A new Virgin Atlantic flight makes Tel Aviv – and neighbouring Jerusalem – easier to reach from the UK.
As I laze on the warm sand of Tel Aviv beach, I’m especially grateful to be wearing my sunglasses.
Not just because it’s gloriously sunny at 7am but also as my shades are concealing my peepers, which are in full people-watching mode.
The eight-and-a-half mile stretch of Tel Aviv beach is brimming with wonderful local characters – from the honey-skinned, sinewy locals who pound the promenade on their morning runs, to the yogis meditating along the shore.
With its high-rise hotels, wide sweep of sand and beautiful, sun-loving locals, Tel Aviv beach reminds me of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana, with the same upbeat coastal feel.
It’s a must-visit on a trip to Tel Aviv, a cosmopolitan city whose locals love to work hard and play harder.
The city just got closer thanks to a new daily flight from Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic, which launched in September.
A new train linking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv via Ben Gurion airport connects the two cities in 45 minutes, meaning clients can now see both more easily on a short break.
On a walking tour, I learn that Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 by some 66 families who came from nearby Jaffa – then a city in its own right and now a Tel Aviv neighbourhood – to start a new life.
At the time, Tel Aviv was just a vast expanse of sand dunes while Jaffa was a thriving ancient port that acted as an entry point into Israel for Jewish pilgrims and immigrants.
Tel Aviv’s dunes were divvied up between the families by the group’s leader, Akiva Aryeh Weiss, in a lottery using seashells, and the group set to work building a “garden city” filled with parks and public spaces.
By the 1930s, Tel Aviv had grown dramatically, with many Jews seeking refuge here from
Nazi Germany. The German-Jewish architects who arrived in the 1930s brought with them their knowledge of the Bauhaus movement, and began designing apartments in its characteristic modernist style.
Today, Tel Aviv is home to more than 4,500 Bauhaus-style buildings, mostly located in “the White City”, an area afforded Unesco World Heritage status.
Many of these handsome, clean-lined apartments can be found scattered across the tree-dotted Rothschild Boulevard, which is abuzz with locals whizzing about on scooters and bikes, or relaxing on benches in the sunshine.