Israel Travel Blog


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:© ShtterstockNokdim 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
Por Petal Mashraki

Budget Accommodation in Israel

So you’ve decided to book a trip to Israel? Well, first of all, congratulations - or ‘Mazel tov’ as we say in Hebrew! Trust us, you’re going to have a perfect vacation. Not only is this country full of bucket list attractions - from holy sitesand archaeological remains to sandy beaches, lush green hills and silent deserts - but it’s also a great choice of holiday for the independent traveller. Most people speak English (and many speak it fluently), public transport is widespread and cheap and since Israel is the ultimate ‘start up nation’ you can be sure there’ll be all kinds of modern conveniences to make your trip a pleasure.Jaffa Port, Israel.Photo byFaruk KaymakonUnsplashOnce you’ve booked your flight, arranged your Corona paperwork (welcome to the Brave New World) and bought your travel insurance, the big question you’re going to face is what kind of accommodation to choose. And let’s face it - this is really important because where you choose to sleep is going to take up a considerable part of your budget.Now, one thing we have to admit is that Israel is not a cheap country to visit - and luxury hotels are eye-wateringly costly. Even so, that shouldn’t be a reason for you to avoid visiting, because there are plenty of ways to travel in Israel on a budget one of the best ones being to seek out accommodation that won’t break the bank. And the good news is that there’s something for every price range, whether you’re in the big cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem or roaming around the Galilee or Negev desert.From youth hostels in Jerusalem and cheap hotels in Haifa to private sublets in Tel Aviv, kibbutz accommodation in Galilee, and Airbnb rentals in Eilat, you just have to know where to search, and that’s where we come in. Take a look at some of our recommendations for affordable accommodation in Israel - and once you’ve booked one, hop on your flight and start enjoying yourself! Dead Sea Area, Israel. Photo byItay PeeronUnsplash1. Budget Hostels in IsraelSo fear not if the swanky Waldorf Astoria and ritzy Royal Beach are out of your reach, because there are still plenty of affordable options all over Israel, ensuring you can stay somewhere clean, comfortable and well-situated, without having to take out a mortgage. And the first option is budget hostels.Budget Hostels inTel Aviv, IsraelThe Spot - located in the Tel Aviv Port (Namal), and just a stone’s throw from the beach, the Spot Hostel offers a wide range of accommodation from ‘pods’ and ‘mini rooms’ as well as singles/doubles/family options. Close to the famous Dizengoff Street, and also Yarkon Park, they have a bar, screening room, co-working space and a great local breakfast included in the price. They also offer walking tours of Tel Aviv, beer workshops (!) and ‘open mic’ nights.Florentin Hostel - set in the cool, hipster neighbourhood of Florentin, sandwiched between Neve Tzedek and Jaffa, this modern five-floor building is clean, comfortable and quiet and, according to travellers, has spotless bathrooms! Popular with young backpackers, Florentin Hostel offers travellers the use of a huge terrace, breakfast and free walking tours of Bauhaus Tel Aviv.Florentin, Tel Aviv; Israel. Photo credit: © Jenny EhrlichBudget Hostels in Jerusalem, IsraelThe Post - this hostel has a unique past - the building in which you’ll stay was once the Central Post Office of Jerusalem. Designed by the British Mandate, it was designed in an international style, with touches of Jerusalem design. Walking distance both from Mahane Yehuda Market andJerusalem's Old City, the Post offer dorms and private rooms, as well as a large lounge, recreation room and rooftop bar! They also host bands, workshops and their kitchen is well-equipped.Jaffa Gate Hostel - Set inside the Old City wallsof Jerusalem, and an easy walking distance from the Tower of David, Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall, the Jaffa GateHostel offers both dorms and private rooms, late check-outs, no curfew and fantastic views from their rooftop. Consistently described in reviews as clean, friendly and inexpensive, it’s a slice of peace and quiet in the busy Old City of Jerusalem.The Post Hostel Lobby, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo take from theposthostel.comBudget Hostels in Eilat, IsraelAhla Plus - situated in a modern village in central Eilat (10 minutes from the beach) Ahla Plus offers hammocks, swings, a common lounge and an enormous kitchen. Comfy and stylish dorm rooms and colourful decor throughout, you can hire bikes and obtain helpful information on dive stores in the city, if you want to explore the Red Sea underwater.Budget Hostels in the Galilee, IsraelAviv Hostel - in a charming stone building, just outside Tiberias, this small hostel is just 2 minutes by foot from the Sea of Galilee as well as 2km from Hamat Tiberias National Park. Described as ‘homey’ and ‘comfortable’ the staff are incredibly helpful (even if you arrive late at night!) and also has a terrace/rooftop bar with great views.Sailing Boat at the Sea of Galilee.Photo byDave HerringonUnsplashBudget Hostels in Haifa, IsraelLocated in the charming neighbourhood of the German Colony, the owners of the Haifa hostel - Omer and Danielle - have a reputation for friendliness and the hostel itself is described as well-maintained, extremely clean and with great showers. They offer vegan pancakes with silan (date syrup) for breakfast, and the space has a ‘chilled’ vibe as well as a great co-working space.Budget Hostels in the Golan HeightsLocated in the Odem Forest national reserve, the Golan Heights hostel offers simply furnished rooms with free wifi, a shared living room, lockers and linens and a basketball court outside. Guests can use the kitchen and also the BBQ facilities outdoors. This is a good location if you want to horse ride, cycle, enjoy hiking trails or visit wineries. Mount Hermon, the Nimrod Fortress and the Banias Waterfalls are all within easy distance.Carmel Beach, Haifa, Israel. Photo byYousef EspaniolyonUnsplash2. Cheap Hotels in IsraelUnlike many other countries, the Israeli hotel ranking system doesn’t put much stock in the star category system, arguing that in these times of Tripadvisor, it isn’t a reliable indicator of quality. In any event, whether they’re right or wrong, it’s certainly true that you can read reviews online before you book, and judge for yourself. Cheap hotels in Tel Aviv, IsraelThe Port Hotel - in the fashionable ‘Old North’ of Tel Aviv, and close to the Namal port and Hilton Beach is the Port Hotel, which offers small but modern rooms, all with a private bathroom, flatscreen tv and a mini-fridge. Their roof terrace affords panoramic views of the city and theMediterranean Sea and the buffet breakfast is of good quality. Outside, you’re a stone’s throw from Dizengoff Street and Yarkon Park, and just a short cab ride from the city centre.Savoy Sea Side Hotel - just 2 minutes walk from the beach, and also the Carmel Market, the central Savoy Sea Side offers ‘intimate hospitality with a European flavour. This boutique hotel has a minimalist design throughout, and some bedrooms come with a bathtub. Breakfast is served on the roof terrace and is rich and plentiful. Travellers really seem to appreciate the welcoming staff.Aerial view of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo byShai PalonUnsplashCheap Hotels in Jerusalem, IsraelThe Annexe - located in the Old City, just 600 metres from the Western Wall (Kotel), this gem of a budget hotel offers small and basic but clean and comfortable rooms each with its own kettle, desk and private bathroom. With its enviable location, it’s very close to some very popular sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of all Nations.De Cardo - this small boutique hotel offers real value for money and is close to the Old City, as well as many eateries and bars (some of which are open on Shabbat). They have very affordable family rooms, and whilst facilities are basic, everything is very new and clean. They do not provide food, so you will have to find breakfast elsewhere. The light rail is close by, for travelling around Jerusalem.Sunset in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo byDavid HolifieldonUnsplashCheap Christian Hotels in Jerusalem, IsraelAustrian Hospice - Located on the Via Dolorosa, in the Old City, the Austrian Hospice has been welcoming Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem since 1854 and has a stellar reputation for clean, comfortable accommodation and a hearty breakfast. They offer both dorms and private rooms and can accommodate groups (although you must plan ahead). The view from their rooftop is to die for and they also have a cafe which serves marvellous Austrian food, including schnitzel and homemade apple strudel with cream! Highly recommended.Rosary Sisters Convent Guesthouse - Situated just 5 minutes walk from the Old City, this comfortable and quiet guesthouse is run by nuns, whose profits are donated to charity. Accommodation includes 30 rooms (single, double, triple, some with baths) and dorms. They are clean and simple and everything is spotlessly clean. A continental breakfast is included in the price - lookout for the homemade preserves made of apricots from their garden. They also provide free coffee and tea all day.The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo bySnowscatonUnsplashCheap Hotels in Eilat, IsraelPalms Hotel - Palms Hotel offers good value for money, featuring a swimming pool, a children’s club, sun terrace and rooms with air conditioning and mini-fridges. A typical Israeli breakfast is served each morning and the hotel is just 10 minutes walk from the beach, cafes and bars and Eilat’s main shopping area. Cheap Hotels in the Dead Sea Area, IsraelThe Dead Sea doesn’t have too many budget options, but one we would recommend is the Hi Ein Gedi Hostel. Clean and comfortable, it’s a great option, especially for families and the views from the bedroom balconies are fantastic. The breakfast/buffet dinners offer lots of fruits and vegetables and they offer packed breakfasts if you’re setting off early to climb Masada at sunrise! The only drawback is that they’re 30 km from the beach, so you’ll need a car. Floating while reading a book at the Dead Sea. Photo byToa HeftibaonUnsplashCheap Hotels in Galilee, IsraelKibbutz Inbar Country Lodging - Nestled in the Galilee, this guest house/B&B has clean, comfortable lodgings for the independent traveller, as well as an outdoor pool (perfect for the hot months). Its location is excellent if you’re interested in exploring some of the most famous Christian pilgrimage sites in Galilee, including the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes.Cheap Hotels in the Golan Heights, IsraelZimmer Nof L’Hermon - a ‘zimmer’ in Israel is a cabin/suite/private guest accommodation and many of them are quite luxurious. This one is close to Mount Hermon in Majdal Shams, one of Israel’s Druze villages. Whilst not too fancy, it is fully equipped with a kitchenette, flatscreen TV, terrace and garden and the nearby hiking trails are spectacular. It’s also just 40 km drive from Safed, the mystical and charming town in the Upper Galilee, famous for its winding alleys and Artists’ Colony.Ruins of Capernaum Synagogue, Galilee. Photo credit: © Shutterstock3. Sublets in IsraelIn our modern world, we have a lot of options when it comes to finding accommodation and one thing that many people take advantage of now is Facebook, as a ‘marketplace’ to buy and sell. In Israel, it can be an incredibly valuable resource, since there are groups across the country (especially in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) advertising rooms, apartments and large houses for sublets. Whether you’re looking for a pied-à-terre in the city or a villa up in the Golan Heights, it’s worth looking at what people are offering. As we’ve said before, most Israelis speak excellent English (and sometimes also French, Spanish and Russian) and it’s easy enough to chat with people online, or via WhatsApp.Subletting someone’s home can also give you a real feel for how locals live in Israel - you can ask your host beforehand for recommendations of ‘off the beaten track’ activities that many Israeli tourists never see, and because you’ll probably have access to a decent kitchen, you can make a trip to the local markets (such as the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv or Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem) to pick up produce for your home-cooked meals.Nimrod Fortress in the Golan Heights. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. Airbnb in IsraelWe’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Airbnb here, because for many travellers it’s a simply indispensable resource. Israelis have embraced the ‘rent a room’ (or ‘rent a home’) concept in large numbers and all over the country, there are locals ready to welcome you into their lives, at very competitive prices.The obvious advantage of Airbnb accommodation - apart from being cheaper than most hotels - is that you’ll have an authentic stay and (much like subletting) you’ll hopefully find yourself in contact with friendly locals, who can give you lots of inside tips. Israel’s Airbnb offerings are incredibly varied - from private rooms in a shared house to the rental of tiny studios/apartments, which are functional, affordable and have everything you need to make your vacation comfortable and fun.A street in Acre, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Por Sarah Mann

