Activities in Israel

When you visit Israel you’ll want to see the famous sites, but you might also want to have an adventure and try some new activities in Israel. You can hike in Israel’s national parks or do a wet hike like the Banias Spring Trail, where you follow a stream. Many of the activities in Tel Aviv take place on the shore where there are water sports. A wide promenade runs the length of Tel Aviv’s 14kms-long beach, here you can run, cycle, or skate. The city has a bike-share system so that anyone can rent a bike and explore the city. In the Beautiful Yarkon Park, you can enjoy a climbing wall, take a stationary hot-air balloon ride, play mini-golf, or rent a small boat on the Yarkon River.

Among the activities in Jerusalem are walking the Old City ramparts, visiting the Jerusalem aquarium, hiking in the Ayelah Valley, and following Hezekiah’s Tunnel, an ancient underground water channel. There are plenty of activities for families in Israel, from the Ramat Gan Safari to Tel Aviv Luna Park, and Meymadion water park. In the north, you can go on an ATV buggy adventure, kayak in the River Jordan, horse ride, or, in the winter, ski on Mount Hermon. In the south, there are thrilling desert jeep safaris, and abseiling(rappelling) at Mitzpe Ramon. Further south in Eilat, there are endless activities like camel riding, ice skating, diving, water sports, and swimming with dolphins.

Beaches in Israel

One of the top reasons to take a vacation in Israel has to be its fabulous beaches - whether you’re in the north, south or centre, there’s always a spot where you can don a bathing suit or bikini and spend a day sunning yourself or splashing around in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, or the Sea of Galilee.Caesarea Aqueduct Beach.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinIsrael’s beaches are glorious - with their white sand and clear water, they’re the ideal place to kick back for some relaxation or bring the kids for a fun day (or longer!) out. And many of them are close to other attractions too - snorkeling and dive spots, national parks, and even archaeological sites - which means you can mix up a day’s activities if you’re so inclined. Let’s take a look at some of the top beaches in various parts of the country - we’re confident there are going to be a few you’ll long to visit...Top Tel Aviv BeachesWhatever you’re looking for in a beach in Tel Aviv, we’re pretty sure this city can offer it. With beautiful white sand and clear blue water, whether you’re keen on calm or looking for a sporty adrenaline rush, want live music, or a deserted stretch of coast, you’ll find a Tel Aviv beach you will fall in love with. Here are some of our favorites:Tel Baruch Beach, Tel AvivWide and clean, this beach has some great cafes and restaurants and a wide, sandy area to sunbathe. You can hold barbecues on the lawn nearby and there’s also plenty of parking!Hilton Beach, Tel AvivOne of Tel Aviv’s most popular beaches, this is a great place to kayak, surf, or paddleboard. Traditionally, it has been a popular spot for gay travelers, but it’s also beloved because its waters are calm and clear. The Hilton beach also contains a section where dogs can run freely.Banana Beach, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinMetzizim Beach, Tel AvivThis is the most northern beach in the city and close to Tel Aviv Port (Namal) full of eateries and boutique stores. It has a playground, a cafe, showers and, with its shallow waters, is ideal for families. This is a good place to visit at night if you want privacy since it is situated off the main promenade area.Gordon Beach / Frishman Beach, Tel AvivOpposite the Sheraton hotel, this beach is a great choice for those who love volleyball, ‘matkot’ (an Israeli tradition), and a wonderful outdoor (saltwater) pool. If you go on Saturday mornings, you’ll also see locals folk dancing on the promenade! Chairs, loungers, and parasols for rent (as with every Tel Aviv beach).Banana Beach, Tel AvivThis beach is great for flying kites, surfing, body-surfing, and looking for seashells. The southernmost of all these beaches, you can easily walk to Jaffa from here.To see the complete list of Tel Aviv beaches feel free to check out this article.Metzitzim Beach, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinRecommended Mediterranean Beaches1. Ashkelon BeachesWith its long beachfront, you’re free to choose from a number of beaches here - Bar Kochba, Delilah, the Rock, and Surfer’s beach amongst them. It’s also great for kids - not just the boardwalk but also a lovely children’s playground and a skating area. Well maintained, with clean sand and pristine restrooms. Beach Chairs and umbrellas can be rented all the way along and there are shallow waters, for the most part. Ashkelon Archeological Park is minutes away.2. Palmachim Beach near Rishon LeZionWhat this beach lacks in facilities, it makes up for in sheer beauty. With amazing cliff views to the south and Tel Aviv views to the north, this secluded sandy area views of cliffs to the south, this white sand, crystal clear water beach is perfect for a day out. The nearby national park is great for exploring sand dunes, unusual flora and fauna, and limestone ridges.3. Ajami Beach in JaffaJust south of Old Jaffa lies the Ajami beach, which is popular with locals - a mixture of Jews and Arabs. The water is clear and if you get bored of sunning yourself, head off and explore the Jaffa port, Jaffa flea market,and Artists' Quarter. Not far away is the famous seafood restaurant ‘the Old Man and the Sea’ - they don’t take reservations but it’s worth waiting in line!Ashkelon Archaeological Park.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. Apollonia Beach near HerzliyaLocated under a cliff, overlooking the sea, this pretty beach, with green-colored water, can only be accessed by walking across rocks, and so it’s ideal for those who want some ‘alone’ time. Nearby is the national park Tel Arsuf (Apollonia National Park), dating back to Crusader times.5.Beit Yanai Beach, near NetanyaThis perfect sandy beach is not far from the moshav Beit Yanai named after the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (known in Hebrew as Alexander Yanai). There is an old dock and decent facilities: bathrooms, showers and a fish restaurant. Keep in mind that sometimes waves can be particularly high, as the beach is not protected from the open sea.6. Mikhmoret Beach, near NetanyaThis quiet stretch of beach, close to Netanya, has natural rocky barriers which block large waves (making it safe for kids) and there are acres of sand dunes to explore. It’s great for kite flyers but can be a little rocky (so bring flip flops). Mikhmoret has a Sea Turtle Rescue program and if you’re lucky you might spot one.7. The Aqueduct Beach, CaesareaIt doesn’t have many facilities but it does have a long row of beautifully preserved stone arches that served as an aqueduct and date back to Roman times. Undeveloped and pretty, you can swim here but there’s no lifeguard.Apollonia Beach. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin8. HaBonim Beach near Zichron YaakovWith more bays and inlets than any other in Israel, the coastal strip of Dor HaBonim, not far away from Zichron Yaakov, is picturesque and magical, with a nice campground that makes it perfect for overnight stays. There’s also a walking trail on the kirkar (calcareous sandstone) path and Tel Dor - an ancient city and harbor - close by.9. Dado Beach, HaifaWith a long promenade, full of restaurants, clear water, and helpful lifeguards, this clean and spacious beach in Haifa is not usually too crowded. Great for relaxing and walking on the boardwalk.10. Akhziv beach near Nahariya Arguably one of Israel’s finest beaches, Akhziv beach with the Akhziv National Park, is about 15 km north of Acre and near to Rosh Hanikra. It has cliffs, lagoons, and coves, all full of marine life - the kids will love the rock pigeons and swifts and in the summer, you might even spy a sea turtle on their way to lay their eggs. Akhziv has a campground, showers, lifeguards, and a cafe.Akhziv National Park. Photo credit: © Yaniv Cohen. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks AuthorityTop Dead Sea BeachesDead Sea beaches are quite unique since they’re filled with water that is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean, meaning you can’t swim in them but you most definitely can float! Whilst you will need some decent beach shoes (because there are rocks around), you can also take advantage of the black mud on the shores - it’s perfect for slathering yourselves in if you want a free body treatment! Another wonderful activity tourists can enjoy is exploring the amazing salt deposits all along the sea’s edge - they form all kinds of strange shapes - white ‘icebergs’, strange sculptures, and flat platforms. There’s no doubt about it, with its extraordinary natural features and situated at the lowest point on earth, a trip to a Dead Sea beach is something you can’t miss out on, whilst on vacation in Israel.1. Ein Gedi Spa BeachThis very popular spa resort is a great place to enjoy the Dead Seanear Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Ein Gedi Spa offers many treatments and activities including thermo-mineral sulfur pools, as well as dramatic east-facing views over the waters, towards Jordan. In our opinion, one of the best beaches of the Dead Sea.2. Ein Bokek BeachFree of charge, this beach has plenty of shade and is well-equipped. The whole Ein Bokek area is very clean and if you bring your own padlock, you can use one of the free lockers. The water here is somewhat saltier than at the northern end of the Dead sea but it's also crystal clear. Whilst you won’t find too much black mud here, you can always buy it elsewhere and smear it on yourself for an authentic experience! Ein Bokek Beach. Photo by Tristan MIMET on Unsplash3. Biankini BeachThis private beach is part of an upscale resort with luxury suites, terraces, and gardens with panoramic views and a good place to consider if you want to stay overnight. The entire atmosphere is Moroccan - the decor, the food, and the music and there are plenty of family-friendly activities, including a swimming pool and a kid’s club.4. Neve Midbar BeachThis beach has showers, bathrooms, a boutique, and a beach bar that serves drinks and snacks. It also has plenty of natural black mud on its shores. Be aware that there are a few slippery steps to clamber down, and wear sturdy shoes because there are rocks all around.5. Kalia BeachWith a good selection of places to eat and quite a few shops, Kalia beach is less crowded than the other Dead Sea stretches and even the opportunity to go camel riding nearby! It is easily accessible with a Masada and Dead Sea Day Tour.Kaila Beach, the Dead Sea.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTop Eilat BeachesEilat is a great getaway spot and its beaches offer restaurants on the sand, water sports, and excellent diving in the Red Sea:1. Migdalore Beach, EilatAway from the tourists, therefore a little less crowded, this is a lovely beach for relaxing and also snorkeling. You can rent chairs and loungers and food is served at reasonable prices. Fun fact: ‘migdalore’ in Hebrew means ‘lighthouse’. Look up the hill and you’ll see it...2. Dolphin Reef Beach, EilatThis beautiful area is worth the cost of the admission, because you get to see dolphins up close and personal, even being able to pet them. There’s plenty of shade and a bar that serves food and drink. If you want, you can pay to take a 20-minute snorkel or dive with these beautiful and friendly creatures. The perfect place to visit in Eilat - whether as a family, a couple, a group of friends, or a solo traveler.The Lighthouse in Eilat.Photo by Shalev Cohen on Unsplash3.Coral Beach, EilatIf you like the idea of snorkeling amongst coral reefs, you found the right spot. Eilat Coral Beachis a private beach that has warm water showers, clean bathrooms, a snack bar, and plastic chairs (included in the price). There are lots of covered seating and family areas roped off. Access the water via a long jetty over the reef and enjoy the endless colorful fish.4. Princess Beach, Eilat Possibly the best free beach to snorkel in Eilat, there isn’t much shade but there’s plenty of coral and fish in the water. The fact that it is the last beach in Eilat before the border with Egypt means it’s less crowded than other places, and a little more ‘wild.’ Not too many facilities but a great place to visit.5. Mosh Beach, EilatThis pretty pebbled private beach offers visitors good food and music, as well as a relaxing atmosphere. If you like coconut cocktails and a chilled-out atmosphere, this is where you should come.Paddleboarding in Eilat.Photo by Josh Appel on UnsplashTop Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) Beaches1. Gofra Beach, KinneretWith calm and scenic views over the lake, this rocky beach on the east of Galilee is full of eucalyptus trees, making it popular with campers (who always like their shade!) Just be aware that Gofra Beach is not a recognized beach and therefore does not provide lifeguard services.2. Ein Gev Beach, KinneretThis private beach is on the eastern shore of the lake and is next to a kibbutz with a fine fish restaurant, surrounded by lush green lawns and a short drive from a number of Galilee Christian sites. Enjoy the mini harbor and lovely boardwalk.3. Bora Bora Beach, KinneretThis beautiful private beach lies on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee and is surrounded by natural spring waters. Facilities include lounge chairs, hammocks, sofas, a Polynesian-style bar (serving all manner of drinks), a cigar bar, and a restaurant. There are water sports available (including kayaking, boat sailing skiing, banana skiing, tubing, water skiing, jet skiing, and windsurfing) and even a dance bar.Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © Shutterstock4. Tsemach Beach, KinneretOn the south of the Kinneret, this family-friendly beach is perfect if you’re looking for activities to keep everyone occupied, particularly on hot spring and summer days. There’s a water park with slides and an indoor swimming pool, sun umbrellas, lockers rooms, and a range of water sports too - tubing, kayaking, and floating on mattresses. There’s plenty of parking and places to stay overnight, whether you’re a camper or looking for lodging. 5. Rotem-Shizaf Beach, KinneretSituated on the eastern shore, between Kibbutzes Haon and Ein Gev, its white sands, picnic tables, and parasols make it the ideal spot for a quiet day. There are toilets, a grocery store, and a kiosk too but no lifeguard!This list of beaches in Israel is incomplete - there are 137 beaches in Israel in total and most of them are famous for clear blue water and great beach facilities.To visit Kinneret beaches book a Private Sea of Galilee TourView on the Sea of Galilee at sunset.Photo by Dave Herring onUnsplash
By Sarah Mann

