Perhaps it’s not surprising that Tel Aviv has an enviable concentration of rooftop bars: seaside Mediterranean views, seemingly perennial short-sleeve temperatures and lush produce ideal for embellishing refreshing cocktails. These bars surely exist, but finding them isn’t always easy. Some hide on the top floors of office buildings while others cap the roofs of the city’s hotels.
If you’re heading to Tel Aviv, consider seeking out one of these high-altitude hideaways; perfect spots to chill out or get the party started.
Rooftop at Poli House Hotel
Following a decade-long architectural preservation process, this curvaceous Bauhaus building reopened as one of the city’s most central boutique hotels. Its crowning glory is a posh sundeck bar, overlooking the main Carmel Market entrance and bustling Allenby St. The Poli House Hotel’s heated rooftop pool is open all year to hotel guests only, but everyone is granted access when the bar heats up during summer months. The bar’s decor is a chic backdrop for a seafood-based menu (including a Tunisian croissant filled with seared tuna, cured lemons, potato salad and spicy harissa sauce) and inventive cocktails. The bar’s signature drink, called the Poli Collins, is made from Earl Grey-infused gin, tonic water, lemon and thyme. A small sliver of seaside is visible from the roof, making it a great place to spot a combination Mediterranean and skyline sunset view.
The atmosphere at Esperanto Bar is a bit more corporate than the other bars on this list – it is an amenity of the Carlton Tel Aviv hotel, not a boutique venture or an independently owned bar. But what it may lack in carefully curated ambience, it most certainly makes up for with its unobstructed ocean view. It faces the Mediterranean at the northern tip of the city, so sunsets are seen unfettered from Esperanto’s wooden deck (and, preferably, with a glass of local wine in hand). The menu offers typical Middle Eastern fare, from small bites to full meals: local mezze, chopped salads and shawarma.
Nestled in a quiet area between Tel Aviv’s pedestrian-friendly Rothschild Blvd and the historic Neve Tzedek neighbourhood, this summertime retreat atop Brown TLV Urban Hotel is an intimate outdoor lounge. The bar’s modest four-storey stature allows for views of the height-restricted and red-tiled rooftops of Neve Tzedek, as well as a slew of new high-rises. Brown TLV’s cocktail menu (best enjoyed while seated on one of the bar’s pillowed chaise longues or plush armchairs) makes ample use of local ingredients: look for coriander-infused vodka, homemade carob and anise syrups, mint and starfruit. During winter months, the hotel shutters its roof but opens a ground-level garden bar. During summer the bar hosts weekly party nights.
Blue Sky, Carlton Tel Aviv Hotel
Meir Adoni is one of Israel’s beloved celebrity chefs, known for the sort of elite cuisine most of us save for special occasions. He has successful restaurants in both Tel Aviv and New York, but Adoni’s eatery on the rooftop of the 15-story Carlton Tel Aviv hotel has the best view by far. Blue Sky is a fine-dining kosher restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking Tel Aviv’s incredible coastline. The dishes are fish-based with many vegetarian options and can be ordered either à la carte or as a four-course prix fixe menu, our favourite of which includes a purposefully selected pairing of local chardonnay, blanc du blanc or cabernet sauvignon with each dish.
You’ll need to know where you’re going to get to SuraMare because the clandestine bar is on the top floor of a 10-storey office building (and lift access is best reached from an underground car park, curiously decorated with contemporary art). Despite its businesslike exterior, the lift (once found) leads to a trendy bar with industrial decor and a leafy olive tree planted in the centre of an outdoor patio. Its location lends itself more to views of Tel Aviv’s skyscraper-filled skyline than quaint older buildings or sandy beaches. People-watching is a considerable part of SuraMare’s scenery, too. The bar attracts a sizeable crowd of locals every night of the week, who congregate under a neon sign that reads ‘Drinks & Happy Food’ to order full dinners and cocktails dressed with oregano, lemongrass and roasted almonds.
It’s been nearly a century since the triangular-shaped building at the odd intersection of Nahalat Binyamin and Mohiliver streets functioned as Hadassah Hospital, opened in 1921. When it moved to a new location, its former headquarters underwent many reincarnations: a mortgage bank, private apartments and now a hipster-meets-shabby-chic rooftop cafe and bar, The Prince. The bar staff concoct some unique cocktails, such as the Pasiflorita (a passion fruit version of the classic margarita) and Hot Mexican (tequila, mango, basil and hot chilli peppers). Favourites from the food menu include aubergine fries (served with smoked ketchup and green chilli aioli) and sineya (crispy dough filled with minced lamb, basil tahini sauce and fresh herbs). The Prince’s balustraded balcony offers a panoramic view of the biweekly Nahalat Binyamin Crafts Market and is perfectly situated for a break after a trek through nearby Carmel Market.
The southernmost tip of verdant Rothschild Blvd is rich with history and is said to be the site where the city’s founding families gathered on a sand dune in 1909 to divide land plot ownership by seashell lottery. Some early 20th-century homes, hotels and kiosks line the historic street, sprinkled between a growing number of newly sprouted apartment towers. Perched on top of a rather unimpressive investment banking office at one of Rothschild’s buzziest intersections is Speakeasy, a trendy bar for those who want to see and be seen while sipping costly cocktails. Speakeasy’s dining menu ranges from basic snacks on a stick to oven-fired vegan pizza and crispy fried artichokes, catering both to idle munchers and those interested in a full meal. Popular drinks include the sage and cardamom-infused gin and the house sangria with raspberry sorbet and hibiscus.
So that’s your evening plans sorted, but what about the day? Here’s 15 of the best free things to do in Tel Aviv.
First published in June 2018, updated in May 2019.