Transport in Tel Aviv

Welcome to my transport in Tel Aviv page. The streets of Tel Aviv are bustling with cars, buses, bikes, bicycles and pedestrians. But what's the best way for you to get around when you get there? Check out the options and tips I mention below...

Car Rental – Tel Aviv

As is the case in any tourist destination, renting a car is the best option if you want to get where you want when you want. You can find some of the best car rental options on our Car Rentals in Israel page.

However, there’s other factors to consider when it comes to Tel Aviv and there are other options. Besides the fact that renting a car can be pretty expensive,  Tel Aviv is not a huge city and lends itself to walking around (or bicycling – see below). Also, it’s a city where it’s not always so easy to find parking. And it has some great public transport (buses and taxis - also see below).

Still, there’s nothing like having a car at your disposal. Tel Aviv has all the major car rental brands that one would expect to find in any modern city or tourist destination, such as Avis, Budget and Hertz. But there are a few big local car rental companies worth checking out – Shlomo Sixt and Eldan

Even if you’re dead set on renting a car in Tel Aviv, before doing so I would highly recommend to check out the other options below, at least so you’re aware of the alternatives for getting around this beautiful city.

If you choose to rent a car, then check out this simple and short Tel Aviv parking and transport guide, courtesy of the Tel Aviv-Yaffo municipality. It not only gives some basic info about where to park on the street but also lists city-operated parking lots and tourist information centers.

Catch a Tel Aviv Taxi

There are two kinds of taxis in Tel Aviv. First of all there is your regular private taxi that you can find in any major city around the world. And secondly there are cheaper (and still relatively convenient) shared minivan taxis that follow specific routes. 

The regular taxis are just like regular taxis, and can be pretty expensive. In Israel you can choose to be charged by the meter or you can agree to a total upfront fee with the taxi driver.

Because Israelis are totally used to bartering, and taxi drivers are used to being bartered down, if they offer you an upfront fee they will probably initially offer you a fee that is a bit high, especially if you look and sound like a tourist. If you want you can accept their first offer, but if you feel a bit bold and would like to experience some typical Israeli culture (negotiations), make them a lower counter-offer and engage in a negotiation. Soon enough you will agree on a price and you’ll be sailing to your destination.

The other option of being charged by a meter is a safe choice and avoids any negotiation or bartering. 

A Shared Tel Aviv Minivan Taxi
(Monit Sherut)

A shared minivan taxi in Tel Aviv, known as a monit sherut (“service taxi”) or sherut for short (pronounced shay-root), is a unique experience that I would highly recommend to try at least once.

The taxis are quite similar in price and service to the buses, except that they run on predetermined routes around the city. Their main advantages are that, unlike buses, they run on the Sabbath and holidays, and also that they’re much cheaper than a regular taxi (at March 2015 they were charging 6 NIS during the week and around 8 NIS on the Sabbath and holidays). The downside is that they only run on specific routes and are not available in some areas of Tel Aviv.

Although each sherut has a set route, they do not have set stops (you tell the driver where to stop and he will stop) and they will pick up people along the way. Each monit sherut accommodates around 10 or 12 people so it’s pretty cozy and cute. One of the coolest things here is how one passes along someone else’s change back-and-forth with the driver, definitely something to be experienced.

The monit sherut transportation routes in and around Tel Aviv are not so easy to find online in English, so here they are (I describe the route in one direction below but they run both directions):

  • Line 4: The Allenby Street and Ben Yehuda Street bus line. Running north, it goes from Tel Aviv Central Bus Station through Allenby Street and then all the way up Ben Yehuda Street to the Reading Power Plant (close to the Yarkon River and the Tel Aviv port).
  • Line 4 Aleph: The Ramat Aviv Bus Line. This runs from the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station also along Allenby and Ben Yehuda Streets but then going further north up to Ramat Aviv Mall (“Kanyon Ramat Aviv”) and the Tel Aviv University and then further on to Ramat Aviv Gimmel and the Azorei Hen Country Club.
  • Line 5: The Dizengoff Street bus line. Running north, it travels from Tel Aviv Central Bus Station through Rothschild Boulevard (up to Habima theatre), then along Dizengoff Street to Dizengoff Center and then further north along Dizengoff Street until it hits Nordau Boulevard (“Sderot Nordau”). It then heads east on Nordau Boulevard, crosses over Ibn Gavriol Street and continues east along Pinkas. Then north along Weizmann Street and east along the southern edge of Park Hayarkon and to the Bavli neighborhood.
  • Line 16: Running south it goes from the Dolphinarium (close to the promenade and the beach), though Allenby Street down to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, then east past the “Ayalon” (freeway) along Hahagana Street, south on Etsel Street, east on Lod Road (also known as Haim Barlev Road) and north on Hatayasim into the neighborhood of Kfar Shalem.
  • Lines 51 & 66: There are also 2 monit sherut taxis that travel from the large nearby city of Petah Tikva to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and back – bus lines 66 and 51. Both taxis go from the Petah Tikva central bus station along Orlov Street and then along Jabotinsky Street all the way through the cities of Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan (nearby city to Tel Aviv which includes the big diamond exchange). They continue into Tel Aviv along Menachem Begin Street to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. Apparently the one trick is that on the Sabbath the 51 taxi changes course slightly when it hits Tel Aviv, going west along Arlozorov Street instead of south along Menachem Begin Street, and ending at the Yarkon Street (close to the promenade and beach). This is probably in line with more customers in those areas (bar hopping, etc.).

Note that if you are taking the sherut from the Central Bus Station you may have to wait a while, as the van will only leave when it is close to full.

