We traveled this country several times. Because we were fascinated by its people, its history. We stayed with locals in various places. But what do you actually have to see when you first visit the country? We made a list with highlights.
And whether you want to plunge into the nightlife of Tel Aviv or retrace the last footsteps of Christ in Jerusalem, don’t miss the following Israel tips:
1. Jerusalem, the Old city
The Old city of Jerusalem is a real must-see. Actually you could do with weeks just being in this city. Visiting Jerusalem is like travelling back in time. Here the bible comes to life. The bazaar is full of people: Jews, Muslims, Christians.
The city is home to many sites of key religious significance: the Western Wall, the Tower of David, the alleyways of the Jewish and Christian quarters, or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. And the Via Dolorosa where Jesus walked before being crucified on the Golgotha just outside of the city walls.
Mount of Olives
For spectacular views, do not miss the Mount of Olives. The Yad VaShem, the World Center of Holocaust Research, is also highly recommended.
2. Tel Aviv
Quite different in character is Israel’s second largest city Tel Aviv. Where Jerusalem is home to many Orthodox Jews, Tel Aviv is the domain of the secular Jews and the city also houses a large gay community.
Tel Aviv combines authentic markets, inspiring art galleries, relaxing beaches, culinary highlights and much more. It is also a place where the nightlife is legendary: there are countless bars and clubs, as well as theatres, dance centres, and concert halls if you’re looking for a cultured evening.
You should also make sure you include a trip to Old Jaffa, where the gorgeous narrow alleyways are full of magic.
3. Ramon Crater, Negev Desert
Largest crater in the world, the Ramon Crater is an amazing geological feature of Israel’s mainly desert south. It is 40 km long and 2-10 km wide and naturally carved out by water and climate erosion. Its surrounding area constitute Israel’s largest national park.
In the south east of Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea, the mountain fortress of Masada stands on an isolated rock plateau. King Herod fled in 40 BC. from Jerusalem to this place because he was in danger. The fortress of Masada was made larger by him, so it was a place of refuge.
The thrilling story of the site reveals the courage of the defenders of Masada and their battle against the conquering Romans. After the fall and destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, resistance against the Roman occupiers still held stand in Masada. When the Romans finally conquered the rock, they found the 73 dead bodies of their opponents who had committed suicide.
The remains of the fortress are well-preserved and have been reconstructed in an effort to pay homage to the site and its heroic inhabitants. During your visit, you will be able to ascend Masada on foot by the winding “snake path”, or by a cable car.
5. The Dead Sea
The name is deceptive. Indeed, it is the lowest lying lake and place in the world. The Dead Sea is about 430 meters below sea level, but the water level continues to drop. The lake is named that way because of the high concentration of minerals that does not allow for visible living creatures.
The Dead Sea offers a variety of beaches, where you can float on water and cover yourself in nutritious mud, famous for its health benefits. It is the ideal place in Israel to visit if you need to chill out, by floating on your back in the warm, salty sea.