A city which sprawls the coastline, its beach is a magnet for locals and visitors, and a hive of gay nightlife – could Tel Aviv be Brighton and Hove’s long-lost sibling?

Any concerns about unrest in Israel are quickly dispelled after the wheels of the new easyJet flight from Gatwick hit the tarmac and the very serious airport security guards are done with their persistent and thorough questioning.

The modern and young city was only founded in 1909 and a wave of Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution swelled the city’s population in the 1920s and 1930s.

Today the city is dubbed by its promoters as an urban playground, boasting high-end shopping and a plethora of art and culture.

The vibrant metropolis has caught the attention of travel guide Lonely Planet, which ranks it one of the top ten most action-packed cities alongside Berlin, Ibiza and Buenos Aires. National Geographic has named it as one of the world’s best beach cities and the New York Times says it is simply the “capital of cool”.

The liberal city, which has an annual Gay Pride parade in June, was crowned the world’s best gay tourism destination by GayCities in 2012, which celebrated the city’s “free and easy” seaside atmosphere – enjoyed by the 8.5 million who flock to the white sand beach to play volleyball amid the continuous thwack of bat and ball – or Matkot – as temperatures top a humid 33 degrees.

Sat in the middle of the seafront – and the centre of the opening shot in Adam Sandler’s movie Don’t Mess With The Zohan – is the iconic Dan Hotel with its multi-coloured facade, the city’s first luxury hotel with rooms overlooking the beach, indoor and outdoor pools, and a rooftop sun deck.

The culture and food of the city is a cacophony of the country’s many influences – Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, north African and eastern European all come together for incredible salads, pitta, falafel, perfectly cooked meat kebabs and hummus hummus hummus.

The city’s 4,000 Bauhaus buildings, known as the White City, are a UNESCO World Heritage site, regarded to be an outstanding example of innovative large-scale town planning in the 20th century.

At night the city truly comes alive. A third of Tel Aviv’s population is aged between 18 and 34 and there are nearly 3,000 high-class eateries and trendy bars which are packed to the rafters as clubs stay open until the early hours of the morning. The Cat And The Dog, on the outskirts of the city, rarely closes before 7am and is considered by RedBull to be one of the world’s ten international “killer clubs”.

For a fascinating glimpse into local life, watch out for the Hasidic Jews who drive around the city’s streets at night, dancing on the roofs of mini buses, sound systems blaring.

Nightlife peaks on a Thursday before the Shabbat slows things to a virtual halt on Saturday – perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when planning a visit.

By stark contract, neighbouring Jaffa is one of the world’s oldest ports and is steeped in historical and biblical significance. It is where Jonah set sail from before his encounter with the whale and where ancient cedars arrived to build Solomon’s temple.

A panoramic view of the modern city from HaPisga Garden shows how quickly Tel Aviv has grown in mere decades.

Tour guide Igal Zeevi said, “Until three years ago Tel Aviv wasn’t a main destination. But more people are discovering it and want to spend more time here because the city has so much to offer.

“There’s good food, nice hotels, beautiful beaches and its great fun. People fall in love with the city very quickly.”

The significance of Jaffa is cemented at underground Jaffa Tales Visitor Centre, where an interactive presentation among Roman ruins tells biblical and historical stories – complete with winds and splashes of sea water.

Other decorated alleyways in the old town host a flea market on Wednesday when the colourful local characters who sit chain-smoking under the shade of parasols are as much of a draw as the menagerie of broken and seemingly useless items laid out on mats in front of them for sale.

Among the shops is Erez Rozen’s perfumery where he makes personalised scents from 190 shekel a bottle (about £33).

Of course no trip to Israel is complete without a visit to Jerusalem. Our first stop is Mount of Olives, where the ancient city is laid out before you, the glistening gold dome of Temple Mount its dazzling centrepiece. The old walls of the city can be seen and the entire contents which once would have made up the old city – fascinatingly replicated in a scale model at The Israel Museum.

The traders’ stalls packed into the underground tunnels and alleyways of Jerusalem’s old town, not dissimilar to Morocco’s souks, could capture the imagination for hours of browsing.

The Western Wall and Temple Mount are obviously not to be missed, as are the Last Supper room and tomb of King David.

Even agnostics will find fascinating the passion of people throwing themselves upon the marble stone, supposedly where Jesus’s body was laid, and touching the rock which supported his crucifix, in the Holy Sepulcher Church.

The emotion of the religious significance of Jerusalem can become too much for some, who are diagnosed with the overwhelming mental condition Jerusalem Fever.

For a small donation red pieces of wool are on sale outside the city’s walls – a Jewish folk custom when tied around your left wrist to ward off misfortune and a continuous reminder of the city.

  • EasyJet flies from Gatwick to Tel Aviv from £84.74 one way
  • For more information about the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel visit www.danhotels.com/TelAvivHotels/DanTelAvivHotel
  • For more information about travelling to Tel Aviv and Israel visit www.thinkisrael.com