I’m sure you have some friends who tell you, you shouldn’t go to Israel. They say it’s not safe. They will put together all the bad things they read on the internet just to stop you from coming. Well, you know the drill. You shouldn’t listen to them.
Israel might be divided by a lot of political and religious turmoil but that is out of the question when visiting this fascinating country. Bounded by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank to the East, and Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the Southwest, a small country like Israel is surprisingly packed with so much rich history, culture and beauty. The holiest place in the world lay here. Plenty of natural wonders and a plethora of archaeological treasures are here. The urban lifestyle in cities like Tel Aviv offer a great deal of nightlife. Gays, hipsters, nerds, any kind of clique ― wherever you are from in the world, you are definitely welcome to Israel.
Only have a week of holidays? 10 days? Gap year? However long you are staying, here are some good options of places to visit that you can tailor to fit your preferences.
The urban city of Tel Aviv (TLV) is where the best parties of the Middle East is happening. Reasonably expensive, TLV is bagged as the most gay friendly city in the world where all gays walk and exist with equal rights. You will see straight men partying in gay clubs, gay men and women parading on the streets on a normal day with their most expressive outfits. Tel Aviv is also home to the best gastronomic experiences in the Middle East. From kosher, to vegan, to western dishes, whatever you are craving for, at a particular moment, you can always satisfy your taste buds in Tel Aviv. The Rio de Janeiro slash Barcelona beach and city lifestyle of Tel Aviv is also something to look into!
No trip to Israel is complete without seeing the holiest land and also one of the oldest city on the planet. Piling up to thousand years of history, Jerusalem has been a place of importance to three religions ― Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The idea of theses three being in one city is beautiful. You should definitely see it! Some of the beautiful sites include The Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, The Sepulchre Church where Jesus was crucified, and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third holiest site in Islam. If you are not familiar with the stations of the cross, this is also the best chance to step into the path where Jesus carried a cross. Whether you read a bible or not, Jerusalem will take you to historical occasions that you will surely feel in your bones.
We all know that Jerusalem is for praying and Tel Aviv is for playing but you might be surprised on how lively the nightlife in Jerusalem is. I entered my first gay bar here and we ended up partying until 7:00 am!
Bethlehem and the West Bank
Don’t panic. This area is safe. At first I thought I will be under a massive surveillance just to see the Nativity Church. Between the gates dividing Israel and Palestine lay Bethlehem and is visited by millions of tourists every year. You can surely combine this with your Jerusalem Tour as it is only 20-30 minutes away from each other. Again, don’t worry. You don’t need a special pass to enter the Palestine territories. It is incredibly safe I had to see it myself before believing it!
Masada and the Dead Sea
2 of the most unique and impressive sites of Israel, Masada and the Dead Sea is a good combination for a day trip. Located in the Southern District of Israel and the eastern edge of the Judaen Desert, the Masada National park is on top of a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea. Head over to the Masada National Park before sunrise (approx 4:30), do the 40-minute snake path hike then catch the sunrise at the top. If you don’t want to hike, a cable car is available from 7:00 am but I highly advise you to do the hike! Drink plenty of water as it can get too hot by 6:00 am.
After the tedious hike, pat yourself on the back and dive in the waters of the Dead Sea. Known as the lowest point of the Earth, the water of the Dead Sea is so salty it will allow you to float without putting some effort. While you’re at it, grab the opportunity to do a free spa by scrubbing your body with the popular Dead Sea mud, known for its healing and natural properties.
You’ve never heard of it, I’m sure. It’s not as popular as the others but Northern Israel is full of immense beauty. Between Tel Aviv and Haifa near the city of Hadera lay Caesarea, a coastal town built under Herod the Great in 25-13 BC. Witness a fusion of the old and new city adorned with striking modernly designed homes and a whole load of impressive buildings. Western and Israeli cafes and quaint restaurants scatter all over the city.
Known to be Israel’s third largest city, Haifa has the country’s largest port and a beautiful beach. Like Caesarea, Haifa is a mix of old and new with churches, mosques, seas, mountains and more natural sites in one! Surely, Haifa is a city built for beach and city lovers of all kinds.
Let’s not forget Rosh Hanikra and Acre (Akko), a UNESCO World Heritage Site declared in 2001. It is home to the most colourful festivities of the country that is flocked by visitors from all over the world. As you stroll the streets of Acre, feel the rich history and culture left behind by the conquerors most importantly the places of worship. Islam and Christianity excite the place. Turkish baths are everywhere. Some impressive archaeological findings in the halls built by the Knights Templar is definitely a must-see. Churches, restaurants, beaches are everywhere. Acre will give you an opportunity to feel the fishing port vibe so make sure to eat a lot of seafood!
The North boasts the famous Jordan River and the Baptism Site for pilgrims called the Qasr-el-Yehud. Journey to the Jordan Valley and find your way to the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest fresh reservoir. It is also home to a lot of important Biblical sites such as Tiberias (one of the four Jewish holy cities) and Capernaum (the center of the activities of Jesus at his time).
Southern Israel is probably my favourite places in the whole country. Covering 50% of the country’s land area, it has the most beautiful sites and activities. Try driving from Tel Aviv to Eilat and you will see an outstanding landscape so empty you will always have a clear visual display about the South.
Eilat is called the Vegas of Israel. Over the years, visitors have flocked the city bordering Egypt and Jordan because of its stunning beaches perfect for scuba diving and even snorkeling. The vibe is super far from Vegas ― chill and super laid back. Be warned: Eilat (and the South) has the hottest temperature it can reach up to 50 degrees celsius during the summer!
Whatever kind of traveler you are, Israel has everything for you. Personalise your trip with Tourist Israel and let your hassle-free vacation in Israel unfold!