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.

Israel Bucket List: Top Tourist Attractions in Israel

Your Israel bucket list should include all the best and most visited Israel tourist attractions. The country may be small, but there is a lot to cover. With a history going back thousands of years, there are must-see archaeological sites and ancient structures. The Promised Land is home to a wealth of religious sites that shouldalso be on your Israel bucket list. Discover Israel’s natural wonders, the vibrant urban culture, and its endless beaches. It is a travel destination with something for everyone. Start planning your trip today by adding these top attractions to your Israel bucket list.Explore Israel’s Historical and Archaeological SitesSuccessive civilizations have passed through the Holy Land, each leaving their mark. Discover the magnificent Ottoman buildings, the ancient Canaanite cities, Crusader castles, and Byzantine churches. You’ll be inspired by impressive archaeological sites and unforgettable historic places. Add a few of these to your Israel bucket list.Jaffa Port. Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Old City- This is without a doubt the highlight of any Israel bucket list. Within the walled city are unforgettable sacred sites one can enjoy with or without a guided tour. The Old City is the number one must-see attraction in Israel.Western Wall- A visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem is an unforgettable experience and a must-do for everyJerusalem tour. This remarkable ancient wall is the most sacred Jewish site in the world.Western Wall Tunnels- The Western Wall continues beneath the Old City of Jerusalem. Join atourand discover the hidden section of this 2,000-year-old wall.City of David- On the City of David Jerusalem Tour you’ll explore the excavated city built by King David and see unbelievable ancient water channels.Caesarea - Here King Herod built an impressive port city with a hippodrome, palaces, temples, and an amphitheater you can still see on a Ceasarea tour, that today hosts performances by major artists.Acre Old City- This remarkable Old City has an awe-inspiring underground Crusader city. Visitors say that Acre is one of the most unforgettable experiences in Israel.Tower of David - Today the ancient citadel houses the Tower of David Museum which traces the history of Jerusalem through archaeological artifacts.Discover Breathtaking Nature Reserves and National Parks in IsraelThere are over 400 nature reserves and over 80 national parks in Israel. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be enchanted by the diverse landscapes, from lush green farmlands and forests in the north to barren deserts in the south. Follow the many hike trails through spectacular scenery and tour unique natural wonders.Masada.Photo credit: © ShutterstockMasada- You can explore the dramatic 2,000-year-old fortress built on Masada’s plateau summit on one of the guided Masada tours. The view from the summit across the Dead Sea is spectacular.Ein Gedi - Nestled among the cliffs of the Judean Desert is the Ein Gedi oasis. Here there are picturesque waterfalls and natural springs flow through thick vegetation.Beit Guvrin - This remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site holds hidden caves, ancient Roman quarries, burial tombs, and the remains of the Biblical city of Maresha.Tel Megiddo- The archaeological mound of Megiddo is the traditional site of Armageddon. Don’t miss the chance to explore this incredible archaeological site.Mamshit- At Mamshit National Park you can see the remains of an awe-inspiring Nabatean city that used to be a stop along the ancient Incense Route.Timna Park - Discover the wonders of Timna Park in southern Arava. The park has archaeological remains and rock formations that have to be seen to be believed.Banias- This nature reserve in northern Israel has jaw-dropping scenery. The heavenly surroundings include Israel’s largest waterfall, streams, and woodlands one can see on Galilee and Golan Heights tour.Ready for the Best Beach Resort in the Middle East?Israel tourist attractions are not all to do with culture, archaeology, and the Bible. It is also a paradise for beach-goers that want to bask in the sun. Check-out the excellent beaches along Israel’s Mediterranean coast, at the Sea of Galilee, in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, and at the Dead Sea.The Dead Sea resort. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTel Aviv Beaches stretch for 14 kms along Israel’s Mediterranean coast. A wide promenade runs parallel to the sand, and there are plenty of beachfront amenities. Alma Beach is where you can hang out with hipsters.Gordon Beach has volleyball courts and a saltwater swimming pool. Frishman Beach is a favorite with families. Bograshov Beach is often crowded with people enjoying beach activities and Hilton Beach is popular with the LGBT community.Dead Sea Beaches are a completely unique experience; there is nothing like it in the world. The Dead Sea Relaxationtour gives you time on one of the Dead Sea’s best beaches. The Dead Sea should be on every tourist’s Israel bucket list. Kalia Beach has facilities and a beach bar. Biankini Beach is famed for its traditional Moroccan restaurant. Neve Midbar Beach is a quiet beach frequented by a young crowd. Ein Gedi Public Beach has a campground and Ein