Jerusalem: Top Activities and Tours

Jerusalem is packed with iconic religious landmarks and incredible historic structures, but it is also a city where you can have a lot of fun. Exciting activities and thrilling experiences are waiting for you in the magical city of Jerusalem. Join one of the Jerusalem tours, or take part in exhilarating Jerusalem activities. There are family-friendly attractions, destinations for culture vultures, and one-of-a-kind historic landmarks. To help you plan your trip to Jerusalem, here are a few fascinating things to see, and fun things to do in Israel’s capital.Tour Historical Sites and Discover Adventure in JerusalemJerusalem is full of hidden gems where you can explore the city’s history through archaeological sites and ancient structures. Join a Jerusalem Old City tour to ensure you miss nothing and discover the stories that Jerusalem’s historical sites have to tell.The Wailing Wall. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTower of David - The historic fortress is a symbol of Jerusalem and holds exhibits of excavated artifacts. At night, a spectacular sound and light show is projected on the ancient walls.Western Wall - This must-see iconic Jerusalem landmark is the most sacred Jewish site in the world. The wall once formed part of the Holy Temple complex on Temple Mount.Western Wall Tunnels - The Western Wall is a section of a much longer wall that continues underground. Visitors can tour the length of this incredible 2,000-year-old wall.Siebenberg House - Go beneath ground level in the Old City to see the remains of an ancient home that may date back 3,000 years. This is a hidden gem and a unique tourist attraction.Zedekiah’s Cave - The breathtaking cave of Zedekiah has to be seen to be believed. It is a jaw-dropping, enormous cave beneath the Old City.Mount of Olives - The mount that faces the Old City from across the Kidron Valley is one of Jerusalem’s top attractions. Explore the many biblical locations, spectacular churches, and the 3,000-year-old cemetery on the Mount of Olives.Montefiore Windmill - See this picturesque windmill, built in 1857, opposite the Old City. Discover the fascinating history behind the restored windmill in the Mishkenot Shaananim neighborhood.Mt. Zion - This ancient hill is home to important religious landmarks, including the Tomb of King David and the Room of the Last Supper.Davidson Center - This impressive archaeological site lies next to the Old City walls. Here you can see for yourself, excavated artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods.Cultural ActivitiesIsrael has more museums per capita than any other country in the world, and Jerusalem in particular is packed with cultural venues. The city is home to people from diverse religions and cultures. In Jerusalem, you can enjoy cultural performances, taste exotic foreign cuisine, and see sublime art. Keep an open mind as you discover the variety of traditions and lifestyles all in one city.Shrine of the Book in The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Museums - Jerusalem is home to museums covering a wide range of subjects. Whether you’re interested in art, history, science, or nature, there is a Jerusalem museum for you. Among the top Jerusalem museums are:The Israel Museum is Israel’s largest and most important museum.The Rockefeller Museum displays excavated artifacts uncovered in Jerusalem during the British Mandate.Yad Vashem is Israel’s Holocaust museum and memorial.The Museum of Islamic Art has awe-inspiring art.The Bible Lands Museum is an archaeological museum that highlights the people and cultures of the Bible.Jerusalemmarkets-Each Jerusalem market is a theatre in itself.If you are fed up with museums and churches, make a beeline to:theOld City Marketwhich hasn't changed much for the last 2000 years - the market stallholders probably stood here making sales pitches in the very same way as today’s vendors.Mahane Yehuda Market- one of Jerusalem’s top attractions that sells a wide range of products but is best known for its food. Discover mouth-watering delicacies and traditional cuisine! To make sure you don’t miss any of the good stuff, join a Mahane Yehuda Tasting Tour.Mamilla, an upscale shopping avenue. Jerusalem neighborhoods- Each Jerusalem neighborhood tells a story. After your refuel at one of the market eateries, for a genuine cultural experience visit:Mea Shearim- step back in time to discover thisultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood;Christian,Muslim,Armenian, andJewish quarterof the Old City - explore the way of life in the very heart of Jerusalem;Ein Kerem- get away from the hustle and bustle of the city in a peaceful Jerusalem suburbwhere the time has stood still.Pay attention to the colorful graffiti and murals brightening up Jerusalem’s streets when exploring such areas asTalpiot,Mahane Yehuda,The First Station, and the Artists' Colony.Family Activities in JerusalemJerusalem is packed with attractions for the whole family. There are Jerusalem activities for all ages, so whether you have toddlers or teens there is something for everyone. Family activities in Jerusalem include animal attractions, extreme experiences, thrilling rides, and educational museums. Time Elevator - Take the kids on an adventure through time, with this multi-media experience that covers 3,000 years of Jerusalem history.Biblical Zoo - Here you’ll find regular zoo animals and a collection of animals mentioned in the Bible. Get to know the Biblical creatures as you enjoy the zoo’s lush gardens.Bloomfield Science Museum - Science and technology are the stars of this top Jerusalem family attraction. There are hands-on experiments, exciting exhibits, and innovative displays.Ramparts Walk in the Old City of Jerusalem -This rewarding experience takes place along the top of Jerusalem’s Old City walls. Look down on the ancient city below and see incredible views.Siloam Tunnel -The underground water channel, also known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, was carved out of rock thousands of years ago. Thrill-seekers will love the adrenaline-packed experience of walking knee-deep in water through the tunnel.Israel Aquarium -This is one of Jerusalem’s newest attractions and top family activity. The whole family will be excited by this unique aquarium that focuses on marine life in the waters surrounding Israel.Tours in Jerusalem and Surrounding AreaJerusalem tours don’t end at the city limits; several tours combine Jerusalem attractions with excursions outside of the city. Discover the most important places in Jerusalem and also visit top destinations like Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and Masada. There is no limit to the things you can see and do in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Old and New Tour - See all the best attractions in Jerusalem’s Old City and take a short tour of the most important landmarks in the new city. You won’t miss a thing when you take this tour.Jerusalem and Bethlehem Tour - Cover the top Jerusalem sites plus the iconic Bethlehem Nativity Church, which was built around the Holy Grotto where Jesus was born.Jerusalem and Dead Sea Tour - After touring Jerusalem, drive south to Kalia Beach on the shore of the Dead Sea. This must-see attraction is a bucket list destination and a natural wonder.Jerusalem Half-Day Tour - If you’re short of time, you can still see Jerusalem’s most important places. Tour the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, see the Western Wall, walk through the Muslim Quarter and get to know the Old City’s top attractions.Bethlehem Half-Day Tour - Every Christian has Bethlehem on their travel bucket list, and with the half-day tour, you can visit Christ’s birthplace even if you have limited time. See Shepherds’ Field, Manger Square, and the magnificent Church of Nativity.Masada and the Dead Sea Tour - Take a tour from Jerusalem to the top attractions in southern Israel-the Dead Sea and Masada. Discover the ancient remains of Herod’s mountaintop fortress at Masada, then enjoy floating in the Dead Sea.In the footsteps of Jesus Tour - All Christians should take this once-in-a-lifetime tour of the places Jesus walked in Jerusalem.City of David Jerusalem Tour- If you’re looking for something slightly off-the-beaten-track in Jerusalem, explore underground Jerusalem. Tour the City of David and see ancient water channels carved thousands of years ago.Top Activities and Tours in JerusalemSee the top attractions in Jerusalem and the famous biblical landmarks, but leave time for interesting activities and exciting tours. There is so much to discover in Jerusalem that regular sightseeing is just not enough. You should also experience Jerusalem activities and take some Jerusalem tours to places in the surrounding areas. Plan your trip to include a little of everything and be prepared to be amazed.Jerusalem bazaar. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Por Petal Mashraki

Israel Trips for Seniors

Thinking about making a trip to Israel, if you’re a senior traveller, is always an exciting prospect but it can be a bit daunting. This is especially true if you haven’t visited the Holy Land before - and it’s understandable that you’ll have a fair few questions before you make the decision to book a tour of Israel for seniors.Tourist floating in the Dead Sea. Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe good news is that it’s a fantastic country to visit if you’re a little older than the average visitor - it has wonderful, clement weather for many months of the year, a health care system that’s the envy of the world and well-developed infrastructure, including excellent, reliable and cheap public transport.Even better, English is widely spoken throughout the country (and quite a bit of French and Russian too!) which is very reassuring for those who worry about language barriers. All signs on the road are written in Hebrew, Arabic and English and almost every street vendor, restaurant waitress or taxi driver will be able to chat to you - not to mention younger people (who’ve often travelled abroad after their compulsory military service, and speak English fluently).All this aside, as a travel company that’s been in business since the 1990s, we understand that people can sometimes be a little nervous about travelling to this part of the world - and not just regarding the political situation but also because it’s the ‘Middle East’. Here, we’re going to look at some of the questions older travellers sometimes want answers to before they decide to take the plunge and head in our direction. We’ve also thrown in a few helpful tips and general information that we hope will help in your decision-making. Here we go:Bahai Gardens, Haifa.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhat Should I Pack For My Trip to Israel?1. Start off with an electric adaptor and voltage converter. Israel runs on 230 volts at 50 hertz, and the US runs on 120v. You can easily pick these up online, in a local hardware store in your own country or, of course, when you arrive in Israel (they are widely available in malls, pharmacies and local convenience stores). If you’re coming from Europe, it might be that you can use the sockets available - note, however, that the power prongs in Israel are rather unique - sometimes they will fit, and sometimes not. Ask your guide or a hotel staff member and, if in doubt, pick up an adaptor for a few shekels. 2. Comfortable shoes - there will be plenty of walking in places like Jerusalem’s Old City, as well as exploring ancient sites like Masada, the Galilee and Caesarea, so bring footwear you can count on. Don’t try breaking in a new pair on holiday either - you’ll end up with blisters. We suggest comfortable trainers/walking shoes or sturdy sandals, as well as some flip flops for the beach/a trip to the Dead Sea.3. Appropriate clothing - in hot months (of which Israel has many) you really need a wide-brimmed hat and cotton or linen shirts, dresses and shorts. In Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, even in the summer, it can be breezy at night so bring a light sweater. You also need to remember that, when visiting holy sites in Israel (churches, mosques, synagogues) you need to dress modestly - women will need to cover their shoulders and should pack a scarf to use as a head covering. A monk in Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. Water bottle - you can buy bottled water everywhere but if you want to save your money, then bring a water bottle. There are fountains everywhere, at which you can refill it. The water in Israel is safe to drink from the tap, so don’t worry about becoming ill.5. Suntan lotion and aftersun - again, this is widely available in Israel but more costly than in the US or Europe, so it’s a good idea to buy it beforehand. Temperatures will soar in the summer and it’s easy to burn - be careful and err on the side of caution by bringing the cream of a high factor.6. Prescription medication - Israel’s clinics and hospitals are fantastic, but who wants to waste time visiting a doctor? Bring adequate supplies of your medication as well as a copy of your eye prescription (and a spare pair of glasses, if you use them).7. Copies of travel insurance and documentation - it’s always worth having a paper copy as well as electronic (email) details. although hopefully it won’t be needed. You can always carry a copy of your passport on you too since it’s safer to leave your actual documentation at the hotel.For a few more helpful hints, take a look at our article entitled ”What You Need to Pack for Your Next Trip to Israel”.The person holding a water bottle.Photo by Bluewater Sweden on UnsplashShould I change money before I arrive in Israel?It’s not essential but often worthwhile to have a small amount of shekels on you when you touch down and changing money at Ben Gurion Airport is very costly! Can I pay for purchases in Israel in dollars?Israel’s national currency is the shekel and you’ll be paying for most things with it, but in some places (e.g. Jerusalem’s Old City bazaar and some restaurants and hotels) dollars can be used. The greenback is also welcome if you want to tip!Is it easy to use credit cards in Israel?There are ATMs everywhere in Israel if you want to withdraw cash, and the other good news is that almost everywhere now you can pay with a credit card. You’ll still need a bit of cash though, for local markets and buying ice cream from the guy on the beach! Israel is high-tech so it’s also becoming easier to use apps like ‘Apple Pay.’Israel’s History and CultureIsrael has a rich cultural, religious and historical tradition that stretches back thousands of years. Jerusalem is sacred to 3 major world religions and when you throw the politics of the region into the mix, you have a topic that you can talk about for days.Israel welcomes Christian pilgrims from across the globe, is home to a sizeable Muslim community and is also an epicentre of Jewish culture. Many of which you’ll encounter on a trip to Israel.Folklore, literature, art, music, not to mention the revival of the Hebrew languageand the fact that the country absorbed millions of immigrants from across the world since 1948 all make Israel very special.Jerusalem, the city of 3 religions. Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe Great Melting PotAs a result, Israel’s culture is incredibly diverse - immigrants from Europe, North Africa, the Levant and North America amongst many have all brought their customs and traditions here, which is why the country is such an enormous melting pot. Israel is also a country of enormous contrasts - you only have to look at ultra-orthodox life in Jerusalem compared with the secular and liberal culture that exists in Tel Aviv, just an hour’s drive away.It’s worth reading up a little before you travel - on the biblical history of the country, the archaeological sites in Israel,historical figures and political changes that the state went through - or even just delving into a novel by one of Israel’s modern writers, such as Amos Oz or David Grossman. There’s plenty of films by young directors too, including Eytan Fox’s ‘Walk on Water’ and the riveting TV series ‘Fauda’ which really give you an idea of the complexity of the country.Also, be aware of religious sensibilities - Friday noon is when Muslims attend important prayers, Friday night to Saturday night is a Jewish rest day and on Sunday, Christians will be at church. For women, carrying a light shawl or shirt in your bag is a good idea, for visiting holy sites in Jerusalem.Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockHolidays in Israel. Can I travel on Shabbat and religious holidays?Shabbat - the Jewish day of rest - starts on Friday evening and runs for 25 hours - and most stores are closed during this time. Jerusalem comes to a standstill on Shabbat although in Tel Aviv many cafes and restaurants are open. There is no public transport in Israel on Shabbat - you can, however, take taxis.Shabbat is taken seriously in Israel - religious people do not use electricity or work in any fashion and even secular people use it as a time to relax, catch up with friends and family or just spend some quality time with themselves. In a world where we’re so used to 24/7 conveniences, this can be strange at first - but, trust us, you’ll enjoy it after you’ve had a taste of it.Religious Jewish holidays in Israel are also strictly observed - especially Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) when the country grinds to a halt (even Ben Gurion airport is closed). No one drives (the highways are deserted) and it is impossible to buy even a cup of coffee. Pick up a book in advance and enjoy some downtime!Tipping. Should I tip and how much?Tipping is not mandatory in Israel but definitely expected. Of course, it’s up to you but in general, give restaurant staff a 10-15% tip and if you’re travelling as part of a tour package, your guide will be thrilled with you tipping them. On day trips, you can tip according to how satisfied you are with the individual.Ruins of Nimrod Castle, Golan Heights.Photo credit: © ShutterstockPublic Transport. Is it safe to use buses and trains?Buses and trains are cheap, comfortable and efficient and whether you’re travelling independently, or taking a group tour in Israel, don’t be afraid to use them. Pick up a green Rav Kav card (widely available), charge it up with prepaid credit - especially if you have48 hours free in Tel Aviv or a couple of days in Jerusalem, the buses or light rail are a great way to get around.Please note, that you’ll probably see soldiers with guns in the street when you’re travelling. Don’t be afraid - everyone does military service in Israel and some entrances to train stations (and other public places) have guards and soldiers there for your security. Tips for the Road. Any tips or hacks to make my trip go more smoothly?1. Respect the local culture - remember that you are in the Middle East. Excessive drinking is frowned upon, whilst smoking is still widespread! In conservative Jerusalem, modest dress is expected whereas in Tel Aviv, anything goes. Learn a few Hebrew phrases beforehand - they aren’t obligatory but every local (and your guides) will love you for it.2. Group travel - remember that pick-ups from other hotels (on day trips especially) might take 15-30 minutes. Nevertheless, we really recommend taking a tour package in Israel if you’re a senior - it’s more comfortable and convenient and you’ll be going at a reasonable group pace! It’s also safer - since you’ll have a group leader who knows the country well - and this gives you added peace of mind.Rosh Hanikra Cliffs.Photo credit: © Shutterstock3. Bed sizes - there are three common mattress sizes for couples in Israel - double beds are common, and there’s also Queens and Kings, for couples who like a little more space to move around at night!4. What’s good to eat? Try everything you can! Israel’s cuisine is eclectic and tasty. Chicken soup, schnitzel, herring and chopped liver are old European favourites. Shakshuka (poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce), malawach (a thick Yemenite pancake) and Jachnun (another iconic Yeminite favourite) are great for breakfast. Mujadara and T’beet are Iraqi dishes using lentils and chicken respectively, and some visitors fall in love with Moroccan baked cod!Salads are wonderful too - the local produce is to die for and always very fresh. In every food market, you’ll see olives, bread and spices for sale - be adventurous and try a little of everything. Bourekas (pastry filled with cheese or potato) are good to grab when you’re on the go and if you’ve got a sweet tooth don’t fear - between halva, babka and malabi, you’re going to be delighted.Finally, there’s Israeli street food - falafel (fried chickpea balls) and sabich (egg, potato, salad and aubergine served with a mango sauce) are both served with pita bread and make the perfect snack. And how can we not mention hummus? This tasty dip, made with mashed chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini will win your heart.5. How do I know when I’m ready to take the plunge? Well, take a look at our website, read up a bit and, for more advice, here’s our article on How to Plan Your Perfect Vacation in Israel. Good luck and see you soon!Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce).Photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash
Por Sarah Mann