Tel Aviv - Explore the Nonstop City

Tel Aviv is easily accessible to people across Europe for a short city break or weekend get-away. You could choose to go to another European city but being able to hop over to the Middle East for the weekend is even more special! On a city break in Tel Aviv you can choose to relax and pamper yourself go sightseeing party all night shop til’ you drop or take part in outdoor activities and extreme sports.A lifeguard tower on Tel Aviv's Beach. Photo by Guy Tsror on UnsplashTel Aviv is nicknamed the “Big Orange” because the city never sleeps like the Big Apple and it is called the “White City” for its UNESCO-listed Bauhaus architecture. Tel Aviv truly has it all as a city break destination. After a short flight, you’ll arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, a 30-minute ride from Tel Aviv. Settle into your hotel and start to unwind. There are hotels to suit all budgets from historic boutique hotels to simple hostels.Relax and Pamper Yourself on a Tel Aviv City BreakFor starters there are the stunning Tel Aviv beaches just minutes from the city center you’ll find an attractive promenade running the length of the 13 sandy beaches and the Mediterranean beyond. The beachfront is lined with top restaurants, pubs, and hotels. If you want to indulge and pamper yourself Tel Aviv has many excellent spas. You could even go further afield and visit one of Israel’s hot springs at Ga’ash, Hamat Gader, Hamei Yoav, Tiberias, or the Dead Sea. At the Dead Sea, you can get unique spa treatments that use the natural minerals and salts found in the Dead Sea water and mud.Tel Aviv City Breaks for FoodiesFoodies will be spoilt for choice in Tel Aviv; there are many top chef restaurants serving world-class cuisine. Many of the best restaurants have brilliant sea views while others are in the heart of the city. Visit the farmers’ market at Tel Aviv’s old port; the fresh produce market and small hole-in-the-wall restaurants at Carmel Market; Levinsky spice market and the gourmet market at the Sarona Center. Don’t leave without sampling the Tel Aviv street food and enjoying a good pita stuffed with falafel and hummus.Exhibition at Tel Aviv Old Port. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinHaving Fun on a Tel Aviv City BreakTel Aviv is home to a great amusement park with thrilling rides for the whole family. There are numerous parks, like Yarkon Park, a safari park, and a bird safari. You could chill out at one of the cinema complexes or rent a bike and explore the city. Other places of entertainment in Tel Aviv include Escape Rooms, trampoline centers, playgrounds, climbing walls, and much more.Nightlife on a Tel Aviv City BreakTel Aviv truly is the city that never sleeps; nightclubs and bars only really come to life after 11 pm and they continue buzzing until the early hours of the morning. You won’t have to look far to find places of entertainment after dark. Visit underground clubs near Rothschild Blvd. hipster bars in the historic Neve Tzedek neighborhood; arty clubs around HaHashmal Street and the bohemian hang-outs of Florentin. If you’re not into night clubs Tel Aviv has wine bars, ballet, opera, concerts, and theatre.Shopping in Tel AvivYour shopping choices in Tel Aviv are numerous and diverse. You could stick to the traditional markets like Carmel Market or the flea market in Jaffa. Visit Nahalat Binyamin market for hand-made arts and crafts. Visit the upmarket fashion stores at Kikar HaMedina or travel to one of the large malls like Azrieli Tower. In Tel Aviv, you can find everything from traditional items and locally made goods to international name brands.Tel Aviv Gay Pride, 2018. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinOutdoor Activities on a Tel Aviv City BreakIn Tel Aviv you can rent a bicycle and use the many cycle paths; go rowing in the Yarkon River, do water sports at the beach, join locals on a morning jog try yoga at Tel Aviv Port at sundown visit a local gym, or take a trip out to the countryside for bird-watching. Tel Aviv locals love exercising outdoors and the parks and beachfront are always full of dedicated fitness enthusiasts.Sightseeing in Tel Aviv on a City BreakTel Aviv has excellent museums including the Museum of Art, Design Museum Holon, Bauhaus Museum, Museum of the Jewish People, and the Eretz Israel Museum. There are historic landmarks including the site where the Declaration of Independence was signed on Rothschild Blvd. and the houses of famous artists and political figures. Don’t miss Jaffa, now a joint municipality with Tel Aviv this ancient port city has narrow lanes flanked by stone houses leading down to the water’s edge, excellent restaurants, markets, art galleries, and museums. Also visit Sarona, a restored German Templer settlement, and the American-German Colony neighborhood.Seeing the Rest of Israel on a Tel Aviv City BreakThere are plenty of tours in Israel from Tel Aviv that take you to locations across the country including Jerusalem, the Galilee, Golan Heights, Dead Sea, and more. This way you can see more of the county without having to bother with logistics and transportation issues. The day tours include a complimentary pick-up from Tel Aviv and return you at the end of the day. All you have to do is choose your destination and book the tour, the rest is taken care of for you.An old house in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal

Top 10 Activities for Kids in Israel

Israel has amazing weather and incredible natural beauty which means that there are plenty of outdoor activities and exciting ways to keep kids entertained. Kids will love the top attractions in Israel like the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea but there are attractions which will give kids a chance to run around and have some hands-on fun!1. Kayaking and River Rafting in IsraelThere are two main locations in Israel for river rafting and kayaking, one is from Kibbutz Kfar Blum and the other from Kibbutz HaGoshrim; both are on the River Jordan and Hatzbani River. The rafting and kayak sites are set in lush green countryside and they offer all the equipment and variations of rafting and kayaking for the whole family. Anyone over five years old can take part and there are routes with instructors and routes that you can navigate by yourselves. There are raft boats for up to 6 people and kayaks for 1 or 2 people. The routes take 1-2 hours. Both sites have toilets, showers, snack bars and attractions for kids.2. Mey KedemGo for a daring adventure walking though an ancient water tunnel which extends 280 meters. 2000 years ago King Herod devised this engineering wonder to bring fresh water from Tzabirin Spring to the Roman city in Caesarea. The complete water system stretches for 6km but visitors can walk through 280 meters of the tunnel with water up to their knees. The adventure starts in Alona Park near Binyamina and visitors can see a short introductory film as well as get a tour of the water tunnel. It takes about an hour and you should bring a flashlight.3. Ein Gedi Nature ReserveJust west of the Dead Sea, off route 90, is this oasis in the desert, it boasts two streams which flow year round and lush vegetation surrounding this rare water source in the driest area of the country. The water and vegetation attracts animals and visitors can see ibex and cute hyrax (dassies) among the reeds, ferns and rock cliffs. There are a number of walking trails through the reserve including one alongside the Ein Gedi Stream and the David Stream. You’ll see waterfalls, gorgeous natural pools and the surrounding flora and fauna. Kids can take a dip in some of the streams and pools and will enjoy seeing the many animals.4. EilatThe whole city of Eilat is a wonderland for kids, from the ice skating rink in the middle of a mall to the diving with dolphins and gorgeous beaches. Take a few days to explore this ultimate resort city. Kids can go on camel rides in the desert, swim with dolphins or spend the day doing fun water sports like water skiing, motor boating and jet skiing.5. Old City Jerusalem RampartsKids will love walking along the ramparts high above the Old City walls. From here you’ll have brilliant views and a chance to teach kids a bit of history as they pretend they are defending the city. You’ll be able to circle the city and look down into some areas where tourists rarely go like the Armenian compound. The walls were constructed under Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century and have played an important role in the city’s history ever since. It isn’t possible to completely circumvent the Old City as there is a break at the Jaffa Gate and the Temple Mount section is closed. However you can start climbing the ramparts at the Jaffa Gate and continue on to the Zion Gate and Dung Gate. Alternatively access the ramparts from the Damascus Gate and walk on to the Lions’ Gate.6. Israeli Water ParksThere are several great water parks in Israel including Yamit 2000 in Holon; Shefayim near Natanyia; Sahek Ota in Emek Hefer (the only water park which operates year round) and Maimeidon in Tel Aviv. In addition there are several smaller water parks. Most of the parks open just for Jewish holidays and the summer months. As with water parks in other countries there are great water slides, open lawns, kid’s pools and wave pools.7. Amusement ParksIsrael’s most iconic amusement park is the Luna Park in Tel Aviv; it boasts many exciting rides for all ages. The Luna Park has bumper cars, carousels, a high Ferris wheel as well as thrilling roller coasters. Superland is another popular amusement park located in Rishon LeZion where there are wet and dry rides as well as three roller coasters and many exciting rides.8. Ice SkatingThere are ice skating rinks in Israel from Canada Center, Metulla in the extreme north to the Ice Mall in Eilat on the Red Sea. The professional ice skaters train in Metulla while the Eilat rink is in the middle of a shopping mall and is the largest rink in the country. You can also find an ice skating rink in the heart of Tel Aviv alongside the Luna Park. Tel Aviv’s iSkate is open to everyone over 6 years old or 3.7 meters tall. Jerusalem has a new ice rink in the Jerusalem Cinema City which is scheduled to open in 2017.9. Israeli BeachesAll along the Mediterranean coast you’ll find ideal beaches for the whole family. Whether you’re based in Tel Aviv, Hertzlyia, Natanyia or Ashkelon there are endless sandy beaches to choose from. For something a little more unusual visit the Dead Sea beaches or the Sea of Galilee beaches.10. Dig for a DayWith so much history in Israel there are constant archaeological excavations in progress. You can join in one of these digs for a three hour session that includes digging, sifting and analysis of the findings. This all takes place at the National Park of Beit Guvrin where you can crawl through the unexcavated cave system. The Dig for a Day program is for adults and kids aged 5 to 14 years. While here you can explore the amazing natural caves in the national park.
By Petal Mashraki

