Israel, a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea, is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the biblical Holy Land. Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem. Within its Old City, the Temple Mount complex includes the Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its financial hub, Tel Aviv, is known for Bauhaus architecture, beaches and nightlife.
Israel is known as the destination of spiritual pilgrims with an aching amount of history weighting it down but it also has adventure and experiences for every kind of traveller. Despite the war that has persistently continued, especially on the boarders of this land, the nation still stands proud and with brilliant attractions experienced in the most thrilling ways.
How amazing would it be to be able to see this home to the Church of the Nativity? It was built over the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been born. The stately church complex with its far-reaching historical significance and the busy market vibe of the bazaar make this the number one highlight of the West Bank. Although many travellers only come here as a day trip from Jerusalem, the town is an excellent place to base yourself for excursions into the surrounding countryside.
The Dead Sea
At 1,360 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. Its water is about ten times saltier than the ocean’s, making it possible to float on the water without having to move a finger. Be careful though not to splash water in your eyes – it can be very unpleasant! The mineral-rich waters can be very beneficial for those with skin problems. It is called the Dead Sea since it’s too salty for any live organism to live in. So all you can find inside the water is more and more salt.
Tel Aviv & Jaffa
Tel Aviv is Israel‘s commercial heart and cultural centre. It has a world famous night life, great beaches, incredible restaurants and more. The gorgeous sandy beach of Tel Aviv is the perfect spot to catch a sunset. Accompanied by a beer or wine or whatever drink you prefer, kick off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as the Mediterranean laps gently at the shore just meters away. You could also wind down the day at one of the many beachside cafes, the choice is yours.
In Tel Aviv the nightlife is legendary, you can find pretty much anything you need for a good night out. There are countless bars and clubs, as well as museums, theatres, galleries, dance centres, and concert halls for the more cultured evening. If you have the energy, Tel Aviv can keep you occupied until the early hours, including the many restaurants and cafes throughout the city. During the summer months, try a night out at one of the beach-side cafes and bars.
The mountain fortress of Masada stands on an isolated rock plateau in the south east of Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea. The story of Masada is of 1000 inhabitants that committed mass suicide rather than surrendering to their Roman enemies. You can take a walk up the Snake Path to the top of Masada if you’re feeling adventurous, otherwise take the cable car. You can still see the remains of the settlement on top of the plateau, as well as the battery the Romans built to get to the settlement.
Situated on the Red Sea, Eilat is Israel‘s seaside resort site. In the summer it is visited by many Israelis and tourists who sunbathe by the sea or pool. You can go scuba, snorkelling, swimming with dolphins, or participate in many other water sports. At night many clubs are open till the small hours of the night.
The Baha’i gardens in Haifa must be one of the most beautiful gardens in the world and can be seen from almost anywhere in the area. They are a memorial to the founders of the Baha’i Faith. Also known as the “hanging gardens”, they span along a broad staircase of 19 terraces that extend up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The central terrace houses the gold-domed Shrine. The gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s free to enter though you should dress modestly.
A more sombre spot to visit, but an important place to visit in order to get a deeper understanding of Israel, this is Israel’s memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Yad Vashem in Jerusalem is the largest Holocaust museum and memorial in the world. It was established in 1953, with a new part of the museum opened in 2005. There are numerous exhibition halls within its dramatic central triangular structure. The large complex of museums, monuments, exhibition halls with major archives, library and other resource centres extends over 45 acres. Take your time, and be prepared to be deeply moved… No visit to Israel is complete without it.
Sea of Galilee
Gorgeous countryside and bags of history, the shoreline that wraps around the Sea of Galilee is packed full of attractions. Whether you’re here to visit the churches of Tabgha, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount and carried out much of his preaching, or you just want to soak in the hot pools near Tiberius and do some hiking, this beautiful region is a major highlight of any trip. Don’t miss taking a swim in the sea itself and soaking up the views across the lake on a hillside hike.
Wrapped up in Crusader history, Akko (Acre to the Crusaders) has a mellow harbour full of colourful, bobbing fishing boats; a vibrant bazaar crammed with spice, produce, and interesting artisan products; and a truckload of history to boot. The city walls, old khans (caravanserais), and fort remnants speak of another age, when this town was the centre of the empire. One of the most fun towns to explore (who doesn’t like a secret tunnel?); Akko is a great mix of historic sites and modern life.
These nine attractions are only part of the thrilling, heart pumping adventures you can experience in Israel. Planet ware, 10 Most Today, and I googled Israel.com give these and another of other opportunities for those interested in digging and exploring further…