Bokek Beach stretches out in front of the top Dead Sea hotels.Eilat Beaches are definitely the place to go for fun in the sun. Eilat offers water sports, top resort hotels, and an incredible waterfront. Bar Beach is popular for snorkeling and diving. Nine Beach is a trendy beach with a lounge bar and music. Kishuski Beach is best if you want to do water sports. Dekel Beach is great for the whole family. Mosh Beach is the “in” place for tourists yearning for the beaches of Goa. Dolphin Reef Beach is a full-service beach with a restaurant on the sand, and an enclosure where you can see dolphins coming and going from the open sea. You can even swim with the dolphins.The Land of Milk and Honey plus Falafel, Hummus and WineNo one will blame you for putting on a few pounds when you visit Israel. The country’s local cuisine is a melting pot of flavors. Indulge in mouthwatering street food, and splurge on fine dining in Israel’s top chef restaurants. Discover the delights of Israeli cuisine on a Carmel Market Food Touror visit Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market. Israel’s food scene includes kosher and non-kosher eateries.Satisfy your taste-buds with must-try Israeli foods like:A plate of hummus, a traditional Middle Eastern spreadSabich - “Sabich” is a traditional Iraqi Jewish pita sandwich stuffed with fried aubergine (eggplant), hard-boiled egg, potato, herbs, spices, salad, and tahini or hummus.Malabi - a dreamy, creamy milk-based pudding with roots in Persia. The basic ingredients are rice, sugar, rice flour, and milk.Knafeh - a classic dessert from the Arab kitchen. Sweet pastry is soaked in syrup, layered with cheese, and flavored with rose water.A legend tells that the dish was prescribed by doctors, to satisfy the hunger of caliphs during Ramadan.Hummus - a popular Israeli street food made from chickpeas. Try the best Tel Aviv hummus on an Israel Street Food Tour.Falafel - a classic Israeli street food of deep-fried chickpea balls. It is just one of the many vegan foods in Israel. Israel has even been called the most vegan-friendly country in the world.Wineries - Israel has hundreds of wineries ranging from large enterprises to small boutique family companies. Spoil yourself with a wine tour or include wine tasting in a private Golan Heights Tour. Some top Israeli wineries include the Golan Heights Winery, the Tishbi Winery in the quaint town of Zichron Yaakov, and the Carmel Winery founded in 1882.Israel's Top Museum’s and Cultural VenuesIsrael’s multi-cultural society means diverse theater, music, and dance. There are many museums packed with treasures that include works by world-famous artists and celebrated local talents. Learn about the country’s history and culture and see exhibits from foreign cultures in Israel’s diverse museums.Israel Museum. Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockDance - See performances by the world-renowned Batsheva Dance Company at the Suzanne Dellal Center and attend the Israel Ballet. Mayumana combines dance, music, and acrobatics.Art Museums - The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is the country’s largest art museum, with an impressive collection. The Jerusalem Israel Museum is Israel’s most important museum.Cultural Museums - Yad Vashem is the country’s Holocaust museum and memorial in Jerusalem. You can visit this museum on a Jerusalem Old and New Tour. The Haifa Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art promotes Japanese culture.Performance- Habima Theater is the country’s national theatre. Gesher Theater was founded by Russian immigrants. The Cameri Theater is housed in the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.Music- Classical concerts can be seen at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium and the Felicja Blumenthal Center. The Israeli Chamber Orchestra performs at the Enav Cultural Center.Add Some Exciting Experiences to Your Israel Bucket ListMake the most of your trip to Israel with some unique activities, unusual attractions and, outdoor sports. To help you find some of these special travel experiences join a tour like the Tel Aviv Bike Tour, the Nachalat Binyamin Graffiti and Street Art Tour, or the Jaffa Flea Market Tour.Bahai Gardens in Haifa. Photo credit: © ShutterstockHere are some fun attractions and activities available in Israel:The Baha’i Gardens are breathtaking landscaped gardens that roll down the slope of Mount Carmel in Haifa. The colorful gardens are home to the Shrine of the Bab.Rosh HaNikra cave system is close to the Lebanese border. The stunning white limestone sea caves can be reached by cable car.Mitzpe Ramon is a settlement in the Negev Desert, near the massive Ramon Crater. Mitzpe Ramon is a popular place for stargazing, thanks to the clear desert skies.Shvil Israel is the National Trail that crosses the entire country from north to south. Hiking enthusiasts will love this picturesque trail that passes through a variety of landscapes.What’s on Your Israel Bucket List?Get your Israel bucket list ready and start planning your trip to the Holy Land. Whether you’re passionate about history, a nature lover, looking for a trendy urban experience, or if you just want some fun in the sun, Israel has something for everyone. Israel tourist attractions will tick all the boxes for the perfect getaway. Go ahead, treat yourself to an adventure in Israel.
By Petal Mashraki

