Israel Travel Blog

Israel Bucket List: Top Tourist Attractions in Israel

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

Walking in Jesus’s Footsteps: 15 Top-Rated Christian Sites

Israel is the ultimate travel destination for Christian travelers. The country is steeped in Biblical history, and it was here that Jesus was born, lived, and was crucified. You can visit the places where Christ spent his life, and literally walk in Jesus footsteps. Join an Israel Christian tour and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the land of the Bible.Tour the 15 top-rated attractions and iconic Christian landmarks of the Holy Land.Visit Nazareth - the Holy Family’s HometownIt all started in Nazareth. Here Mary and Joseph had their family home and it was in Nazareth that Jesus spent his childhood. Nazareth is a city in northern Israel with a charming Old City where several churches commemorate Biblical events. It is easy to imagine Nazareth as a Biblical town with Mary fetching water from the communal well, Joseph working in his carpentry, and Mary first learned of her miraculous pregnancy. Don’t miss this must-see Christian destination.1.Church of the AnnunciationThis church marks the place where the Angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her of her future son. Christian visitors say that this church is one of the most memorable stops on a Nazareth tour.2.Church of Saint JosephIf you join aNazareth and Sea of Galilee Tour,you can visitthe grottoes beneath this church that could have been the Holy family’s home and Joseph’s carpentry. You can have a special moment of prayer in the grotto chapel.3.Mount PrecipiceThe Mount of the Leap is an important biblical site located just a few minutes from Nazareth. This is where Jesus leaped from the mount after being chased and rejected by the people of the town.Visit Bethlehem - Where Christianity Was BornJoseph and Mary made the journey south from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Bethlehem is one of Israel’s best destinations and home to several top Christian attractions. The city is in the Palestinian West Bank, south of Jerusalem. If you don’t want to miss any important Christian sites then the best way to visit Bethlehem is with a guided tour. Book a Bethlehem Half Day Tour to see incredible sacred sites including the place where Jesus was born.4.Church of the NativityThis 4th-century church was built around the Holy Grotto where Jesus was born. Tours arrive in Manger Square and then enter this magnificent church that will leave you in awe.5. Milk GrottoSee for yourself where Mary nursed baby Jesus. Christian tradition holds that a drop of Mary’s milk fell to the ground and turned the cave walls white.Jericho - The Ultimate Christian Baptismal Site6. Qasr el-Yehud On a Jericho, Dead Sea, and the Jordan River Tour you can get baptized at the Qasar el-Yehud baptismal site near Jericho. This authentic spot on the River Jordan may have been where John baptized Jesus. It is also believed to be where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land.Top Christian Sites in GalileeAfter Jesus was born in Bethlehem he returned to Nazareth with his family where he spent his childhood. Years later, Jesus embarked on his ministry, preaching the word of God in villages around the Sea of Galilee. Join a popular Sea of Galilee tour or a tour focused on Christian landmarks in the Galilee like the Sea of Galilee, Cana, Magdala & Mt. of Beatitudes Tour. See where Jesus lived, and walk-in his footsteps through the breathtaking scenery of Galilee.7. Capernaum Once a biblical fishing village, Capernaum is home to archaeological excavation of two ancient synagogues. Here Christ performed several miracles and could have taught at the ancient synagogues.8.The Baptismal Site YardenitBeing baptized in the Jordan River is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Christian visitors to Israel. At Yardenit the river has been made easily accessible with steps and railings leading into the water so that you can be baptized.9.Mount of Beatitudesoverlooking the magnificent Sea of Galilee is the Church of the Beatitudes that stands the Mount of Beatitudes. Don’t miss seeing where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount.10. Tabgha and Church of MultiplicationEnjoy the serenity of this charming church on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. At Tabgha, you can see where Jesus shared fish and loaves among the multitude.11. Mt. Tabor and Church of TransfigurationMount Tabor overlooks the Jezreel Valley in Lower Galilee. This sacred Christian site is where the transfiguration of Christ took place. The Mount Tabor, Tzippori, Beit Sheárim Private Touris a top pick for Christians that want to see where the transfiguration took place.Walk-in Jesus’ Footsteps through JerusalemJerusalem is without a doubt the top destination in Israel. It was