Top 10 Attractions in Jerusalem

There are so many things to see and do in Jerusalem that narrowing down the list to just 10 is almost impossible – but someone has to do it! If your time in the City of Gold is limited then you will need to pick and choose only the best attractions and activities in Jerusalem.Tourists in Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinJerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and a sacred city in the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths. Over the course of thousands of years, Jerusalem has remained a truly eternal city and one with certain magic which can only really be understood when you there surrounded by biblical, Byzantine, Crusader, Ottoman, and modern historical sites.1. Old City, JerusalemOk, so this is a bit of a cheat, as the Old City of Jerusalem is one site with many attractions. Within the ancient Old City walls are the top attractions of the city and the most important Christian, Muslim, and Jewishholy sites. In addition to the most famous sites, there are many hidden gems, markets, stores, excavated Roman ruins, synagogues, and churches in the Old City of Jerusalem. You can follow the Via Dolorosa, visit David's Tower, see a Sound and Light Show or walk the Ramparts.Church of the Holy Sepulchre – This huge church was consecrated in 335AD and holds the last five Stations of the Cross, the Stone of Anointing, Calvary, the holy tomb or sepulcher where Jesus was buried and resurrected, and many small chapels. The church marks the end of the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus took through the Old City towards his crucifixion.Western Wall – The Kotel (Wailing Wall) is a segment that has survived from the original Second Jewish Temple which was destroyed in 70AD. Today Jews pray at the Western Wall as they do in synagogues. This holy site is the closest Jews can get to the site on Temple Mount where the Temple once stood. You can place a prayer note between the large limestone blocks which make up the wall. You can visit the Western Wall Tunnels running beneath the Old City along part of the Wall which is hidden underground.Temple Mount – The Jewish Holy Temple stood here almost 2,000 years ago and today it is the site of the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Chain. It is the holiest Jewish site and the holiestMuslim site in Israel. The Koran tells of Mohammed reaching the al-Aqsa Mosque after the Night Journey and of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven from the stone which is within the Dome of the Rock.Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin2. Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem, JerusalemPerched on Mount Herzl overlooking the forests and hills of Jerusalem is this memorial to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. The Holocaust Museum includes a Children’s Memorial, Hall of Remembrance, Museum of Holocaust Art, a sculpture garden, and the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations. Here you can see filmed testimonials from people who were in the Nazi concentration camps as well as thousands of authentic artifacts from the camps and the Holocaust period. The museum building has a unique design that leads you through the Holocaust story with multimedia exhibits, provocative displays, and somber photographs and documents.3. Mahane Yehuda Market, JerusalemGet a taste of Jerusalem’s “shuk” a marketplace with all the character, color, flavors, and aromas of the Middle East. The Mahane Yehuda market is spread over several lanes and stalls are loaded up with fresh produce, baked goods, spices, nuts, dried fruit, and even household items and clothing. There are several eateries in the market where you can try some authentic Jerusalem cuisine.4. Israel Museum, JerusalemIsrael’s national art and archaeological museum exhibits a vast range of Israeli and international art and artifacts. Among the gems of the Israel museum, there is the oldest artwork in the world, a Youth Wing, fine art, pieces by Rembrandt, Chagall, Pissarro, Henry Moore sculptures, and a special section devoted to Jewish Art and Life. On the grounds of the museum is a model of the 2nd Temple and the Shrine of the Book, where you can see the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copy of the Bible in the world.Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Snowscat on Unsplash5. Mount of OlivesLike the Old City, this site holds several attractions. The mount stands alongside the Old City; it has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years. The mount features several sites from the New Testament. Among the landmarks on the Mount of Olives is Augusta Victoria Hospital; the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene with its distinctive gold onion domes; the Seven Arches Hotel and the Dome of the Ascension which holds a stone with the last footprint of Jesus before he ascended to heaven. For a great view of the city visit the observation promenade on the Mount of Olives.Church of the Pater Noster – This church stands where Christ taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. The present church bears plaques featuring the Lord’s Prayer in more than 100 different languages.Church of Dominus Flevit – From here Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept. The present tear-shaped church was built in 1955 and has a window overlooking the Old City so that visitors can experience the same view that Jesus would have seen.Garden of Gethsemane – Here it is believed that Jesus came to pray just a few hours before his capture by the Romans and subsequent crucifixion.Church of All Nations – The Basilica of Agony built in 1924 is recognizable from afar by its large colorful mosaic above the entrance portico and its 12 grey domes on the roof. The church marks the site where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest.Burying damaged Jewish prayer books, Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery. Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash6. Jerusalem Biblical ZooAt Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, you can see animals that are mentioned in the Old Testament as well as endangered species. The zoo covers 62 acres and is designed with lush gardens and trees. There is a man-made lake, pools, waterfalls, and a miniature train. The animal enclosures are without conventional bars and cages but rather recreate the animal’s natural environments. Over 2,000 animals live at this zoo and by each enclosure, you can see the quote from the Bible which mentions the featured animal.7. City of DavidThe original City of David established in the 10th-9th century BC existed outside the present Old City walls. Today the site has been excavated to reveal water tunnels that brought water to the city and the remains of a city. Visitors can follow Hezekiah’s tunnels, see the remnants of homes from the biblical period and the remains of a Canaanite fortress. This is an exciting experience as you walk through the dark tunnels with water at your feet from Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam8. Knesset – Israeli Parliament BuildingYou can visit this important building and take a look from the outside or take a tour of the interior. Tours are held on Sunday and Thursday at 8:30 am, noon, and 2 pm, they last an hour and are free but remember to bring your passport. You don’t need to book in advance for one of these tours. On the tour, you’ll get an overview of the workings of the Israeli parliament as well as get to see the magnificent works of art and photography on the Knesset walls. The Knesset holds several valuable pieces including works by Reuven Rubin, Kedma, and Moshe Castel. The tour stops at the Chagall Hall, Knesset Library, Plenary Chamber, and other architecturally interesting points in the building. At the moment, only virtual tours are possible.Mahane Yehuda Market. Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés on Unsplash9. Mount ZionMount Zion is located on the edge of the Old City. Like the Old City and Mount of Olives, you can see several attractions on Mount Zion. The most significant sites are the Room of the Last Supper where Jesus ate with his disciples on the night of his arrest and the Tomb of David where King David is said to be buried. Other must-see attractions on Mount Zion include the Dormition Abbey, the Chamber of the Holocaust, and a Catholic cemetery where Oskar Schindler (of Schindler’s List) is buried.10. Ein KeremThis ancient village is built on a hillside surrounded by hills, olive groves, vineyards, and forests. It is the traditional site where John the Baptist was born and one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque neighborhoods. It is an idyllic green area with quaint stone houses, courtyard cafes and restaurants, and several small churches and monasteries. Ein Kerem landmarks include the Church of St. John the Baptist; Church of the Visitation; Les Soeurs de Notre-Dame de Sion Russian Orthodox Convent and Mary’s Spring.Liked this article? Join a One Day tour to Jerusalem Old & NewDormition Abbey, Mount Zion.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki

5 Attractions in New Jerusalem

Tours from Jerusalem usually concentrate on Old Jerusalem within the Old City walls. However the Holy Land’s top destination also has a “New” City. If you look at a Jerusalem map you will see that the new, more recently built part of Jerusalem takes up a much larger area than the Old City. It follows that there is a lot to see in the New City of Jerusalem. Here are a few highlights of attractions in new Jerusalem, outside of the Old City walls.Snow in Jerusalem.Photo byShalev CohenonUnsplashYad Vashem Holocaust MuseumThis world-class museum is spread over a large complex on Mount Herzl. The museum holds thousands of authentic Holocaust artifacts, historic documents, photographs, and filmed testimonials by Holocaust survivors. On the grounds are memorials honoring the children who lost their lives in the Holocaust. There is also a part of the complex dedicated to gentiles who helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust.Hall of Names at Yad Vashem. Photo bySnowscatonUnsplashChagall Windows In a small chapel (Abbell Synagogue) in the Hadassah University Medical Center, there are twelve stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall. Chagall gifted the windows to the Jewish people in the 1960s. The twelve stained glass windows were inspired by the Bible and particularly Jacob’s blessings to his 12 sons. The images in the stained glass depict scenes from Jewish history, Chagall’s love for the Jewish people, and the artist’s own personal experiences living in a Russian shtetl.Givat Ram, Jerusalem.Photo byFedaa MassarweonUnsplashKnessetThe Israeli parliament or Knesset is situated in the Givat Ram neighborhood of western Jerusalem. The present building was completed in 1966 and it is possible to arrange tours of the building or view it from the outside. Highlights of the Knesset tour include seeing the original copy of the Declaration of Independence. You will see the Knesset Committee Rooms, the Chagall Hall featuring art by Marc Chagall, and the Plenary Chamber. There are 12 stunning floor mosaics and three tapestries by Chagall. The one-hour tours are held daily with a focus on photography and art; architecture and the parliamentary function of the Knesset.The Knesset, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo byRafael NironUnsplashMahane Yehuda MarketAt the bustling Jerusalem Mahane Yehuda Market, you can get everything plus the kitchen sink! The market offers stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, household items, freshly baked goods, spices, nuts, pickles, arts and crafts. In addition, the market is home to several renowned eateries. There are cooking and tasting tours of the market or you can explore independently.On the way to Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem.Photo byLaura SiegalonUnsplashIsrael MuseumIsrael’s national museum houses extensive collections covering a wide range of fields. Specifically, the museum archaeology and art collections as well as the collection of Jewish cultural items and art are outstanding. The Israel Museum complex includes a children’s wing, sculpture garden a scale model of Second Temple era Jerusalem and the Shrine of the Book. The white dome-shaped Shrine of the Book houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.
By Petal Mashraki

