The self-titled ‘Israeli Riviera’ offers 12km of the finest sandy beaches in Israel & the Palestinian Territories, while the town itself exudes a rather strange, time-warp feeling, almost like an out-of season French seaside resort. It’s popular with families, who flock to the spacious promenade with its parks, flower beds and water features. As at Herzliya, the beaches are a favorite with visiting European (especially French and Russian) tourists but are far less crowded than those of Tel Aviv. In August or September, the town has the dubious distinction of hosting the annual two-day Netanya International Clown Festival.
Israelis come from all over to enjoy Netanya’s expansive golden beaches. There are lifeguards on duty, plus changing rooms, showers, lounge chairs and umbrellas. HaRishonim Promenade, the cliff above the beach, is great for strolling and sea views. From here you can even take an elevator down to the beach.
Shtampfer (6 Shtampfer St; dishes 45-70NIS; h9am-2am)
Named after one of the founders of the city of Petah Tikva, Shtampfer is located in the center of town and attracts a lively multinational crowd, who can be found chatting on the large patio or in the upstairs dining area. The menu runs from fruit shakes and salads to pastas and stir-fries. In the evening it morphs into a bar.
Marrakesh (09-833 4797; 5 David Hamelech St; mains 60-125NIS; noon-midnight Sun-Thu, noon-3.30pm Fri, 8pm-midnight Sat )
Tuck into tasty tagines, couscous and meat dishes in this kosher Moroccan restaurant near the seafront. The building is a cross between a giant tagine pot and a Bedouin tent; inside it is decorated with exotic lanterns and comfy cushions.
Tourist Office (09-882 7286; http://www.gonetanya.com; Ha’Atzmaut Sq 12; 8.30am-4pm Sun-Thu, 9am-noon Fri )
This office is housed in a kiosk at the southwestern corner of Ha’Atzmaut Sq. The square itself has recently had an interactive makeover, and its central fountain now includes a huge metal ball with a hidden water screen and lights that are synchronised with music – all very disco-swish. In the square, visitors can use information corners that include touch screens imparting information about places to visit and activities taking place around the city.
Nateev Express buses (600, 601 and 605, 10.50NIS, 30 minutes) run roughly every 15 minutes to and from Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station and the Arlozorov Bus Station. Trains to/from Tel Aviv run twice an hour (16NIS, 25 minutes) but stop 2.5km west of the city center
, on the western side of Hwy 2.