Famous Historical Landmarks in Israel

Israel’s top historical landmarks span thousands of years. Whether you’re in Jerusalem, the Galilee, or the deserts of southern Israel, you’ll find incredible historic landmarks and archaeological sites. The best Israel tourist attractions include sacred biblical sites, excavated ancient cities, and magnificent structures of unrivaled beauty. Join a tour in Israel to discover the top-rated tourist attractions and famous historic landmarks.Jewish Historical Landmarks in IsraelVisiting Israel is a rite of passage for most Jews who come here to discover their heritage. Israel is the Jewish Promised Land and the spiritual heart of Judaism. Historical Jewish landmarks include the sites of Old Testament battles, must-see synagogues, and excavated ancient Jewish cities.Tower of David Museum.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHerodion - This archaeological mound, 12km south of Jerusalem, was where King Herod built a magnificent palace-fortress. The impressive site includes an elaborate 1st-century palace.Masada - On a Masada and the Dead Sea Tour you can see Herod’s Masada fortress. And learn about the 74 AD Jewish-Roman stand-off that made Masada is a symbol of Jewish heroism.City of David - Go on a City of David &Underground Jerusalem Tour to explore the spectacular archaeological site of King David’s city built over 3,000 years ago. You can also discover thousand-year-old subterranean water channels.Tower of David - The iconic citadel stands at Jerusalem Old City’s Jaffa Gate. It dates back to the Ottoman and Mamluk periods and houses an important museum. The structure has become a prominent symbol of Jerusalem.Davidson Archaeological Center - Let this incredible site transport you back to Biblical times. The archaeological center holds architectural remains from ancient Jerusalem and a modern state-of-the-art museum.Western Wall - On a Jerusalem Old City Tour, stop at the Western Wall; the last remaining part of the Jewish Holy Temple that stood on Temple Mount until 70 AD.Tomb of King David - On a Jerusalem Old City and Mount Zion Tour you can visit David’s Tomb which is sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Mount of Olives- The breathtaking Mount of Olives is a must-see attraction in Jerusalem. On the slopes of the Mount of Olives is a 3,000-year-old Jewish cemeteryIsrael’s Treasure Trove of Christian Historical LandmarksIsrael is a bucket list item for most Christians. Here you can walk in Christ’s footsteps and explore top historical Christian landmarks on a Jerusalem Old and New Tour. Standing on the paved streets of Jerusalem, where Jesus may have walked, is a truly surreal experience. Discover places in the Galilee where Jesus spent his ministry by joining a Sea of Galilee, Cana, Magdala & Mt. of Beatitudes Tour. Israel is the top Christian destination in the world and offers a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage experience.Church of the Beatitudes.Photo credit: © ShutterstockCapernaum - Once a fishing village where Jesus spent his ministry, Capernaum is one of the most sacred Christian pilgrimage sites in Israel.Mount of Beatitudes - On this picturesque hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount. Today an impressive church stands majestically on the mount.Church of the Holy Sepulcher- The number one Christian landmark in Israel is the Holy Sepulchre. This 4th-century church in Jerusalem’s Old City holds Christ’s tomb and Golgotha.Nativity Church - Travel to Bethlehem with a Jerusalem and Bethlehem Tour to visit the magnificent Nativity Church built around the Holy Grotto where Christ was born.Church of the Annunciation - On a Nazareth and Sea of Galilee Tour visit the top Nazareth attractions including the Church of Annunciation where the Angel Gabriel appeared before Mary.Golgotha - Today, the site of Christ’s crucifixion is within the awe-inspiring Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Visitors can see the place where Christ’s cross stood and worship at the lavish Chapel of Mount Calvary. Tomb of Mary - Nestled in the Kidron Valley, between the Mount of Olives andJerusalem’s Old City is the Tomb of Mary. According to Eastern Christian tradition, this was the burial place of the Virgin Mary.Top Historical Muslim Landmarks in IsraelIslam has a rich history in Israel. Many Israel tourist attractions date back to powerful Muslim dynasties that left behind them monumental structures, like Jerusalem’s Old City walls. On a Jerusalem Temple Mount & Dome of the Rock Tour, you can see the magnificent Islamic landmarks on Temple Mount. Jerusalem is the third-holiest city in Islam and is associated with the Prophet Muhammad’s miraculous Night Journey. Israel is a top destination for Muslim tourists wanting to explore historic Islamic sites.Jaffa.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAcre - The ancient port city of Acre has a jaw-dropping underground Crusader cityworth visiting although it is not a Muslim heritage site.Above ground are Ottoman structures like the Turkish baths and the beautiful White Mosque, also called the Al-Jazzar Mosque.Jaffa - Discover Muslim sites in the historic port city of Jaffa. Explore Jaffa’s Islamic roots and see the Mahmoudiya Mosque, the Mosque of the Sea, and the Hassan Bek Mosque.Temple Mount - This is the ultimate, must-see historic Islamic landmark in Israel. Temple Mount is home to the mesmerizing Dome of the Rock, and Al-Aqsa Mosque.Mount Carmel - The beautiful mount Jabal Al-Karmel near Haifa is the site of the tomb of Nabi Shuaib, the Druze prophet Jethro.Karnei Hattin - See for yourself where the battle of Hattin took place and where the Muslim leader Saladin defeated the Crusaders.Bethlehem - The site of the nativity is not only a Christian landmark, it is also sacred to Muslims. In Islamic tradition, the prophet Jesus (Nabi Issa) was the precursor to the prophet Muhammad. The Quran describes Christ’s birth in Bethlehem.Visit Israel’s Historic LandmarksIsrael has it all! Top Israel tourist attractions will enchant you with their beauty and historical and religious significance. A visit to Israel can be a life-changing experience for Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Life’s too short to miss this one-of-a-kind travel destination. Christians can walk in Christ’s footsteps; Jews can discover their heritage, and Muslim tourists can see the sacred historical sites on Temple Mount.The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Por Petal Mashraki

