Make Your Way around Tel Aviv like a Native!

Travel Tips, What's New — By susannaleonard on August 25, 2010 at 8:29 am

102 years ago when the first sixty settlers came to the area that is now Tel Aviv, they had nice rows of homes, streets that were aligned. Somewhere over the next century, Tel Aviv grew, but city planners apparently were not employed in this town. Streets in Tel Aviv curve all which ways, there is no reason that the street number 14 is going to be 14 on parallel streets. There are a number of one way streets that are not always obvious to drivers; I know, I’ve been that driver being honked at.

This being said, a helpful guide to traveling around the city needed to be written.

Which way are you headed?

Most of the travel signs are in Hebrew, Arabic and English, so reading the signs isn’t an impossibility. Traveling through the city using public transportation can be done with taxis, a shirut or the bus system. There is no subway and the train will only take you outside of Tel Aviv, not within. If you are wishing to go to Haifa, Beer Sheva, Eilat, or Jerusalem, there are a variety of options for train or bus and this is the website to find/purchase tickets. The train station has many stops, two that are popular are: Tel Aviv University(timetable) in Ramat Aviv and Arlozorov train station(map) in the center of Tel Aviv. Traveling within Tel Aviv is also easy, one can take a short walk from bus stop to bus stop and often going from one end of the city to the other is only one short bus or sherut ride.

Put Your Hand Out; They'll Stop

Sherut is Hebrew for “service”. “The sherut” refers to vans  that are a combination of a taxi and bus. It has a specific route, but will stop anywhere along that route to pick up or drop off travelers. The price for inner city sheruts are the same as a bus ride(5.80 shekels). Unlike buses, sheruts run on Shabbat(Friday night to Saturday night), holidays and throughout the night to destinations throughout the country. The sheruts are a yellow van with red writing and the line number is posted in the front right window(left if you’re viewing it head on). The 4 and the 5 go up and down Ben Yehuda taking you through the north and south parts of the city two streets up from the beach.

Typical Tel Aviv Bus

There are many buses and it is important to know which one you need to take, in which direction and where to get off. Bus drivers are usually helpful, but you need to know if your destination is toward the north(Ra’anana) or the south(Jaffo). Then, get on a bus going in that direction. When you enter the bus, it is perfectly acceptable to ask the driver is the bus goes to your destination and if he would please announce when you are there. Sit next to the driver and pay attention.

You can pay in local currency for the sherut, buses and taxis. Local currency is the shekel, and bus/sherut rides are 5.80(about 2 dollars). You cannot pay in dollars, credit card or check.

Traveling with courtesy: It’s ok to ride in the front of the bus, but if the bus starts filling up or an elderly person gets on, you must get up. People stand, and a bus ride is never too long even across the city. In the sherut, when it stops just get in and find a seat. Then pass your money forward. Everyone knows the rules, so you should too. When someone new gets on, help to pass their money along. It’s ok if you don’t have exact change, everyone will pass your change back to you.

Ignoring the obvious does no service to travelers to Tel Aviv. Many people worry about the dangers of travel. Do not be afraid to ride the public transport system here. The country has taken systematic measures to ensure the safety of it’s citizens. One thing I must warn you about. When you get your ticket for riding, hang on to it. Every once in awhile the bus police board and if you can’t find your ticket, you have to get off the bus. Random checks prevent riders from hopping on for free during a busy exchange and also from riding to a destination that is more expensive than the one they paid for.

With all that being said, travel should not be a big concern. The city isn’t wide and one cannot get lost in it. If all else fails, stop and ask someone. Israelis are very friendly, and will often walk you to exactly where you need to go.


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