where Jesus visited as a boy and where he spent the last week of his life, Passion Week. The city is home to the most important Christian sites in the world. As you walk in Jesus’ footsteps along the stone-paved lanes of Jerusalem, you will be amazed at the beauty of this city. Jerusalem is packed with religious, historic, and archaeological sites that can be seen on a Jerusalem Old and New Tour.12.Holy Sepulcher ChurchThis church is the top Christian site in the world and a highlight of the Jerusalem Old City Tour. The massive 4th-century church encompasses Golgotha and the Tomb of Christ. The Holy Sepulchre Church is a must for travelers following in the footsteps of Jesus.13.The Garden TombThe Garden tomb is a place of Christian worship, and some traditions believe it to be the site of Christ’s burial. The tomb is a valid pilgrimage site, yet most experts agree that the Garden Tomb is not where Christ was buried and rose from the dead.14.Garden of GethsemaneAt the foot of the Mount of Olives is the garden where Jesus came to pray and was arrested on the eve of his crucifixion. The peaceful garden is one of the top Christian sites to visit on tours of Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane and other significant Christian sites on the Mount of Olives can be included in a Jerusalem Old City Private Christian Tour.15. Room of the Last SupperJust outside the Old City walls is Mount Zion, home to the Room of the Last Supper. Here Christ dined with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. The Room of the Last Supper (Cenacle) is one of the top 10 Christian attractions in Israel.Israel, the land of the Bible, is a bucket-list destination for all Christians. As you tour the holy sites of Nazareth, Bethlehem, Galilee, and Jerusalem you will be walking in the footsteps of Christ. Now is the time to see the Holy Land, and rejuvenate your faith, by visiting the place where Christianity was born. You can discover the treasures of the Holy Land and explore the many sacred places you’ve only ever read about in the Bible. Book an Israel Christian tour today, and see for yourself where Jesus was born, lived, and died.
Par 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.
Par Sarah ,Mann

Following the Gospel Trail

In Israel you can literally follow in the footsteps of Jesus, visiting the many locations where he preached, lived and died. The Gospel Trail (also called the Jesus Trail) is a moderate hike route which has been devised linking several significant points mentioned in the Gospel so that those following the trail can not only enjoy the gorgeous countryside of northern Israel but also visit biblical sites.Stones With The Colorful Christian Religious Drawing.Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe Gospel Trail runs through Galilee, often called the cradle of Christianity because it was here that Jesus grew up and where he returned to preach during his ministry. Jesus grew up in Nazarethand later based himself in Capernaum during his ministry when he went from village to village preaching God’s word.The Gospel Trail opened in 2011 today it covers 60 km of signposted footpaths and roads which trace historical and biblical routes where Jesus is believed to have walked when he left Nazareth for Capernaum on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The signposts which mark the route are hewn into basalt rock to blend into the natural surroundings. Each signpost features scriptures relating to the Biblical events which took place at that location. Along the way, there are also information stands, picnic sites, and benches.It is possible to follow the trail on foot, bike, by car, or combine those using different forms of transport on different stretches of the trail. You can choose which segments of the route you follow according to your interests and your fitness level. There are even stretches of the trail which are wheelchair accessible.The thorn crown.Photo by Samuel Lopes on UnsplashThe Gospel Trail RouteThe Gospel Trail runs from Nazareth to Capernaum. The route begins at Mount Precipice, on the southern outskirts of Nazareth, and travels through valleys and limestone hills via Beit Qeshet Oak Reserve, Magdala, Tabgha and finally reaches Capernaum on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. The route incorporates pathways that have been used by shepherds, travelers, farmers, and merchants since ancient times. The route ends at the Capernaum Center from where you can reach the Sea of Galilee where a dock has been constructed so that followers of the trail can pray at the water’s edge and enjoy the breathtaking views across the water.Gospel Trail Points of InterestNazareth – The city where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her of her future pregnancy and son. It is also the city where Jesus grew up. One of the highlights of Nazareth is the Church of the