Souvenirs in Israel

If you’re a first time visitor to Israel, not only are you going to be bowled over by the sheer variety of places to visit and things to see, you’re also going to be tempted at every turn by things to buy. And why not? After all, picking up something for yourself by which to remember your trip is a great idea.Assorted souvenirs at Jaffa flea Market, Israel.Photo byTamara MalaniyonUnsplashBut as well as souvenirs from Israel for yourself, what about your friends, family and colleagues, especially those who haven't visited, but are curious about the Holy Land. What are you going to bring back for them? Well, don’t worry - you aren’t going to return home empty-handed. An enormous number of different arts and crafts are produced in the State of Israel, including Judaica, jewelry, sculptures, ceramics, cosmetics, textiles and apparel. Today, we’re going to look at this history of how these items came to be popular and where you can purchase some of them, on your next vacation in Israel…The History of Arts and Crafts in IsraelThe history of arts and crafts in Judaism is an interesting and unusual one. According to the rabbis who penned the Talmud, obeying the laws that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai is not in itself enough - it is also a great deed to carry out the rituals of prayer and worship in a way that is beautiful. As a result, many things associated with Judaism - both in the synagogue and in the home - were made as crafts, over the ages.These included menorot (candelabrum), mezuzot (the small ‘boxes’ that Jews attach to their doorposts, with a miniature biblical scroll inside), kippot (the head coverings that observant Jews wear) and many other ritual objects. Today, they can be found in stores across Israel, particularly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and they make wonderful gifts for anyone you know back home who care about their Jewish heritage.In more contemporary times, whilst the British Mandate ruled Palestine, between 1917-1948, the crafting of metal jewelry, by new arrivals from Yemen, became very popular. At the same time, because of the large number of German immigrants who arrived in the Holy Land in the 1930s and 1940s, ceramics became popular. This was because many of those who arrived were potters, and soon established studios to carry out their profession.Traditional Jewish Menorah. Photo byLuis GonzalezonUnsplashToday, in Israel, you’ll see statues everywhere - not just in museums but in public life, in installations, along the cliffs of the crater in Mitzpe Ramon, outside Ben Gurion airport, all around the big cities and also dotted throughout the countryside. Indeed, there are many artists on kibbutzim and moshavim (agricultural settlements in Israel) who take advantage of their space to build workshops and sell their wares to people visiting. Weaving and textile production are also popular in Israel - indeed, as some have commented, Tel Aviv was a textile centre long before high tech came to town. The history is fascinating - because over the ages Jews were not allowed to join trade and craft guilds, textile and wholesale manufacturing became one of the few industries where they could earn a living.Jewish traders in Morocco and Spain, throughout the centuries, imported cotton and silk and were also well-known for their weaving. And in Austria and Germany, before World War II, the majority of department stores and retail businesses were owned and run by Jews. Not surprisingly then, when immigrants began arriving in Palestine / Israel, they brought with them their experience and skills, which is why their craftsmanship became renowned for its quality.Today, in Israel, both Jewish and Arab communities also have a history of wood and leatherwork. Israeli Arabs, in particular, have a long tradition of carving out of olive wood, as well as basket weaving, fine embroidery and glassware. There are also famous sculptors and artists such as David Gerstein (known for his metal statues) and Kadishman, well known for his colourful paintings of sheep! One thing is for sure - creativity abounds…Jewelry at the flea market in Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTraditional Souvenirs in IsraelIf you want to err on the side of tradition, you can ‘play it safe’ and start your souvenir hunting in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and home to stores both in downtown west Jerusalem as well as the enormous, bustling, vibrant market scene in the Old City.Judaica is constantly a popular gift from Israel and the number of Judaica souvenirs may quickly overwhelm you. As we mentioned above, if you’re looking for religious artefacts, then there are too many to mention - candlesticks, Kiddush cups (in which Jews bless their wine), challah trays (on which the delicious Friday night bread is served up). Hannukiot (the candelabra lit especially to commemorate the ‘Festival of Lights’ in the winter) embroidered bags for men to carry their ‘tallit’ (prayer shawl) and even beautifully decorated ‘seder plates’ for the Passover holiday.The Israel Museum in Jerusalem doesn’t just have a world-famous collection (including the Dead Sea Scrolls) but a wonderful gift shop, with many of the products inspired by different eras in the Holy Land. There, you can pick up vintage posters from the 1930s, books, stationery, accessories for the home and even beautiful paperweights, spelling out ‘Ahava’ (Love, in Hebrew) in the shape of the famous statue in their sculpture garden.Jewelry Souvenirs from IsraelJewelry souvenirs from Israel make a great gift - jewelry is something many women and young girls love receiving and whether you’re looking for a traditional or modern piece. How about a Hebrew name necklace? Or a pair of contemporary-style earrings from an up and coming artist in the Jaffa Artists Quarter? Star of David pendants are, for obvious reasons, very popular, as well as rings (which can come with biblical inscriptions). Pieces made with an Eilat stone (a beautiful shade of blue-green) also make wonderful souvenirs.Dead Sea salt island. Photo byKonstantin TretyakonUnsplashDead Sea CosmeticsYou can’t come to Israel and not go home with a souvenir from the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth and a place where all kinds of wonderful bath salts, mud packs, hand and foot cream, body lotions and moisturisers are on offer. Trust us, they smell amazing, and are also fantastic for your skin, since they contain local minerals such as magnesium, sodium and potassium from all around the area. Not only are these products made from top-quality ingredients, they’re vegan, gluten-free, and also eco-friendly (taking care not to pollute the delicate eco structure in the area) and their manufacture uses sustainable and green methods at every turn.Christian Souvenirs from IsraelYou are going to be spoilt for choice picking out religious souvenirs from Israel - whether you’re in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth or the Galilee region, there are an endless number of gifts from Israel you can pick up to take home with you. Jerusalem - walking through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem is one of the things that people say is the best part of their vacation to Israel, and as well as the astonishing number of religious sites (churches, mosques and synagogues) there’s also a fantastic shopping opportunity. Traditional wooden Christian souvenirs in Jerusalem gift shop, Israel. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinThis enormous Bazaar is packed to the gills with beautiful souvenirs - rosaries and crosses, soaps, Armenian pottery, traditional sweets like baklava and halva, and meaningful gifts for young adults, such as communion cups.Bethlehem - Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus and something that’s really worth picking up for a Christian friend is a wood carving of the Nativity scene. Also look out for incense, olive oil soap and icons depicting Jesus at the Last Supper.Nazareth - Nazareth is the city where Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and where Jesus spent many of his formative years. After you’ve explored the Nazareth churches, go to the market and look out for the excellent local honey, scented candles and olive wood art.Galilee - when travelling around Galilee, the visit to the baptismal site of Yardenit is a must. Whether you’re a Christian pilgrim who wants to be ritually immersed in the Jordan, or simply a curious onlooker, this place is magical. It also has a large restaurant and an equally large store, with all kinds of Christian souvenirs. These include holy water from the Jordan river, crucifixes, anointing oil, religious candles and precious metal crosses.Icons and Judaica items in an Israeli gift shop.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinCool Souvenirs from IsraelThere’s always going to be a friend or family member you know who likes something a little unusual in the way of a gift. Don’t worry - there are plenty of cool souvenirs in Israel to take home. In particular, we’d suggest a wander around Tel Aviv’s hippest (and often hipster) neighbourhoods, where you’ll see all manner of unusual items on display.Bauhaus Centre - Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus Centre, established to promote Bauhaus architecture and design in the ‘White City’ has a fantastic book and gift store in the heart of the city, on Dizengoff Street. Whether you’re looking for original Bauhaus items or something more contemporary, you’ll find something very unusual! Some of their most popular products include smooth-papered coffee table books, posters of 1930s ‘White City’ buildings, fridge magnets of historical figures in Israel (think Ben Gurion, Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan), coffee coasters, sterling silver miniatures, and attractive and stylish clocks, bookends and pens.Jaffa Flea Market, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinJaffa Flea Market- the ‘Shuk haPishpeshim’ - or ‘Jaffa flea market’ in English - in this historic area inJaffa, is adored by locals and visitors alike and a great place for a morning or afternoon out. Open six days a week, it’s the perfect place to rummage for bargains as well as hunt in vintage stores.Friday morning and afternoon is when it really comes to life - as well as the shopping, there are street musicians, funky bars playing all kinds of music, coffee shops to spend a few hours in and plenty of good eateries, where you can try some authentic Middle Eastern food - particularly hummus, shakshuka and knafe.One part of the market is strewn with tables, where you can poke around to your heart’s content, looking for old jewelery, postcards, badges, clothes, and toys. Some of the things are in pretty good condition too - the merchants arrive here at 5 am usually and the serious bargain hunters show up around 7-8 am but if you’re patient and a little lucky, you’re probably going to be able to find something ‘local’ to take home with you.A Jaffa cafe, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockAs well as bargain hunting, there are a number of great vintage stores, selling furniture, light fixtures, retro posters of the State of Israel, beautiful rugs, and all kinds of accessories that wouldn’t look out of place in your home. Warning - these vintage stores aren’t particularly cheap, but the chances are that anything you do pick up is really going to be authentic. So if you’re the kind of person who prefers ‘mismatch’ to ‘department store’ then head here.Nahalat Binyamin - twice a week, next to the Carmel Market (Shuk haCarmel), artists around Israel set up their stalls for this special craft market, which sells all kinds of handmade goods. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, a puzzle game, a clock with the outline of Charlie Chaplin, or some local soap, this is where you should come. All of the stall owners are obliged to sell only their own products, so not only are you supporting local businesses but you can be sure that whatever souvenir you take home really is made by hand.David Gerstein Gallery - as mentioned above, David Gerstein is an internationally-recognised sculptor and one of his famous statues is a fantastic souvenir to take home with you. Whether you like the guy on the racing bike, the butterfly, a traditional ‘hamsa’ or something romantic like ‘1000 kisses’, these beautiful, vibrant pieces will add a certain something to any home and won’t fail to impress the recipient. Hamsa with Home Blessing Sale at Carmel Market, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinFood Souvenirs from IsraelThey say that Israel is the land of milk and honey, so why not take back some kind of sweet treat as a souvenir? Israel is famous for producing Medjool dates (grown both in the Arava desert and the Jordan Valley) and something else worth picking up is ‘silan’ which is a marvellous date honey syrup. Halva - a sesame candy (similar to fudge, but made from a nut or tahini base, instead of butter) is also delicious and easy to pack in your suitcase.Olive oil is produced all over the Galilee region and is top quality - from mainstream types to boutique brands, which you can order online or pick up whilst on a day trip or driving tour in northern Israel. And, finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Bamba - Israel’s favourite snack. Adored y babies, kids and adults alike, this peanut-flavoured treat is utterly moreish - and incredibly light to pack (which means you can buy plenty of it). Enjoy whatever you buy - and enjoy your trip to Israel!Spices sale at Carmel Market, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin
Por Sarah Mann

Honeymooning in Israel - Where Romance and Adventure Make for the Perfect ‘Marriage’

We all know that planning a wedding takes effort which is understandable since for many people it’s the most important day of their life. But what about what comes afterwards? How do you want to begin your married life and what factors do you take into consideration when it comes to planning the first trip you’ll take together? Choosing a destination that ticks the right boxes is incredibly important because this isn’t just a holiday, it’s your honeymoon!Just married. Photo by Derek Thomson on UnsplashWhere Modernity and History Come TogetherWe might be a bit biased, but we think Israel is the place of honeymoon dreams. It’s a modern, developed country with every amenity you could wish for, combined with oodles of history and culture. It’s small enough to travel around easily but incredibly diverse in terms of landscapes and climates. There’s extraordinary nature, astonishing archaeological sites, history at your fingertips and miles and miles of pristine white sandy beaches and aquamarine Mediterranean waters to enjoy.Yes, whether you’re a sun worshipper, a culture buff, an avid nature lover or a city slicker, Israel has it all. With four climate zones, you can ski in the Golan Heights in the morning and dive in the Red Sea at night...or hike in a crater at sunrise and be overlooking a Crusader castle by sunset. With its blue flag beaches, hip hotels, fabulous cuisine and breathtaking scenery, Israel is one of the best honeymoon destinations, and here are a few of the ideas we have in mind, to help convince you...View of Safed against the backdrop of the Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © Shutterstock1. All Coupled UpThere’s nothing more appealing for many Israelis than the prospect of heading off to a ‘zimmer’ for a romantic weekend in one of the country‘s most beautiful areas - the Galilee - and for honeymooners, we think this is a perfect idea. The word Zimmer comes from the German ‘room’ but this unique accommodation goes way beyond that. Zimmers are self-contained units that often take the form of cabins and are rustic yet luxurious, with hot tubs, stylish furnishings and extravagant breakfasts. Pastoral and private, there’s no better place to begin your married life than in these rural retreats, with no one but you and your beloved - oh, and the birds, of course!A house in Safed,the highest city in Galilee and in Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock2. Urban LivingFor city lovers who yearn for an ‘urban’ holiday, then Tel Aviv fits the bill nicely. With its hip boutique hotels, stylish fine dining scene combined with the romantic backstreets ofJaffa and the smart boutiques of the Neve Tzedek neighbourhood, it’s a great choice for a honeymoon in Israel.The city has all kinds of stylish hotels, many with rooftops that offer stunning views of the skyline and bars where you can enjoy a coffee by day and an aperitif before dinner. By day, stroll the Rothschild Boulevardand tiny streets,soak up the atmosphere; by night, lounge at a cocktail bar, before eating al fresco at some modern Mediterranean spot then dance until the wee hours at one of the city’s hottest clubs.Neve Tzedek.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Sunrises and SunsetsHolding hands and watching the sunrise over Masada, in the magnificent Judean desert has got to rank as a seriously romantic activity. On any Israel tour, a trip to the ancient fortress of Masada is a must, but climbing it early in the morning really is a wonderful idea. Sitting atop the ruins, as the sun hits your face, before taking a cable car back to the bottom and heading off to the Dead Sea for a float in the world’s lowest body of water adds a touch of fun to the activity too. Slather yourself in mud, or even take a spa treatment at one of the hotels on the promenade. You can also combine all three, by taking an organised Masada Sunrise and Dead Sea Tour,which includes time at Ein Gedi - hiking, animal spotting and a refreshing dip in David’s Waterfall. Similarly, why not enjoy a sunset in the beautiful north of the country, in the Golans (nature, history and a foodie’s delight), or on a boat trip around the Sea of Galilee? Or atop an abandoned fortification at Mount Bental, on a private tour of the Golan Heights? This part of the country is renowned for its spectacular landscapes and beautiful wildlife (eagles, deer and jackals). You can climb the Nimrod Fortress (the largest Crusader-era castle in Israel) or take a detour to the Hamat Gaderhot springs. The area is a paradise for foodies too, with its locally sourced cheeses and olive oils as well as several chocolatiers providing sweet treats for locals and visitors! Wine lovers are advised to visit one of the boutique wineries and indulge in some tastings. All of these private tours are custom-made too, so it’s entirely up to you where you travel...Sunset in Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. Out of the Comfort ZoneIf you’re in Israel to relax but want a few activities thrown in, save for the classical day tours or private excursions, why not step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never tried before? Head south to the Negev desert, to stargaze and look for meteors at the amazing Mitzpe Ramon crater, before experiencing some local hospitality in the form of a night in a Bedouin tent. Or take a hike around Timna national park before heading to Eilat for some diving or snorkelling in the Red Sea.There’s also plenty of hiking in the Negev desert, and a trip to the spectacular Ein Avdat canyon, near Kibbutz Sde Boker (home to Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion and his burial place) is well worth it. If you’re looking for more ideas, take a look at our Israel tour packages page, to inspire you.Traditional Bedouin flatbread getting baked on a tabun in the Negev desert.Photo credit: © Oksana Mats5. A Little Bit of LuxuryEveryone loves pampering and what better time for it than on an Israel honeymoon? The country has some incredibly luxurious hotels, and we’d recommend indulging in at least one or two nights in them! Jerusalem boasts the Waldorf Astoria, the pinnacle of style with its eclectic and elegant architecture and furnishings. Try their afternoon tea - it’s to die for. Or head to King David, with its stunning views over the Old City and palatial limestone walls. In Tel Aviv, we’d recommend the Norman - luxurious bedrooms, fine dining and the famous ‘Library Bar’ - perfect for an evening aperitif. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention ‘the Jaffa’ too - a modern luxury set in 19th-century grandeur. With its minimalist style, sumptuous bedrooms, lavish bathrooms and all kinds of luxury amenities, this is - by and standards - a ‘lifestyle’ hotel, and perfect for newlyweds.Rosh Hanikra Grottoes, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Roots SchmootsIf you are Jewish, it might be a dream of yours to hold your wedding in Israel but if that’s not possible, then come here afterwards - as part of the Honeymoon Israel.This unique project offers young couples, just married or in the early years of their union, a nine-day subsidized honeymoon in Israel program. The idea is to give them an immersive travel experience and - whatever their personal backgrounds - make them feel at home both in the country and in the Jewish community.The trip around the country involves outings to the top tourist spots in the country as well as unusual experiences i.e. eating dinner with locals that you wouldn't get on a classical Israel tour package. There will also be time to explore alone, with your partner and, of course, at the end of the nine days you are free to stay on longer if you want to see more of the country.Banias National Reserve.Photo credit: © Shutterstock7. Adrenaline RushIf you’re a couple that craves excitement, then an Israeli honeymoon won’t disappoint. With miles and miles of coastline and rivers too, there are all kinds of water sports - sailing, surfing, kayaking on the Jordan river and jeep safari tours through rugged desert terrain. Explore the tunnels on a tour of the City of David and Underground Jerusalem, or head off to Acre, another Crusader City, with its stone walls and winding streets.For the truly adventurous, explore some of the country’s caves - Sorek (the Stalactite Cave) in the Judean Mountains has wooden walkways which make it easy to explore. Malcham, close to the Dead Sea, has huge spaces and vertical shafts over 400 feet deep! Or what about the Maresha Caves in Beit Guvrin National Park, in which you can find cisterns, olive presses and burial caves of the Phoenicians.Beit Guvrin National Park. Photo credit: © Shutterstock8. Small PleasuresTake pleasure in the small things! If you’re in Tel Aviv, eat ice cream on a hot day (the city has some fabulous artisan gelaterias) take a stroll on the beach promenade (‘Tayelet’), hunt for vintage items in Jaffa’s flea market then have lunch at Jaffa port, watching fisherman pull in their catch. Hire a bike and explore the city by cycling the boulevards or head to Yarkon Park and rent a paddleboat, which you can take all the way down to Luna Park (what’s more romantic than a ride on a Ferris wheel at night?). Also, consider a Jerusalem tour package - have a guide walk you through the Old City, from one ancient spot to the next, soaking up an atmosphere that’s 2,000 years old. Jerusalem might not have beaches and 24/7 activity, but it has a charm all of its own.City of David Archaeological site.Photo credit: © Shutterstock9. Getting LostFor those who like to live on the wild side, head to the central railway station of the city you’re staying in, buy a ticket to a place with the most exotic or unusual sounding name you can find and take a day trip there. Wander the streets, grab some street food and get lost. Just remember not to miss the last train home! Here are a few of our recommendations, on the ‘unusual’ front:Ein Hod - a charming artist’s village on the foot of a hill in the Carmel, between the mountain and the sea! It doesn’t just offer accommodation either - there are workshops for those with a creative inner spirit!Ein Kerem - this tranquil village in the west of Jerusalem will delight every honeymooner - full of history, its lush vegetation is downright gorgeous (and if you’re there in February, look out for the almond blossom).Caesarea - famous for its Herodian architecture, the city also boasts the Ralli modern art museum - filled with Spanish and Latin American art, its Moorish courtyard is the perfect place for honeymooners to sit and swoon over each other.Safed- magical and holy, wander through the ancient streets and let yourself be enveloped by its mysterious and intoxicating atmosphere. Don’t forget to visit the Artist’s Quarter while you’re there.Safed street.Photo credit: © Shutterstock10. Do as the Locals DoThis one sounds rather odd, but why not just ask a local? Israelis are notoriously friendly and apart from loving to help, they love to give advice! They also have opinions on everything - particularly the best places to see in what they consider to be the greatest country in the world.They won’t name the tourist spots either - they’ll tell you about the places they grew up in, went to as teenagers, or travelled en route to their army base! Places like the underground water cisterns in Ramle, the Druze village of Daliat-el-Carmel, and the Latrun monastery. They are all hidden tourist gems and most visitors to Israel never make it to them. To sum up, then, we think that you’ll love taking a honeymoon in Israel. The adventures the two of you will have in this exciting, beautiful and unusual country are ones you are guaranteed to love and the memories you’ll make we think will stay with you for years to come. Congratulations on tying the knot and see you soon!The Wedding Church at Cana, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Por Sarah Mann

