheap flights to Tel Aviv
Several low-cost airlines fly to Tel Aviv these day, which makes it easier than ever to find a cheap flight to Tel Aviv.
WizzAir have cheap flights to to Tel Aviv from London, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.
Ryanair offer cheap flights to Tel Aviv from Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Poland.
easyJet fly to Tel Aviv from London, Manchester, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and The Netherlands.
Vueling have cheap flights to Tel Aviv from Italy and Spain.
BlueBird have flights to Tel Aviv from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Romania.
Budget accommodation and cheap hostels in Tel Aviv
Accommodation in Tel Aviv is generally very expensive.
It is definitely hard to find cheap hotels in Tel Aviv, so if you’re travelling to Tel Aviv on a budget, I suggest you go for hostels, as they do offer good value for money.
Cheap hostels in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv 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.
They often offer walking tours, bicycle rental, pub crawls and other activities for guests.
If you prefer to keep your privacy, in many cheap hostels you can book a private room.
Here the best cheap hostels in Tel Aviv:
Overstay-TLV Backpackers Hostel
Located close to the Old Town of Jaffa, this hostel has a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and offers good value for money.
Old Jaffa Hostel
This hostel gets good reviews and its main advantage is its perfect location: inside Jaffa’s flea market, currently one of the most happening locations in the city, and not far from the beach.
Florentine Backpackers Hostel
Located in Tel Aviv’s hipster district, this hostel attracts all kinds of backpackers and has a rooftop terrace and cool vibes.
Those who are not into the hostel scene still have a couple of alternatives.
CouchSurfing in Tel Aviv
There is a friendly CouchSurfing community in Tel Aviv where you can seek free accommodation.
Finding a free place to stay in a big city is sometimes a matter of luck, but it’s worth a try.
Vrbo and Airbnb in Tel Aviv – Vacation rentals
Airbnb is massively popular in Tel Aviv, so you’ll have plenty of choice and there’s good competition that can sometimes drive prices down.
To save even more money on Airbnb, get a discount on your first booking.
House sitting in Tel Aviv
Another option you have when you visit Tel Aviv on a budget is house sitting – one of the best ways to find free accommodation when you travel, especially if you like dogs and cats.
House sitting simply means you 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 a vacation rental or find a house sitting gig, 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
Tel Aviv is a famous foodie destination, but as a budget traveller you’ll find it a bit tricky to eat out and not exceed your budget.
Generally speaking, food in Tel Aviv isn’t cheap at all, and is sometimes even more expensive than in some major Western European cities.
So what can you do? Follow these budget tips:
Middle Eastern food – The best budget meals in Tel Aviv
Eat like a local!
Falafel, hummus and sabich are the typical Middle Eastern dishes that give you a really affordable (and delicious) alternative to Tel Aviv’s expensive restaurants.
You will find this kind of food sold just about everywhere when you walk around the city.
It’s considered street food, though you can also have it in a proper restaurant.
Portions are usually generous and will definitely fill you up. Sometimes there’s even a free refill option.
Insider tip: While most restaurants in Tel Aviv stay open till after midnight, falafel and hummus places normally don’t stay open late into the night. They usually close around 8 pm and sometimes even earlier.
The best hummus and falafel in Tel Aviv
My personal favourite falafel place is called “Super Falafel” and you’ll find it on 113 Allenby Street. Thank me later 😉
For what is considered by many as the best hummus in Tel Aviv, head to “Ali Caravan” in Jaffa on 1 HaDolphin Street, that’s open only for lunch.
You’ll recognise the place when you see the queue outside.
Have your hummus with fava beans or with chickpeas and hot tahini; either way, it’s a very satisfying lunch.
Hacking Cheap Eats: Everything for 6 shekels
Here’s another budget tip: Go to Cofix for your coffee, pastries and light meals.
Cofix is an innovative chain where each food and drink item is sold at a flat price of 6 shekels.
It opened its first branch a few year ago, as a much needed reaction to the high cost of living in Tel Aviv. Unsurprisingly, it became a big success.