AnnunciationTsipori National Park – This was the administrative capital of Galilee in Jesus’ lifetime. In addition to the amazing nature, there is an archeological site dating back to the 2nd century. It is most famous for its Byzantine mosaics on an ancient synagogue floor.Cana – Here Jesus performed his first miracle turning water into wine. Visitors can see the Wedding Church and museum.Mount of Beatitudes, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockIlaniya – This small Jewish community was one of the earliest farming community settlements. Today the community offers visitors a model 20th century farm, the ruins of a Byzantine synagogue, and some ancient caves.Roman Road – The route crosses an ancient Roman road that would have been used by Jesus. During his lifetime it was a major thoroughfare running east to west.Kibbutz Lavi – One of only a few orthodox religious kibbutzim; it was founded in 1949 and today is known as a major producer of synagogue furniture.Horns of Hattin – A decisive battle took place here between the Crusaders and Saladin in 1187. From the double hills, there are brilliant views across the Galilee.Nebi Shu’eib – The site of the traditional Tomb of Jethro, father-in-law of Moses. Today the site is marked by a large Druze mosque and complex.Arbel National Park – There are gorgeous views from these dramatic cliffs where the Romans conquered the Hasmonean rebels.Interior of the Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha. Photo credit: © ShutterstockMigdal (Magdala)– This is the site of the ancient town of Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. Here there are several Roman-era ruins.Sea of Galilee – Israel’s largest freshwater lake is also the site of many biblical events. It was here that Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. Today you can take short cruises on the lake, swim and enjoy the beaches.Jesus Boat – A 1st-century fishing boat was discovered in the Sea of Galilee; it has been preserved and is on display at Kibbutz Ginosar.Tabgha – Visit the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes and see where Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection.Mount of Beatitudes – This was the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Today the mount is topped by a beautiful church.St. Peter’s Primacy, Tabgha– This church on the water’s edge was built in 1933 and marks the site where Jesus made Peter head of the church. The church holds the Mensa Christi, a slab of rock thought to be where Jesus sat with his disciples.Capernaum – Jesus based himself in Capernaum while preaching in Galilee and there are several mentions of Capernaum in the Bible. This is also where Jesus performed a number of miracles and where you can see St. Peter’s House.You can continue on from Capernaum to visit the city of Tiberias, the Jordan River, Mount Tabor, and Mount Precipice as a continuation of the Gospel Trail. Most of these sites can be covered with Nazareth and Galilee toursor Christian Israel tour packages.Sea of Galilee view. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Par Petal Mashraki

5 Best Winter Hikes in Northern Israel

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

The Ideal Vacation in Tel Aviv

We take vacations not just because we have free time, but to escape the daily grind and change our reality. We all have dreams about what our ideal trip might be and what we’ll do there to make it an amazing experience. Of course, so much depends on the place you’re going to and the fact is that few people don’t enjoy a vacation in Tel Aviv. With its non-stop vibe, stunning Bauhaus architecture, cosy, independent coffee houses, friendly locals and kilometres of sandy white beaches, it’s hard not to fall in love with this city.Panoramic view of Tel-Aviv Beach. Photo credit: © ShutterstockThe Huffington Post once hilariously remarked, “New York and Ibiza had a sexy baby and they called it Tel Aviv”. But they hit the nail right on the head. This is a city with atmosphere, charm, style, and buzz. A city for those in love and a city for those who want to fall in love. Come to Tel Aviv and see for yourself - step outside your comfort zone, meet the locals, and create memories of this Mediterranean city that you’ll never forget. Here are a few pointers, in the meantime.Romance or Relaxation?Tel Aviv is a paradise for lovebirds - stylish boutique hotels, world-class eateries, cocktail bars galore, and fabulous Mediterranean sunsets. Stroll the streets of charming Neve Tzedek, wander through the historic Jaffa, take a paddleboat down the river in Yarkon Park, or just head to the seashore. Each Tel Aviv beach has its own vibe - whether for surfers, drummers, the LBGT crowd, or the volleyball aficionados. Grab yourself a sunbed and umbrella, slop on some protection then lie back and count the shades of blue in the sea, whilst your sweetie lies