Tel Aviv’s ultimate street art experience

Written by on November 24, 2013 in Blog, Israel, Middle East, Reviews, Tours - 23 Comments

Gilad Uziely, the founder of Mekomy, picks me up on his motorbike, producing a cushiony helmet for me to wear as we zip along the Mediterranean and head towards Old Jaffa.

It’s a hot day, and the wind hitting my face is welcome as we zoom down the smooth road and towards the ancient city.

The best hummus in Tel Aviv is at Ali Karavan

He’s got quite the afternoon lined up for me — first we’re exploring Old Jaffa, then going to grab hummus at Ali Karavan, which is apparently the best in the country (please order the triple, which treats tastebuds to hummus, flu and masabacha — trust me), then we’re off on a street art tour with one of the city’s most popular artists, Dioz, then to end the day, we’re visiting a new street art exhibition at the Tel Aviv bus station.

Mekomy is Gilad and his wife’s vision after serving as travel agents. When the two were always asked for their suggestions, Gilad saw an opportunity to bring together the curious travelers with the local experts and the start-up was born. Today, his company operates in a few cities and by the end of 2014, he hopes to have experts and tours offered in five cities in Europe and Israel. Guests can select from three tours given by locals: art, culinary and photography.

For me, I find the best way to get to know a city and its subcultures is to check out the street art. In Berlin, I fell in love with the art scene and since then, whenever I can get an opportunity to see the more gritty, creative side of a city, I jump for the chance.

The beginning: Jaffa

The old city of Jaffa in Tel Aviv, Israel

We start in Jaffa, where the summer heat leaves us beading with sweat and we dip into air conditioned buildings to cool off for brief moments before winding our way through the old, historic city.

Jaffa in Tel Aviv

The oldest part of Tel Aviv, Jaffa immediately summons recollections of Europe with its slippery, tiny pathways meandering up hills to secret nooks and crannies. We wander through the ancient port city, climbing the stairs to the top and breathing in the stunning view of the Mediterranean caressing the shore below before Gilad begins to point out street art as we descend towards our lunch break.

Street art in Jaffa, Tel Aviv

A look at an artist’s life

After dining at Ali Karavan, we hop back on Gilad’s bike and drive to the start of our tour — the famous street artist, Dioz’s, house. Located in a run down building with a tiny church below, I enter his home and am blown away.

Street artist Dioz's home in Tel Aviv

It’s the most eclectic, artsy place I have ever stepped foot in. There are works of art everywhere, from traditional paintings hung on walls to unique sculptures.

Street art in a house

To my delight, there is even a cat.

Dioz is tall and rather soft-spoken for one of the city’s most popular street artists. He offers me a water before he takes us on the tour of his flat, which includes an expansive patio/roof.

Standing on the roof of the building, Dioz extends a finger towards the city.

“There, that is one of my latest works,” he says. I follow the direction of his finger to a painting adorning a wall.

The latest work of Dioz in Tel Aviv

It’s really cool.

Then, the three of us are off.

Hitting the streets

Glass crunching underfoot, we explore the mostly warehouse area of Florentin that has emerged as the scene for street art. Tucked between posh and sky scrapers and more rundown areas, it’s easy to see why this neighborhood has emerged as the place for street art. It is where worlds collide and the artists can have the liberty to create on the blank walls of warehouses.

A street in Florentin, Tel Aviv

But, even the bars and shops here embrace the art. Metal shudders aren’t just metal here, they are art.

Street art in Florentin, Tel Aviv

He and Gilad stop me every few feet to explain the art I am looking at, to show me collaborations between other street artists in the area and work done by people from all over the world.

More street art in Tel Aviv

I’m a sucker for street art and here — in this little Tel Aviv neighborhood just off-the-beaten-path from the tourist trek — I have stepped into a treasure trove of glorious work that is nearly on part with street art in places like Berlin.

Street art by Dioz in Tel Aviv

Where street art gets main streamed

After we explore in the afternoon heat, it’s back on Gilad’s bike and over to the Tel Aviv bus station where his friend, Mati Ale, has done something incredibly special — he has transformed a bland and sterile bus station into one of the largest collaborations of street art I have ever witnessed. (Hurry, it’s only on exhibition for a year!)

Street art takes over the Tel Aviv bus station

The entire departures floor is covered in works from some of the best in the country. Abstract, surreal, whimsical works flood my eyes as they dart everywhere, searching for something I may have missed on first glance.

The street art exhibit at Tel Aviv's bus station

More street art at the exhibition in Tel Aviv's bus station

It’s a long day, and by late afternoon the heat begins to take its toll. Gilad whips me back through the rush hour traffic and drops me back at Artplus. Tired. Happy. And a memory filled with amazing street art.

