Hip Israel

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Hip Israel

There’s a new entertainment spot in Jerusalem, more nightlife than one can handle in Tel Aviv, music and theater festivals everywhere and lots of coolness all around.

If you think Israel is resting on its historic and religious laurels for the tourism spotlight, think again. The city streets feature public art in the form of stunning graffiti pieces, the myriad of nightclubs and bars pulsate to energetic dance beats, and the numerous festivals draw the locals and international set. Israel’s rich cosmopolitan culture is alive and well.

In Jerusalem, the city’s historic Ottoman-era train station will reopen as a major entertainment hotspot this month. The 1.7-acre complex boasts seven restaurants, ice cream and coffee stands, an art gallery, a farmers market and a concert space. And even as the historic building welcomes the modern world, much care was taken into retaining the elegant atmosphere of rail travel, including the preservation and restoration of the wooden doors, stained glass windows and carved stone. And for travelers who want to get around Jerusalem quickly and efficiently, the Jerusalem Light Rail takes them around the historic sites, shopping streets and top restaurants.

There are so many festivals in Israel it’s hard to count them on 10 fingers, but one of the most fun has got to be the Tamar Festival and not just because of the amazing musical acts it features. Its setting is actually its most unique attribute: in the Negev Desert with sunrise concerts whose “star” is the sunrise over the desert.

When it comes to shopping, visitors won’t want to miss Israel’s famous markets, but for a more sophisticated experience recommend a boutique or two. Tel Aviv probably has some of the coolest shops selling such items as leatherwear by famed designer Mika Bashan, whimsical homegoods like clocks and light fixtures, unique locally designed shoes, and cutting-edge designer labels.

When it comes to nightlife, everyone knows it’s straight to Tel Aviv we go. It’s not nicknamed the “city that never sleeps” for no reason. The partying goes on until morning and everyone is welcome; in fact, the city is known for being very gay-friendly. Some of the best bars, according to insiders, are in the Tel Aviv port and in the Rothschild Boulevard area.

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