Let’s face it – Israel is a small country, so you could conceivably travel across most of it in a day at a push, though I spent a few weeks there and also a few days in Palestine during the same trip. The views and landscapes are beautiful as are the sunsets, particularly at the Sea of Galilee, a magical place and must visit.
On your visit, you’ll see landmarks dating back to antiquity and signs marking the modern country’s connection to its fascinating Biblical past and deep rooted history.
Here the some top reasons why you should take a trip to Israel this year.
Historic Jerusalem. Jerusalem is holy to three religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and you’ll find pilgrims from all over the world walking the narrow streets of the Old City. Jews regard the Western Wall as the sole remnant of their holy Temple.
On the adjacent hill, the Temple Mount, are the colourful Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, considered the third holiest in all of Islam. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered the location where Jesus was crucified as well as his tomb.
Vibrant Tel Aviv. In sharp contrast to religious, conservative Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is secular, liberal, and open for business nearly 24 hours a day. The city has a long stretch of Mediterranean beachfront, a plethora of cafes, restaurants and bars, and many museums, galleries, and theatres.
Mediterranean Beaches. As if the beaches of Tel Aviv aren’t enough for you, you can spend a day at one of the many beaches along the coast. Particularly picturesque is the beach near the city of Caesarea, home to a large Roman amphitheatre, historic port, and archaeological park.
Mineral-Rich Dead Sea. Located at the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea is an inland lake where you can’t help but float due to the high salinity of its waters. And while you’re there, make sure to relax your entire body by covering it with Dead Sea mud.
But, you’ll have to hurry as the Dead Sea is evaporating! Every year the sea level gets lower and lower, causing dangerous sinkholes to pop out unexpectedly along its shores. As a result, many beaches have been closed. Don’t worry, there are still places where you can float.
Mountain-Top Masada. Overlooking the Dead Sea is an ancient fortress originally built by the Hasmoneans and later fortified by King Herod.
Legend says that the last survivors of the Jewish resistance against the Romans committed suicide here in the year 73, preferring death to falling into slavery. Take a cable car to the top, or brave the heat and climb up the Snake Path. It’s well worth the visit – visit at sunset too; Masada for sunrise is also epic.
Bahá’í gardens of Haifa. You may not have heard of them, but the Bahá’í are members of one of the world’s newest religions. Their holiest sites are located in Haifa and the nearby city of Akko. The Bahá’í Gardens, terraces overlooking the bay, are stunningly beautiful and well-maintained. The Bahá’í Gardens in Akko are also magnificent and even more significant to the religion’s faithful.
Coral-Rich Eilat. Located at the tip of the Red Sea, Israel’s southernmost city has limited coastline but it’s a diver’s paradise. The Coral Reef nature reserve has a stunning, very healthy coral ecosystem. Other Eilat beaches are more suitable for swimming and water sports.
Other Great Reads on the Region
- Check out this great foodie guide to Israel Cuisine.
- Israel – Taking in the Sunrise on the top of Masada
- Jordan’s Wadi Rum
- 5 Transformative Stays in Jordan
- Masada and the Dead Sea
- 10 Tel Aviv Bars
- Milos – Land of the Venus
- Reflections and Revelations in Jordan
- Old Yaffa Square
- Foodie Alert – Beyond Israel Cuisine
- Join us on a Colorful Journey Through Israel
- Israel for Foodies
- Jordan Soup to Nuts
- Syria on my Mind
- Jordan Planning Guide
- Travel Israel: Getting Deep into Tel Aviv’s Culture