Transportation - Get In
Ben Gurion Airport
Tel Aviv's (and Israel's) main entry point for the international traveler is Ben Gurion International Airport(referred to by its Hebrew initials Natbag by locals).
Even though the airport is called TLV it's not actually in Tel Aviv, but rather 15km away in the town of Lod. A further 20 minute drive is needed to get to Tel Aviv. This trip can be done by train or taxi from Ben Gurion airport. There is no direct bus or sherut taxi to Tel Aviv from Ben Gurion, although traveling by bus is possible.
- By train
- The airport train station is easily accessible at the lower level on Terminal 3 (one level below the arrivals hall). Direct trips to Tel Aviv take about 15 minutes and cost about 13.50 NIS one-way. Buy a ticket from the cashier or from an automatic machine, and use it to enter the platform area. Keep the ticket for use to exit the electronic gate at your arrival station. The train service operates around the clock on weekdays, with 3 trains per hour most of the day and one per hour at night. Trains do not operate on the Jewish Sabbath (as of January 2016, the last departure from the airport on Friday is at 14:36, and the first departure on Saturday at 19:28. In summer and spring during Daylight Savings Time, trains run for an hour later of Fridays and start running 2 hours later on Saturdays). All trains stop at all four Tel Aviv stations during the day, while late night trains stop only at Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor station. The stations are, in order of arrival from the airport (south to north): Tel Aviv HaHagana (8 minutes travel), Tel Aviv HaShalom (13 minutes), Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor (18 minutes), Tel Aviv University (25 minutes). For most travelers, HaShalom or Merkaz/Savidor would be the place to disembark, being close to most hotels and sights. Most stations are suitable for non-Hebrew speakers, nonetheless, passengers will often be glad to assist.
- By taxi
- Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this is the most comfortable and expensive way to reach the city center, with a typical ride price of around 120 NIS. If you travel with a friend or two, it can be a good idea to share a taxi. It is acceptable to sit in the front seat in Israeli taxis. Taxis are required by law to use the taxi meter, unless agreed otherwise by the passenger and driver, and a typical ride to the city center should not take more than 15–20 minutes, without heavy traffic. Do not accept fix-priced rides with taxi drivers unless you're sure of what you are doing; you will usually end up paying more than you could have had you asked to use the meter.
- By bus
- You may save a few shekels by taking buses rather than the train to Tel Aviv, but you will lose lots of time and likely get yourself lost. From outside the terminal, take Egged's Line 5 to El Al road junction ("Tzomet El Al"), and from there take a second bus to Tel Aviv. The last line 5 bus leaves the airport at 21:55, and in the opposite direction from El Al Junction—at 21:15 (estimated). When going to the airport, ask the driver for a ticket that includes access to line 5, in order to avoid paying an extra fare for that line.
Tel Aviv has another airport, Sde Dov (SDV). This is an exclusively domestic airport, with flights to Eilat (ETH)
Israel Railways (information center: +972 3-5774000) operate train services within Israel. Train service has improved significantly during the last decade or so, and today they are a fast and comfortable alternative to buses for many destinations. Train services connect Tel Aviv to Haifa and Beer-Sheva, as well as numerous smaller towns whilst a direct train line connects Tel Aviv to Ben-Gurion airport.
Note that the train ride to Jerusalem follows the 19th century path and takes an hour and a half. This scenic route is worth taking at least once, even though taking the bus on the modern highway takes half the time. The train station in Jerusalem located far from the main bus terminal and city center.
Trains tend to be crowded during rush hours, especially on Sunday morning, when soldiers return to their bases and students to their universities. Train service also stops on Friday afternoons, and resumes on Saturdays after dark, in observance of the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat).
Tel Aviv has four train stations, all along the Ayalon highway. All trains to Tel Aviv stop in all four stations during the day, while late night trains stop only at Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor station. List of stations from north to south:
- Tel Aviv University Train Station, 95 Rokah Blvd. close to the university, Yarkon park, Israel Trade Fairs & Convention Center and "Luna park" (an amusement park).
- Tel Aviv Merkaz Train Station (a.k.a. "Arlozorov" and officially named "Savidor"), 10 Al Parashat Derachim St. The busiest and largest train station in Israel. Good for crossing between different train lines, or changing from/to buses. There are two exits: one to Ramat Gan city, close only to the "Bursa" business district and strip-club area. The other exit is to the Tel Aviv 2000 bus terminal where buses to most destinations in Tel Aviv and intercity buses (including to Jerusalem and Haifa) also leave from.
