A unique combination of uninhabited desert, mountainous areas, modern cities with vibrant economic, cultural and social life and historical settlements full of religious symbols, Israel certainly has something to offer every type of tourist: well-maintained sandy beaches for sea lovers, exotic gourmet restaurants, modern shopping centers, and traditional markets for souvenir hunters and for those who love shopping and religious sights that attract followers of the three monotheist religions of the world.
The Old City is the main tourist attraction of the capital – Jerusalem – and of the country as places and buildings with a major religious significance are sprinkled here, in his four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian. Narrow streets form a huge bazaar where you can buy almost anything – from printed shirts with funny messages or with the country’s badge, jewelry, scarves and magnets to objects of worship.
The Holy Sepulcher Church or the Church of the Resurrection built on Golgotha (the place where Jesus was crucified) amazes its visitors by the variety of architectural styles, traces of the tumultuous history of the holiest place of the Christian faith.
In this pilgrimage among the holy places, do not forget to write down a wish and place the note between the stones that make up the Wailing Wall – the only remaining part of the temple built by King Solomon.
Getting out of the old city, you can head to Mount Olive, mentioned both in the New and in the Old Testament. In addition to numerous churches, here is the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus spent his last night before being crucified.
Although many tourists come to Israel especially to visit Jerusalem, the Holy City is also the starting point for several day trips. Actually, planning a tour of the Holy Land is rather simple. No hassle.
Heading towards the North of the country along the Mediterranean shore, you will have the opportunity to discover breathtaking landscapes, amazing natural formations as well as historic landmarks dating from long gone times. A sacred place for Christians and Jews, the small town of Bethlehem is easily reachable from Jerusalem. Masada and the Dead Sea area are must-take day trips while in Jerusalem.
Tel Aviv, the country’s economic center, is must-see destination if you want to discover the modern Israeli life. A long promenade that stretches from the old Jaffa port and historic district, invites tourists, and locals with its numerous cafes, restaurants and hotels. Besides the beach and the typically urban things to do, Tel Aviv is also a good spot to establish your headquarters while touring the country as various day trips are available.
Animated all year round, Tel Aviv’s beaches set the tone for the entire city, being as much a part of the city as its streets, art galleries, boutiques and museums. Bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, they are bordered by trendy cafes and a scenic promenade.
If you are visiting the city, this is the place to sip your morning coffee, to play some beach volleyball or the local version of beach tennis, to exercise outdoors, and, of course, to catch some tan.
Remaining in the sphere of religious tourism, we have to mention another important objective – theChurch of the Annunciation in Nazareth – a milestone for Christian tourists visiting Israel. From here take a tour of the Mediterranean coast. If you are a history passionate, head North to Acco and visit the fortress Napoleon failed to conquer.
Haifa, the 3rd largest city of this impressive country, hosts the Baha’i Gardens – an example of aesthetic taste, built in the spirit of tolerance and peace (the core values of this religion), and theCave of St. Elijah, under the altar of the Carmelite Stella Maris Monastery. If you are a beach lover or if you simply don’t want to walk so much, you can take the cable car, provided it is not windy.
Those looking for marine attractions can find plenty of opportunities in this country full of religion. Eilat, the symbol of the Israeli Red Sea Riviera offers a wide range of things to do – from restaurants, hotels, clubs to scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports. The Undersea Observatory delights its visitors with many colors of exotic fish species and coral reefs.
The Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth, but also the rich in salt, is famous for the therapeutic effects of its minerals and mud. Trips to the Dead Sea are available from various locations in Israel.
Best of Israel
Israel’s Negev and Arava deserts are home to some truly stunning hiking trails that are must-visits for any outdoors people living or vacationing in the country.
There is a nice mix of places to hike as well, with both easy and challenging trails available, meaning pretty much anyone can head out on a desert hike in Israel – just remember your sunscreen and water!