Tel Aviv vs Jerusalem

Tel Aviv city lights, Israel

Although they are the two biggest and most popular cities to visit in Israel, it often feels like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cannot be more different from each other, in every meaningful way. In the short one-hour journey between the cities, many visitors feel like they have crossed continents and even reached a different planet, as the striking differences are so apparent, even just from a first glance.

And it is the difference that also makes both cities so unique in their own way, and which shows the diversity and uniqueness of Israel at its best. Here, we will look at Tel Aviv vs Jerusalem, side by side, and compare the main features of both cities, so you will know exactly how to plan your trip between those two wonderful sites to visit.

Tel Aviv vs Jerusalem: History

When looking at the history of both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, it is very easy to understand the basis of their major differences. Tel Aviv, considered to be the most modern city in Israel, was founded in 1909, as the First Hebrew city. Within a few decades, it became the cultural and financial center of Israel, as most of the tallest skyscrapers can be found in Tel Aviv, especially around Sarona.

On the other hand, Jerusalem goes back more than 7,000 years and was made the capital of the Jewish people around 1,000 BCE. Since then, it has played a major role in the history of the Middle East and the entire world and has been fought over numerous times, before Israel took control of it in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Landmarks and architecture

Although it is a very modern city with skyscrapers and bright lights, Tel Aviv is actually most famous for its Bauhaus architecture, which is most common in areas known as Tel Aviv White City, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This unique architectural style, which was developed in Germany, makes Tel Aviv an incredible city to visit for architecture lovers, as it gives the city a cool, distinct vibe. Some of the best places to see the Bauhaus style are around Habima Square and Rabin Square.

On the other hand, Jerusalem also has its unique architecture, as famously, all buildings in Jerusalem must be made of the Jerusalem Stone, a pale limestone that is very common in and around Jerusalem. This fact makes Jerusalem a city like no other, as the unique building style gives it a unique, ancient vibe, which plays a major part in the unique holy atmosphere you will experience in the city.

Of course, the best place to experience the architecture of Jerusalem is in the old city of Jerusalem, where you can see incredible landmarks and religious sites, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and more.

Culinary scene

Many would agree that both cities offer a great culinary scene, albeit a completely different one. In Tel Aviv, you will find an incredible collection of fine-dining options and world-class international restaurants, alongside a plethora of great Israeli food, like Sabich, Malabi, Sachlav and, more.

Alternatively, in Jerusalem, you will find a more authentic Israeli culinary scene, as it is considered by many to be the best place to try hummus, falafel, Knaffeh, and of course, the great Jerusalem Bagel.

Generally, both cities offer great dining options, headlined by their famous markets: the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, and the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. In both, you will find an incredible collection of local and international options, at relatively affordable prices. Both cities also offer great cafes and bakeries, with Tel Aviv specializing in international pastries, and Jerusalem offering great local delights.

Tel Aviv vs Jerusalem: Culture and atmosphere

When it comes to culture, both cities offer a multitude of great cultural experiences, with great museums in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. However, Tel Aviv is widely considered to be the cultural center of the country, and offers a much wider selection when it comes to concerts, musicals, and theater shows, thanks to great venues like Habima and Hacameri.

In terms of general atmosphere, Tel Aviv is the most liberal, international, and open-minded city in Israel, while many would say that Jerusalem is almost the complete opposite. While it does have some modern and liberal areas, most of the residents of Jerusalem are on the more conservative side. However, Jerusalem makes up for its relative close-mindedness with a unique atmosphere of holiness and history, which is truly like no other place on earth.


As the nightlife capital of Israel, Tel Aviv certainly wins this category, with a wide selection of great bars and clubs, offering great music and a vibrant atmosphere at any time. In addition, Tel Aviv has a very developed LGBTQ scene, which is very apparent in the community’s unique bars and parties.

While it is not at the same level as Tel Aviv, you can definitely find have a great time partying in Jerusalem, as most of the city’s popular bars are located in the great Machane Yehuda Market, and are the busiest on Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Nature and parks

On the one hand, Tel Aviv is a very flat and busy city, without any viewpoints or great natural sites to see. However, it does top Jerusalem in one very important point of attraction: the Tel Aviv Beach, which is the most popular place for surfing and sunbathing in all of Israel. In addition, it does have the great Hayarkon Park, offering a great city getaway with many nice attractions.

Jerusalem, on the other hand, offers several great viewpoints and parks, headlined by the Mount of Olives, which features an epic view of the old city. In addition, thanks to parks like Sacher Park and the Deer Park, you can certainly enjoy great nature during your visit to Jerusalem.

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