Tel Aviv Bicycles

Bicycles are a great option for getting around and seeing Tel Aviv! And they're green too (in more ways than one - see below)!!! Plus you will fit in well with the locals, many of whom ride bicycles all over the city.

But when I’m talking bicycles as a mode of transport in Tel Aviv for tourists I’m not talking about buying a bicycle yourself (or renting one from a specialized bicycle store). I’m talking about renting a bicycle for relatively cheap from one of the city’s hundreds of public bicycle rental spots!

You see, Tel Aviv has an official public bicycle rental program, called Tel-O-Fun, where you can pick up a bicycle in one area of the city, ride around and then drop it off at another location in another part of the city.

The Tel-O-Fun bikes are nice and modern, with an adjustable seat, headlight, back light and even a small container at the back of the bike. And the stations are easy to spot - just look for the row of green bikes.

Here’s a cool instructional video showing how the bicycle rental works:

The bicycles are available 24 hours a day and it’s pretty easy to use (you pay with a credit card and each station has a service terminal with English language as an option).

At the rental station you pay an access fee plus usage rate beyond the first 30 minutes, which are free). The access fee for a daily or weekly subscription is 17 NIS daily fee during the week, 23 NIS on the Sabbath and holidays or 70 NIS weekly subscription (prices as at March 2015). 

The first half hour with the bicycle is free, and thereafter you’re charged according to the extra time. Note that you can use a bicycle for 30 minutes or less, take a 10-minute break and then take another bicycle for another half hour without having to pay any additional fee. So you can pay, for example, 17 NIS daily fee and ride around using different bikes all day long if you want (no additinal usage fee). Click here for the official page showing the tariffs.

The screenshot above shows most of the stations in the center of Tel Aviv. If you know Hebrew you can also use this official map from the Tel-O-Fun website, which shows all the stations.

Tel Aviv Buses 

Finally, Tel Aviv buses are a cheap and relatively convenient way to get around. But not for the faint-hearted tourist who is used to just telling a taxi driver where to go and sitting back for the ride - the bus system takes a little figuring out at the start (bus number/s, destinations, etc.).

If you’re on a budget they’re ideal (average bus ride costs 7 NIS or around $2). But even if you have cash to spare, they can still be really quick and convenient. Bus stations can be found all over the city, usually within a few minutes walk, and apps like Google Maps can show you exactly which one to take and when they'll arrive.

On average I found that I had to wait 10-15 minutes for the bus I need, although in really busy areas I would wait for 5 minutes or less. So you’re looking at a pretty speedy service. 

Google Maps - Tel Aviv

And don’t worry, you actually don’t need to know the local public transport routes or even a single word of Hebrew to use the Tel Aviv bus system. How is this possible? First of all, through the wonders of modern technology (some apps I’m gonna tell you about like the one pictured to the right), and secondly, because almost everyone in Tel Aviv speaks at least okay English - so if you run into trouble you can always ask someone. Israelis are very friendly and helpful, and asking a real life Israeli for directions can often result in a fun conversation too!

Here’s how to do it with the mobile apps – if you have a smartphone, download the Google Maps application or the Moovit application (Moovit is an application specifically for public transport).

You can use either Google Maps (screenshot on the right) or Moovit (screenshots below) to plan your trip using Tel Aviv buses. I would recommend Moovit and will explain a bit more below. If you’re using the Google Maps app, choose the public transport option after plugging in your start point and destination. Both apps will tell you which bus number and which bus station to wait at. In the Google Maps screenshot above you can see that it indicates to take buses 17 and then 204 to arrive at Lassalle Street 7. It also gives you the start time, end time and expected duration of the trip (bottom of the screen). If you leave your GPS on you will be able to see exactly where you are while you are travelling on the bus.

Once inside a Tel Aviv bus you will usually hear each of the stations spoken by a machine voice, but they’ll include Hebrew words for “street,” “boulevard,” etc. so it can get a bit confusing. To figure out which stop is yours, you do one of 2 things – ask someone for help or use the Moovit application.

To use Moovit to plan a trip, first make sure you have your GPS on, then open the app, select "Plan Trip," enter your origin and destination, select "search," pick the best bus option, then click "navigate" at the bottom of the screen. This will start "Ride Mode," where you will see exactly where you are on the map in real time as you are riding - as well as how many stops are remaining (in the screenshot above it shows 5 stops remaining). 

The Moovit application will also notify you (in English) when you’re one stop away (as you can see above) and again when you’ve reached your final station.

A final note: Tel Aviv buses do not run on the Sabbath and holidays. If you need to get around on those days then go for a regular taxi or monit sherut (see above). 

Also beware that it may take a little bit of getting used to the Tel Aviv bus drivers - they're on a tight schedule and drive pretty quickly. I mean, faster than half the cars on the road! So you may be a bit nervous when you first take a bus there. But don't worry, the drivers are really good, and I'm sure you will feel totally comfortable after a short while.

Useful Hebrew terms for transport in Tel Aviv (all words with “kh” below - such as in “rekhev” - are pronounced like the guttural H of Hanukkah):

  • Monit = taxi
  • Nuhug = driver (useful if you catch a private or shared taxi or bus and want to get the driver’s attention)
  • Derekh = Road
  • R'khov = Street

My final word on transport in Tel Aviv is also to consider walking. Yes, man’s oldest form of transport. Tel Aviv has some beautiful areas which can best be appreciated with a walk. You can, of course, also combine a stroll with any of the options above (taxi, bus, bicycle, etc.).

Happy travels!

Michael Celender

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