On the Road in Israel: a Hebrew-English Dictionary for Visitors

So you’re off to Israel on a long-awaited holiday? Firstly, congratulations, you made a fine choice and, trust us, you’re going to love it. Secondly, a small tip. Whilst this is a country where many people (especially the younger generation) speak English fluently, and everyone connected with the tourist industry will be able to help you out, at least to some degree, it’s always useful to know a few phrases. And more than just being useful, you’ll see how appreciated your words are when you utter them - Israelis are proud of their Hebrew language (‘Ivrit’ as it is known), so if you go to the trouble of learning a few words and expressions, you’ll really reap the rewards!Hebrew signs inJudean Hills.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinBefore we start, a little about the history of modern Hebrew because it's actually a fascinating story. Something that really sets Israel apart from other nations is that it has a revived language as its national tongue and that is definitely thanks to Eliezer Ben Yehuda, a Lithuanian immigrant who was the driving force behind its ‘comeback’. Taking the view that the Jews could not become a united people in their own land unless they had a modern language of their own, from the day he and his family arrived in Jaffa (in 1881) he insisted that they speak only Hebrew - a Hebrew that he was going to ‘recreate’ out of the ancient language of the Bible! Ben Yehuda really took the construction of this new modern language seriously. He would not even respond to his children if they did not use the words he was constructing, even when they cried and told him they did not understand! This story is still recounted to every young school child in Israel. He coined all kinds of new words and even put together a dictionary, to promote the use of the language in the fields of journalism, science, and literature. Today, we see the fruits of his labor - Hebrew isn’t just a language of prayer, but a tongue heard on every street corner. What an achievement!Street name sign in three languages in Jerusalem.Photo credit:© ShutterstockWhilst Ben Yehuda clearly had to improvise in many instances (there were no cars or newspapers in biblical times!) you can trace the etymology (origin) of many words easily, as many are referred to in the Bible as geographical places. Jerusalem literally means ‘City of Peace’ (from ‘shalom’) and Jaffa (‘beautiful’) is derived from Japhfet, the name of one of Noah's sons' who built the city after the Flood. Beit Shemesh (in the east) means ‘House of the Sun’ and Mitzpe Ramon (home to Israel’s astonishing crater, with its panoramic views) is ‘lookout’. Many spots are also named after water (‘Ein Gedi‘ means ‘ Spring of the Kid’) or named after species mentioned in the Bible (‘Ein Tamar’ means ‘Spring of the Date Palm’).Jerusalem literally means "City of Peace" in Hebrew.Photo credit:© ShutterstockBut, for now, back to your trip. You’ll need, at the very least, some basic words and phrases whilst touring in Israel ... words like ‘shalom’ (hello, goodbye, and peace) ‘bevakasha’ (please) ‘todah’ (thank you) ‘lehitraot’ (goodbye) and ‘al lo davar’ (you’re welcome) are always helpful, as are phrases to do with how much something costs, where the bathroom is (always an essential!) and how to order something in a restaurant. Here, let’s take a look of this lovely video by Yaara, one of the sweetest Hebrew teachers on YouTube that we know, with her ‘25 top words’ to get you started.Once you’ve mastered the basics, let’s go onto a few words and phrases that will really come in handy when you’re on a tour of the Dead Sea and Masada, discovering the capital's rich history with a City of David & Underground Jerusalem Tour, or thirsty whilst on a tour in the Golan Heights! ‘Mayim’ is a real essential - it means water and you should be drinking lots of it, especially if you’re here between May and October. ‘Glida’ is another favorite - it refers to ice cream and wherever you go in Israel you’ll see it for sale - especially in boutique parlors where you can find exotic Middle Eastern flavors, such as halvah, saffron, cardamom, and star anise.Sliced halvah cake ("ooga")at the Carmel market shop.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinThere’s also ‘yam’ - sea in Hebrew - and ‘tayelet’ - which means promenade (Israel’s beaches have beautiful promenades, perfect for strolling, with the Mediterranean Sea waves lapping nearby) before you head off to sample some Middle Eastern cuisine in a local ‘misadah’ (restaurant). Israel is famous for plenty of dishes besides the ubiquitous falafel (fried chickpea balls served in pita bread) and one word we’d really recommend not forgetting is ‘dag’ (which in Hebrew, means ‘fish’) - because the local catches are wonderful.‘Salatim’ - salads - are also a fine choice and they come in all colors and flavors, using making use of local produce such as ‘hatzilim’ (eggplant) ‘rimonim’ (pomegranates) ‘gvina’ (cheese), and egozim (nuts). Don't forget to drizzle some ‘tahini over your food too - a sesame seed paste that’s delicious and nutritious and which is universally known here. And for dessert, try a couple of ‘sabras’ - they are the Israeli national fruit (spiky on the outside and sweet on the inside - just like the people of the country, as they say).The sea ( ‘yam’) in Acre, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinA few more words for good measure: ‘Tiyul’ means ‘trip, ‘haaretz’ means ‘the land or Israel’ and ‘madrich / madricha’ are your tour guides (depending on whether they are male or female). So once you’ve got the hang of these words, why not try them out on your ‘siyurim madrichim baaretz’ - guided tours in Israel. Fun fact: Israel is a nation of polyglots, and it’s quite likely that your tour guide will speak more than just Hebrew and English (many Israelis grow up in homes where Arabic, Turkish, French, Spanish, and even Yiddish are spoken!)Bein Harim guide on an tour to Masada.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinFor anyone whose Hebrew is a bit better than basic, we’d really recommend listening to ‘Streetwise Hebrew’ by Guy Sharett. What makes this podcast really special is that Guy takes an innovative approach to learn words and phrases, by using Israeli music (old songs and new), graffiti, and a bit of slang too! Fun fact: Guy’s native tongue is Hebrew, but apart from being fluent in English, he is also familiar with Arabic, Aramaic, Latin, Italian, Dutch, and Indonesian. This podcast is so much fun that you might even be tempted to learn more Hebrew once you’re back home. Go on - have a listen! After learning Hebrew with this original technique, you might also be interested in a Tel Aviv graffiti and street art tour which is certainly a must for all contemporary art lovers.Tourist taking pictures of Tel Aviv graffiti.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAnd how could we talk about Hebrew words without throwing in a few phrases for when you’re in the local markets, looking for unusual foods, local crafts, and souvenirs for your friends back home. The ‘shuk’ (‘market’ in Hebrew) is a central feature of any town or city and is a must-visit, and if you take a tour you’ll get a lot of history thrown in for good measure. Jerusalem has the fabled Mahane Yehuda, Tel Aviv has the Carmel market, Jaffa has the vintage ‘Shuk Hapishpishim’ (Jaffa flea market, an organized tour recommended), and the Crusader city of Acre has a vibrant Old City market. In all of them, you can wander for hours, and soak up the exotic atmosphere, better with a guided market tour.Spice stall at Tel Aviv's Carmel Market.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinIn terms of what to buy, you’re completely spoilt for choice - spices are always a good choice, not to mention halva, Medjool dates, and Dead Sea mud packs for your face, which are guaranteed to leave your skin invigorated. There are also all kinds of religious artifacts on offer - Judaica (menorahs and Hannukiahs, for placing candles), Shabbat tablecloths and silver mezuzahs (which religious Jews affix to their doorposts) and, for pilgrims on Christian tours of Israel olive wood crucifixes, rosary beads, and even bottles of water from the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Vintage posters from the 1920s, depicting travel to the Holy Land, Armenian pottery, and olive oil are also fun buys. And the good news is that in these markets, you can always haggle (it’s actually expected). So, for starters, try: “Kama ze oleh?” That’s “What’s the cost?” in Hebrew, and is always a good opening gambit. With any luck, you’ll grab yourself a bargain as well as improving your vocabulary. Enjoy your trip to Israel and, as we say in Hebrew, “B'hatzlacha!” (“Good luck!”)Olivesstall at Tel Aviv's Carmel Market.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Por Sarah Mann