beside you. Few things can be better.And fear not, if you’re alone (or at least not ‘loved up’) Tel Aviv still has plenty of charm for friends or solo travelers. With its endless streets cafes, lively promenade (with dedicated bike lanes, making for a perfect cycling outing or a Tel Aviv bike tour), and two port areas - the Namal and Jaffa port, it’s easy to while away the daylight hours strolling around, stopping for a light bite, cold lemonade or a cleverly-designed cocktail.Young woman walking on the beach in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Photo credit: © ShutterstockFrom Street Eats to Elegant DiningOnce the sun goes down, Tel Aviv really comes into its own with dining options. For those who keep kosher (i.e abide by the Jewish dietary laws), you’ll find plenty of options - from pizzerias to steakhouses, you won’t go hungry. The basic premises of ‘kosher’ means not mixing milk and meat products so if you’re curious to eat in one of these Tel Aviv kosher restaurants, you’ll need to choose first whether you’re in the mood for some creamy cheeses and milky desserts, or a schnitzel, steak or shawarma!As for vegetarians and vegans - well, Tel Aviv is a veritable paradise. The city is a world capital when it comes to plant-based eateries, drawing on its reputation for Mediterranean cuisine - for starters think olives, green vegetables, juicy fruits, hummus, falafel, sabich, tahini, and potato bourekas!If you’re on a budget, stop at Ha Kosem (which, in Hebrew means ‘The Magician’) - it’s one of the best falafel joints in the city, and the recipe for their chickpea ball creations is a closely guarded secret! For elegant vegan cuisine in Tel Aviv, try Meshek Barzilay in Neve Tzedek - creative plates combined with boho chic make for a memorable meal.Flowering magnolia tree in Jaffa. Photo credit: © ShutterstockTel Aviv Street Tours - Eating Like a LocalWhether you’re traveling as a part of a couple, wandering the city with a friend, or venturing out alone, if you’re a foodie then there’s no better way to see Tel Aviv than with a local guide, who can give you a whole new perspective on what’s good to eat. Join aTel Aviv street food tourif you need guidance.One of the most popular spots in the city is the Carmel Market - selling everything under the sun (from lemonade, pomegranates, and exotic spices to Shabbat tablecloths, toys, and souvenirs, a new and popular activity for foodies is to take a culinary tour. One tour we’d recommend is with Tal Goring, of ‘Loca Local’. Not only will she take you around the market, explaining its history and introducing you to the stall-owners, she’ll then help you buy produce from them. After this, you’ll stroll back to her house, have some mint tea, and then be taught how to prepare a few local dishes. Once cooked, you’ll all sit at her table and enjoy the fruits of your hard work. You’ll meet some new friends too, all fellow foodies! It doesn’t get more authentic than this.If you’re not a fan of cooking, then why not takeCarmel Market Food Tour? You’ll indulge in all kinds of local treats - from Yemenite bread and a variety of hummus spreads to purple olives, local cheese, and fine wines. Don’t fill up too fast either - the baked goods and sweet treats are to die for.Carmel Market Fruit stalls.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinHave an AdventurePart of the allure of a vacation is the chance to get out of your comfort zone so why not have an adventure and explore one of Tel Aviv’s diverse neighborhoods on your own? The streets are safe, almost everyone speaks English and we guarantee that the locals will be delighted to meet you - your average ‘Tel Avivi’ is notoriously friendly.Sarona- once home to German Templars, in Ottoman Palestine, Sarona boasts a covered market that’s a foodie’s paradise, and the architecture isn’t bad either!Florentin -hip and happening, this is the best place in the city to take a street art tour and see why Tel Aviv’s a rising star in this field. Florentin is named for Solomon Florentin, who owned this land in the late 1920s.Neve Tzedek -one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods, and full of tiny, winding streets, it's hard not to fall in love with this place. Literally, the name of the neighborhood means Abode of Justice, it is also one of the names for God.The Namal- Tel Aviv Port, known in short as the Namal, is one of the most popular attractions in Tel Aviv with 4.3 million visitors annually. It has a boardwalk and a lively food market.Jaffa- with its winding alleys, picturesque galleries, charming flea market, and ancient buildings, this is a must-visit attraction when you’re on vacation. Wander at leisure, or take a Jaffa Flea Market TourRothschild Boulevard- this elegant and stylish boulevard is home to a number of extraordinary beautiful 1930s and 1940s buildings, renovated and remarkable. Take a classic Bauhaus