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 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.The 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 Park Timna in the Arava Desert.Jeep ExcursionsDesert Safari ExperienceOn 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 which take you to desert springs; jeep tours where you can learn about following animal tracks; night jeep tours; survival jeep tours; tours which take you to Nabataean ancient sites and jeep tours which visit Bedouin villages. Tours leave from several points in the Negev including Mitzpe Ramon and Kibbutz Sde Boker.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 from 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.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.Alpaca FarmAlpacaThere 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.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, since 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 which welcome visitors include the Yatir Winery, Midbar Winery, Sde Boker Winery, Neot Smadar Winery, Carmey 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.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 which resemble snowboards but without the foot holds. 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 desert village for lunch.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 the Sde Boker Winery and the Sde Boker Field School.AvdatavdatThis 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 bath house, 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.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 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.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.

Israel Group Tours – Everything You Need to Know

Seeing Israel with a group tour is an excellent option for travelers who want to see as much as possible. With Israel group tours you don’t have to worry about logistics, transportation or reading up about the places you visit. The tour company takes care of the details for you! All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the trip. Whether you take a group tour in Israel or not depends on how long your trip is, your preferred style of travel and the places you want to see.Masada and the Dead Sea tour. Photo creditֶ: Dmitry MishinWhat are Group Tours?A group tour is organized by a tour company; tourists from around the world book the tour and are told the time and place to meet for the tour. On the tour day, tourists meet at centrally located pick-up points in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzliya, or Netanya and are picked up by the tour company bus. The tour buses are air-conditioned, modern, and comfortable. Throughout the tour, the group is accompanied by a tour guide. The size of the group can vary but is usually between 16 and 30 people. The tour guide gives you a bit of background information about the places you are going to see and chats with the group on route to the attractions scheduled for that day. At each attraction, the guide shares his knowledge about the things you see. On most tours, you will also get some free time and a break for lunch in a local eatery. At the end of the tour, the tour bus returns you to the pick-up point.Jerusalem Old and New Tour. Photo credit: Dmitry MishinWhat are the differences between a Group Day Tour and a Group Package Tour?A group day tour in Israel (as described above) lasts for one day. You join other travelers for the day and together with a tour guide, bus, and bus driver get to visit specific attractions. Group day tours are great for travelers who want a bit of both – guided tours in the Holy Land and days when they can discover Israel independently. Israel group tours include transportation, guide service, pick-up, and drop-off at a central location. Group day tours are perfect for those destinations that are hard to reach by yourself or when you will benefit from the knowledge and guidance of a professional.Agroup package tour in Israel is like a series of day tours strung together. The major difference is that the price of a package tour includes accommodation. Some package tours include some meals, activities (like jeep safari in the Judean Desert), and airport pick-up or drop-off. Group package tours are perfect for those who don’t want to worry about any of the details of their trip from beginning to end. Group package tours in Israel are a good option for groups of travelers visiting Israel together – church groups, bar mitzvah groups, etc. If you are traveling alone you can join other travelers on a group package tour. There are also shorter package tours which last 2-6 days and can be part of a longer vacation.Jerusalem Old City Tour. Photo credit: Dmitry MishinWhat are the advantages of a Group Tour?On an Israel group tour, you don’t need to worry about logistics. No need to tackle bus timetables or car rental contracts; no need to stand in line to pay entrance fees or to negotiate with taxi drivers. You won’t have to navigate the roads or Israeli drivers! On a group tour in Israel, you won’t have to choose what the top attractions are, as the tour company has done that for you. The tour will take you to the highlights of each destination so you won’t waste your time getting lost or seeing less interesting sites. The tour transportation is air-conditioned and comfortable and your tour bus driver will take care of parking.Often we look at landmarks and don’t really understand their significance. However, on a group tour, your guide will give you the background and history of each place. On group tours, you are traveling with other tourists from around the world for the day and can often make new friends. Group tours can get you to places that may be difficult to reach independently. For example, you may be nervous about crossing into Palestine to visit Bethlehem by yourself but with a group tour, you will feel more secure. Group tours are time efficient, getting you to multiple attractions in one day thanks to good planning by professionals who know the country.Nazareth and Sea of Galilee tour. Photo credit: Dmitry MishinWhat can you see on an Israel Group Tours?Israel group tours cover the whole country from north to south. There aretours to Masada and theDead Sea tours; trips to Bethlehem and Jericho; tours toJerusalem, visits to Caesarea, Acre, and Rosh HaNikra; as well as to the Galilee and Golan Heights. In addition, there are many smaller locations you get to see along the way that you would probably miss if traveling alone. You can even take a one-day group tour from central Israel to Petra in Jordan. Some of the group tours are geared towards specific interest groups. For example, there are Christian group tours and Jewish Heritage group tours in Israel. Longer group package tours combine several day tours so that you see all of these amazing destinations including Jordan.Golan Heights and Safed Tour. Photo credit: Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki

