Family Trip to Israel: Best Family Attractions
If you’re looking for a place to bring the kids on vacation, you can’t choose better than Israel. It’s a Mediterranean country, so there’s a culture of children being welcome almost everywhere and it’s also a Jewish country, where family life and children are at the heart of society. Combine that with the fantastic climate, the varied landscapes and the endless attractions that this country offers families, and you’re looking at a vacation you and the kids will never forget.
Young tourists at Nimrod Fortress, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Chill Out or Culture Vulture? Heritage or Hiking?
So how do you go about organizing this kind of trip? Well, in our opinion, a good way to begin is to decide on what you want the focus of your trip to be. Are you hoping for pure relaxation - beaches, water parks, ‘fun in the sun?’ Do you want something more educational, based around historical and religious sites?
Are you looking to improve the kids’ interest in their heritage, and hoping to make this an ‘Introduction to Jewish Culture?” vacation, especially if you visit over a religious holiday? Or are you a family that loves being outdoors, and ready for an adventure trekking in the Negev, kayaking on the Jordan River, or hiking in the Galilee?
The good news is that Israel won’t disappoint in any of these respects - all you need to do is decide how long you’re coming for and what kind of things you want to do. In the meantime, here’s a bit of background on the ‘must do-must see’ list, whatever kind of family holiday you’re planning.
Children walking by the sea in Acre, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
The ‘Kick Back and Relax’ Vacation
There’s nothing better than doing nothing for a while and Israel’s beaches are phenomenal - crystal clear water, white sand, and warm weather for many months of the year. Whichever coastal resort you choose, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation. In Eilat, why not try the all-inclusive Isrotel Lagoona or the Leonardo Club Hotel, both of which have great daytime kids activities.
If you want to splash the cash in Tel Aviv, then go for the classy Dan Panorama or the luxurious Hilton hotel. Just up the coast in Herzliya, there’s the Okeanos - these self-catering suites are ideal for those looking for a bit of flexibility, and they’re spacious and clean. And in Netanya, you can’t go wrong at the David Tower Hotel or the West Lagoon Resort, both boasting plenty of amenities and very child-friendly.
Of course, even sunbathing can get boring after a while, so if you’re looking for activities to get you off your sun lounger, and your children are aged five or over, then why not consider an organized day trip? Let someone else take care of the practicalities while you enjoy yourself. Every kid would love the Masada and the Dead Sea day tour. Caesarea, Acre, and Rosh Hanikra day tour is a great way to give the kids a lesson on Roman and Crusader history. Just make sure you take plenty of water, sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and comfortable footwear and you’ll be set.
Child on a Tel Aviv beach. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Splish Splash - A Day at a Water Park
For other kinds of day excursions, you could also take a family trip to a water park. Israel has quite a few of them and they’re the ideal way for your kids to let off steam and keep cool (especially if you; ’re visiting in the summer). Try Aqua Kef (‘Water Fun’ in Hebrew) - it has four separate areas - kids, family, Olympic, and extreme!
Set on the Sea of Galilee, their brightly colored floats and water slides make for a great day out. Just 25 minutes drive from Tel Aviv, there’s also Yamit in Holon. With 20 different slides, including ‘Freefall’, ‘Black Hole’ and ‘’Banana Jump’ there’s both a younger kids section and an ‘Extreme Park’ for teenagers.
Finally, if you feel like combining the beach with a little city life, why not spend some time in Haifa? This beautiful Mediterranean city has all kinds of kid-friendly attractions, and its views of the sea never disappoint. Best Time To Go? Between May and October, when the weather is at its warmest.
Kids enjoying the sea, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
The ‘Culture Vultures’ Trip
Israel is packed with cultural sites that will thrill the whole family. Whether it’s archaeological, historical or religious places you want, the choice is staggeringly wide and you can be sure that your kids will finish their vacation a whole lot more knowledgeable, whilst having had plenty of fun at the same time!
Israel is home to all kinds of astonishing archaeological sites. In Jerusalem, there’s both the City of David (thousand of years old, and lying beneath the modern-day city) and Hezekiah’s Tunnel - at 530m long, they were an innovative way to transport water. You can combine the two with an organized Jerusalem Underground Tour, as well. Or head off to the Masada Fortress (with its astonishing views) or Caesarea, with its beautiful Herodian remains (including a fantastic amphitheatre).
Caesarea National Park. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Climb a Castle or Take Out a Boat
For history lovers, the whole family will love Nimrod’s Fortress up in the Golan Heights. Atop a mountain, this is the oldest Crusader-style castle in the country and the views are breathtaking! You can then travel onto Acre, a charming city Acre, with an intriguing past and Templar’s Tunnel. In Jaffa, you can walk for hours, stumbling upon tiny churches and watching fishermen sitting patiently, waiting for a catch. And just outside of the White City, there’s Ramle and the Pool of Arches - take the kids on a short’ cruise’ where they can see a real-life underground reservoir.