tour and find out just why Tel Aviv’s known as the White City.Classical Bauhaus Architecture, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo credit: © ShutterstockOut on the TownTel Aviv’s got a well-deserved reputation for bars and clubs, and the mixology that’s going on is quite impressive too. Cocktail bars that you have to try include ‘Spicehaus’ (where drinks are served up in chemistry beakers), the Imperial (upscale and plush, with Asian-inspired bar bites), ‘Bellyboy’ with its outlandish and innovative drinks menu, and the classy ‘Library Bar’ at the Norman Hotel (which, arguably, serves the best martini in Tel Aviv).Jaffa and Florentin, in particular, are hotspots for nightlife and, in case you didn’t know, Tel Aviv has some fabulous bars and nightclubs. Florentin is a particularly young and trendy neighborhood, where a lot of 20-somethings live and when the sun comes down, it really starts to get lively. You can party to your heart’s content here until the wee small hours; indeed, some Tel Avivis go to ‘morning raves’ at the end of a party night out. Just remember, the real nightlife doesn’t get going here until about 2 am.Our tip: have a power nap before you head out!DJ in one of Tel Aviv clubs. Photo credit: © ShutterstockPrinted MatterIf you want to understand more about the vibe of Tel Aviv, there’s plenty you can read about (via the internet, or with books). We recommend:Tel Aviv Noir’ by Etgar Keret & Assaf Gavron -14 extremely readable stories, giving you the chance to see a more ‘hidden’ side of the city.‘When I Lived in Modern Times’ by Linda Grant -the story of a young girl arriving in Palestine as a state struggles to be born.‘Rhyming Life and Death’ by Amos Oz -the evocative story of an author who, bored with his fame, has traveled to Tel Aviv to promote his latest book.‘The Way to the Cats’ by Yehoshua Kenaz -a story of aging and uncertainty, which is a delightful read.Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinCulture and HistoryWhether you’re staying a couple of days or a couple of weeks, it’s always useful to figure out your itinerary and decide what your ‘must visit’ and ‘must do’ activities should include. Tel Aviv’s not just about beaches and food joints - it’s also the perfect place for a cultural odyssey, in the form of museums, galleries, and performance venues. When it comes to museums, you can take your pick! The Tel Aviv Museum of Modern Art houses impressive permanent and temporary exhibitions, Nahum Gutman’s house in Neve Tzedek showcases his paintings, the Steinhardt Museum is full of treasures of nature, the Ilana Goor Museum (Goor was self-taught and never studied art) is full of beautiful sculptures and the Rabin Centre gives you a little history into the life of Israel’s famous Prime Minister, who was tragically assassinated in 1995. If it’s a performance that you’re hankering after, then check out one of Tel Aviv’s numerous music and dance venues - Yarkon Park and the Nokia and Bloomfield Stadiums and the Zappa Club host live music and have hosted the great and the good, including Madonna, Ringo Starr, and the Rolling Stones. For classical music, take in a performance at the Mann Auditorium by the Israeli Philharmonic or some opera at the Cameri Theatre.Ilana Goor Museum, Jaffa.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinTheatre lovers won’t be disappointed at productions hosted by the Gesher troupe (who marry Russian classics with contemporary Israeli playwrights) or even some Yiddish theatre. And when it comes to dancing, you should not miss a performance of the famous Batsheva troupe, whose home is the beautiful Suzanne Dellal Centre in Neve Tzedek.You should also leave enough free time to wander around some places of historical interest unless you want to book a private Tel Aviv tour Israel’s Hall of Independence, on Rothschild Boulevard, is where David Ben Gurion proclaimed the famous Declaration of Independence in 1948. The Palmach Museum lets you experience the gripping story of the years leading up to the creation of Israel, by following a group of friends on their journey. And the Diaspora Museum is a must for anyone fascinated by the history of the Jews, spanning over two thousand years, from the time of Abraham to the modern-day state. A trip to any of these places will really give you a sense of modern-day Israel and help you understand the history of this fascinating country a little better.Minaret of a Sea Mosque in the Old City of Jaffa, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinRelax and Kick BackIt’s often been said that Tel Aviv’s the kind of city that tends to grow on first glance, it seems noisy, crowded, and a bit chaotic, leaving you wondering if you should head for the hills! But as you get to know it, its charm and flair tend to seep inside you...leaving you craving just one more day on its streets. Of course, many people who visit