The Most Recommended Trips to Israel

Israel may be a small country but it is packed with some of the most fascinating historical landmarks, natural wonders, holy sites and vibrant modern cities. There is so much to see; delicious foods to try and unique people to meet that you could stay in Israel for years and still not cover it all! To help you plan your time in Israel here are some of the most recommended trips for travelers that want to discover the magic of this magnificent country.The terraces of Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockMost Recommended Israel Trips for ChristiansWhether you visit Israel as a Christian, Jew, or Muslim; whether you have come to explore the culture, history, or natural wonders there are a few must-see sites that every visitor to Israel should include. Must-see Israel destinations are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee. If you have more time, then include Bethlehem, Masada, Jericho, and Eilat in the south plus Caesarea, Haifa, Acre, Rosh Hanikra, and the Golan Heights in the north. Trips to Jerusalem for Christians - Christians traveling to Israel should make a beeline for Jerusalem, a city packed with biblical landmarks. One of the most popular trips in Israel follows in the footsteps of Jesus. On the Mount of Olives see the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations, the Pater Noster, where Jesus taught his followers the Lord's Prayer, and Dominus Flevit, where Jesus looked out across Jerusalem.In the Old City of Jerusalem, you can explore the Armenian Quarter; walk through the Jewish Quarter, home to the Byzantine Cardo and stop at the Western Wall, the most sacred Jewish site in the world. Walk along the Via Dolorosa, a route that Jesus walked with 14 Stations of the Cross as he carried his cross towards his crucifixion at Calvary.Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Aedicule.Photo credit: © ShutterstockToday Calvary, as well as Christ's tomb is within the massive 4th century Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Just outside the walls of the Old City is Mount Zion, the site of the Room of the Last Supper. If you have more time you could visit the modern city of Jerusalem, the Holocaust Museum, the Israel Museum; Mahane Yehuda Market, and Jerusalem's archaeological sites.Trips to Bethlehem for ChristiansOn your trip to Israel, you could consider combining a half-day trip to Jerusalem with a visit to either Bethlehem, Jericho or the Dead Sea. Bethlehem is a town in the West Bank Palestinian Authority Area and so most travelers choose guided tours to Bethlehem for safety and convenience.In Bethlehem, you can stop in Manger Square and spend time in the Church of Nativity, which was built around the Holy Grotto where Jesus was born. In the adjacent St. Catherine's Church, there are underground chambers holding shrines and memorials. While in Bethlehem stop at the Milk Grotto where it is said that Mary nursed baby Jesus.The Church of Saint Catherine, Bethlehem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTrips to Galilee for ChristiansGalilee is second only to Jerusalem for its concentration of biblical sites. Travel through the verdant countryside of rolling hills, farmlands, and forests to the Sea of Galilee. You can travel around the shores of the sea stopping to see where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount on the Mounts of Beatitudes,Capernaum, where Jesus lived during his ministry, Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine and Tabgha, the site of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish.All of these Christian sites are marked by beautiful churches. Nazareth, the town of Christ's childhood is also in Galilee and today is home to the Church of Annunciation where an angel Gabriel told Mary of her future child. While in Nazareth visit the Church of St. Joseph, built on the site where the Holy family once had their home and Joseph's carpentry. Your Israeltripcould include being baptized in the Jordan River at Yardenit at the foot of the Golan.Most Recommended Trips for Jewish Travelers in IsraelLike Christian travelers, Jews visiting Israel will want to spend time in Jerusalem where so much Jewish history unfolded.A tourist in Masada looking at the Dead Sea, Israel. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTrips to Jerusalem for Jewish TravelersHighlights for Jewish visitors to Jerusalem include the Western Wall and the Tomb of King David on Mount Zion. While in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City you can visit four 17th-18th century Sephardi synagogues. Delve deep into the history of Jerusalem and go underground to the excavated City of David, the original Jerusalem settlement dating back to the Bronze Age and Iron Age.Some trips to Israel combine a day in the Old City with a visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. The museum holds an overwhelming amount of authentic documents, historic photographs, artifacts, and video testimonials from Holocaust survivors.Jewish travelers will no doubt be interested in seeing the Knesset, Israel's parliament building, and the Mount of Olives where there is a 4,000-year-old Jewish cemetery facing the Old City.From the Mount of Olives, you can look out across the Old City to Temple Mount where the holy Jewish Temple once stood, and also see three monolithic ancient Jewish burial tombs in Kidron Valley.The Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTrips to Southern Israel for Jewish TravelersJews have an intrinsic connection with Israel; almost every landmark in Israel has some significance for Jews – be it biblical, historical, or modern. Jewish travelers should make a trip to Masada, a rock outcrop rising out of the Judean Desert and overlooking the Dead Sea. Visitors can take a cable car to the summit of Masada where King Herod built a massive palace-fortress in 31-37BC. Much of the complex has survived thanks to the dry climate and remote location. Masada was also the site of a significant event in Jewish history during the First Jewish-Roman War (73-74AD) when Sicarii Jews took refuge on the mount. They remained on Masada, under siege by Roman troops until the standoff ended in a mass suicide as the Jews chose to die rather than submit to the Romans. Visitors can combine a trip to Masada with time at the Dead Sea; a visit to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and perhaps also visit Ein Gedi, a modern kibbutz, a nature reserve, and desert oasis.Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana MatsTrips to Northern Israel for Jewish TravelersA top recommended trip to the Galilee and Golan for Jewish travelers focuses on attractions like the Shalom Observatory; Katzrin, where there is an excavated Talmudic-era Jewish village; the Golan Antiquities Museum where you can learn about the ancient Jewish city of Gamla and Mt. Bental, site of abandoned Syrian bunkers and trenches.A Classic Trip Along Israel's Mediterranean CoastA classic trip to Northern Israel includes a drive up the coastal road stretching along the Mediterranean Sea, stopping briefly in Caesarea to see where Herod built his port city 2,000 years ago and a stop in Haifa to marvel at the breathtaking Bahai Gardens which cascade down Mount Carmel on 18 perfectly symmetrical terraces. A little further up the coast is Acre, one of the most interesting and beautiful old cities in the country. The Old City has been built and rebuilt over the years with the Crusaders and Turks leaving a lasting impression. On your trip to Israel be sure to visit the Old City Market and the underground Crusader city in Acre. Continuing up the coast to the most northerly point on the border with Lebanon you can visit Rosh Hanikra, a complex of white limestone sea caves.The Aqueduct Beach, Caesarea.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTrips for Fun and Sun in IsraelIf you're not coming to Israel for the culture, history, or religious sites then you should head for Tel Aviv, a vibrant modern city with a dynamic nightlife and parties that end as the sun comes up. In Tel Aviv, you can party all night and spend the days on the beach, in local sidewalk cafes, bars, art galleries, and markets. Tel Aviv has a thriving LGBT community and the city is extremely inclusive and cosmopolitan. When you've had enough of the "Big Orange" head south to Eilat, Israel's ultimate beach resort city on the edge of the Red Sea. Here there are endless beach attractions, watersports, resort hotels; a Dolphin Reef, and even a mall built around an ice rink. Eilat is also a tax-free port so it's perfect for shopaholics.Recommended Trips for a Pampering Tour of IsraelIf you'd rather not negotiate the public transport system or battle on the highways with Israeli drivers, then spoil yourself with a private guided tour on your trip to Israel. If you take a private tour of Israel, you can pick and choose the destinations that interest you most; you can determine how much time you spend in each place and you will have a driver at your disposal to get you to and from each attraction. Private tours offer a recommended itinerary which you can then adapt to suit your interests and schedule. The same goes for cruise travelers arriving in Haifa or Ashdod where you can take a private guided tour straight from the port to your chosen destination and be back in time to join your ship for departure. If you are interested in Israel Shore Excursions, make sure you choose a trustworthy Israeli tour operator.Tel Aviv coastline and Marina.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Por Petal Mashraki

Do You Need a Visa to Visit Israel?

Luckily nationals from 96 countries do not need to arrange a visa for Israel before leaving their home country. However it is important to make sure you can travel to Israel visa-free before you book your air ticket. Here is a breakdown to help you understand Israeli visas.Different Types of Israeli VisasIsrael offers a number of different types of visas depending on the purpose of your entry into the country. Visas for Israel include an Immigration Visa; A/1 Temporary Resident Visa; A/2 Student Visa; A/3 Clergy Visa; A/4 visa for spouses and children; B/1 Work Visa and a B/2 Visitors’ Visa. The Immigration Visa and A/1 Temporary Resident Visa are only applicable to a person immigrating to Israel. An A/2 Student Visa is for those coming to study in any institution in Israel and is valid for up to one year with multiple entrances and exits. An A/3 Clergy Visa is for clergymen coming to Israel to perform clerical duties for their religion by invitation of a religious organization in Israel. A clergyman coming on holiday or on a pilgrimage would require a regular B/2 visa not an A/3 Clergy Visa. The A/4 Visa is for the spouses and children of those with an A/2 Student Visa or an A/3 Clergy Visa. A B/1 Work Visa is for those who have approval from the Ministry of the Interior to work as an expert or artist in their field in Israel. The B/2 Visitors’ Visa is the one which tourists receive.Do You Need a Visa for Israel?Nationals from many countries do not require a visa and can stay in Israel for up to 90 days visa-free after which you can apply for an extension at the Ministry of the Interior. Among the countries with bilateral agreements with Israel allowing visa-free visits are the USA, Britain, Australia, European nations, Russia, South Africa, Canada, Philippines, Iceland, Singapore, Hong Kong, most South American countries, Japan and New Zealand. Check the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website to find out if nationals from your country can visit visa-free for 90 days. If you require a visa you will have to apply for a B/2 Visitors Visa.Israeli Visitors VisaTourists, volunteers, business people coming to Israel for meetings, Hebrew language students and visitors to Israel from countries which do not have a bilateral agreement with Israel will have to apply for a visa at their local Israeli Consulate in their home country. The visa allows you to visit for up to 90 days and does not allow you to work in Israel. When applying for an Israeli visa you will need a passport valid for at least six months after your stay in Israel; a filled and signed application form; a photocopy of your passport; proof that you can support yourself financially while in Israel (such as a bank statement from the last three months); an air ticket to and from Israel; two passport photos and the application fee.You should receive your visa within two months. Due to the fact that many Arab and predominantly Muslim countries do not grant entry to people with an Israeli stamp in their passport, travelers are now issued with a stamp on a separate piece of paper which must be kept in your passport for the duration of your visit in Israel.
Por Petal Mashraki

How to Plan Your Perfect Vacation in Israel

There’s nothing we all look forward to more than a good vacation and after a year of Corona, we’ve never needed one more than now! Of course, life after the pandemic means we’re a lot more health-conscious and we want to stay as safe as possible when travelling abroad. That’s why Israel, whose vaccination record is the envy of the world, is a great choice. Here are a few tips from us on how to make it a trip you’ll never forget:Jerusalem courtyard.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Vaccines and Travel InsuranceLet’s start with the question on everyone’s mind - what are the Corona regulations? Well, first of all, and it probably goes without saying, all visitors will need to have been vaccinated. From 23rd May 2021, along with a Vaccination Certificate (or Certificate of Recovery), you’ll be able to enter Israel but only as part of an organized tour package. It is hoped that by July, this will be extended to individual travelers.The following guidelines apply to all tourists:No more than 24 hours before you fly, fill out a passenger statement form - once approved, you will have entry clearance.Take a COVID-19 PCR test at least 72 hours before departureAfter arriving at Ben Gurion airport, show both the entry clearance and negative COVID-19 test result to staff.Take another COVID-19 test at the airport, as well as a serology test (to show that there are antibodies in your blood).If the results are good, you’re free to start enjoying yourself! Don’t forget to carry a copy of your Vaccination Certificate on you, whilst traveling, to show where necessary. We should also point out that Israel has a healthcare system that is the envy of the world so, in the event that you do feel unwell, you will be assured of first-class treatment (by the way, nearly all medical professionals here speak excellent English). Just make sure you have comprehensive cover from a good travel insurance policy.Tourist at HaBonim Beach, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin2. When? Low or High Season?Another excellent question. Israel has a subtropical climate, with long, hot summers and cool winters (although not too much rain and quite a few sunny days). If you love the heat (and sunning yourself on a beach) and then July to September will suit you perfectly (remember that in Jerusalem, the heat is dry but on the coast, it is more humid). However, if you want to hike in the Negev or Arava desert (or ski at Mount Hermon!), then the winter months will suit you better.The high season in Israel isn't just the summer though - it also includes the Jewish holidays (Passover in April and the High Holidays in September/October). Prices will be higher than and attractions busier. As a rule of thumb, spring and fall are always recommended for a vacation, with plenty of blue-skied and sunny days, allowing you to travel in shorts and sandals and eat outdoors at night. And if you want to travel in January and February, whilst it may be a little more cold and rainy, it still won’t resemble the wintery months of Europe - and there will be less of a crowd at the major attractions.Spring in Latrun, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Plotting an ItineraryA lot depends on how long you’re coming for - 7 days or 2 weeks in Israel- and it is never enough. At present, you need to travel as part of an organized tour package which actually has many advantages in any event - the services of an experienced tour guide, the chance to see a lot in a short space of time, pre-booked accommodation and the opportunity to make new friends. Whilst it’s possible to pack a lot in, over a week, we’d recommend one of Israel and Jordan tour packages, which, as well as offering you all kinds of Israel attractions, include a free day (useful for relaxing, shopping, and sunbathing!) and a day trip to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.View from Rosh Hanikra, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. Choose your Travel Style/PartnerOnce you’ve booked your vacation, think about what kind of trip you want it to be - are you a solo traveler, a couple, a family, interested in a historical/archaeological tour, or visiting as a pilgrim?Solo travelers - hopefully, by July 2021, solo travel will be permitted once more. Israel’s a very easy country to explore alone - almost everyone speaks English and public transport is cheap and air-conditioned. And if you do find yourself wanting either the services of a guide or a bit of company, there are a wide range of day tours in Israel to choose from.For couples - if you’ve rented a car, why not spend a couple of nights at a zimmer? These privately-owned units can be found all over the country, and are often quiet, pastoral, and very romantic - the perfect place to get away from it all.For families - Israel's an incredibly child-friendly destination. Whether it's a museum, nature reserve, water park, beach, or zoo, your kids are bound to have a ball.For historians - if you love history or archaeology, you’ve hit the motherload. Classical tour packages give you the opportunity to explore extraordinary sites such as Jerusalem,Rosh Hanikra, and Masada.Pilgrimage - a visit to Israel is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Christian pilgrims and Christian tour packages are a fantastic way to enjoy what is bound to be both an emotional and moving journey, whilst you walk in the footsteps of Jesus.Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin5. Visas and FormalitiesFor many visitors, obtaining a visa for your Israel vacation is not an issue. In such cases, entry for 90 days is automatic (don’t forget your Corona Vaccination Certificate!) It is a good idea to check and see if you are on the list of countries with which Israel has an Exemption Agreement. If you are not, you can find further information about visa applicationson the country’s Foreign Affairs dedicated page.Tourists in Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin6. Booking AccommodationIsrael has all kinds of accommodation available - from luxurious five-star hotels and romantic zimmers, to self-catering apartments, youth hostels, campsites, and even Bedouin tents! Kibbutz accommodation gives visitors a chance to see how Israelis live, as does renting a small apartment in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, where you will quickly get to know the neighborhood. Many places offer a reasonable cancellation policy, and never more so than now. When booking any kind of accommodation make sure to check that you can cancel your stay at short notice - flexibility really matters!Nimrod's castle.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin7. Transportation in IsraelTraveling around Israel is easy, whether you prefer public transport, taxis, car rental, or the services of a personal driver, it’s up to you. From Ben Gurion airport - taxis can be found by a stand outside the entrance to the arrival gate. There is also a reasonably priced train service that runs frequently to all major cities in Israel. Airport transfers are an excellent idea for those who want peace of mind.Buses and trains - public transport in Israel is good - buses run often and are cheaply priced - a good idea is to buy an electronic green Rav Kav card and load it up with the money. The new train route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem takes only 29 minutes and at a cost of 21.50 NIS ($6.50) is a bargain. Please note that there is no public transport on Shabbat (i.e 2 hours before Shabbat begins on Friday and an hour after it ends on Saturday). Of course, if you aretraveling in Israel as part of a guided tour, this won’t be a problem.Taxi in Jerusalem street.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinTaxi - you can hail taxis on the street easily or use the ‘Gett’ app.Renting a car - this is easy and not too costly.Guided tours in Israel- to maximize what you can see in a day, and skip the hassle of driving, why not take a guided day tour? All of our guides are experienced and knowledgeable and we use comfortable air-conditioned buses (ideal in the hot summer months).Sataf Forest, Judean highlands.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin8. Top AttractionsIt’s hard to know what to see first in Israel. Jerusalem is a must, of course - both the Old City, which is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western (Wailing) Wall, Dome of the Rock and many other places of great historical significance. Outside the ancient walls, the Israel Museum (a treasure trove of art, sculptures, and home to the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Yad Vashem (Israel’s incredibly moving Holocaust museum) are must-visits. Nor should anyone leave Jerusalem without a visit to the lively, bustling Mahane Yehuda market. In the north of the country, the Sea of Galilee and the many pilgrim sites (the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Yardenit) are always popular, and a short drive north, to the Golan Heights, is a delight in itself, not just for the scenery but as a chance to explore some boutique wineries. On the coast, don’t forget Haifa (with the impressive Bahai Gardens) the beautiful Crusader City of Acre and Caesarea, with its impressive Roman ruins. Jerusalem rooftop view.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinNo trip to Israel would be complete without a swim in the Dead Sea and a visit to Masada, the ancient fortification located high in the Judean desert. Ascend by cable car (or if you’re fit, climb up the winding path) and enjoy outstanding views. If you like the desert, Mitzpe Ramon (with its crater) and Timna Park in the Arava are perfect hiking spots and from Timna, Eilat, on the Red Sea, is just a hop, skip, and a jump.Don’t forget to spend a couple of days in Tel Aviv too. The White City as it is known, because of its beautiful Bauhaus buildings, is packed with cafes, restaurants, small stores, fine museums, and some phenomenal beaches (all with their own unique flavor). With its wonderful promenade (Tayelet) from which you can walk all the way from the Old Port (Namal) to historic Jaffa, local coffee shops, and lazy beat, Tel Aviv is the ideal way to end your perfect vacation.Tel Aviv coastline.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin9. Calendar of Local EventsThere are cultural events happening year-round in Israel, so whatever time of the year you visit, the chances are that there will be something great to see, hear or do. If you’re in Tel Aviv in the spring, don’t miss the Annual ‘Leila Levan’ (‘White Night’) where the city comes to life with free performances in every neighborhood - jazz, opera, klezmer, and cover bands - from 8 pm until 5 am. Or why not catch some free opera in Yarkon Park (a huge green space in the city’s north), along with the locals? If you like to dance, don’t miss the Batsheva troupe, whose home is the Suzanne Dellal Center in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood, or a show at the Cameri Theatre (we’d recommend ‘The Wandering Israeli’). You should also try and visit the impressive amphitheater at Caesarea and enjoy a performance by some Israeli or international singer. And for jazz aficionados, you can’t do better than make a trip down to the Red Sea - their annual Jazz Festival in Eilat offers world-class music with spectacular views thrown in for good measure. In Jerusalem don't miss the Israel Festival with 3 weeks of performances around the city, as well as the Jerusalem Festival of Light.Jerusalem Knights Festival-2018.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin10. A Little HebrewWhilst almost everyone in Israel speaks some English (and many speak it fluently) it’s always a good idea to learn a few words and phrases beforehand. Not only will it make your life a little easier, but you can have fun at the Israeli ‘shuks’ (markets) when bargaining for souvenirs. Modern Hebrew looks intimidating (especially because of the way it's written!) but once you’ve learned a few expressions, you’ll be surprised at how simple it can be. You’ll also be amazed at how pleased locals are to hear you making an effort - there’s nothing like thanking someone in their own language to put a smile on their face. Check out our Hebrew-English dictionary for visitors for some tips.Banias Nature Reserve.Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe choice between traveling on your own andpre-arranged tour packagesis often a pain. Israel’s a small country so it’s easy to cover a lot of ground quickly, but there’s no doubt that it punches above its weight in every respect - weather, food, landmarks, scenery, cultural events, and pristine beaches. Whether you’re a culture vulture, a foodie, a pilgrim, or a sun-lover, there’s a perfect vacation waiting for you.
Por Sarah ,Mann