To get the kids interested in different religious faiths, you can head to the Sea of Galilee, and take a boat out on the water, just as Jesus did with his disciples. Let them see pilgrims being baptized in the Jordan River, at Yardenit, then drive onto Nazareth, to see the Church of the Annunciation and its unusual mosaics.
Israel’s also jam-packed with museums - the Children’s Museum in Holon and Madatech (Israel’s National Museum of Science) are always good choices. For youngsters interested in art or design, try the Museum of Modern Art or the Design Museum in Holon. And if you’re in Jerusalem, the whole family should consider walking the Ramparts and seeing this ancient city the way warriors once did. Best Time To Go? You can see all of these sites year-round, though it will be more chilly in the winter and much hotter in the summer!
The Pool of Arches, Ramle. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
The ‘Jewish Tradition’ holiday
Want to give your kids a better idea of their Jewish roots? Well, book your Israel holiday now. Whilst giving your child a bar or bat mitzvah at Jerusalem’s Western Wall is an increasingly popular trend, you can also just travel around, soaking up history. There are so many sites your children will love - the Tower of David, the Time Elevator, the Western Wall Tunnels will all thrill the kids.
Up in the north, don’t miss Safed with its tiny synagogues, as well as Tiberias, the capital of Galilee, which has a long and historic past. There are also all kinds of activities in Israel that will connect the kids to their Jewish roots. What about having the whole family make challah, in anticipation of Friday night Shabbat dinner? Or paint a hamsa (a traditional ‘hand sign’ that wards off the evil eye) at a Jerusalem Ceramics Center. If the kids are really into adventure, they can also learn how to forge a Maccabee's sword at the Iskander Studio.
The Western Wall. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
A Taste of Joy and Freedom - Chanukah Lights and Purim Carnivals
And if you bring your kids to Israel over one of the Jewish holidays, they can celebrate it with the locals. Over Chanukah, there are all kinds of celebrations for this festival of lights and many municipalities also offer free activities for youngsters. Your kids will love the sufganiyot too (the Hebrew word for doughnuts, which are traditionally eaten at this time of the year) which range from the traditional (jam in the middle) to the sublime (chocolate frosting and creme patisserie).
Or arrive around Purim and the whole family can experience an Adloyada - with parades, dancing, and general merrymaking. Two of the best (in our opinion) are held each year in Holon and the Midreshet Ben Gurion, in the Negev desert. Take a look at a video here, to see just how fun it really is. Best Time To Go? Early Spring (February/March) for Purim or December for Chanukah.
Children with Purim makeup. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
‘On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!’ - the Outdoorsy trip
If you’re the kind of family that loves outdoorsy holidays, with plenty of opportunities for walking, hiking, climbing, and camping, then you’re in the right country. For young kids, Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo is Israel’s biggest tourist attraction - and not just for the free-roaming animals and petting zoo, but also the train that runs through it. In Tel Aviv, why not let the kids have an African safari experience, where you drive through the park, gazing at animals from the Savannah?
Israel’s nature reserves are also incredibly beautiful. Ein Gedi is a veritable oasis in the desert, which can be explored in the course of the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve Private Tour. Older kids who love the dark will get a real thrill out of exploring the Mei Kedem caves (don’t forget to bring footwear suitable for walking in water, as well as a torch). Further north is the Avshalom Cave near Beit Shemesh - with its beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, the kids will be in awe of the “Elephant Ears’ and ‘Macaroni Fields!’
Stalactite Cave, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Under the Stars and Under the Sea - Mitzpe’s Crater and Eilat’s Coral Reef
Down south, there are few children that won’t enjoy camping out and gazing at stars in Mitzpe Ramon. The crater is a wonderful place to hike (though go early in the morning, before it gets hot) and see ibex roaming freely on the cliffs. Teenagers can even abseil down the crater side (under the watchful eyes of experienced guides) whilst younger kids will enjoy Mitzpe’s Alpaca Farm no end.
Then head south and take a hike through Timna National Park, and gaze at ‘the Mushroom’ before spending some time at the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve - where you can see a coral reef without even getting wet, learn about snap a selfie with a stingray and engage in some family-friendly snorkeling! Eilat is also home to the popular Dolphin Reef, where you can pet these gorgeous creatures and see them swimming around freely.
Up north again, there are few kids that won’t enjoy kayaking down the Jordan River, whilst nature-loving families should head to the Hula Lake, where annual migrations are a stunning sight. You can make your base on the Sea of Galilee, where you can set up camp and fall asleep under the stars.
Eilat. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Nearby, there’s the Eshkol forest where you can have a family picnic, or what about taking a boat out on the lake itself? Oh, and don’t forget the wonderful hot springs at Hamat Gader - these thermal baths were built by the Romans over 2,000 years ago and are great fun for kids and adults alike. Of course, if your kids are wearing you out with all their energy, you can always consider taking an organized day trip.
Of course, private tours are a great way to plan an itinerary that suits your family personally but our range of day tours is also great if your children have sufficient stamina to walk around for a few hours. Best Time To Go? When it’s dry but not too hot i.e. April-May and September-October (perhaps avoiding the High Holidays, which is high season, meaning some attractions may be closed).
Children in Old Jaffa, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin