Israel is a tiny, young country that attracts hundreds and thousands of visitors every year. From tourists seeking the sun and beaches to pilgrims coming to visit holy sites and business people coming to cement hi-tech deals.
We have put together a short list of just some of the places you might consider visiting when you’re on a visit to Israel. There is a lot more to see and do, but we hope that this will, at least, give you some idea of the variety that this beautiful country offers.
For each location there’s a link to its website and another one to Google Maps, showing you where it is.
Israel has hundreds of museums all across the country. Some are large, internationally recognised institutions, others small private museums dedicated to a specific area of interest.
- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem – Israel’s national museum with a huge collection of art, architecture and many other displays – some permanent, others temporary. Make sure to visit the Shrine of the Book to see the oldest known scroll with portions from the Old Testament.
- The Land of Israel Museum, Tel Aviv has an amazing collection of displays relating to Judaica, history & culture, archaeology, ethnography, and arts and crafts. Each display has its own pavilion centred around a real archaeological site. From time to time the Museum has workshops where visitors (and especially the children) are invited to try their hands at long lost skills.
- Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, Haifa. A small museum dedicated to the Israel Navy and the clandestine immigration before the State was established in 1949. If you’re in the area, perhaps visiting Stellar Maris Observation Point or the Bahai Temple, it’s worth spending a couple of hours here.
Israel is proud of its long history and spends a lot of resources to preserve it for future generations
- Megiddo, Lower Galilee. This amazing archaeological site is one of the most significant in Israel. You will see evidence of a city that existed here over 5000 years ago and the remains of cities built over it. There is an amazing water tunnel that you can go through to experience life as it was then.
- Masada, Dead Sea. When Israel was under Roman occupation, the Jews rebelled and fought to regain their freedom. Here, in one of King Herrod’s remarkable architectural achievements, they made their last stand until, after holding off the might of the Roman Empire, they finally fell. Take the cable car to the top or walk up the Snake Path to see a breath-taking sunrise from the top.
- Bet Shean National Park, Bet Shean. This National Park is located in an area where people have lived for over 18,000 years. Conquered by King David from the Philistines, city after city has risen and fallen until, in 749 CE, an earthquake demolished the city of some 40,000 inhabitants which was never rebuilt. Today, large areas have been lovingly and faithfully restored, including some amazing mosaic floors.
Israel has it all: rolling hills, forests, snow (sometimes), desert, sea and sun. It is a nature lover’s paradise.
- Rosh HaNikra, Western Galilee. Situated on the border of Israel and Lebanon in the north. On a prominent Mediterranean headland, you’ll find mysterious grottos carved into the white chalk cliffs by the ponding of the sea. Take what is said to be the world’s steepest cable car ride to experience it for yourself.
- Timna, Negev. Timna Park, located about 17 miles north of Eilat, combines amazing desert scenery with antiquities and history and a variety of activities for the entire family. The horseshoe-shaped valley covers some 15,000 acres. Here you’ll be able to see ancient tin and copper mines that were in use during the time of King Solomon.
- The Israel National Trail – This amazing nature trail runs for over 1000 km, the length of Israel, from Eilat in the south and on to Kibbutz Dan in the north. It’s split into sections, some can be done in a few hours by the entire family and others may take a few days and demand a certain level of physical fitness. But, if you like hiking – then this is the experience for you.
Israel loves extreme sports. If you like adrenalin then you can get plenty during your visit.
- Kitesurfing, Beit Yanai. From Tel Aviv going north, you’ll often see kite surfers braving the winds and waves of the Mediterranean coast. If you want to try, you can get lessons. If you already know how, rent some equipment and fly away (but not too far please).
- Paragliding, Netanya – With warm air, cliffs and hills, Israel is blessed with thermal currents that are perfect for paragliding. There are over 15 locations where it’s possible to rent equipment or go for a tandem glide with an instructor.
- Diving, Eilat. Eilat: the Red Sea, warm water, plenty of sun, coral reefs, fantastic tropical fish – in a nutshell, a diver’s paradise. If you’re a diver, or want to learn, head on down south.
Israel is a multicultural society – in fact the population is made up of people representing well over 140 nationalities and cultures! Check out some of the fantastic market’s where you’ll see, hear and smell the real Israel.