Top 15 Free Things to Do in Tel Aviv

Even if you are in Tel Aviv on a tight budget you can still see the sites and have a great time. Here’s a rundown of the top 15 free things to do in the beautiful city of Tel Aviv.View of Tel Aviv beachfront from Jaffa.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Tel Aviv BeachesTel Aviv has some magnificent beaches which run continuously from Tzuk Beach in the north to Alma Beach in the south. Each beach has its own character like the Separated Beach which has separate hours for male and female bathers; Atzmaut Beach which is popular with the gay community and Drummers Beach or Dolphinarium Beach where musicians jam each Friday at sundown. Beach season in Tel Aviv is April to October when lifeguards are on duty.androm2. Tel Aviv MarketsAmong Tel Aviv’s top markets there is the Carmel Market a lively outdoor market where fresh produce and other goods are sold. This market is colorful and exciting, not only that but it is in the heart of the city just off Allenby Street. Adjacent to Carmel Market is Nahalat Binyanim Street Market. This pedestrian walkway hosts an arts and crafts market on Tuesdays and Fridays.There are often street performers at the market. Nahalat Binyamin is lined with great coffee shops where you can sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Levinsky Market is the least gentrified of the three markets. Here you’ll find streets veering off of Levinsky Street from the corner of HaAliya Street to HaMashbir Street. The streets are crowded with small hole-in-the-wall stalls selling fresh produce and everything including the kitchen sink.Orange juice seller, Carmel Market, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Free Walking ToursTel Aviv municipality offers free walking tours in English on Saturdays at 11 am which meet at 46 Rothschild Boulevard. The tours take a look at the amazing Bauhaus architecture of the White City and introduce participants to a little of the history of Tel Aviv. There is also a tour of Old Jaffa which takes you through the Jaffa flea market and the Old City examining some of Jaffa’s archeological sites and ending up in the Hapisga Garden. This tour meets on Wednesdays at 9:30 am at the Jaffa clock tower. You can also pick up a free map of self-guided walking tours from City Hall. On Mondays at 11 am there is a free tour of Tel Aviv University which gives an introduction to some of the campus’ innovative architecture and environmental sculptures. The university tour meets at the Dyonon bookstore at the campus entrance by the intersection of Haim Levanon and Einstein Streets.4. Self-Guided Tour of Neve TzedekYou don’t need a professional tour guide to explore one of Tel Aviv’s oldest and perhaps most picturesque neighborhoods – Neve Tzedek. This neighborhood was the first Jewish neighborhood established outside of the ancient Port of Jaffa in 1887. Many of the beautiful historic buildings have been restored and now house boutique stores, quaint cafes, and restaurants giving it a small village within a city feel. The neighborhood has some notable Bauhaus and Art Nouveau buildings. A few museums like the Nachum Gutman Museum; art galleries and the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance are all in this neighborhood. At the southern end of Neve Tzedek is HaTachana, a restored historic train station that has been converted into a shopping and entertainment compound.The lighthouse path, Tel Aviv. Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash5. Tel Aviv Port The old Tel Aviv Port has been given a make-over and has become a primary entertainment and retail hub for locals and visitors. The port has an expansive boardwalk covering 14,000m² and is lined with interesting restaurants, playgrounds, a carousel, an organic produce market, and fashion stores. When the sun goes down the port becomes the city’s hot nightlife spot. The port is often the site of special events and street performers.6. Ben Gurion HouseThis is one of the city’s smallest museums and is often overlooked by visitors. Ben Gurion House is the former residence of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion at 17 Ben Gurion Boulevard. Visitors to the museum can walk through the Ben Gurion library; see the living quarters and the study where the prime minister worked. There is a free guided tour of the house where you can learn about the house’s history and the life of Ben Gurion.7. SaronaSarona is a former German Templer colony established in 1817 in what is now one of Tel Aviv’s busiest neighborhoods near the Azrieli towers. The Templers were a German Protestant sect which aimed to realize the apocalyptic vision of the prophets in the Holy Land. They established Sarona as an agricultural settlement and at its peak, there were 41 homes, a winery, workshops, a communal hall, and barns. In 1941 the British deported the residents of Sarona who were believed to be Nazi supporters. Today this compound of buildings has been restored and turned into a shopping and entertainment complex. The former Templer homes are now house restaurants, cafes, and boutique stores. The open spaces between the houses are beautiful plazas where you can relax and enjoy people watching special events and street performers.Tel Aviv Promenade (Tayelet). Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash8. Yarkon ParkAt the northern end of Tel Aviv is this urban oasis; an expansive green Yarkon park with the Yarkon River meandering through the lawns towards the sea. The park is home to many attractions including climbing walls, paddle boat rental, playgrounds, basketball courts, bicycle rental, and if you continue north you can even reach the safari park in Ramat Gan. So even if you are looking for free things to do in Tel Aviv you can relax on the lawns and enjoy the pleasant surroundings and river views.9. Old JaffaAt the southern end of Tel Aviv along the coast is the old port city of Jaffa which is associated with the biblical story of Jonah, Saint Peter, and mythical tales of Andromeda and Perseus. As far back as the Middle Ages, the port was a gateway to the Holy Land, and many travelers, armies, and merchants landed here including Napoleon. Today you can wander along the narrow cobbled lanes between stone buildings leading down to the water and the old port. There are many art galleries, cafes, and restaurants as well as historic sites and museums in Jaffa. Among the sites to see, there is the Libyan Synagogue, St. Peter’s Church, the Zodiac Fountain, the home of Simon the Tanner, the Mahmudiyah Mosque, the Wishing Bridge, Andromeda’s Rock, the Sea Mosque, and the Ilana Goor Museum.10. Tel Aviv RollersDon’t be surprised if you are taking a stroll through Tel Aviv on a regular Tuesday night when a huge group of people on rollerblades whiz by. Each Tuesday skaters meet at Habima Square at 10 pm and the group begins rolling through the city. They roll through the city showing off their skating skills and having fun. Everyone is welcome to join in so get your skates on!Children at Tel Aviv Old Port. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin11. Tel Aviv University Botanical GardensExplore the 34,000m² of the university botanical gardens where there are rare and endangered species of plants from around the globe. There are 3800 plant species from Israel and around the world growing in the campus botanical gardens. The gardens are arranged in ecological groups and themed gardens. Sections in the gardens include the ecological garden of Israeli plants and Mediterranean woodlands; tropical plants from the rainforests; plants utilized by humans; medicinal plants; cacti; poisonous plants; a Palm House; succulent plants and root trees in the Sarah Racine Root Laboratory. The gardens are used by university students for research in ecological and botanical studies and visitors are welcomed for free.12. Rabin SquareIn modern Tel Aviv history, this is one of the most significant sites of the city. Back in 1995, this public square that faces the Tel Aviv Municipality building was called Kings of Israel Square. The tragic events of November 4th, 1995 led to the renaming of the square in honor of Yitzhak Rabin, former Israeli political icon and Prime Minister. It was here on that fateful night during a peace rally that Rabin was assassinated while returning to his car. You can see the exact spot where the assassination took place and the memorial which now marks this location in the northeastern corner of the square. There is also a section of wall covered in graffiti which was drawn by mourners who came to pay their respects in the days following the assassination. In addition, there is a memorial sculpture commemorating the Holocaust at the south end of the square, pleasant trees, and an ecological pool in the square. Rabin Square is often used for concerts, special events, and rallies.Rokach House, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin13. The Photo HouseAt 5 Tchernichovsky Street is a store/ archive of historic photographs documenting the early days of Israel. The collection includes posters, postcards, and photographs. The store is legendary; it is still run by the Weissenstein family which established the shop in 1936. It is the city’s oldest photoshop and it is more like a museum than a store. In addition to the displayed photos which are on sale, there are regular exhibitions. The private archive of photographs has won several awards and has been exhibited across the globe. All of the photos in the archives were taken by Rudi Weissenstein and all of the prints and souvenirs featuring photographs are taken from the negatives of Weissenstein’s collection. Weissenstein photographed the first performance of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra in 1936; Weissenstein was the only official photographer to document the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel in 1948; Weissenstein’s image was featured on an Israeli banknote in 1958 and he won first prize at the International Photography Exhibition in Moscow in 1961.Tel Aviv and Jaffa aerial view. Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash14. Tel Aviv Art GalleriesTel Aviv has many independent art galleries but there is a particular concentration of galleries along Ben Yehuda Street and Gordon Street which intersects Ben Yehuda Street. You can wander along these pleasant Tel Aviv streets popping into each of the galleries to see current local and sometimes international art. Start with Gerstein Gallery at #101 Ben Yehuda Street and work your way towards Gordon Street. Along the way you will see JOJO Gallery with unique utilitarian and decorative art; Engel Gallery; Gordon Gallery and then on Gordon Street there is the Stern Gallery and Givon Gallery. Along the way and in the adjacent side streets you will discover other fascinating galleries. If you continue on Ben Yehuda Street you will reach Frishman Street where there are even more galleries.15. Musical FountainTel Aviv has a spectacular sound and light musical fountain show to rival those in Barcelona and Las Vegas. The modern music is synchronized to dancing lights illuminating fountains squirting up into the air. This spectacle takes place at Tel Aviv Port during the summer (July and August). There are nightly performances Sunday to Thursday with the fountains at 6:30 pm, 7:15 pm, and 7:45 pm and the sound and lights joining in for performances at 8:15 pm, 8:45 pm, 9:15 pm, 9:45 pm, and 10:15 pm.If you are interested in Tel Aviv tours and attractions, feel free to check out this article.Hamsas sold at Carmel Market, Tel Aviv. Photo by Bartosz Kwitkowski on Unsplash
By Petal Mashraki

Fruit and Vegetable Picking in Israel

Farming is a big deal in Israel. No, seriously! The first Jewish immigrants to the country (decades before the State of Israel was established) went not just to cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but also to remote areas across the country, with the deliberate aim of settling and cultivating the land. Whether it was the barren Negev desert or swampy malarial parts of the Galilee and Jordan Valley, they were determined to make things grow.Lemons are grown in Israel.Photo by Dan Gold on UnsplashToday, just over a century later, for Israeli farmers living on kibbutzim and moshavim (collective and semi-collective settlements) their work is, in some ways, still a way of fulfilling the dream their forefathers had of being a free people in their own land. Israeli farmers, today, are not just growing produce to be self-sufficient but they also feel a strong connection to their land. Oh, and they’re contributing to Israel’s economy too!And when you travel out of Israel’s big cities, you can see the fruits of their labor (no pun intended!) everywhere. Israel’s a world leader in new and innovative agricultural techniques (think hydroponic tomatoes and vertical farming) and when you’re in the Golan Heights, the Galilee, or even the desert, you’re never far from a vegetable field or a fruit orchard.Cherry orchard in Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsEvery Israeli child learns about the ‘halutzim’ (pioneers) in school and one really fun and creative way to keep that tradition alive is by taking them on a day trip to one of these places to pick vegetables and berries. Fruit picking and vegetable picking are an activity that’s great for all the family. After all, whether you’re old and young, it’s nice to be out in the fresh air, plucking something straight from the ground or tree.It’s also incredibly rewarding, as a parent, to teach your children that fruits and vegetables don’t grow in the supermarket. Whether it’s strawberries, cherries, beets, or carrots, the feeling you get as you (literally) get your hands dirty, is a fantastic one. And the best part? Not only do you get to pop a few fruits in your mouth (all you can eat, very often) but you take a basket or two home at the end of the day. Fruit and vegetable picking (katifim) is very popular in Israel. Let’s have a look at some of the places you can pick fruits, vegetables, and berries in Israel, take tours of the local areas you’re in, and also find overnight accommodation in Israel on the farms themselves or in the locale.Tomato greenhouse, Israel.Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on UnsplashBustan Bereshit Farm, Golan HeightsLocated in the Golan Heights, this is probably the largest fruit picking site in Israel. With around 100 dunams of land at their disposal, you can pick all kinds of seasonal fruits, including raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, sweet and sour cherries, apples (all varieties, even from Asia), figs, grapes, peaches, and nectarines. Once you’ve paid your entry fee, shuttle buses will transport you out to the fields and then you can get picking, straightaway! Admission is 37 NIS (12 USD) and includes a tour in a tractor car for the entire family. Bustan Bereshit also offers a variety of attractions - rope-climbing, horseback riding (and pony riding for younger kids), an ‘animal corner', and even baking classes.There are shady areas at which you can relax and picnic, as well as a cafe selling coffee and light refreshments. There’s also a store that sells all kinds of produce made in the Golan. Bustan Bereshit, Ein Zivan. Tel: 04 688 3512.Picking cherries, Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsStrawberries Meshik Farm, Hod HaSharon, Central IsraelJust half an hour's drive from Tel Aviv is this wonderful strawberry farm where there are all kinds of delicious strawberries. Even better, each year they introduce a new variety, so if you come back you’ll never be bored. It’s a little bit more expensive than your average fruit-picking farm but definitely worth it. Tut Meshek, Asirey Tsiyon St, Hod Hasharon. Tel: 052 591 2244Hapardes Hakasum, Central IsraelJust 15 minutes drive from Tel Aviv, close to the city of Petach Tikva, lies HaPardes Hakasum. Pardes means ‘ orchard’ in Hebrew and this is a good place for the whole family to spend time. As well as guided fruit picking Israel tours, they also have craft tables, a petting zoo, soft play, and a pita-making class. The function hall is a good place to hold a birthday party for a group of youngsters. HaPardes HaKassum, Hashlosha 1, Kfar Ma'as. Tel: 050 2566 0206.Picking berries, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana MatsMeshek Levy - Sha’al Berry Picking, Golan HeightsNestled in the Golan, this farm is run by the Levy family, and here you can pick all kinds of wonderful fruits, including figs, sabras (Israel’s national fruit) and clementines, sweet and sour cherries, blueberries, mulberries, Chinese dates, and both red and yellow raspberries. The site is open from May to October and offers competitive picking prices. There’s a cafeteria, offering light bites and a sandbox and animal petting corner for young kids. All produce sold is kosher mehadrin and the site is closed on Shabbat. You can also camp at the Levy family’s moshav (they have a dedicated site) or if you’re looking for a little more comfort, book one of their rustic cabins. They also offer jeep tours and night safaris...a real adventure for those who like to live dangerously…Meshek Levy, Sha’al, Golan, Tel: 052 460 0465.Dates on a plate.Photo by Mona Mok on Unsplash‘Farming Circus’ Moshav Yogev, Emek Israel, Central IsraelAlways popular with kids, here your kids can enjoy themselves in more ways than one. This agricultural circus is unique in Israel in that it teams up agricultural activities with a circus show - hilarity, juggling acts, and even a ride on a unicycle! The moshav has organic gardens and if you take the tour, it includes a visit to their greenhouse, where you can learn more about their Italian planting hydroponic system. In the winter, you have the chance to pick all kinds of vegetables, including beetroot, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi, and potatoes. You pay for entry to the circus and then have the option after to pay to pick. Agricultural Circus, Moshav Yogev, Emek Jezreel. Tel: 073 374 4211.Blueberry Picking. Photo by Ava Tayler on UnsplashThe Orchard, Moshav Beit HillelMoshav Beit Hillel lies on the banks of the Hasbani river, about 3 kms from Kiryat Shmona in the Golan Heights. It’s a great place to pick your own vegetables and seasonal fruits, and the guides give a lot of detail. After you’ve picked your produce, you can make salads and drink tea. There’s a picnic area with benches, a coffee shop and a good Italian restaurant called ‘Cheese’ (we’d recommend trying the gnocchi and, for dessert, their delectable cheesecake). They also offer bike trips along the Snir River and Kfar Blum kibbutz, close by, can organize kayaking tours. Moshav Beit Hillel, Upper Galilee Tel: 052 525 7671.Banana farm. Photo by Tistio on UnsplashShvil HaSalat FarmDown in the Negev, ‘Shvil ha Salat’ (which means’ Salad Trail’) is the perfect opportunity to tour greenhouses and eat your way through them at the same time! In their Tomato Greenhouse, you learn about how these sweet treats grow upwards and in the Greenhouse of Flying Strawberries, you’ll find out why water and a certain kind of soil make them such a tasty fruit. And don’t miss the Orchard or Chinese Oranges either - afterwards, you can make necklaces out of the fruit!Shvil HaSalat also offers kids the opportunity to bake bread with olive oil and za’atar (a local spice) with Bedouins, then head off to the Field of Carrots, where the whole family can pick a bunch of these orange goodies, then take them home and make them into juices, soups or lunch snacks. Fun and nutritious! Shvil HaSalat, Nachal haBasor, Negev region. Tel: 08 998 2225.Cabbage picking.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsKtofoti, Bethlehem of Galilee, GalileeLocated in the Galilee near Kiryat Tivon, around 10 ms north-west of Nazareth, this self-picking farm is a wonderful place with all kinds of fruits and veggies - think strawberries, cherry tomatoes, lettuces, potatoes, carrots, onions, cauliflower, and even artichokes. There are also guides in the fields, who are very helpful. Entrance is 45 NIS (14 USD) per person (which includes anyone over two years old) although every fourth family member pays 40 NIS (12,5 USD).You then pay 30 NIS per family basket or 20 NIS for a small basket. Everybody above two years old must purchase a ticket). And every fourth family member pays 40 NIS. Moreover, you pay 30 NIS per family basket or 20 NIS for a small basket. It’s not super cheap but a lot of fun and, if you look on the web, you might find some coupons, giving you a discount.A cup of raspberries.Photo by Julia Potatoes on UnsplashKurlender Farm, Golan HeightsSituated high up in the Golan region, the Kurlander farm, on the banks of the Hasbani river, has been run for decades by three generations of farmers. They operate a state-of-the-art dairy farm and, for young families, this can be a wonderful day trip. Their English-speaking guides are helpful and informative and on any tour, everyone gets a taste of their chocolate milk and some samples of cheese. You’re even given the opportunity to learn to milk a cow, and the kids can bottle feed the calvers!Kurlender also sells grapefruits, tangerines, and oranges in the winter, and other produce made locally including honey and olive oil. Oh, and if you travel there on Friday you can sample one of their famous ‘Galilee breakfasts’ - a delicious dairy feast! There’s plenty of accommodation nearby, including a guesthouse, zimmers and even a spa.Carrot picking.Photo by Harshal S. Hirve on UnsplashBe’er Tuvia, Negev regionWhen it comes to flowers, who doesn’t love anemones and buttercups? These gorgeous buds, also known as Ranunculus (‘Nuriot’ in Hebrew), tend to flower at the end of April, for about a month. Visiting this place is therefore the perfect springtime activity. Be’er Tuvia is a moshav near Kiryat Malachi, which is about an hour 10 minutes drive from Tel Aviv. The entrance is 40 NIS per family - for this, you will be given some scissors and a plastic can (to put the flowers you’ve picked). If you don’t want to pick, you can just pay 20 NIS and take photos of the masses of red, yellow, pink, and white flowers that surround you. You won’t be disappointed.To learn more about farming in Israel, feel free to read this article. If you would like to visit a farm in Israel, please book one of our private tours.
By Sarah Mann

Hidden Tourist Gems in Israel

Most people can easily name Israel’s top attractions, but few tourists ever explore the country’s hidden gems. Israel has magnificent historic buildings, secluded nature trails, and unusual museums that are waiting to be discovered by curious tourists. Some tours in Israel include must-see sites, plus fantastic hidden gems. You could also take a private Holy Land tourand pick places you want to include in your itinerary. Here are some of the most interesting hidden gems that must be seen when you travel to Israel.Tel Aviv’s Hidden GemsSometimes hidden gems are where you least expect them, smack-bang in the middle of a busy city. Tel Aviv is packed with unusual, weird, and wonderful places to visit. You’ll be amazed at what you can find on a Tel Aviv tour and in the surrounding area.Ilana Goor Museum, Jaffa. Photo credit:© Dmitry MishinEretz Israel Museum - See the impressive collection of archaeological findings, historical artifacts, and artwork, all connected to the Land of Israel.Ilana Goor Museum - This unique museum in the ancient old port city of Jaffa exhibits unbelievable sculptures, statues, and furniture designed by artist Ilana Goor.Beit Hatfutsot Museum - The Museum of the Jewish People (Beit Hatfutsot) is one of the best places to learn about the fascinating Jewish Diaspora.Tel Aviv Region's GemsTel Aviv is a buzzing cultural hub, but only a short car ride away from the city that never sleeps there are some tranquil getaways. Get ready for exciting adventures in the great outdoors. These exceptional sites are well-known to locals but not necessarily to tourists.The Pool of Arches, Ramle.Photo credit:© Dmitry MishinThe Pool of Arches, Ramle - A real hidden gem awaits curious travelers who visit this 1,200-year-old underground cistern where you can take a rowboat on to the water.Mey Kedem - Have an adventure walking through the ancient Roman water channels that once brought water to Caesarea. Access the tunnel from Alona Park for a wet adventure.Apollonia National Park, Herzliya- Explore the ruins of a Crusader fortress on a cliff overlooking the sea.Ashkelon Archaeological Park - Here, excavations have revealed layer upon layer of historical remains from various eras. Attractions include the largest ancient burial ground for dogs!Most Unusual Places in Jerusalem and the Surrounding AreasThe magical city of Jerusalem is famed for its religious landmarks, but for intrepid travelers, there is much more to discover in the sacred city. Discover another part of the Western Wall,theNahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art,and huge bell caves beneath the ground on a private Jerusalem tour. Prepare to be amazed by Jerusalem’s hidden gems.Stalactite Cave.Photo credit:© Dmitry MishinMount Herzl - Mt. Herzl is home to the country’s national cemetery, where heroes, victims of terrorism, and Israel’s fallen soldiers are buried.The Kishle Excavations - Tour this remarkable structure built by Egyptian rulers in 1833 and used by the Ottomans and British. Access the site via David’s Citadel Museum.Little Western Wall - The Western Wall is a well-known Jerusalem attraction, but few tourists realize the wall continues beneath the houses of the Muslim Quarter. This secluded section of the wall is perfect for quiet prayer.Hurva Synagogue- This synagogue has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. See brilliant frescoes and enjoy the rooftop view from this spectacular synagogue.Siebenberg House - Discover this valuable archaeological site hidden beneath the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City. Excavation revealed remains of a Hasmonean mansion.The Italian Synagogue- The 18th-century Rococo Conegliano Veneto Synagogue can be seen at the U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art. This is, without doubt, one of the most magnificent hidden gems in Israel.Pools of Bethesda - Visit the biblical site where Jesus healed a paralytic. This hidden gem can be included in tailor-made private tours in Jerusalem.Beit Guvrin National Park - Prepare to be amazed by the mind-boggling beauty of spectacular bell caves, underground tombs, and the ruins of the biblical city of Maresha.Avshalom Stalactite Cave - Walk through a magical chamber beneath the ground where stalactites form mysterious shapes and stalagmites rise from the cave floor like steeples.Ein Prat Nature Reserve - Embrace your adventurous side with a hike through Ein Prat. You’ll see spectacular gushing springs and lush vegetation in the desert valley of Wadi Qelt.Latrun - Famous historical battles have taken place at Latrun, but today it is home to Mini Israel, a Museum and Memorial for fallen soldiers, and a unique Trappist Abbey.Unusual Places in the Galilee and GolanTravel north to Israel’s greenest region, where rolling hills are covered by thick woodlands and streams flow through fields of wildflowers. Tour Galilee and Golan Heights and enjoy what they have to offer, including ancient archaeological ruins, biblical sites, and hike trails.Templars' Tunnel, Acre.Photo credit:©Dmitry MishinTsipori National Park - This ancient village is the traditional birthplace of Mary and has a rich historical legacy. You can tour Zippori’s archaeological remains and see remarkable 3rd-6th-century mosaics.Tel Dan National Park - This little slice of heaven is mentioned in the Old Testament and is home to archaeological remains dating back to the Neolithic Age.Ralli Museum Caesarea- See magnificent works of art from Latin America and 16th-18th-century paintings depicting scenes from the Bible.Monfort Fortress - This awe-inspiring Crusader fortress looks down from a rock outcrop onto one of Israel’s most picturesque scenic areas.Templars' Tunnel, Acre- This unbelievable 12th-century structure connects the Knights’ Templar fortress and Acre’s port. You can walk through the tunnel that runs beneath Acre’s charming Old City.Kziv Stream - Immerse yourself in Israel’s picturesque countryside. This scenic perennial stream flows for 39km through the Upper Galilee.Hula Nature Reserve - Bird-watchers flock to these wetlands that provide a stop-over for thousands of migrating birds.Jordan Valley Hidden GemsOne of the best places to find new attractions in Israel is the Jordan Valley. This area holds several surprising points of interest including nature reserves, ancient synagogues, and idyllic natural pools.The Archaeological site of Beit Shean.Photo credit:©Jenny EhrlichBeit Shean Archaeological Park - Substantial ruins of a Roman city have been preserved within this impressive national park. See extraordinary ancient Roman structures, including a beautiful amphitheater.Gan HaShlosha - This park has been called the Garden of Paradise. Magnificent gardens surround the hot springs that cascade into natural pools.Beit Alpha Synagogue - The 6th-century synagogue at Beit Alpha has one of the finest floor mosaics of the period depicting Jewish symbols and Biblical scenes.The Dead Sea and the NegevIn the south, you’ll see a completely different side of Israel, one with desert mountains, hidden caves, ancient fortresses, and natural wonders. Explore southern Israel’s unique landscape and visit attractions that few tourists ever discover.The Negev Desert. Photo credit:© ShutterstockNokdim Village - This small Jewish settlement in the Judean Mountains offers visitors a glimpse into Jewish life in the West Bank. You can visit Nokdim as part of a desert excursion or a Bedouin experience.Metsuke Dragot - Perched on a cliff looming over the Dead Sea, and with breathtaking desert mountains as a backdrop, Metsuke Dragot is one of the unique locations in Israel.Neot Smadar- This desert kibbutz has a surreal building that houses an art center. Enjoy the community’s organic winery, homemade cheeses, and organic produce.Mamshit - Prepare to be amazed by the archaeological remains of this Nabataean city that once stood on the ancient incense route.Timna National Park - Be awe-struck by Timna’s mysterious rock formations, colored sands, and ancient archaeological ruins. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, see the Timna Sound and Light Show.Ben Gurion’s Home and Tomb - At the Sde Boker you can learn about Israel’s first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, a colorful character who loved his home in the Negev Desert.Ein Avdat - The breathtaking Ein Avdat canyon was once inhabited by Nabateans and Catholic monks. Explore the archaeological remains and enjoy a scenic hike.Which are the Best Tours in Israel?Israel’s best tours are not always the most popular ones. You should mix the must-see sites with some less obvious hidden gems. Create an exciting travel itinerary that includes weird and wonderful places in Israel, special tours, unusual attractions, and spectacular natural sites. Plan your trip to Israel today and don’t forget the Promised Land’s remarkable hidden gems. Jerusalem. Photo credit:©Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki

Top 9 Attractions and Activities in the Negev Desert

The magical Negev Desert in southern Israel takes up about 60% of Israel but is sparsely inhabited due to the harsh desert climate. When the State of Israel was established one of the goals set was to make the desert bloom and in many places that has been achieved.Mamshit Archeological Site, Israel. Photo credit: © Manu Grinspan. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks AuthorityThe Negev also has a history dating back to the ancient trade routes and it is home to unique flora and fauna. The Negev is unlike any other area in Israel and shouldn’t be missed. The Negev Desert flows into the Judean Desert where you can also visit Masada, the Dead Sea and the Yotvata Bar Hai Nature Reserve, and Timna National Park in the Arava Desert.1. Jeep excursionsOn a Negev jeep tour, you can go deep into the desert, far off-road to places most people don’t get a chance to see. A guide will explain to you about the local fauna and flora and you will be able to race across the dunes, drive through dry desert valleys and stop to boil up a pot of coffee in the wilderness. There are “wet” jeep tours that take you to desert springs; jeep tours where you can learn about following animal tracks; night jeep tours; survival jeep tours; tours that take you to Nabataean ancient sites and jeep tours that visit Bedouin villages. Tours leave from several points in the Negev including Mitzpe Ramon and Kibbutz Sde Boker.2. Camel Riding ExcursionsIf you want to take things at a slower pace and retrace the steps of ancient camel caravans then take a camel riding excursion into the desert. The “ship of the desert” is a great way to enjoy the scenery, learn about the unique desert environment and gain an understanding of what it was like to travel across the Negev hundreds of years ago. There are a number of places where you can join a camel tour including Mamshit Camel Farm, Kfar Hanokdim, and the Negev Camel Ranch. There is no prior experience needed and camel riding tours are suitable for all ages. There are tours lasting 1-4 hours.Safari Jeep Tour.Photo credit: © Shutterstock3. Ramon CraterThe Ramon Crater or Makhtesh Ramon is a huge naturally formed crater 38km long, 450 meters deep, and 6km wide. It is best reached via the town of Mitzpe Ramon where there is a Visitors Center overlooking the crater. From here you can take hiking tours, jeep tours into the crater, and abseiling excursions where you get to climb down the side of the steep crater.4. Alpaca FarmThere is a welcoming alpaca farm in the heart of the Negev where you can learn about the creatures, pet them, feed them and even stay the night. You can also meet other animals which live on the farm like angora sheep, llamas, donkeys, horses, and camels. There are walking trails on the Alpaca Farm which meander through the untouched desert landscape. Kids can have a ride on the alpacas and you can learn about the alpaca wool production process.5. Negev Wine TastingThe ancient Nabataean civilization cultivated vineyards in the Negev thousands of years ago using a sophisticated irrigation system. The first modern-day winery in the Negev was planted by Carmel Winery in the Ramat Arad area in 1988, then other wineries and vineyards have sprouted up across the otherwise barren landscape. There are now several wineries so that it is possible to follow a Negev wine tasting route along Route #40. Wineries that welcome visitors include the Yatir Winery, Midbar Winery, Sde Boker Winery, Neot Smadar Winery, Carmel Avdat Winery, Rota Winery (where there is also a fruit farm where you can do your own fruit picking in the summer), and Kadesh Barnea Winery.Alpaca farm in the Negev Desert. Photo credit: © Shutterstock5. Sand SurfingThis unique desert experience takes you out to the Negev sand dunes in a 4X4 jeep. Once there you get to slide down the soft dunes on specially designed boards that resemble snowboards but without the footholds. The activity is suitable for those over 2 years old and you don’t need any prior experience. Sand surfing is usually combined with a jeep tour, a historical site, or a desert village for lunch.6. Kibbutz Sde BokerThis kibbutz is famed as the former home of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel who moved here in 1953. Today Ben Gurion’s former home has been turned into a museum where the original furniture, mementos, and personal items of Ben Gurion and his wife have been preserved. Ben Gurion had a passion for the Negev and the small community. He lived here until his death and over the years he welcomed many dignitaries and world leaders. While at Sde Boker you can visit Ben Gurion's tomb, the Sde Boker Winery, and the Sde Boker Field School.The archeological site of Avdat, Negev Desert, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock7. AvdatThis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it was one of the most important Nabataean, Roman and Byzantine sites settled in the 3rd century BC along the Incense Route. Here you can see the ancient remains of a Nabataean tomb, a Roman-era residential area, and the remains of a Byzantine fortress, Byzantine bathhouse, wine press, cistern, and ancient Sacred Precinct. There are also two 4th century churches nearby. Perhaps the most important ancient remains are of the Nabataean Temple of Oboda.8. HikingThere are many marked hike trails through the Negev for those of all levels of ability. The trails are color-coded to keep hikers on track. Many of the trails take you to the oasis where there are deep canyons, waterfalls, and hidden natural spring pools. Some of the most popular routes are the Mamshit Loop, passed the Nabataean city; Mt. Ardon, with a challenging climb; Zin to Ramon, a six-day trek passed mountains and springs; Wadi Shua, with hidden gems; Wadi Mamshit; Ramon’s Tooth passed beautiful rock formations and the Hemet Cistern Loop with great views of the Ramon Crater.9. Bedouin HospitalityThe Bedouin people still live in the deserts of Israel with several communities in the Negev. They have a unique and fascinating culture and there are several places in the Negev where you can be a guest in a Bedouin tent and experience their traditional hospitality. Bedouin hospitality includes traditional food, musical performances, tea, coffee, camel rides and even sleeping over in the Bedouin tent under the desert sky.Сamel riding with Bedouins in the Negev Desert.Photo by Greta Schölderle Møller on Unsplash

5 Best Winter Hikes in Northern Israel

Most tourists miss out on the incredible landscapes of Israel but in fact, the Holy Land is crisscrossed with numerous interesting hike routes and has over 60 national parks and nature reserves. Each season nature paints the land with different colors and you can see animals and plants unique to each season. Winter is no exception. Israeli winters are extremely mild compared to Europe or the US and you can easily enjoy hikes across the country and especially in Northern Israel. Not only that but with the winter comes rain and hikers can enjoy abundant waterfalls flowing streams and lush vegetation and wildflowers that come alive after a thirsty summer.The Hula Lake, Israel.Photo credit:© Oksana Mats1. The Hula Lake (Agamon HaHula)Winter is the perfect time to visit Agamon HaHula (the Hula Lake). Israel is a stopover point for thousands of migrating birds each winter and the Agamon HaHula happens to be one of the most frequented spots for visiting birds. In fact, it is one of the top 10 bird-watching places in the world. For the best birdwatching, it is best to arrive very early in the morning or just before sunset. You can hike around the lake following an 8.5km path; cycle or rent a golf cart. You could spend 2-3 hours hiking around the lake. You'll enjoy the sight of huge flocks of cranes and the sound of thousands of wings flapping as they take off. On the route are several lookout huts and areas where you can see turtles, fish, beavers, water buffalo, wild boar, and other species of birds. Once this was a mosquito-infested marsh but it has been drained and rehabilitated into an idyllic park. The lake and surrounding area are beautiful even without the birds!Cranes at the Hula Lake, Israel.Photo credit:© Eli Orr2. Nahal AmudNahal Amud is one of the most popular hike destinations in Northern Israel; located near Safed the hiking route takes you east following the Amud Stream from Mt. Meron in the west to the Sea of Galilee. The hike route takes 2-4 hours to complete and can be started at either end. If you start at Mount Meron you will encounter more downhill stretches and have to follow a steep path from the nature reserve entrance to the water's edge. The route is mostly under the shade of beautiful trees and you can choose to walk in the stream or on the banks. Winter is the perfect time to follow this popular hike route which gets crowded during the summer. Some points of interest along the way include historic water-powered flour mills and natural pools. There are several points where you can cut the hike short if you want to. You could also take the shortest route and double back to the parking lot.Amud Stream, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana Mats3. Nesher ParkThis trail is within Nesher Park not far from Haifa and is not as frequented as some of Israel's more popular hike trails so in winter you may have it all to yourself. Highlights of the hike include the two 70m-long steel hanging bridges crossing Katia River which only flows in the winter. From the bridges, there are panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and gully below. Within Nesher Park are sports facilities, footpaths, scenic lookout points, and the trail itself. The landscape includes pine and oak tree woodlands; strawberry trees and an old stone bridge. Enter the park and access the trail from Heharuv Street.Nesher National Park, Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana Mats4. The Banias National ParkThe Banias is definitely one of the most beautiful areas in Israel and especially in winter when the brilliant green of lush vegetation comes alive. Like a fairy forest out of a children's book, this corner of the country is so idyllic it has been suggested that this was the site of the Garden of Paradise.The Banias National Park is home to several streams and the longest hike trail in the area stretching for 4 hours. Some visitors to the Banias come for the scenery while others are on a Christian pilgrimage to see the place where Peter told Jesus he was the Messiah and Jesus gave Peter his blessing to lead the church. Highlights include the ancient temple ruins; the streams, rivers, and waterfalls. As you enter the park you can pick up a free map and choose which route to follow.Banias Nature Reserve, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin5. Carmel Scenic RouteThe Carmel Scenic Route or Derech Nof HaCarmel can be followed on foot; by bike or by car. The route travels through orchards; pine tree forests; hills; valleys and farmlands stretching for about 25km (15.5miles) onMount Carmel. Along the route, there are views of Jezreel Valley and the Galilean Hills. Hike up from the Nesher Highway to the Carmelite Monastery Deir al-Muhraka where you can take in the views from the monastery balcony. You'll see the Carmel Ridge Forests, carpets of wildflowers, scenic lookout points, rivers, dramatic cliffs, and woodlands. The Carmel Forest stretches from Ramat Menashe in the south to Haifa Bay in the north. There are several routes you could follow in this area including the Cyclamen Trail which comes alive with colorful cyclamens in the winter.Winter Hikes in IsraelNorthern Israel is a wonderful place for winter hiking although the entire country offers hiking opportunities from hikes near Jerusalem to desert hikes in Israel. No matter when you visit there are hikes to follow. Each hike in Israel has its own highlights – from the waterfalls of the north and the ancient ruins of the Jerusalem area to vineyards, natural springs, and expansive desert vistas.The Shaar HaCarmel Recreation Area, Israel.Photo credit: © Oksana Mats
By Petal Mashraki

Couples Vacation in Israel

Israel is a fantastic destination for a couples get-away, there is gorgeous countryside, exotic deserts, crystal clear sea, sandy beaches, romantic restaurants and many unique places to stay. Avoid the large hotels during the Israeli school holidays when Israeli families take over with screaming kids in tow. Stick to the smaller, intimate boutique hotels, B&BS and rural hideaways or the exclusive city hotels. Here are a selection of top romantic things to see, do and experience as a couple in Israel.Young couple on a beach. Photo by Toa Heftiba on UnsplashTop 10 Romantic Things to do in Israel. Where to Eat and Where to StayIsrael has so many small and intimate mamma and papa establishments that you are bound to discover your own favorite romantic restaurant. However, a few of the most famously romantic Israeli eateries include Cavalier, a French restaurant in Jerusalem; Zuni with its balcony seating in Jerusalem; Adora in Tel Aviv and Shiri Bistro in the quaint town of Rosh Pina. Aladin is a restaurant perched on the cliff of Old Jaffa with views of the sea and coastline all the way back to Tel Aviv. If you want to indulge yourselves then try Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar is Herzliya. You will feel like you are walking into Charlie’s Chocolate Factory!A happy couple traveling. Photo byCarly Rae HobbinsonUnsplashTo find a secluded and intimate “zimmer” try searching on where they list many romantic B&Bs where the room is a separate suite in the garden or surrounded by beautiful foliage. These zimmers are geared towards couples looking for some quality time along. They often have candles, a jacuzzi, soft lighting, chocolates, and wine to make the occasion even more romantic. Other renowned romantic hotels include the prestigious King David Hotel in Jerusalem overlooking the Old City; the French chateau-style romantic suites of Bayit Bagalil in the Upper Galilee and the Herods Hotel in Eilat.Romantic sunset with cocktails. Photo by Kaur Martin on Unsplash1. Spa Experience in IsraelIsrael-SPA-stone-massageIsraeli’s love spas! You will find a spa in every reputable hotel as well as spa treatments offered in the smallest of B&B. In every mall and on every high street there are day spas offering couple’s treatments which usually include an aromatic bath together, snacks and massages. Carmel Forest Spa Resort is the crème de la crème of Israeli spa experiences. Nestled in the greenery of Mount Carmel overlooking Haifa they offer indoor and outdoor pools and a myriad of pampering spa treatments. Israel also has a few hot spring resorts including Ramat Gader’s SpaVillage Hotel in the Golan Heights.Spa & Wellness Center.Photo byRaphael LovaskionUnsplash2. Wine Tasting in IsraelIsrael has over 80 wineries, some on the doorstep of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Some of the wineries welcome guests without a prearranged appointment and others require a booking. The wineries offer tours and wine tastings. There are 5 main wine-making regions in this small country – Galilee-Golan, Shomron, Samson, Judean Hills, and the Negev. Among the wineries which welcome visitors, there is the Neot Semadar Winery, Dishon River Winery, and the Agada Cheers Winery.3. Banias – The Garden of EdenIf you are the outdoor type take a trip to the Golan Heights and the Banias a natural spring surrounded by lush vegetation. This is said to have been the Garden of Eden. The Hermon Stream is within Banias National Reserve and there are marked routes for you to follow through the forests, over Roman bridges, passed Crusader ruins and ultimately you will reach the romantic Banias waterfall.Banias Nature Reserve, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana Mats4. Desert Experience in IsraelIf you’re up for an adventure why not stay in a Bedouin tent overnight and enjoy true Bedouin hospitality in the desert. Kfar Hanokdim is one of the places where you can have a Bedouin desert experience which includes camel rides, meals, and overnight accommodation. If you are less keen on the overnight stay then you can always just go for an early morning or late night camel ride across the desert. Mitzpe Ramon is a romantic place to start your desert adventure. This elevated ridge overlooks the Ramon Crater, a magnificent sight that will take your breath away. You could stop just for the view or stay at one of the romantic hotels at Mitzpe Ramon.Camel Riding in the Negev, Israel.Photo byJames BallardonUnsplash5. Endless BeachesIsrael’s long Mediterranean Sea coast offers wide sandy beaches, some of which have lifeguards on duty and others which are more secluded. A few favorite beaches for lovers include Beit Yannai, Aqueduct Beach in Caesarea,and Dor Habonim beach. Take your loved one down to the beach to watch the sunset.6. Renew your VowsJerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Muslims, and Christians and it is home to so many exquisite churches. Why not find your favorite church and renew your vows.7. Shopping in JaffaThis one might be more for the women than the men but it can make a romantic outing. Jaffa is the site of an outdoor antique and junk market - Jaffa Flea Market. It is perfect for bargain hunters or newlyweds looking for unusual items for their new home. If you like shopping then you are not alone as Israeli’s love shopping. You will find many malls, stores, and markets across the country.Jaffa Flea Market. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin8. Eilat DivingEilat in general is a wonderful destination for couples; it has the beautiful translucent water of the Red Sea, luxury hotels, water sports, beaches, TAX-free shopping, attractions, spas, and even a mall with an ice rink in the middle. For something really special go on a diving excursion and explore the coral reefs together.9. Wohl Rose Garden JerusalemTake a romantic walk through this fragrant rose garden where there are more than 15,000 rose bushes and 400 varieties of roses. There are benches along the path where you can sit undisturbed and have a few romantic moments.10. Hot Air BallooningTake an early morning hot-air balloon ride from Kibbutz Ruhama over northern Negev. The company organizing the experience can provide breakfast or spirits for your romantic trip above the Holy Land. Hot air ballooning is a wonderful way to make your partner's birthday memorable. The flight will be nothing short of epic: you will see the sunrise, spot some wildlife, admire Israel from a unique perspective, enjoy mesmerizing sceneries, and drink champaign.To book a customized tour in Israel feel free to check our Private Tours.Hot air ballooning. Photo byFrancesco UngaroonUnsplash
By Petal Mashraki

The Best Dead Sea Beaches

One of the must-see destinations in Israel is the Dead Sea, mainly because it is completely unique and the lowest point on Earth. The Dead Sea is an elongated strip of water with the northernmost of two basins measuring 50km long and 15kn wide. The sea divides Israel on the western shore from Jordan to the east. The low altitude of the Dead Sea makes the environment unique. The water is 9.6 times saltier than the ocean and the air at this altitude is rich in oxygen. Dead Sea Shore.Photo credit: © ShutterstockEven the sun is healthier at the Dead Sea as the sun rays are low in dangerous UV rays. All of these factors together with the mineral-rich black mud of the sea bed that can be used as a natural skin mask make the Dead Sea a popular destination. Along the western shore of the Dead Sea are several hotels, spas, and beaches offering a range of facilities. Here is a list of the best Dead Sea beaches to help you choose where to experience this spectacular natural wonder.Northern Dead Sea BeachesThe northern beaches are easiest to reach from Jerusalem being only half an hour south of the capital. Most of the northern beaches are private, which means you will have to pay an entrance fee (50-100 ILS) and can enjoy many beachfront amenities. Kalia Beach, Dead SeaThis is one of the best beaches for those looking for a complete range of facilities. You'll be able to use the toilets, lockers, showers, beach chairs, and umbrellas. There is a snack bar, Bedouin tent restaurant, a bar, parking, lifeguard, BBQ area, souvenir store, and even sulfur baths. All amenities are included in your entrance fee and you can camp here for an additional fee. On the beach, you'll be provided with Dead Sea mud to smother on your skin. This is a calm, quiet beach away from the large hotels in Ein Bokek. If you take one of the Dead Sea tours you could possibly spend time on Kalia Beach or a similar excellent Dead Sea beach.Open: Summer 8 am – 7 pm. Winter 8 am – 5:30 pm.Fee or Free: Entrance fee (16,5 USD)Kalia Beach, the Dead Sea. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinBiankini Beach, Dead SeaBiankini is the Dead Sea beach with the most facilities, a laid-back daytime atmosphere, and a vibrant nighttime bar. The private beach amenities are provided by the Biankini Resort Village. There is a beachfront restaurant selling oriental food. Visitors can enjoy Middle Eastern music as they lounge on the sand and use amenities such as the spa, swimming pools, kid's club, and stores. There are top-quality beach cabins and bungalows at the Biankini Resort Village, beach chairs, umbrellas, a snack bar, billiard tables, minimarket, lifeguard service, and free parking. When the sun goes down the restaurant turns into a nightclub but continues its Middle Eastern theme with live performances, karaoke, and sometimes even belly dancing!Open: 8 am – 6 pm. Fee or Free: Entrance fee (25 USD).Biankini Village Resort, Dead Sea. Photo credit:©Biankini Village ResortNeve Midbar Beach, Dead SeaThis is a wide, sandy beach with lawns bordering the sand, camping areas, bungalow rental, a swimming pool, restaurant, and parking area. You can find the natural black Dead Sea mud on the shoreline. Enjoy a drink or meal on the restaurant terrace overlooking the sea and sometimes you can even catch a live performance or festival on Neve Midbar. There is a lifeguard on duty; a Dead Sea products store, toilets, showers, beach chairs, and sunshades. This is a great choice for families, groups, and singles. However, there is a steep walk down to the water's edge and there have been reviews saying the beach is not kept clean.Open: 9 am – 6:30 pm. Fee or Free: Entrance fee (15,5 USD)Neve Midbar Beach.Photo credit: ©Neve Midbar BeachDead Sea Beaches in the Ein Gedi AreaEin Gedi Spa Resort Beach, Dead SeaIf you've come looking for a beach near the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve or Ein Gedi Kibbutz you will have found that Mineral Beach and the old Ein Gedi beach are closed due to the danger of sinkholes. However, Ein Gedi Spa Resort Beach is open. Here you can enjoy spa treatments using Dead Sea products. Amenities on the beach include lifeguard service, toilets, showers, beach chairs, and sunshades. There is a shuttle from the spa complex to the beach. You can use the natural Dead Sea mud as a skin mask and soak up all the beneficial salts and minerals. There is a large outdoor pool overlooking the Dead Sea and the spa has six thermos-mineral sulfur pools. Take a look around the spa's health and beauty store and enjoy a meal in the spa restaurant, ice cream store, or snack bar.Open: 8:30 am – 5 pm. Fee or Free:Entrance fee (24 USD)Mineral Beach, Dead SeaCLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICEEin Gedi Beach, Dead SeaCLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICEEin Gedi Spa Resort Beach, Dead Sea. Photo credit: ©Ein Gedi Spa Resort BeachDead Sea Beaches in the Ein Bokek AreaThe southern beaches of the Dead Sea are free although there are a few private beaches where only guests at the adjacent spa resorts can use the beach. Ein Bokek is about a 2-hour drive from Jerusalem but offers beachfront hotels, amenities, and a wide, sandy beach.Segregated Beach, Dead SeaThis public beach is used by the religious community and is divided into a men's bathing area and a woman's bathing area. The beach has a lifeguard on duty and there are beach amenities including open-air fresh-water showers, toilets, and water fountains. This free Dead Sea beach is well maintained and can be visited during the week but not from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Sunday morning.Open: Monday-Friday, 7 am – 4/6 pm, closed Saturday. Fee or Free: FreeTravelers enjoying the Dead Sea on their guided tour. Photo credit: © ShutterstockEin Bokek Beach, Dead SeaEin Bokek is the area where most of the Dead Sea hotels are concentrated. A rather new beach promenade runs along the shore in front of the hotels connecting Ein Bokek's two beaches. Ein Bokek beaches are free and most hotels have access straight to the sand. This year-round stretch of beach is great for the young and old. The Ein Bokek South Beach and Central Beach both have amenities that include lifeguard services; beach chairs; sunshades; water fountains; BBQ areas; outdoor fresh-water showers and nearby snack bars. Camping is prohibited on the Ein Bokek beach except during the holidays when there are designated areas for overnight stays.Open: 24/7 with services 7 am – 5 pm. Fee or Free: FreeNeve Zohar Beach, Dead SeaThis is the southernmost stretch of Dead Sea beach located about 3km south of Ein Bokek in Neve Zohar. The beach is free although there are some facilities you can pay for like reclining beach chairs. Also available here are toilets, changing rooms, outdoor fresh-water showers, and a snack bar. During holidays and the summer season, there is a lifeguard on duty. Open: 24/7 with services available 7 am – 5 pm. Fee or Free: FreeTo view the list of beaches in Israel feel free to check this article.Ein Bokek Beach. Photo by Tristan MIMET on Unsplash
By Petal Mashraki

Top 5 Water Hike Trails in Israel

Israel has many hike trails which go through streams offering some relief from the heat as you hike. These water hike trails are usually free and sign posted so that you can follow the colored lines painted on rocks to show you the route. For these hike trails wear good walking shoes or sandals that you don’t mind getting wet and a swimming costume or clothes to change after completion of the hike. You’ll have a good time following the many streams which criss-cross Israel, keeping cool and enjoying the gorgeous countryside. These wet hike routes are greatattractions for families with kids.Majrase National Park, Israel.Photo credit: © Doron Nissim. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks AuthorityEin MaboaEin Maboa or En Fawwar spring runs through the Wadi Kelt (Prat River) riverbed carrying water from the Judean Hills near Jerusalem to the Jordan River. This is a very easy hike, in fact, there is hardly any hiking involved at all; rather the fun is in swimming in the spring pool. Each day an underground karstic cave fills up with subterranean water and only when the cave is full does it empty into a pool where the water remains for about 20 minutes before continuing on its journey.From the car park walk about 300 meters to an old British Mandate-era pumping station. Water flows out of the spring at this point into a pool which would have been part of the pumping station. After about 20 minutes the pool empties as the spring water continues on its course. In this area, you can see the remains of ancient mosaics on the ground. A few meters downstream you can see the remains of an ancient aqueduct.Prat River (Wadi Kelt). Photo byChristian BurrionUnsplashZaki TrailThis water trail follows the last part of the Meshushim Stream which flows from the Yehudiya Nature Reserve into the Sea of Galilee. The walk takes about 3 hours and much of the trail is in the water. This is not a loop trail so if arriving in one car you will have to make the walk back to your starting point after completing the route. The river is quite wide and about knee-deep with gorgeous green trees and vegetation on both sides protecting hikers from the sun. At some points along the trail there is deeper water so bring water wings if you are with children who can’t swim. If the trail is too long for you it is possible to exit the water trail at several points and follow the road back to the parking area. The Majrase is another water trail running parallel to the Zaki Trail.Yehudiah Waterfall, Israel.Photo credit:© ShutterstockNahal Amudׂׂׂ(Amud Stream)This is a challenging trail in northern Israel when taken from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean but you can also do a small section in a couple of hours. The most popular section is Nahal Amud not far from Safed. The trail goes alongside the stream with several points for jumping in along the way. This is a perennial stream that runs through a valley from Safed and empties in the Sea of Galilee but there are several points of entry including Meron where there is a parking lot and the start of a circular 4km route.Nahal Kziv (Kziv River)Together with the Monfort Trail, this is one of the most beautiful trails to follow in Israel. Meandering through the green Galilee following a perennial stream and passing by a Crusader Fortress, mountains, and a spring tunnel. There is an easy 6km circular route that requires some climbing towards the end but is suitable for all ages. Amud Stream National Park.Photo credit: © Afiw Bkreia. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks AuthorityThere are other trails here that are not circular. You can enter the ancient spring tunnel (Ein Tamir) if you want but be sure to bring a flashlight. The Spring Tunnel ends in a dead-end so you have to double back to get out. This is a wonderful place to see wildflowers especially in spring (April-June).Nahal HaShofet (Shofet River)This water hike takes you through a landscape of HaZorea Forest and the greenery of the Ramat Menashe Biosphere Reserve in the Mount Carmel area. It is an easy hike suitable for the whole family and can be completed in 1-2 hours. Part of this hiking trail is fully disabled-accessible. The water flows in this stream year-round starting near Kibbutz Ein HaShofet, joining the Kishon Stream southeast of Kibbutz HaZorea. There are several routes you can take but the most popular one is a circular route.Mount Carmel, Israel. Photo credit: ©Manu Grinspan. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority
By Petal Mashraki

Wineries and Wine Tasting in Israel

Being such a small country Israeli cities are never too far away from the open countryside, farms and rural communities. The country has more than 300 wineries, 25 commercial wineries and 150 boutique wineries. The main wine producing areas in Israel include the Judean Hills where Tzuba Boutique Winery, Agur Boutique Winery and the Tzora Winery are located; Carmel region where there is the Vortman Winery, Maor Winery and the wineries of Zichron Yaakov including Somek Winery. Even in the south you can find wineries like the Yatir Winery, Midbar Winery and the Yatir Winery. There are five official wine regions in Israel – Galilee-Golan, Shomron, Samson, Judean Hills and the Negev. Thanks to the length of Israel it has several micro-climates which can support the growth of different types of grapes. More than 90% of Israel’s vineyards are in the Shomron, Samson and Galilee region while younger vineyards can be found in the Upper Galilee and Judean foothills.Grapes and a glass of white wine. Photo credit: © ShutterstockWine production in Israel dates back to Biblical times; archaeological excavations have uncovered ancient wine presses, storage cisterns, and decorative motifs depicting winemaking, grape clusters, and vines. In the 1990s Israeli wine production really took off, modern techniques and equipment were introduced and about 85% of Israel’s wineries were established in the 90s.More recently there have been many boutique winery start-ups that have sprung up across the country. Some of the stand-out wineries in Israel include Bashan which produces organic wine, Carmel which is the largest Israeli winery, Barkan the second largest, Margalit Winery credited as being Israel’s first boutique winery and Binyamina the third largest winery.Kosher Wine and Kosher-Mevushal Wine in IsraelThere are about 80 kosher wineries in Israel, so what makes wine kosher? Kosher wine needs to be overseen and produced only by Shabbat-keeping observant Jews from the time the grapes are picked to the time it is bottled – from crushing to bottling. This ancient law was created because at one time pagans used wine in their worship of idols and so the Jewish leaders wanted to ensure that no Jew was ever mistakenly given wine that had been used in idol worship.However this wasn’t enough, the Jewish authorities still worried that after opening the bottle might be tampered with (used for idol worship). And so Mevushal wine was introduced. Mevushal wine (literally cooked wine) has been heated to the point where idol worshipers wouldn’t use it in their ceremonies. So the rule is that wine that is not mevushal cannot be served to a Jew by a non-Jew. These laws were established a long time ago and the process of boiling wine would take out all the flavor. Thankfully today a process called flash pasteurization is used to make the wine “mevushal.” The process involves rapidly heating the wine to about 180°F/82.2°C for a minute and then rapidly cooling it. This helps retain the flavor that would be lost if it was really boiled. So wine you buy in Israel could be non-kosher, kosher because it has been produced by Shabbat observant Jews, or kosher Mevushal because it has been flash pasteurized.Grapevinefor harvest.Photo credit: © ShutterstockGolan Heights WineryThe Golan Heights has the ideal soil, climate, and topography for many crops and especially for vineyards. If you want a genuine wine country experience then the Golan Heights can make a great day trip. In the heart of Israel’s wine country, you’ll be surrounded by magnificent vineyards, breathtaking views, and small communities. Start your visit at the Visitors Center of Golan Heights Winery near Katzrin. Here you can get information about the tours and wine tastings available and about the history and production of Israeli wine. In the Wine Shop, you can buy souvenirs and locally produced wines. Open hours are 08:30-18:30 Monday to Thursday, 08:30-17:30 on Sundays, and 08:30-13:30 on Fridays and holiday eves.There are several tour options that are led by knowledgeable guides in Hebrew, Russian, English, French, German, Spanish or Swedish. Tours must be booked in advance on the Golan Heights Winery website. The Classic Visit includes a guided tour that covers the wine-making process, a visit to the oak barrel cellar, and a chance to taste several of the Golan Heights Winery wines. The Classic Visit lasts about an hour. For real aficionados, there is a Professional Wine-Tasting Visit which lasts 2 hours and includes a wider selection of wines in the tasting. You also have the option of a Premium Visit which includes a gourmet meal together with your wine tasting in the VIP room or the wine cellar and lasts 2 hours. The 4 hour Vineyard Tour takes you on a drive through the vineyards in an all-terrain vehicle. Your guide will introduce you to the various types of grapes and the incredible geography of the Golan Heights. This tour also includes wine tasting.Grapevine close-up. Photo by Bill Williams on UnsplashCarmel WineryThe Carmel Winery is located in Zichron Yaakov and they have a new Carmel Wine & Culture Center. The center has a wine store, restaurant, tasting rooms, a screening room, and a barrel room in one of Rothschild’s historic underground cellars. Visitors can choose from several touring and tasting options. On a Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting, you can visit the historic wine cellars, taste wine, and see a film presentation (1 hour, 30 ILS). A Winery Tour and Wine Workshop includes a more professional look at the site and a longer wine tasting session (1.5 hours, 50ILS). An Advances Tour and Wine Workshop includes a customized tour, tutoring about the art of wine tasting, and delicious cheese, vegetable, and bread platter (2 hours, 100ILS). The tours must be booked in advance and are slightly more expensive if you want to visit after 17:00. The winery center is open 09:30-17:00 Sunday to Thursday, 09:00-14:00 on Friday and holiday eves, and is closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.People in the Field Picking Grapes for the Last Harvest. Photo by Tina Witherspoon on UnsplashDalton WineryThe Dalton Winery is nestled in the hills of the Upper Galilee not far from the Lebanese border and overlooking Mount Hermon. The winery was established in 1995 by the Haruni family that emigrated from England. The winery makes about 800,000 bottles a year. Their vineyards grow at an altitude of 800-900 meters above sea level in the rich soil of the volcanic plateau and in the ideal climatic conditions. The winery recently moved to new premises in the Dalton Industrial Park where they can handle up to 1000 tones. The winery is adjacent to the vineyards making it a picturesque and ideal winery to visit. There is also a factory outlet store selling wine and products from Galilee. On the tour of the winery, you get to see the barrel room, bottling line, and taste the wines.Dalton Winery Visitors Center welcomes visitors for tours that can be booked by calling 04-698 7683 Ext. 2. However if you are in the area you can pop in for wine tasting without a prior booking. The Visitors Center is open daily except for Saturdays and Jewish holidays between 10 am and 4 pm. The last tour is at 3 pm. Green Grapes.Photo credit: © ShutterstockOn Fridays, you can visit from 10 am to 2 pm and the last tour is at 1 pm. The tour and tasting take about 45 minutes. A guided tour followed by tasting costs 20ILS. It is possible to arrange a group tour (30-80 people) together with a light dairy meal. Religious guests can arrange a tour and tasting led by the winery’s Rabbi. Note that not all the wines produced and sold at Dalton Winery are kosher-mevushal.All the above-mentioned Israeli wineries can be contacted on their websites, tours should be booked in advance and you should always phone ahead. In addition, you can visit other Israeli wineries including Katlav in the Judaean Hills; Tzora in the Judaean Hills open to visitors Sunday to Thursday 10 am-5 pm and Friday 9 am-2 pm.Avidan Winery in the Sharon region is open to visitors Friday to Saturday 11 am-4 pm; Bazelet HaGolan in the Golan Heights is open to the public Sunday to Friday 9 am to 3 pm; Assaf Winery in the Golan Heights is open daily 11 am to 4 pm and the Margalit Winery near Caesarea is open to the public in Spring.Vineyard at sunset.Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
By Petal Mashraki
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