Street art by Dioz

Want more street art? Check out this week’s Escape  for a full photo essay of the awesome.

Editor’s Note: My street art tour was courtesy of Mekomy, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

 

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2010 she quit her job in PR to go on a solo backpacking adventure and tackle her 30-Life-Crisis. After seven months abroad, journeying throughout Europe and Africa, she returned to America and relocated to Las Vegas. Following a year-long stint back in PR, she once again quit her job to follow her dreams; this time her journey took her to the elephants and Elephant Nature Park where she is involved with raising awareness about responsible elephant tourism. Recently, Diana was named a finalist in the Destinology Travel Bloggy Awards for travel writing. She has been a regular contributor to Viator and recently served as the Las Vegas contributor for OneTravel.com and CheapOair.com. Her work has appeared in print and online, including The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Vegas Seven, World Nomads and more.

23 Comments on "Tel Aviv’s ultimate street art experience"

  1. Sam @ Trilogy Yachts November 24, 2013 at 8:14 am · Reply

    oh my God! the pics are crazy.. Diana same like you am also blow away looking at the fourth pic :-D :-D .. tel aviv is surprising!

  2. Ayngelina November 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm · Reply

    Amazing tour, this is exactly the kind of tour I love to do. Definitely bookmarking this page.

  3. Alex November 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm · Reply

    I love street art! I’d really like to take an organized tour of it someday, somewhere… so far, I’ve only DIYed :)

    • Diana November 25, 2013 at 3:29 am · Reply

      Me, too! I have taken a few tours, but also just love to wander about and stumble upon stuff. However, the experience is far more interesting when I get to hear stories about the different artists and the symbolism behind each piece of work … which is what makes tours like Mekomy’s so special. :)

  4. Gaelyn November 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm · Reply

    There’s a lot of talent displayed on these streets. Nice to see it out where people can enjoy it.

    • Diana November 25, 2013 at 3:28 am · Reply

      I LOVE street art. I think it says so much about a place!!

  5. Gilad Uziely November 25, 2013 at 2:02 am · Reply

    Diana was great having you!
    Thank you for the great piece :-)
    We are now also in Barcelona and Rome – follow us as we add more destinations.
    https://www.facebook.com/Mekomycom

  6. Hogga November 25, 2013 at 3:47 pm · Reply

    HAHA @ the sculpture

  7. Adam November 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm · Reply

    Glad you had a good experience in Tel Aviv! Very cool that you got to visit an artist’s house as well.

  8. esme November 25, 2013 at 10:41 pm · Reply

    Hi. I also posted on the Tel Aviv street art recently (http://www.esmetravels.com/category/travel-blog/israel-jordan/page/2/). Will add your post as a link to mine.

    Love the soulful pink, bald quadriped and malevolent-looking plant.

    - esme

  9. GiselleandCody November 26, 2013 at 9:29 am · Reply

    This is amazing. Such beautiful and creative artwork all over.
    We will have to contact somebody for a street art tour when we are there :)
    Great photos <3 Love you!!

    • Diana November 30, 2013 at 3:30 am · Reply

      You absolutely should!! Love you, too!!

  10. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs November 26, 2013 at 9:39 am · Reply

    Great pictures, Tel Aviv is my favourite city in the world!

    • Diana November 30, 2013 at 3:30 am · Reply

      Tel Aviv is quite the city! I really enjoyed my time there!

  11. Erica November 26, 2013 at 11:51 am · Reply

    GAH I’m a sucker for street art!

    • Diana November 30, 2013 at 3:27 am · Reply

      Ditto!!

  12. Camels & Chocolate November 27, 2013 at 10:49 am · Reply

    This sounds like a great tour! I loved Tel Aviv–such a nice, refreshing change from the rest of Israel (which as a whole was not for me).

    • Diana November 30, 2013 at 3:27 am · Reply

      It was a really cool tour! I’ve been through a few different places in Israel and Tel Aviv definitely feels the most modern and quite the melting pot of people!

  13. Mrs. Chasing the Donkey November 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm · Reply

    I love a lot of these, there is just one questionable one that makes me cringe…. the rest are so awesome.

    • Diana November 30, 2013 at 3:26 am · Reply

      I love them, too! Which one makes you cringe?

  14. Neil November 30, 2013 at 5:40 pm · Reply

    I loved my trip to Tel Aviv this summer but seemed to have missed these! Some great photos there, so much character.

    • Diana December 8, 2013 at 12:41 am · Reply

      There really is a lot of character in Florentin, and around the entire city. When you go back, definitely check out the art. I feel like it will only get better!

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