Tel Aviv on Shabbat: What’s Open on Saturday?

Shabbat is the holy day of the Jewish week, beginning on Friday eve and ending on Saturday night. In Jerusalem, Shabbat is very strict. Most businesses are closed, there’s no public transportation, and barely any restaurants are open. But Tel Aviv is a different story. As a more liberal city, many Tel Avivians are less strict about keeping Jewish laws, including those connected to Shabbat. In this post, I’ll tell you all you need to know about Tel Aviv on Shabbat. This includes top things to do, budget restaurants, and transportation.  

Recommended read >> Shabbat in Jerusalem: What’s Open?

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Top things to do in Tel Aviv on Shabbat

Go to the beach

If you’re coming in a sunny season, Shabbat is a good time to go to the beach. Just keep in mind that many Israelis use their free time on Shabbat to go to the Tel Avivian beaches. So, it’s best to come early in the morning or in the late afternoon. This way, you can find a free spot on the beach before the masses arrive.

At every beach in Tel Aviv, you can rent a regular chair for 8 ILS and a beach umbrella for 8 ILS. Those are low prices compared to beaches in other municipalities. But if you don’t want to spend money, you can sit underneath the shade structures at almost every beach. 

All the Tel Aviv beaches are great, but here are two of my favorites:

  • Charles Clore Beach – This is the closest beach to Old Jaffa. It’s small and comfortable.
  • Jerusalem Beach – It’s one of the central beaches in Tel Aviv and includes many workout and sports facilities.

One last note – if you’re in Tel Aviv in July-August, it’s recommended to check the jellyfish status before entering the water. Read more about jellyfish in Tel Aviv.  

Charles Clore Beach on a Saturday

Explore Old Jaffa

Old Jaffa is a great place to wander around on Shabbat. The Flea Market would be closed, but other than that, you can freely stroll through the alleys of one of the oldest cities in the world.

The Church of Saint Peter is open on Saturday from 9 AM to 11:45 AM and from 3 PM to 6:30 PM. From there, you can continue upwards to HaPisga Garden, enjoy the spectacular view of Tel Aviv, and then make your way to some other interesting spots in Old Jaffa, including Ramesses Gate, the Suspended Orange Tree, and of course, Jaffa Port. 

Abraham Tours offer a FREE guided tour of Old Jaffa every day – also on Shabbat!

Recommended read >> What to see in Old Jaffa.

The Jaffa clocktower - Jaffa's icon

Visit a museum

Many of Tel Aviv’s best museums are open on Shabbat. However, keep in mind that most of them close on Friday afternoon around 2 PM.

Art lovers can visit the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, open on Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM, and the Nachum Gutman Museum, open from 10 AM to 3 PM. Those more interested in Jewish history and culture can visit the ANU Museum of the Jewish People, which is open from 10 AM to 5 PM. Other recommended museums open on Shabbat include the Eretz Israel Museum, Ben Gurion House, and the Ilana Gur Museum. So, you have many options.

A look into the ANU Museum

Bike around the city

Another fun activity you can do on Shabbat in Tel Aviv is to bike around the city. Biking is very common in Tel Aviv, maybe because the city is so flat and easy to bike. The easiest way is to rent one of the Tel-O-Fun bikes scattered around the city, almost at every corner. To use these bikes, you will need to use the Tel-O-Dun app (available for Android and iOS). It costs 3 ILS to unlock a regular bike and an additional 0.5 ILS per minute on Saturdays. There’s also an option to rent an electric bike, but you’ll need to scan your ID before you can unlock it.    

When biking in Tel Aviv, make sure to bike on the intended bike trails and watch out for people crossing. The biking trails can be found all over the city, so you can really explore extensively. If you prefer a more relaxed biking setting, bike along the Jaffa-Tel Aviv Promenade or in the Yarkon Park.

Attend a Shabbat dinner

One of the highlights of Shabbat is the Shabbat dinner. Families and friends gather around the table and celebrate the Shabbat with blessings and delicious food.