What You Need to Pack for Your Next Trip to Israel

So you’ve booked your ticket to Israel - well, congratulations on your impending trip. Now, all you need to think about is packing your suitcase! For first-time visitors to this country, it’s often a bit of a dilemma, wondering what essentials to bring and whether it’s better to play it safe or travel light and buy on the road. If you do decide to travel light, you’re well set because Israeli is a highly-developed country with all kinds of western amenities. Just be aware that they might be more expensive to buy there than at home (Israel is not the cheapest of countries). In the meantime, to help you navigate the ‘suitcase dilemma’ we’ve compiled an ‘Ultimate Travel Essentials Checklist’. The items we talk about below are really a ‘must’ and they won’t just keep you safe and healthy, but they’ll also keep you good-tempered! Here we go:Backpacker in Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Don't Forget Your DocumentsAlong with your passport (and a visa, if necessary) bring copies of documents relating to your medical insurance and COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate. You should also bring personal prescriptions for any medication you take, should you need to consult a doctor whilst on vacation. All of these can be saved electronically (as backups) or copies can be left with close friends and relatives back home. Keep a copy of your passport in your suitcase too, just in case, and unless you need to cross your passport at a border (if you are travelling to Jordan, to visit Petra, or crossing a checkpoint, on a tour of Bethlehem or Jericho, lock up your passport in your bedroom or hotel safe. Your tour operator will probably have sent you confirmation emails of your trip and any additional Israel day tours you’ve booked, so keep a copy of these too. Packing a suitcase. Photo credit: ©Francesca Tirico2. Sun ProtectionIsrael is a very sunny country, with long, hot summers and, in the Negev desert, plenty of sunshine in the winter too. Eilat, on the Red Sea, is a great place to soak up the rays in December and January, and actually averages 360 sunny days a year! So don’t forget to pack sunglasses, a hat (preferably wide-brimmed), plenty of sunscreen, and aftersun (aloe vera) too. If you run out, look in your nearest ‘Superpharm’ - a nationwide chain - where most of the staff speak English and will gladly help you find what you need. If you’re a sun worshipper, then grab yourself a lounger and umbrella and head to the beach - Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Netanya, and picturesque spots all the way up and down the coast boast white sand and clear water - perfect for relaxation. If you’re more of an active type, make sure to see the sun rise or set in a dramatic location. You can take a day tour, climbing Masada early in the morning (then continue on to the Dead Sea for some ‘floating time’) or walk through narrow alleyways in the Old City of Jerusalem, before watching the sunset over the walls from atop the Mount of Olives.Tourist at Rosh Hanikra, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3.Devices and GadgetsWe’re all socially connected these days and most visitors in Israel will want to arrive with their smartphones, tablets, and cameras. A phone charger is essential and maybe even a power bank if you are planning on using your iPhone or Samsung to take many photos throughout the day. Before you fly, you might want to download a few Travel Apps to your phone to give you tips on a currency conversion, local directions, Hebrew phrases, and digital journaling. In the old days, people carried small travel dictionaries but now it’s all within a short scroll - take a look at our Hebrew dictionary if you want to learn the basics! Israel has so many wonderful photographic opportunities too - from historic sites to the coastline, mountains, and deserts to vineyards and hot springs, so if you’re a keen amateur photographer, you’re going to be in your element.Rosh Hanikra Grottoes, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. Eye Mask, Ear Plugs, and a Basic First Aid KitWhether it’s to help you sleep at night, or to block out noise when you’re traveling with a group on a tour bus, a fold-up eye mask and some earplugs are a no-brainer. We’d also advise packing a basic First Aid Kit - a small bag or box containing pain relief, antiseptic cream, band-aids, anti-diarrhea/anti-histamine medication, and a small bandage and safety pin. If you’re traveling in Israel on an organized tour package then your guide will most likely have all these things to hand but it’s good to be prepared in any event. As we’ve said before, the pharmacies in Israel are excellent and nearly all staff speak English, so you can always stop off when in a city center, to pick up anything you might need.Scattered pills. Photo credit: © HalGatewood.com on Unsplash5. Essential ToiletriesWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, there’s a lot of sun in Israel and the summers can be super hot (and, on the coast, humid). Between the months of May and September, most Israelis shower several times a day, just to stay sane! Don’t forget your deodorant, skin moisturizer, and a good lip balm too (it can be windy in the Golan Heights and the sun can be a real beast in the Negev and Arava deserts).Whether you’re exploring the Acre and Caesarea coastline, touring in the Galilee, or trekking in Mitzpe Ramon’s crater you’ll need good sunscreen and Aloe Vera for any sore skin at the end of a long day. And if you’ve forgotten your favorite moisturizer, don’t panic - you can purchase a wide range of Ahava beauty products on any Dead Sea tour.The Dead Sea.Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Swimsuit or Swim TrunksThere are a lot of misconceptions about Israel and one of them is that the entire country is a desert, with its citizens using camels for their daily commute! But whilst the Negev and Arava deserts do cover a lot of landmasses, Israel is actually home to four seas - the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, and the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).Since it’s possible (and highly recommended) to swim in all of them, don’t forget your bathing suit, bikini, or swimming trunks, or treat yourself to something made by Gottex, the top-tier, luxury Israeli brand made famous by the pioneering female entrepreneur Lea Gottlieb. Floating in the Dead Sea in one of her creations means you’ll be stylish as well as super relaxed!Tourist floating in the Dead Sea.Photo credit: © Shutterstock7. Reusable Water BottleThis one is an absolute must, and we aren’t kidding. We all associate summer with beaches, sunshine, and fun excursions, and no more so than in Israel, where many people spend hours of their free time outdoors. If you don’t drink enough water, you could end up dehydrated and suffering from a nasty case of heatstroke. In the summer months, it’s advisable to try and drink at least 2 liters of water a day, to make sure your body has sufficient fluids to keep you healthy.Carry a water bottle that you can easily refill, and top it up at the numerous fountains you’ll see on beaches, in parks, and throughout shopping areas. In the meantime, don’t forget to enjoy Israel’s many bodies of water: the Jordan River (perfect for a kayaking trip), Ein Gedi waterfall and Baths (a lush oasis close to the Dead Sea), and the stunning Ein Avdat canyon, with its water pools, in the Negev. There are also Hamat Gader hot springsin Galilee, the gorgeous Banias waterfalls, and also Lake Ram near Mount Hermon. Tourist with a reusable water bottle. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin8. Sturdy ShoesIf you’re not planning on being a Beach Bunny, chances are that you’re going to want to be exploring some of the endless historical and archaeological sites around the country. Whether you visit them alone or as part of aJerusalem day tour, such as ‘Walking in Jesus’s Footsteps’ or ‘Underground Jerusalem’ you’re going to need sturdy footwear for what’s involved.If you’re planning on trekking in the Negev or Arava desert (and especially if you’re hiking in Mitzpe Ramon) don’t hesitate to bring good hiking boots - they will be a lifesaver! In general, if you’re exploring cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa, or archaeological sites like Caesarea and Tsipori, you’ll be able to manage with sneakers or support sandals, as long as you don’t attempt to climb over a Roman aqueduct or down a Crusader tunnel!Men's shoes on the wall of a house in Acre, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin9. A Good BookIt’s always worthwhile to keep some printed matter close to hand - whether it’s a guidebook, a captivating novel, or perhaps something specifically to do with Israel. If you’re curious about the Jerusalem childhood of one of Israel’s most famous novelists - Amos Oz - then pick up a copy of his extraordinary autobiography, ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness.’ For a historical account of the early pioneers, you could do worse than Israeli historian Tom Segev’s ‘The First Israelis’ which deals with Israel’s first year of statehood. For something a little lighter, go for the hip writer Etgar Keret - ‘The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories’ is witty, intelligent, and painfully honest. There are also numerous books written on the subject of Jerusalem (historical, theological, and political) but for those who really like a tome, you can’t do better than Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s eponymous ‘Jerusalem.’ All of these are available at branches of Steimatzky, a leading bookshop in Israel.The Bible book of Ecclesiastes. Photo credit: © Sincerely Media on Unsplash10. Comfortable ClothesChances are you’re going to be exploring when in Israel, whether it’s nature reserves and deserts, museums and galleries, or historical and religious sites. Comfortable clothing is a must - and if you’re arriving any time between May and October, cotton is your best bet because otherwise, you’ll sweat profusely. A large hat (with a wide brim), T-shirts, light trousers (not denim), and shorts are all essentials. Israelis are quite casual in their dress and so you won’t need to resort to formal attire for dinners, even when out at costly restaurants. It’s not uncommon for men to arrive at dinner in shorts in Israel and ties are rarely seen! Women can enjoy wearing lightweight dresses and short tops and skirts in Tel Aviv although in more religious cities like Jerusalem it is advisable to lower the hemline! You’re also going to need some relatively ‘modest attire’ for any religious sites you visit. In the Old City of Jerusalem, you should cover your shoulders (and wear a skirt below the knee) when visiting somewhere such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as a matter of respect. At the Western Wall, volunteers will offer women a scarf to drape over their shoulders and men a kippah (skullcap) to put atop their head, before approaching the Wall to pray or observe those at prayer. The same goes for any visit you may make to a mosque or Arab city, which are generally quite conservative in terms of social norms - when in doubt, cover your arms and legs! Now start packing for an unforgettabletour of Israel!Kippahs in Bazaarin Safed, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Por Sarah Mann