- Tel Aviv Hashalom Train Station, 10 Givat HaTahmoshet St. This is the second busiest train station in Israel. There are two exits: one to the Azriely shopping mall and towers, and the other to the street and taxi stand. Many buses run from outside Azriely shopping mall from Namir street, a short walking distance away. This is the closest station for walking to central Tel Aviv.
- Tel Aviv Ha-Hagana Train Station, 32 HaHagana Way. Station is close to the New Central Bus Station, and to HaTikva Quarter and food market.
Tel Aviv has two main intercity bus stations:
- New Central Bus Station (Tahana Merkazit) (southern Tel Aviv).Offers routes to most locations in Israel. Located within a short walking distance of the HaHaganah Train Station. The building, which is a combination of shopping mall and bus terminal, is extremely confusing - in fact, it is almost unmanageable for the infrequent visitor; tourists might want to use the 2000 Bus Terminal instead.Several different bus companies operate urban and intercity buses in Tel Aviv: Egged, Dan, Metropoline, Kavim and a few smaller ones. Check the electronic boards in departure halls for info on destinations, platforms and coming-up departures. If this doesn't help, ask at the information booths. Egged and Metropoline have information booths on 6th floor. The Dan info booth is on the 7th floor (they also handle info for lines operated by Kavim).Most intercity bus lines depart from platforms on the north wing of 6th floor, except for buses to Galilee (Afula, Nazareth, Tiberias, Kiryat Shmona etc.) which are on the south wing on 7th floor (accessible by escalator from 6th floor). Most urban lines to Tel Aviv and its suburbs are on the north wing on 7th floor (which isn't connected to the south wing of the same floor), with several lines on 4th floor which is actually at street level (including the popular city lines #4 and #5).Several urban lines stop outside the station building on Levinski street (north side of the station), and some others a block away to the west on Har Zion street. Sherut taxis depart from Tzemach David street outside the east side of the station.
All people entering the bus terminal are subject to security screening. Be aware of your surroundings and keep and eye on your property while in and around the main bus terminal especially at night, as the area is a high crime area - really Israel's only urban slum.
- 2000 Bus Terminal (next to Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor Train Station).(AKA Arlozorov terminal), is a more user-friendly bus terminal and can replace the central bus station for most trips. It is located next to Tel Aviv Merkaz/Savidor Train Station, so it is a good place to make connections between train and bus. There are information desks and the platforms are all located in two areas and passengers can access them without security screening. This terminal and its surroundings are safe at all hours. North-bound intercity buses (from the Central Bus Station to Haifa, the Sharon, the Galilee, etc) stop at Namir Road alongside this terminal, but at peak times they might be full when they get there. Major cities to the south and east of Tel Aviv have dedicated routes leaving the Arlozorov terminal: the 480 for Jerusalem, 380 for Beer Sheva, and 280 for Ashdod.
In addition to the New Central Bus Station, there is also an Old Central Bus Station, but this no longer is used for transportation. When people say "Central Bus Station", they mean the new one.
In general, buses obey the Jewish Sabbath, stopping on Friday afternoon, and only resuming service Saturday after dark. Some services, however, may start earlier on Saturday afternoon. Minor services may not resume until Sunday morning.
A daily bus service is also available to and from Amman through the King Hussein Bridge. Call the operator (+972 4-6573984) for details.
Tel Aviv is the hub of the country's modern network of freeways. The city is easily accessible from Ben Gurion Airport via the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv freeway (route 1), from the north by Tel Aviv–Haifa freeway (route 2), as well as from Beer-Sheva and the southern parts of the country (route 4). Freeways speed limit is 110 km/h. On other intercity roads the limit varies between 80 and 90 km/h. On urban roads the default speed limit is 50 km/h.
Transportation - Get Around
Tel Aviv has a modern, regular, cheap and widespread bus network run mostly by Dan and Egged. Bus services start at 05:00 and stop at midnight, though some of the lines stop earlier, so do check. There are night buses that run until 3:30 (Thursday and Saturday nights all year, and in addition Sunday to Wednesday nights during the summer).
An English-language map of bus routes is available here.
While cash can be used, it is recommended to pay for trips with the Rav-Kav smart card, which can be purchased for NIS 10 from any bus driver. With the Rav-Kav you get free transfers and discounted day, week, or month passes. The basic fare within Tel Aviv and its suburbs is around 6 NIS.
Popular routes include:
- Route 5, which connects the Central Bus Station (departure from 4th floor, westernmost platform) in the south with the Central Train Station. It goes through Rotschild Boulevard, Dizengoff Street (including the Dizengoff Center Mall), Nordau Boulevard, Pinkas/Yehuda Maccabi Street and Weizmann Street or Namir Road.
- Route 4, which runs north from the Central Bus Station through Allenby road and Ben Yehuda Street.
- Route 18, connecting the Central Train Station with the southern neighbourhoods of Jaffa and Bat-Yam. It also has a stop in Rabin Square.
Like most Israelis, the bus drivers in Tel Aviv speak and understand English reasonably well, and in most cases will kindly answer questions about the destination of their bus and let you know when to get off, and other passengers are likely to be just as helpful.
The "Sherut" ("sheh-ROOT") are shared taxis, with 6-12 person van-sized minibuses that supplement some bus routes. This alternative is often faster, slightly cheaper, and more frequent than taking a bus, and they operate 7 days a week (on Shabbat too). If requested, the driver will stop outside the designated bus stops. Such service is available on bus routes no. 4, 5 (but note that these taxis don't reach the train station), 16, 51 and 66. You pay after you have found your seat, by passing your fare to the person in front of you, who will pass it along to the driver. If you sit up front, be prepared to pass other passengers' money to the driver and the change back to the passengers.
You can hail a taxi ("mo-NIT", מונית) in the street or call one (with extra surcharge, 3.30 NIS). Taxis are obliged to give you a metered ride unless you settle for a price, so insist that the driver use the meter ("mo-NEH" in Hebrew, pronounced like the painter "Monet"), unless you are sure what the price to your destination should be. And no, the meter is never broken. A local ride without meter should be 20-30 NIS in the downtown core, and up to 50 or 60 to the immediate suburbs. If you go for a price fixed in advance, haggle with your driver a bit, you can generally knock a few shekels off the price. Cutting a deal in advance is especially recommended on Friday night and Saturday and late at night, when there is a surcharge, and during traffic time, because if you get stuck in Tel Aviv's notorious traffic, you won't sit there watching your money tick away.
- Hakastel taxi service, .
- Palatine, .
- Shekem, .
For inter-city rides, note that the Ministry of Transportation has issued an official fixed price list, covering many municipalities in Israel, if not all of them. These figures are also uploaded to the meter, and when coaxed, the driver will have to check his municipality code list and check the official fare. Note that these lists are only available in Hebrew, so check these prices in advance with the assistance of a Hebrew speaker.
Ayalon Freeway (freeway 20) runs north-south and is the main artery of the city.
It is best to avoid commuter traffic in and out of Tel Aviv and its surrounding cities during rush hours (Sunday to Thursday, 7:00–9:00 and 17:00–19:00), particularly entering Tel Aviv via Ayalon Freeway in morning rush hour. Also, remember that Israeli drivers are considered aggressive in comparison to their Western European or North American counterparts. Signage is in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Navigation is difficult without GPS, and parking is expensive. If possible, avoid using a private car in Tel Aviv and use public transportation.
Speed limits and driving laws are strictly enforced by police. All in all, driving conditions in Israel are much better than in the rest of the Middle East.
Parking in Tel Aviv is hard to find, even for the locals. Parking lots are available, but expensive (usually around 25–30 NIS an hour during the day), and can also be full around busier times (i.e., a parking in a central area could be full on a Friday night, when everybody in the area goes out to eat and drink in the city). If you can find a spot, street parking is allowed for free where there is no curb marking. Where the curb is painted blue and white ("kachol-lavan"), there is an hourly parking fee (cheaper than lots), generally between 9:00-19:00 (street signs indicating that are usually just in Hebrew). There are usually no parking meters, meaning you need to buy parking cards in advance from a kiosk or machine, which you put in your front window. Also, some areas of blue-white are reserved for locals with a zone sticker at certain times of day (mostly 17:00 to 09:00). It is forbidden to park where there are red and white or red and yellow markings, though sometimes only in certain hours, as indicated by signs (but those are usually in Hebrew only as well). The inspectors in Tel Aviv are everywhere and merciless, beware as you can get a fine of 100-500 NIS! There are generally more parking spaces in the south and the north (north of the Yarkon river that is) than in the center.
Given Tel Aviv's flat and coastal geography, mild weather, and a growing number of bicycle paths throughout the city - bicycle travel in Tel Aviv is an ideal way to get around. Several shops throughout the city offer bicycle rental, and cheap Chinese made bicycles can be purchased for several hundred shekels on longer stays. A bike rental service called Tel-O-Fun is available in Tel Aviv. Tel-O-Fun offers hundreds of bikes for rent, at rental stations across the city, in a simple and convenient manner using a credit card. Tel-O-Fun An English language Google map of docking stations is available. Be sure to lock your bicycle at all times and don't leave it outside at night, even proper locks get cut by electric cutters in under 15 seconds.
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