If you don’t know someone Jewish in Tel Aviv, you can find a Shabbat dinner host on EatWith. And there’s also an option of joining Abraham Hostel’s Shabbat Dinner. Usually, it’s a very large Shabbat dinner with dozens of people. There are some explanations about the dinner rituals, and there is tasty food made by the Abraham Hostel staff. If you’re not a guest, it will cost you 95 ILS. To participate, you need to register at the hostel’s reception in advance.  

Recommended read >> What is Shabbat?

These are two challah breads in the baking process... We eat them on Shabbat!

Party on Friday night

Tel Aviv is known as “the city that never sleeps,” and that includes Friday night, which is already Shabbat. You’ll find lots of nightlife venues open around Rothschild Boulevard, but also in other locations.

If you want someone to guide you between the different night venues, you can join Abraham Tours’ pub crawl in Tel Aviv. They’re one of the leading tour operators for backpackers in Israel.

Budget restaurants open on Shabbat in Tel Aviv

Many restaurants are open in Tel Aviv on Shabbat, but in this post, I want to focus more on the budget-friendly ones. Here are a few budget-friendly and yummy restaurants that should be open on Saturday:

  • Abouelafia – I’ll start with Abouelafia because it’s one of the best-known bakeries in Tel Aviv, open since 1879. Today it has several branches in the city – in Old Jaffa, in Tel Aviv Port, and Allenby Street. All those branches are open on Shabbat, so you can go taste their delicious pastries – sambusaks, special pitas, pizzas, and more. The one in Jaffa is located on Yefet Street 7 and is open 24 hours a day.
  • Chop Chop – This is a great Asian food restaurant. The prices aren’t very low, but compared to other places in Tel Aviv, it’s reasonable. They’re located on Ibn Gabirol Street 20 and open from 12 noon to 11 PM.
  • Dede Bar – It’s a cute place that offers excellent options for breakfast. Again, not the cheapest, but friendly prices. They’re located on Uriel da Costa Street 16 and open from 10 AM until late.

If you know of any other budget-friendly restaurants in Tel Aviv that are open on Shabbat – let me know in the comments, and I’ll be happy to add your suggestions to the post.  

Transportation in Tel Aviv on Shabbat

Compared to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv has much more traffic on Shabbat. But still, it’s very different from the regular weekdays. Tel Aviv is still part of Israel, so it is not allowed to operate public buses on Shabbat. But the Tel Aviv municipality found a way to go around this, and buses are running in Tel Aviv on Shabbat.

Here are the main ways you can get around Tel Aviv on Shabbat:

  • Tel Aviv’s Weekend Transportation – The municipality operates several bus lines throughout Tel Aviv and its neighboring cities on Shabbat, which are free of charge. They’re free because it’s not allowed to charge money on Shabbat. The last time I was in Tel Aviv, I used line 717 to get close to the Central Station. I expected to see a bus, but what picked us up was a black minibus with the line number stuck on its windshield. You can check the lines on the Weekend Transportation website and see if any of them work for you. The lines also appear in navigation apps like Moovit and Google Maps.
  • Taxis – There are plenty of taxis in Tel Aviv on Shabbat. Just keep in mind that the prices will be higher. The best way to get a cab is through the Gett or Yango
  • Scooters or bikes – As mentioned before, you can get around Tel Aviv by bike. You can also get around by scooter. Both methods are common. You can rent a bike through Tel-O-Fun and a scooter through various companies, such as Bird, Lime, and Wind. You’ll need to download the relevant app and pay to unlock and use the bike or scooter. Just don’t forget to wear a helmet, for your own safety!
A row of scooters in Tel Aviv

Getting from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Shabbat

If you want to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Shabbat, you should head to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. There, you’ll probably hear someone shouting, “Jerusalem! Jerusalem!” Go after him. In the past, you would go to the Sherut taxis, but today the business has been taken over by some people with big white minibuses. They charge 35 ILS per person.

Learn more about getting around on Shabbat in my post >> There’s no public transportation on Shabbat.

Conclusion

If we compare it to Jerusalem, there are much more things to do in Tel Aviv on Shabbat. You can go to the beach, visit a museum, bike around the city, visit Old Jaffa, party till the early morning, or attend a Shabbat dinner. There’s also free public transportation to some central locations. So, if you’re planning to be in Tel Aviv on Shabbat – you’ll have plenty to do. Don’t worry!

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Lior

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