Water Skiing in Israel

Israelis love water sports and having fun in the water. Luckily Israel has sunny weather most of the year so the water sport season is longer than in most countries. Almost all year round you can find places to water ski in Israel. Here are the top water ski hot sports in Israel.skiing in the seaWater skiing in the see of gallileMost of the beaches around the Sea of Galilee offer water sports including water skiing. Water Skiing on the Sea of Galilee is possible from Dugal Beach (972 4 673 2226), the beach at kibbutz Ein Gev and Tsemach Beach among others. At Amnon Beach B-Oz Extreme offers water ski and wake board lessons for those 5 years and up. Golan Beach on the eastern shore is also a popular family beach where there are water sports available and a beach bar and restaurant. This is only a small sample of the beaches along the Sea of Galilee where you can water ski.Tel-AvivMenachem Begin Park (Drom Park or South Park) at 27 Biranit Street, is the site of a cable water ski drive within an artificial lake covering 50 acres. Skiing and wake-boarding is available daily except in winter. Even those with no experience can take ski lessons here although it is more popular with experienced skiers. An hour’s ski time costs about 90ILS. B-Oz Extreme Lifestyle offers ski, wakeboard and other water sport lessons in Eilat, on the Sea of Galilee and here in Tel-Aviv. In Begin Park there is a ski camp for 7 to 17 year olds in the summer, private and group ski lessons. Park Drom is the site of annual ski tournaments and a hang-out for professional skiers. There is a kiosk for food and shaded areas to sit around the lake. The park in general is a great place to visit.EilatEilat is Israel’s ultimate water sport destination. There are several beaches along the coast of Eilat on the Red Sea where you can water ski and also participate in other water sports. Among the most popular is Kisuski on the Northern Beach next to the Eilat Mall. Hashmal Beach is a quiet beach where a company is based which offers a range of water experiences including paragliding, kayaking and skiing. No need to book, just arrive and they will organize your skiing experience. They also offer catamaran rental and windsurfing lessons. Check out the Water Ski Center (972 8 637 1602) and the Eilat Sport Company (972 8 634 1144).
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 suitable for families with kids.Ein 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.Zaki 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 quit 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 Majrasa is another water trail running parallel to the Zaki Trial.Nahal AmudThis 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 which 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 KzivTogether 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 which requires some climbing towards the end but is suitable for all ages. There are other trails here which 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 wild flowers especially in spring (April-June).Nahal HaShofetThis water hike takes you through a landscape of HaZorea Forest and 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 hike 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.
By Petal Mashraki

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.1. Agamon HaHulaWinter 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!2. Nahal AmudNahal Amud is one of the most popular hike destinations in Northern Israel; located near Safed the hike 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.3. 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.4. BaniasThe 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, river and waterfalls. As you enter the park you can pick up a free map and choose which route to follow.5. 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). 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.
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.Yad 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.Chagall 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.KnessetThe 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.Machane Yehuda MarketAt the bustling Jerusalem 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 independentlyIsrael 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 vast 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 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!Western WallIf 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.Jerusalem 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 a 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 it 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 Jewish religious sites. In addition to the most famous sites there are many hidden gems, markets, stores, excavated Roman ruins, synagogues and churches. 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 which 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 holiest Muslim 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.Holocaust Museum Yad VashemPerched 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 Holocaust period. The museum building has a unique design which leads you through the Holocaust story with multimedia exhibits, provocative displays and somber photographs and documents.Machane Yehuda MarketGet a taste of Jerusalem’s “shuk” a market place with all the character, color, flavors and aromas of the Middle East. The 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.Israel MuseumIsrael’s national art and archaeological museum exhibits a vast range of Israeli and international art and artifacts. Among the gems of the 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.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.Biblical ZooAt this zoo you can see animals which 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.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 which 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 Siloam.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 8:30am, noon and 2pm, 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 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 Re’uven Rubin, Kedma and Moshe Castel. The tour stops at the Chagall Hall, Knesset Library, Plenary Chamber and other architecturally interesting points in the buildingMount 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 Super 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 Domitian Abbey, the Chamber of the Holocaust and a Catholic cemetery where Oskar Schindler (of Schindler’s List) is buried.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 Siona Russian Orthodox Convent and Mary’s Spring.Liked this article? Join a One Day tour to Jerusalem Old & New
By Petal Mashraki

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

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

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 UnsplashWhere 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!To 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 UnsplashTop 10 Romantic Things to do in IsraelSpa ExperienceIsrael-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 the Carmel mountains 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 Spa Village Hotel in the Golan Heights.Wine TastingIsrael 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.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.Desert ExperienceIf 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.Endless BeachesIsrael’s long Mediterranean 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.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.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.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.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.Hot Air BallooningTake an early morning hot-air balloon ride from Kibbutz Ruhama over the 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.
By Petal Mashraki
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