The food on offer includes sandwiches, pastries, salads, sweets and even small portions of pasta, rice and sushi. Vegan options are marked on the menu.
You can have a cup of coffee for 6 shekels at Cofix, while the nearby cafe would charge you at least twice as much…
Cofix has many locations across the city, as does a competing chain called Cofizz, that follows the same pricing policy (I often can’t tell them apart).
Wherever you are in the city, just look Cofix or Cofizz up on Google Maps and you’ll find the location closest to you.
Cook your own meals to save money
If you’re staying at a local flat or a hostel and have access to a kitchen, you can cook your own meals.
As any budget traveller knows, this is the easiest way to both save money and eat the food you love.
You can buy your groceries at one of the 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.
Colu – Tel Aviv Payment App with Cashback
This has recently become one of my favourite ways to save money in Tel Aviv.
The Colu app (link opens only on mobile) lists hundreds of shops, restaurants and other businesses in Tel Aviv, where you can pay using the app.
One you make a payment, you’ll automatically receive 5% as cashback in a local virtual coin called Tel Aviv Coins.
You can then use those coins to pay at other restaurants, cafes, supermarkets etc.
The idea behind it is to support local businesses. It’s also a good way for you to discover small businesses around the city.
Colu will give you a bonus of 10 TLV coins when you join through someone else’s link. You can use my link (on mobile) to get it.
How to Use Colu to save money in Tel Aviv
The app is very easy to use and the interface is in English (apart from some banners in Hebrew, but you can just ignore those).
Colu works in several cities in Israel and the UK. You can use it in Tel Aviv by selecting the city in the settings on the app.
Then select Payment Settings to add your card, and I recommend you enable “Pay As You Go”, so you don’t have to worry about topping up.
Click Explore to see all the businesses near you that accept Colu (in Tel Aviv it is widely accepted).
If you’re looking for a specific business, you can use the search bar at the top.
You can also filter results to see only shops or only cafes etc.
You’ll see the essential details on the screen: the name of each business, its address and some tags such as #restaurant, #bar, #ice_cream, etc.
Click on the name of the business to see its opening hours, website, phone number and location on Google Maps.
When you’re about to pay, just click the pay button, insert the amount and show the cashier that you’ve paid.
You’ll then see your 5% cashback on the screen.
Getting around Tel Aviv on a budget
Good news for budget travellers: Tel Aviv is a very walkable city.
It’s flat and fairly small in size, you can walk or cycle anywhere and there’s hardly any need for buses.
In fact, sometimes walking or cycling may be faster than public transport, because of the heavy traffic.
Cycling in Tel Aviv – A budget friendly option
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 amongst very impatient drivers.
Bubble – Ride-sharing shuttle service in Tel Aviv
This new shuttle service is a lot cheaper than a taxi, but it will pick you up and drop you off where you want (as long as there’s a bus stop nearby).
Download the app here and use code hayoun.tal4m9 to get a free ride.
The normal fee is 12.5 shekels per ride. It goes up to 15 shekels during rush hour.
Considering a taxi fare in Tel Aviv starts with a base price of about 12 shekels, Bubble is a budget-friendly solution. It is more expensive than a normal bus ride, but faster and more convenient.
Taxis in Tel Aviv – How to save money
Taxis are not cheap in Tel Aviv, though as a tourist you may want to take them occasionally.
Uber isn’t used in Israel at the moment, but the Gett app is very popular and makes it very easy to find a taxi whenever you need one.
To save money on taxis in Tel Aviv, use my discount code GTFJFTA on Gett. It will save you 10 shekels on each of your first 10 rides, so 100 shekels off in total.
Free walking tours in Tel Aviv
Budget travellers ❤️ free tours and in Tel Aviv there are quite a few free walking tours for you to choose from.
I’ve listed the times and meeting points below, so you can just show up.
The tours are free, though you can tip the guide as much as you like at the end of the tour.
Free Walking Tour of Old Jaffa
This free tour covers the main highlights in Old Jaffa that most tourists will want to see. Click here for details.
Meeting point: The clock tower in Jaffa.
