Two Great Cities Compared: Jerusalem v Tel Aviv in 5 Steps

Travel June 30, 2016


Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are only about an hour away from each other but in a lot of ways they are worlds apart. Jerusalem is the Holy City and Israel’s ancient capital, while Tel Aviv is a modern metropolis and technology capital. A place more geared towards the future than the past.

These two great cities are both remarkable in their own right though, so we’ve taken some key travelling ingredients and compared them in 5 steps.

WeSwap CEO Jared recently got back from a holiday in Jerusalem, during which he was testing out the Israeli Shekel before launch. We’re pleased to report that the Shekel passed with flying colours and is now officially available on WeSwap. Wahoo!


The History

With the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – the believed sight of Jesus’ crucifixion – in the city’s Christian quarter and the Western Wall – the remains of the ancient Jewish holy temple – in the Jewish quarter, Jerusalem has arguably had more impact on modern religion that any other city in the world.

And the history is not just ancient. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust’s remembrance centre, powerfully shows Holocaust memory from a Jewish perspective.

Whilst history is deeply embedded in Jerusalem’s culture, Tel Aviv is in the process of creating a history of its own. A hub of technology – Israel has more tech start-ups and venture-capital funding per head of population than anywhere. Tel Aviv is the epicentre of the movement.

The Food

Now for the eats! There is so much delicious middle eastern food to munch on in both cities: Shakshuka, hummous, schwarma…Israeli tastes are some of our favourites!

Unmissable for a foodie, Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market (or simply the ‘Shuk’, which means ‘market’ in Hebrew), you’ll find endless stalls of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables as well as loads of restaurants! Filled with both locals and tourists, the market gets especially busy on a Friday, with locals stocking up before Shabbat on Saturday. Also check out Tachana Rishona – a converted old train station which is now home to loads of great cafes and restaurants.

Equivalent to Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market, is the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. With a huge range of fresh produce, take a wander, before grabbing an Israeli flavoured bite at one of the cafes or food stalls. Home to the best street food Tel Aviv has to offer, this is a great place to get a taste of the local flavours.



The Nightlife

Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street is home to loads of great bars, but Tel Aviv is in a league of its own! From sipping cocktails in 223 to partying all night at the Clara, you can do something different every night of the week in the Middle East’s 24-hour party capital.

And if you’re feeling peckish after a night out, grab a 4am breakfast at Benedict (on Tel Aviv’s Ben Yehuda Street – confusing, we know!), where you can feast on your morning faves 24/7.

The Shopping

For a day of shopping, both cities have a huge amount to offer. Both have large malls; the Azrieli Centre in Tel Aviv and the Malcha Mall in Jerusalem. However, there is far more to explore…

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If you want to continue along the historical theme, Jerusalem’s Old City is home to a great, traditional market. Situated in the Arab quarter, you can find a huge variety of goods here. The narrow streets of the market are filled with the hustle and bustle of people shopping and bargaining. A great opportunity to utilise your bartering skills and soak in a distinctive and historic culture!

Also make sure you check out Mamilla outdoor shopping mall. This upmarket centre is home to some pretty pricey shops, but even if you aren’t into your designer goods, this is a great place to have a wander and check out how the ancient meets the modern in Israel’s capital.

As for Tel Aviv, head to Nachalat Binyamin on a Tuesday or Friday and explore its craft market to check out modern and unique Israeli designs. Chat to the artists and see the creativity Tel Aviv has to offer.

The Beach

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a day lounging in the sun, Tel Aviv is definitely the one. Well, Jerusalem doesn’t have one for a start. The soft sand and clear waters of the Tel Aviv beaches are hard to match. So slap on the factor 30, have a bronze and soak in the relaxed vibe of this beach town.

Also be aware that in Jerusalem’s Old City, it’s respectful to stay covered up. Save the tanning for Tel Aviv.

With so much to offer, both cities are fantastic. To absorb a striking and unique historical environment, head to Israel’s capital. To spend your days lounging on the beach, Tel Aviv’s chilled out atmosphere is unbeatable. We wouldn’t recommend skipping either…it’s a good job they’re only an hour apart!


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