Official languages: Hebrew and Arabic
Currency: Israeli New Shekel
Welcome to the country of Israel, the Promised Land. For over 50,000 years the landscapes of Israel have been home to prophets and religious leaders that seek enlightenment in this remote and mystical desert landscape. It’s the heart and soul of three mighty religions; Judaism, Islam and Christianity and is essentially a cornerstone in the evolution of these belief systems. There’s Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, the majestic Dome of the Rock, humble Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the astonishing Crusader Castles and the Mount of Olives all blending together to form an integral part of the human race’s spiritual history and the modern Western civilization. But Israel is much more than just a desert with archeological gems; it holds many adventure and exploration opportunities such as rock-climbing, diving and snorkeling and has some truly amazing beach resorts. There’s also the Golan Heights which provides great skiing opportunities in the winter months and the great Tel Aviv which is known as the city that never sleeps with its vibrant night life. And then there are the warm and friendly Israeli people who give a distinct stamp of quality to the hospitality you will receive in this country. Step inside and immerse yourself in the rich history that lies within the scared land with all its fascinating attractions and activities.
Israel offers an amazingly diverse blend of the ancient and the modern that is incomparable with any other destination worldwide. It’s the most famous religious area in the region and the holy sites of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are the main attractions and also the defying points of fame and uniqueness of this country. Along with the natural beauty of the natural landscape and the architectural masterpieces Israel is one of the most unique countries on offer in the Middle East. Israel has always been an attraction to religious leaders and prophets and has at some point in time been invaded by almost every empire in the world. Being the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity it attracts thousands of immigrants seeking their true origins. It holds what seems to be the world’s largest collection of sacred and religious sites and relics and it is the original Promised Land. Israel is also famous for its great hospitality as well as diverse and intriguing local people and landmarks. Many visitors trave here to find a sense of belonging and even for those just looking for a relaxing holiday, Israel has always been and probably always will be one of the most famous Middle Eastern attractions on offer.
Must see places in Israel
Jerusalem’s Walled Old City
The ancient walled city of Jerusalem with its Dome of the Rock, pristine gardens, tranquil fountains and Al-Aqsa Mosque is sure to intrigue visitors from far and wide. There’s the Jewish Quarter with its ancient buildings, the great Western Wall and Herod the Great’s Jewish Temple among other premier landmarks that makes this area an unavoidable destination.
King David’s City
Located just outside the walled city of Jerusalem lies one of the oldest settlements in the region. Beautiful archeological findings have been a main attraction point at this site that is believed to be King David’s ancient capital.
Negev Desert with the Nabatean Cities
Discover the 2000 year old cities of Shivta, Avdat and Mumshit that were built by the Nabatean desert traders with the most dramatic architectural designs set in the rugged Negev Desert in order to get access to the major trade routes. These ancient cities have yielded some architectural gems and are sure to amaze travelers from far and wide.
The Dead Sea
This natural wonder with its healing properties is a tourist mecca. The Dead Sea coast in Israel is dotted with beautiful beaches and bathing areas and offers top quality relaxation. You can get a good mud bath before floating around in the salty waters. The mud from the Dead Sea is famed for its uses in beauty products and mineral treatments and has been used since biblical times. Enjoy the tranquil waters of the Dead Sea located in the Jordan Rift Valley.
Head to Northern Israel and discover the place where the ancient Essene Sect lived, the very people who penned and hid the world famous Dead Sea scrolls. The caves offer an amazing scenic tour and captivates with its sense of mystical and other worldly formations.
Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
Just of the Hertzl Boulevard in Jerusalem lies the world’s biggest holocaust museum and is sure to stun visitors with its relics, libraries and monuments that depict a detailed look into one of the darkest times in history and serving as a constant reminder for people to never forget the terrible times past.
Sea of Galilee
Take a scenic drive from Jerusalem and discover the New Testament famed Sea of Galilee. This freshwater lake is located in the greenest part of the country and is the famous place where Jesus walked on water and its shores holds the town of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up and performed his first miracles.
Experience the Jewish religion at its best as you discover the roots of the spiritual Kabbalah movement with its range of intriguing synagogues. One of the four biggest holy cities of Judaism, Safed boasts the Crusader fortress, the Ancient Cemetery and the Red Khan palace with the backdrop of the artistic community looming in the air.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Acre has some astonishing archeological findings and is a holy center for the Ba’hai faith. Its boasts an amazing Ethnological Museum, the Hall of the Crusader Knights Hospitaller and the captivating Tunnel of the Templars which makes this destination a must see.
Church of Nativity
Located in Bethlehem the Church of Nativity is one of the many captivating historic churches that stand among the collection located just outside of the Holy City. This church is famous for being the birth place of baby Jesus.
Things to do in Israel
Relax at Eilat
Boasting some hedonistic delights the Red Sea beach resort of Eilat has some of the most tranquil spots in the region. Explore the waters by a glass bottom boat trip or go snorkeling to experience the beautiful coral reefs that are home to some of the friendliest dolphins around.
Do a guided tour of Jerusalem
It’s the fastest and best way to get a complete overview of the Holy City. You can explore the Old City with its famous walls and historic gates, and also see the underground tunnels of the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, King David’s Tomb and the room where the legendary Last Supper was taken.