- Nachalat Binyamin Arts & Crafts Fair, Tel Aviv. This small but amazing open air market provides a stage for craftsmen from all over Israel to come and show their wares. Browse through the collections of jewellery, the wooden and metal sculptures, handmade clothes, toys, puzzles. It’s a treasure trove and you’re sure to find something to take back with you.
- Machane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem. This is a street market in the true sense of the word. It’s not a tourist trap but a real live market where real live people come to shop. Breath in the heady aroma of fresh ground spices, tangy citrus fruits and the smell of fresh baked bread. Listen to the traders as they try to entice you to buy their wares. Then sit down in a sidewalk coffee shop for a cup of strong black coffee.
- The Old Akko Market, Akko. Akko, like Old Jerusalem, is a walled city. But its market still retains the traditional atmosphere of an Arab market. Akko is a well-known fishing port, and so fish is a speciality here, as are the herbs and spices. While you’re here, visit the ancient underground Templar city.
Seen by many as being the spiritual centre of the universe, Israel contains more holy places than almost any other place in the world. Pilgrims from around the world come here to visit holy shrines.
- Bahai Temple & Gardens, Haifa. The Bahai Temple (its real name is the Shrine of the Báb) with its exquisite golden dome sits on a hillside overlooking Haifa Bay. The centre of the Bahai Faith, the temple sits in a series of amazing terraced gardens that rise up from the lower levels of the hill and up to the temple at the top. Check the web site for visiting hours.
- The Church of the Asuncion, Nazareth. The Church of Annunciation (or the Basilica of the Annunciation) is a Roman Catholic Church in Nazareth in the north. It is considered to be one of Christianity’s holiest shrines as it’s believed to have been built on the site of Jesus’s parents, Joseph and the Virgin Mary.
- The Western Wall, Jerusalem. The last remaining part of the Second Jewish Temple is, in fact, the western support wall built by King Herod when he rebuilt the Temple in 37 BCE. When completed, the Wall was 1,500 feet long, reached a height of 90 feet and had foundations reaching down some 60 feet. Today this is the holiest site for Jews around the world.
- Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is a 7th century structure built around a rock from which Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven. The building, which is not a mosque, with its beautiful golden dome that dominates the Jerusalem skyline, is a masterpiece of Islamic art and architecture. Unfortunately it is not always possible to visit the Dome because of the delicate situation in Jerusalem.
How to Get There
You can fly to Israel with dozens of airlines frying from the UK and pretty much any other location you can think of. Budget airlines like easyJet, Monarch and Ryanair offer the cheapest deals but a suitcase, a reserved seat, food – everything is extra. On the other hand, it’s only a 5 hour flight so you can take along a drink and a sandwich. All flights arrive and depart from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Ryanair is the exception at it serves Uvda airport in the south.
Costs vary depending on the airline and season. International airlines are by far the most expensive (£300 – £800+). The budget airlines are a lot cheaper and average out to around £160. If you’re prepared to be flexible on dates and time, you should be able to find some really good deals.
Getting to and from Ben Gurion Airport:
- Hire a car. Avis, Hertz, Sixt etc. all have an extensive network covering Israel and you can pick up and drop off the vehicle at Ben Gurion.
- Taxi – for a door to door service. Taxis can be expensive (make sure the meter’s running) and remember to tip 10%.
- Tel Aviv airport transfers. Booked in advance, you’ll be sure to pay a fixed price. Your driver will be waiting for you in the Arrivals Hall to take you wherever you want to go in Israel. Getting to Tel Aviv takes about 30 minutes and Jerusalem just 50 minutes.
- Bus & Train. The bus service to Ben Gurion leaves a lot to be desired and you have to make a lot of changes. The train, on the other hand, stops right next to the terminal and runs about every 30 minutes, almost 24 hours a day. You can get a train all the way south to Beersheba and north to Nahariya.
Public transport in Israel includes buses, some rail lines and what is known as Sherut. This is a taxi service operating along bus routes that picks up and drops off along the way. Generally the Sherut is a large van with room for up to 10 passengers. Buses and trains are fast, comfortable, air conditioned and many also have free Wi-Fi.
Sunday and Thursday are busy times for buses and trains. They are generally packed with soldiers returning to their bases or coming home for the weekend. Finding a seat can be impossible. If you’re travelling by train you can get a seat in a reserved carriage (usually the first two). It only costs 5 NIS (about £1) and it’s definitely worth it.