the City that Never Sleeps don’t have too much time to stand still, so here are a few tips on how to get the most out of 2 days in Tel Aviv.Finally, whether you’re having a romantic break, exploring with friends, or spending some quality time with yourself, the most important thing is to relax and have a great time. The weather is so good for much of the year that you can walk everywhere (or be adventurous, and hire a City Bike or electric scooter). Soak up the atmosphere, grab an iced coffee or some mint tea, and hit those streets. Decide on one of various Tel Aviv day tours. After your obligatory falafel, stroll on the promenade and chillout time, gaze at a glorious sunset over the Mediterranean, take a breath and remind yourself that you’re on vacation - and you deserve to be enjoying it.Tourist on the beach, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Par Sarah Mann

7 Tips for an Ideal Vacation in Jerusalem

Seven is often considered to be a lucky number, especially in Western culture. But it’s incredibly auspicious in Jewish tradition too. Why? Well, seven represents God’s creation of the world (six days for the physical, then the seventh day of rest - for Jews, Shabbat). The Jewish holiday of freedom - Passover - has seven days. Under the Jewish wedding canopy, where the bride and groom stand, a rabbi will recite seven blessings. In the Bible, there are mentions of the seven species, with which the land of Israel is blessed. Even Israel’s national symbol, the menorah (candelabrum) has seven branches! So when planning your ideal vacation in Jerusalem, we thought we’d carry on the tradition and give you seven tips to make it everything you hoped it would be…The Western Wall.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. How Many Days Should I Stay? What Season is Best?How long should you spend in Jerusalem? Well, how long is a piece of string? No, seriously, Jerusalem is so extraordinary, so magical and so spectacular that some might argue you could spend a lifetime there (or at least your entire vacation). But let’s work on the basis that you’re not coming to stay forever - meaning that you will need to plan your itinerary according to how long you have for your entire trip to Israel (factoring in places such as the Galilee, the Negev desert, the Golan Heights and - of course - the non-stop city of Tel Aviv). We think that at the very least you will need 2 full days to explore the main attractions (the endless sites in the Old City, the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem, and Mahane Yehuda Market) but you’d be on your feet all day and barely scrape the surface of the city. If you have more time, allow 3-5 days which will let you move at a more leisurely pace and see Bethlehem, or even take a day trip to the Dead Sea and Masada. In terms of when to travel, the most popular months to visit Jerusalem are April to October (unless you can’t bear the heat, in which case skip July and August). The spring and fall are always lovely in Jerusalem, whilst winter days are more chilly and rainy (once in a while, the city even gets snow), although attractions will definitely be less crowded in the colder months. Do remember to check when the major Jewish and Christian Holidays fall - Passover, Easter, Sukkot (a Jewish harvest festival) and Christmas are always very busy and flights, accommodations, and attractions all book up way in advance.Jerusalem in winter. View from Mt Scopus. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin2. What Kind of Trip Should I Take?Choosing how to travel very much depends both on your budget or personality. GuidedJerusalem day tours are ideal for anyone who doesn’t want complications and hassle on their holiday or doesn’t want to travel alone. Whether you’re interested in history, religion, or archaeology, there’s a Jerusalem tour package that will suit your needs, and guides in Israel are incredibly well-versed in everything that makes the country so fascinating.However, it’s also easy and safe to travel independently and, if and when you feel the urge for company, you can always take an organized Jerusalem day tour. Since you will land at Ben Gurion airport (which is about 40 minutes drive from Tel Aviv) you will need to travel to Jerusalem under your own steam - either by train or with an airport transfer. Once in the city, there are all kinds of day tours on offer - for art lovers at museums, foodies at Mahane Yehuda Market, and history buffs within the ancient walls of the Old City.Tower of David, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3.Do I Need a Visa? What About My Driver’s Licence?For a large number of tourists, no visa is required and you will automatically be granted a 90-day stay, at Ben Gurion Airport. If you are not one of the lucky ones covered under this Exemption Agreement, then you will need to apply for a visa. More information about this