Camel trek through the desert sands
The Negev Desert offers some amazing camel trekking opportunities that take you along the spice route and even as far as the Nabatean cities such as Mumshit. There’s also the possibility of making it a camping trip and gazing upon the glimmering night sky with thousands of stars seemingly within arm’s reach.
Raft or Kayak through the River Jordan
It’s an adrenaline rush like no other, with rich green surroundings and marvelous landscapes that complete the scenic trip down one of the most majestic rivers on the region.
Shop till you drop in Tel Aviv
If you have had your fair share of historical exploration head to the bustling city of Tel Aviv for a true metropolis experience. Some of the best entertainment, nightlife and shopping can be done here and if you feel the need to further explore head down to the port of Jaffa where Jonah was swallowed by the Whale, Perseus rescued Andromeda from the sea monster and St Peter had his vision from heaven. The past is an active part everywhere you go in Israel, but Tel Aviv provides some home comforts within all the history that surrounds you.
Best time to visit Israel
Tourist visit Israel between June and August
Israel has 4 climate zones. There is much more than just the empty desert sands you will frequently see on television. There’s lush greenery and pristine coastline and also vast mountain ranges. The winter season snowfall can be expected, even in Jerusalem, and the conditions are generally cold and windy. The coastal cities such as Tel Aviv enjoy more Mediterranean weather with long hot summers and cooler, wet winters while the desert areas such as Negev has extremely hot summers with no rainfall and mild winters with scarce rainfall. Israel’s rainy season runs from November through March, and violent rainstorms with flash floods aren’t unusual. Across the country, January is the coldest month and August is the hottest when temperatures can get quite steamy depending on where you are. Although the spring and fall might seem like the best time to travel, you have to take into consideration that these are also when the Jewish holidays are in full swing and you will end up paying almost three times as much as you would normally pay during the winter months. Christmas time sees massive amounts of traffic heading inbound, as does Easter. Essentially the best time to travel would be between June and July as it’s just before the intense heat strikes and the peak tourist season starts.
Did you know?
When greeting Israeli locals say Shalom! This is hello in Hebrew or Asalamo aleikum which is the Arabic greeting and means peace be upon you.
- Kunafeh – Bright orange shredded filo dough gets layered with goat’s cheese and drenched in syrupy rose water. It’s quite an acquired taste but definitely something you have to try.
- Beigeleh – This bagel like bread topped with sesame seeds is absolutely heavenly. Get some Za’atar (oregano based spice blend) for dipping to complete the taste.
- Sabich – Truly unique to Israel, this pita stuffed with fried eggplant slices, sliced boiled eggs, humus, pickles and amba (pickled mango sauce) sells like nothing else and guarantees an outer worldly flavor explosion.
- Lepeshka – This traditional Jewish round crispy and fluffy bread is divine and the caraway seeds which it is topped with lend an earthy flavor.
- Sambusak – It’s something like the Indian samosa. The tri-cornered fried pasties are stuffed with mashed chickpeas but come available in meat or mashed potato variations too.
- Hummus – The hummus available in Jerusalem is quite possibly the best in the Middle East and even the world. Authentic flavors with a touch of special spices go into the Israeli version and will probably spoil you to a point where you won’t be able to enjoy just plain old hummus outside of the Middle East again.
- Lahmajun – This almost-pizza authentic to Israel is essentially flat bread topped with cheese, onions, tomatoes and ground beef if you prefer and is absolutely divine.
Red Sea Jazz Festival
Showcasing anything and everything jazz related, this four day festival boasts evening jam sessions and up to 9 concerts each night at local bars and clubs in Eilat (July)
Jerusalem Beer Festival
Held annually in Hebron Road Old Train Station in Jerusalem, this festival boasts over 100 beer brands from all over the world. Featuring brewing demonstrations, food stalls and top bands this fest attracts thousands of visitors each year (August)
Karmiel Dance Festival
A massive bazaar and over 80 performances and events highlight this dance festival that sees 5000 dancers from across the world gather each year for celebrations in The Galilee city of Karmiel.
Jerusalem Summer Culture Festival
Music dance and stage performances are all part of the summer celebrations in the city of Jerusalem. It’s a rich cultural experience and promises to entice visitors from far and wide.
Commemorating the 40 years spent wandering the desert sands as described in the Old Testament; this Jewish festival is one of the most traditional and loveliest of them all. Tents are erected all over the country and decorated with greenery and produce and sees families coming together to celebrate the origins of their religion (October)
- Remember that alcohol is forbidden in Muslim areas, so no drinking in public or even carrying alcohol around with you when you are in these zones.
- Dress conservatively and when visiting religious sites try to cover up all areas from the shoulders to under the knees, men should also remember to wear a head covering in these areas.
- Don’t attempt to photograph any locals without their permission.
- Even though it gets really hot in summer, always wear sleeved clothing when hiking to prevent dehydration.
- Respect the traditions and customs of the locals and never try to invade their privacy.
- Only drink the tap water if you have absolutely no other choice.
- If you want to avoid unnecessary unrest, answer all the questions at the immigration checkpoints upon entering the country