The Tel Aviv White City free tour
Tel Aviv has an impressive and extensive Bauhaus heritage. In this tour you’ll learn about the history of Tel Aviv through its architecture.
Every Saturday at 11 am. Meeting point: 46 Rothschild Blvd.
Tel Aviv Carmel Market tasting tour
Tel Aviv’s popular open-air market has local food alongside flavours from around the world. Take this tour to sample some of them.
Every Tuesday at 10 am. Meeting point: 58 Allenby Street.
Free tour in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv
A free walking tour of Tel Aviv’s most beautiful neighbourhood.
Every Thursday at 10 am. Meeting point: 11 Rothschild Blvd. at the Tourist Information Center.
Sarona Tel Aviv free guided tour
This tour takes you through a restored colony in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Every Friday at 11 am. Meeting point: Sarona Visitor Centre, 14 Avraham Albert Mendler Street.
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 Allenby.
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.
There’s free internet 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.
Free things to do in Tel Aviv – The beach, the ports and the park
Tel Aviv is sunny most of the time, with a very short and mild winter (from December to February).
The weather is perfect for walking around and exploring without having to spend any money.
Tel Aviv’s beaches are free
Most days of the year, even during winter, 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’s largest park is free
HaYarkon Park is Tel Aviv’s largest green lung, with a river running through it.
It’s a great place for a picnic, jogging or cycling, or just wandering around.
While you wander in the park you’ll discover some of its hidden surprises, like the cacti and succulent garden, the rose garden, the bird sanctuary, a small lake and more.
Visit the ports for free
There are two ports that are lovely to walk around.
One is in the south of the city – Jaffa Port; the other is in the north – Tel Aviv port.
They’re both full of pricey restaurants and shops, but if you visit Tel Aviv on a budget you can still enjoy the ports without spending a fortune.
Take a relaxing walk by the water, take in the views of the Mediterranean, enjoy the buskers and the lively atmosphere and you just might come across an outdoor festival.
Tel Aviv nightlife budget tips
Tel Aviv is a party city and it’s known for its incredible nightlife.
With a huge selection of bars, clubs, parties and live music, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Can you enjoy a night out in Tel Aviv on a budget?
Yes, you can.
Have a drink, see a live show or go clubbing without breaking the bank. Here’s how:
Going out for a drink in Tel Aviv on a budget
🙁 The bad news: 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.
🙂 The good news: Most bars have a happy hour, usually between 6 or 7 pm until 8 or 9 pm.
You’ll normally get a 1+1 deal on the drinks menu.
The Ultimate Tel Aviv Guide has an entire section with details of all of the best happy hours around the city.
Free and cheap music shows and clubs in Tel Aviv
Here’s another insider tip: There are some nightlife venues that consistently offer free entry or relatively cheap entry to parties and music gigs, such as:
Check their links above to see what’s on and plan your night out. Most events start 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.
All in all, if you’re willing to walk, pass on fine dining and fancy hotels and take free tours, you can visit Tel Aviv on a budget and enjoy a lot of what it has to offer.
If you have more Tel Aviv tips on how to make a trip more affordable, share them in the comments below.
Discounts in Tel Aviv
The Ultimate Tel Aviv Guide is a comprehensive guide, written by two local travel bloggers. I’ve read the guide and must say, as a born and bred Tel Avivian myself, that they did a really fantastic job.
The guide has everything you need to know about the city, a 5-day itinerary, an interactive map, PLUS discount coupons for tours, cafes, bars and more, such as free drinks or 10% off a bicycle tour. All in all, the discounts are worth more than what you’ll pay for the guide itself, so it’s a great deal.
On top of those coupons, I’ve arranged for a special discount for my readers on the Ultimate Guide to Tel Aviv. Use code TLV10 at checkout 🙂
More discounts you can use to save money in Tel Aviv:
- Get a discount on taxi rides with Gett – Use code: GTFJFTA
- Get a free ride on Bubble (shuttle service) – Use code hayoun.tal4m9
- Get €10 off your flight to Tel Aviv
- Get $58 off your Airbnb in Tel Aviv