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How to make everyone take you for a local in Tel Aviv

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If you’re asked for directions, it’s a good sign that you don’t stick out as a tourist. It’s easy to pass for a local in multicultural Tel Aviv. Here are a few insider tips.

Laid-back outfit with a floppy hat

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You’ll immediately stick out in business attire or a suit. Tel Avivians wear casual and light clothing. Naturally, this is due to our hot climate zone. When the thermometer drops below 20° C, Israelis start complaining about how freezing cold it is. You can wear anything in Tel Aviv without attracting attention. The street look is a blend of hipster and hippie. Young Tel Avivians wear sleeveless shirts and loose clothing. They have tattoos and men grow hipster beards.

Rent an e-bike

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There are now more e-bikes in Tel Aviv than regular bikes. The bikes are fast so go for a spin in a quiet side street first. Tel Avivians ride their bikes as if there was no tomorrow, I wouldn’t encourage copying their style. If you’re careful, the e-bike is great to get around the city quickly. Traffic signs are more like recommendations and are completely disregarded by bikers. So, watch out.

Wear colorful flip-flops

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The flip-flop is the universal footwear in Tel Aviv. It’s unisex. Be it men or women, they all like to shuffle along the asphalt in those Brazilian rubber sandals. Maybe that’s why there’s a nail bar on every corner, as feet should look well-groomed when flaunted in Havaianas. 

Drink your Café Hafuch at a kiosk

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Drink your espresso at a Kiosk instead of at a café. Order in Hebrew. An Israeli cappuccino is called Hafuch coffee. Just say Hafuch, and if you want it with soy milk: Hafuch al Soya. If you’d like to come across as a friendly local, add ‘please’ (‘bevakasha’).

For sunset, sit at the beach

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Tel Avivians like to meet at the beach in the late afternoon. Straight from work for a beer, an iced coffee or beach volleyball. We like to sit on the wide steps and look at the sea. Come sit in between and watch how Yogis practice handstands or children build castles in the sand.

Buy a pair of dark sunglasses

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The light in Tel Aviv is really stark. I simply cannot leave the house without sunglasses. The daylight is like a glaring neon tube. Merciless. We only use suntan lotion abroad to give our bodies that holiday fragrance. Most Tel Avivians get through summer without suntan lotion. Elderly ladies like to wear colorful hats with wide brims.

Get invited to Shabbat dinner

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For this to happen, you have to briefly come out as a tourist, the invitation will quickly follow. Your best bet is to sit at a kiosk on Rothschild or Ben Gurion on Friday at noon and start chatting with the people next to you. It doesn’t take long to strike up a conversation with Israelis. Tel Avivians are hospitable and readily open the doors to their living rooms and kitchens. Strolling the streets alone (without a dog) on a Friday night around dinner time promptly exposes you as a tourist.   

Order a taxi via Gettaxi app

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Hailing your taxi by hand is out. Tel Avivians order taxis via Gettaxi app. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, you know who your driver is and you can rate him with a star system. Hence, they strive to be amiable and won’t pull a fast one on you. Should you forget something in the taxi, you can contact the driver directly. It’s the only way I ride.

Put on your sneakers: run, run, run

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Early in the morning and in the evening hours, the whole of Tel Aviv wears sneakers. The city has become a Mecca for jogging over the last couple of years. In Hayarkon Park, along the boardwalk or the boulevards. You’ll see them everywhere. Put on some sneakers, plug in earphone music and jog with the locals through the city.

translation: Catherine Bradshaw

 

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