Herzliya

Herzliya is a city in the centre of Israel, just north of Tel Aviv, and is easily reached from there by car, train or bus. Home to around 100,000 people, it is prosperous - owing to its thriving start-up culture - and also close to a number of beaches. It covers around 21 square kilometres and its western suburbs are home to very wealthy neighbourhoods, where the tree-lined roads are filled with ‘villas’ (spacious homes that are a rarity in Israel).Yachts in Herzliya Marina.Photo credit: © Evgeny BrizeliHerzliya and its most wealthy suburb - Herzliya Pituach - is a city in which many diplomats live (it is home to a number of prominent embassies) as well as successful Israeli and international entrepreneurs. It is affluent and pleasant and according to the Israeli Bureau of Statistics, one of the wealthiest cities in Israel. With its pristine beaches, endless amenities and close proximity to Tel Aviv (with no traffic, Tel Aviv can be reached in 20 minutes by car and 15 minutes by train) it is considered to be a desirable location, both for living and holidaying.Herzliya was founded in 1924, initially as a kind of farming co-operative ‘moshav’ in Hebrew), and named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. By 1948, when the state of Israel was founded, its population had reached around 5,000 and in 1960, when it reached 25,000 it was declared to be a city. Today, it is home to football and rugby teams, all kinds of amenities - including excellent restaurants, shopping malls and beaches - and each year hosts the ‘Herzliya Conference’, which brings together business leaders, academics and politicians from across Israel and the globe.The Mediterranean seashore north of Herzliya, Apollonia National Park.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinTop Herzliya AttractionsHerzliya Marina - Israel’s largest and most prestigious marina, here you’ll see hundreds of vessels moored and - in warm weather - hundreds more out on the Mediterranean. The Marina is a great place to stroll, stop for ice cream or a light bite, do a little shopping or grab dinner as the sun goes down. There are sports bars, live music venues and great views of the water.Apollonia National Park - Apollonia, also known as Tel Arsuf, is a hidden gem in the area. A national park, looking out over the Mediterranean Sea, it dates back to Crusader times. Visitors can explore the fortress inside, along with a moat, furnace and Roman villa, and walk along a coastal trail. Look out for gazelles, porcupines, red foxes and star lizards and enjoy the lavender bushes and eucalyptus trees.Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art - Opened in 1975, this building was constructed partly as a memorial building and partly as a museum/cultural centre. Its focus is on contemporary art produced by young artists, both from Israel and abroad, and it also has a sculpture garden.Apollonia National Park.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinKfar Shmaryahu Caves - Samaritans lived in Apollonia/Arsuf as far back as the 5th century and here, in these caves, they buried their dead. A number of these graves can still be seen today (although there are no skeletons!) and are still preserved in a rather good condition, thanks to the limestone. A fun hour or two can be had with kids here - there’s also free admission and plenty of parking.Museum Beit Rishonim - meaning ‘Founder’s House’ in Hebrew, this museum documents the history of Herzliya, from the time it was settled in 1924, onto when it was declared a city in 1960. An interesting exhibition about the ideology of Zionism and Herzl’s vision of what a Jewish state might look like.Sidna Ali - the Sidna Ali mosque is located in the old village of Al-Haram, in the northern part of the city. Inside are vaulted arcades dating back to the 13th-15th century and the tomb of a local saint, Ali Alim. The mosque is popular as a pilgrimage site with Israeli Arabs from Galilee. A playground in Herzliya. Photo credit: © Natalia BrizeliWhere to Stay? Best Herzliya HotelsPopular with tourists year-round, there’s a variety of accommodation in the city and along with no-frills apartments there are also a number of high-end hotels in Herzliya, should you be willing to splash the cash. Here are a few we’d recommend, for a pampering stay:Ritz Carlton - this luxury hotel has beautiful spacious rooms and elegant bathrooms and is only a 3-4 minute walk from the beach. The waiters at the poolside area serve free bottled water and the weekend breakfast runs to 12 midday. Great lobby bar, as well as a spa and their signature restaurant, the ‘Herbert Samuel’.Dan Accadia - close to the beach, with a large pool, the Dan is elegant yet not ostentatious. Vegan visitors rave about their food, especially the breakfasts. The Dan lounge, for members, offers light snacks and drinks. There’s also a lovely beach patio to eat out on, in the later afternoon.Publica Isrotel - the rooms are of small size, but thoughtfully designed and elegant. The infinity pool is beautiful, and the hotel offers colourful and functional workspaces for those arriving with laptops! Visitors rave about the comfortable beds and gym facilities.Herods - Comfortable rooms, excellent buffet breakfast and helpful staff make this hotel on the beach a tried and tested favourite. They offer a free shuttle to the mall and visitors report they are very child-friendly.Dan Accadia Hotel, Herzliya.Photo credit: ©Dan Accadia HerzliyaOkeanos - overlooking the beach, this ‘aparthotel’ is ideal for the business traveller or anyone who likes to keep to their own schedule. All spaces have fully-equipped kitchens and separate spaces for working, sleeping and living, as well as all the amenities of a modern hotel. Visitors rave about the pool and Okeanos also offers a 24/7 fitness centre. NYX - Attractively designed, with an excellent kosher dairy-fish restaurant and cocktail bar area. As well as a pool and spa, the NYX offers free bikes to its guests. The hotel has a business lounge and their stylish rooms all come with a Nespresso machine. Expensive but worth it!Daniel - this is an old favourite for many visitors to Israel. Close to the beach and the marina, they offer spacious rooms (many with fridges) and an excellent buffet breakfast. Visitors often comment on the friendly staff and the well-maintained sauna and jacuzzi facilities.Sharon - with its large outdoor pool, giving direct access to the beach, free bicycle hire and beautiful views of the Mediterranean, the Sharon comes highly recommended. Many of the bedrooms have been recently renovated and the breakfast buffer services an astonishing array of food. The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya.Photo credit: ©The Ritz-Carlton, HerzliyaA Day at the Beach - Herzilya’s Finest StretchesThere is a number of spectacular Herzliya beaches, all with powdery white sand and clear water. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities, a sporty time or some seclusion, there’s something for everyone - and they’re all public, with quite a lot of free parking close to hand, so you don’t have to break the bank. Hasharon Beach, Herzliya - probably the city’s favourite beach, with lots of facilities, including beach chairs for rent and lots of places to eat nearby. Popular with those learning to surf, the waters can occasionally be rough here so watch out! Acadia Beach, Herzliya - Clean sand, clear waters, good working showers and a lookout make this a great place to spend a day. Pick shells, borrow a book from the public library van or just sun yourself. For those looking for an adrenaline rush, there’s also a surf school.Zvulun Beach, Herzliya - not too noisy and not too crowded, you can take shade here in the mornings from the hotel nearby. In the winter, it's a popular spot for kitesurfing. The grassy areas are also ideal for picnics.Marina and Boats Beach, Herzliya - very close to the marina, and with the shopping area and many restaurants nearby, these two interconnecting beaches are always popular and this is the place to go if you want to sail or jet ski.Apollonia Beach, Herzliya - with its empty stretches of sand and green-coloured water, Apollonia is an incredibly beautiful - and very quiet beach. Access to it is by clambering over rocks Great for a long, philosophical stroll or a romantic sunset walk, gaze up at the ancient ruins and lose yourself for a moment.A girl in Herzliya. Photo by Or Hakim on UnsplashFree Time - Things to Do in Herzliya:Shopping - Herzliya has plenty for the shopper, including the Arena and Seven Stars malls. Branded stores include Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West, Timberland and Nautica. Inside are plenty of eateries as well as activities for kids and some free workshops and shows in the summer. Water sports -Whether you want to sail, surf or take out a kite, you can do it here. Yachts can be chartered here, there’s a surf school that offers classes year-round and there are plenty of attractions for kids, including surfing in Herzliya.Israel Day tours from Herzliya -Israel is a compact country, and you can go on day tours around Israel from Herzliya to the most popular destinations like the Dead Sea, Jerusalem and Galilee. Day tours from Herzliya to various places depart daily and are offered in several languages.Bars and restaurants in Herzliya:Sebastian - with its Mediterranean vibe, and delicious dishes that include arancini, chicken liver terrine and salmon with capers, Sebastian isn’t cheap but it’s definitely popular.Meat Bar - the perfect place for carnivores, specializing in steaks (T-Bone, New York, Porterhouse steaks) and the lamb chops and chicken are popular too.A girl at Herzliya Beach.Photo by Pauline on UnsplashZozobra - serving all kinds of Asian fare, particularly Ramen and curries, you sit at long tables and dishes arrive as soon as they are cooked. Reasonable prices and tasty food.Giraffe - if you like sushi, noodles or gyoza, this reasonably priced Asian fusion restaurant is perfect. Try the Orange Thai curry or the ‘Afghan’ with goose breast.Meat and Wine - this smart kosher restaurant has lots of South African inspired meat dishes, including steak, duck and goose liver. The upscale atmosphere with a good selection of wines and tasty non-dairy desserts.Getting to HerzliyaThe number 90 bus runs directly from Tel Aviv to Herzliya, beginning at the Carmel Market, through Dizengoff Street and the Namir Road and costs 10 NIS (3 USD) one way. Allow 30-45 minutes depending on traffic. Trains also leave regularly from Tel Aviv Savidor, Hashalom and Hahaganah stations and a one-way ticket costs 14 NIS (4,5 USD) and takes approx. 13-18 mins. By car, the journey will take between 20-30 minutes on Route 2 (Namir Road).If you are interested in visiting Herzliya as part of an organised private tour, we offer a number of day tours. Also, feel free to call us on (972) 3 542-2000 for more detailed information.
Por Sarah Mann

How to Travel Israel on a Budget

Budget travel in Israel is possible with careful planning. You can avoid the tourist traps and instead enjoy your Israel vacation without worrying too much about going over budget. The major cities have plenty to see without paying entrance fees; cheap-eats are in abundance and even day-tour prices are reasonable.A tourist looking at the Wailing Wall.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTravel to Israel Off-SeasonAs with all travel destinations, it is cheaper to travel off-season. For Israel, this means avoiding the national holidays and the July-August summer high season. During any of the holiday periods and in summer prices of airfares and hotels are higher. Don’t worry about traveling in the shoulder or low-season as Israel has good weather throughout most of the year and attractions stay open year-round (except some that close on national holidays and Saturdays). Another way to get low-cost flights to Israel is to check out flights to the new Ramon Airport near Eilat.Budget Accommodation in IsraelLow-cost accommodation in Israel includes couchsurfing which is popular in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. There are plenty of hostel options but even the hostels are a bit pricey in Israel. Luckily many of the hostels are centrally located and of a high standard. You can find hostels along Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Street opposite the beach or in Jerusalem’s stunning Old City or historic YMCA. Try to book accommodation that comes with a free breakfast or alternatively with access to a kitchen. This will cut down on your food expenses.Rush hour in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo byShai PalonUnsplashBudget Transportation in IsraelIsrael has an extensive public transportation system that is reasonably priced. You can reach most parts of the country, even the smallest communities on the Israeli bus system for just a few shekels. For example, the cheapest way to travel from central Israel to Eilat is by bus. The next cheapest transportation option is a sherut taxi or a shared taxi. Sherut taxis are mini-buses that run along popular routes or take you directly to your address. The only drawback is that the sherut will stop for all passengers thus making it a long journey. There are sheruts between the major cities and inner-city routes in large cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa that follow a set route. Although not as extensive as the bus system Israel’s train system is also useful for reaching some locations and is budget-friendly when touring Israel alone. You will also find that many of Israel’s cities are walkable.Eating on a Budget in IsraelIsrael has some of the healthiest street food in the world – and plenty of it! You can’t go far on any street in Israel before coming across a falafel stall, hummus shop, or shawarma restaurant. You can indulge yourself with delicious street food options and still keep to your budget. Also, make use of Israel’s markets like Carmel Market in Tel Aviv and Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. Here you can buy fresh produce and other ingredients to make your own meals.Street food in Jerusalem. Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on UnsplashIsrael Daily ToursOne way to save money and time is to take the occasional daily tour to locations that are harder to reach by public transport. Of course, there is the added advantage that you will have a tour guide telling you all about the various landmarks and arranging all the transportation logistics. For example, Bethlehem and the Dead Sea are both locations that are more difficult to reach than places like Tel Aviv and so why not rely on a local tour company to do all the hard work. There are Israel daily tours specially designed for budget travelers.Free Attractions in IsraelAlthough Israeli museums are relatively expensive you can enjoy many of Israel’s top attractions simply by walking the streets. Wander through the narrow streets of Jerusalem’s Old City and discover the quaint churches and biblical landmarks like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. You can enjoy many free attractions in Israel including the beaches, markets, religious landmarks, and natural wonders like the Sea of Galilee.And more hot budget tips for travel in Israel….If you’ll be in Israel for an extended period buy a local SIM card. Ask in one of the many phone stores or even at the airport on arrival. Alternatively, you could make use of the extensive free WiFi options in Israel. Almost every café, restaurant, hotel, or store will have WiFi.If you’re shopping in an Israeli market be sure to haggle over the price.Alcohol is expensive in Israel so you could do what many Israelis do and get your alcohol in the local supermarket instead of in a pub or nightclub.View of Haifa from Carmel Mountain. Photo byPiotr MusiołonUnsplash
Por Petal Mashraki
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