16443042514_1c843845c5_zThe newest addition to Tel Aviv’s skyline is a giant 23-meters wide hot-air balloon that can be found floating up to 120 meters over the city’s streets. The newest tourist attraction in Israel, known as TLV Balloon, is already proving popular with the hordes of visitors to Yarkon Park, where it is docked.

The tethered flight, in which up to 30 passengers float in the balloon basket in the air while anchored to the ground, provides a 360-degree view of the “non-stop city” and its surroundings.

The balloon is defined as an aircraft, even though it is anchored, and its operators took a special pilot course approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The hot-air balloon ride is located in close vicinity to the Luna Park amusement park complex in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds and the Memadion Water Park, giving tourists and residents alike another fun way to check out the city.

Hot-air ballooning is a popular recreational activity in Israel. There are two annual festivals, one over the Galilee and the other over the Negev.

While the Tel Aviv municipality, Yarkon Park and Civil Aviation Authority, as well as a number of other government ministries, okayed the new venture, it was the fulfillment of a dream by one guy. Dr. Ofir Miller, an international negotiation expert and lawyer, wanted to add the White City to the 50 other world cities – including Stockholm, London and Paris — with their own hot-air balloon rides.

The activity in Tel Aviv costs NIS 75 for an adult, NIS 65 for a Tel Aviv resident and NIS 55 for a child (under the age of 12) for a 12 minute ride. The ride is open every day from 9 am to 10 pm.

Plans are in progress for a Visitors Center adjacent to the boarding station that will tell the history of the hot-air ballooning industry, from the beginning of manned hot-air ballooning in France in 1782 to today.

Operators of the balloon say the ride, which is beautifully lit up at night, is aimed at everyone – but suggest that families come in the mornings or afternoons, while couples might prefer the more romantic evening rides.