can be found on this dedicated Foreign Ministry page. Renting a car is easy and not particularly costly - all you need is a valid driver’s license and your passport and you’re good to go. For more information about driving in Israel as a tourist, click here. Just remember, once you’re off, that you’re in the Levant, and the driving might be a bit more ‘chaotic’ than what you’re used to, in Europe or America!Moses Montefiore Windmill, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. What Kind of Accommodation Should I Book?Jerusalem is awash with accommodation, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to the utterly decadent. It goes without saying that much of this decision is about the budget (and yes, we’re sorry, but staying in Jerusalem is expensive, whichever way you cut it). However, there are plenty of humble lodgings and modest places for rent, which are both clean and comfortable. If you’re looking for privacy but still want some comfort, try the Agron Hostel, located between downtown Jerusalem and leafy Rehavia. There’s also the Austrian Hospice (run by priests and nuns) located on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City, which affords marvelous views from its terrace. (Our tip: try their apple strudel - it’s homemade and delicious!). And if you want to splash the cash, well - don’t worry! Classy Jerusalem hotels like the Mamilla, King David and Wardolf Astoria won’t leave you disappointed. With their amazing views, fine dining and stunning architecture, we guarantee you won’t regret the experience. And, after all, you’re on vacation, so why not treat yourself to a touch of luxury?View of Jerusalem from the roof of the Austrian Hospice. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin5. What Should I See? How Do I Fit in as Much as Possible?Jerusalem is a city with an enormous amount to see - both inside the walls of the Old City and outside. Whether you’ve two days or twenty, you don't want to miss the ‘classic’ sites i.e. the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, not to mention the surrounding Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane and perhaps a tour of the city’s underground tunnels! Luckily for you, we’ve already done the research and compiled a list of the city’s top attractions, entitled “Jerusalem: Top Activities and Tours”.And whilst we’re on the subject, the museums and art galleries of the city are a great treat for visitors, as is a stroll in some of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods (tranquil Ein Kerem, bustling, lively Nachlaot, and the trendy German Colony). Another way of approaching it is to combine Jerusalem with some other sites. Why not try a Jerusalem, Masada, and Dead Sea tour - an unforgettable three-day experience. Or, for pilgrims, head up to the North and the West Bank for a break, with a Christian Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem tour? A monk in Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinAnd if you prefer to be alone, exploring with one of our experienced guides, go ahead and book one of Jerusalem private tours - it can be customized exactly to your specific requirements. Jerusalem has sights that many people have never even heard about - such as Marc Chagall’s magnificent stained glass windows, at the Hadassah Hospital. With their exquisite color, each window depicting one of the twelve tribes of Israel, they are a must-see for any modern art lover.Another hidden gem, often overlooked, is the Museum of Islamic Art, close to Katamon. Housing ancient pages of the Quran, pottery, glass, and luxury items such as jewelry and ornaments, it tells the story of Islamic art from the 7th to the 19th century and has justly earned its reputation for being one of the most important collections of its kind in the world.Jerusalem Knights Festival-2018.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin6. What Should I Read to Prepare Myself?Preparing for a trip to Jerusalem also involves transporting yourself back in time, via the printed word, and here are a few ‘classics’ to help you in this regard.The Bible - whether you’re a believer, an agnostic, or a committed atheist, there’s no doubt about it that the Bible is possibly one of the greatest pieces of literature around. As a collection of literary genres, written over many centuries, it encompasses letters, poetry, and some quite visionary writing. Arguably the world’s most famous, and popular book, it’s easy to purchase too. When in Jerusalem don't forget to visit the Bible Lands Museumdedicated to the history of the people of the Bible.“The Jewish War“by Joseph Flavius - this wonderfully detailed and evocative account of the Jewish rebellion against Rome between 66 and 70 AD (culminating in a mass suicide at the Masada Fortress) is marked by all kinds of treacheries and atrocities. Flavius’ account provides much of what we know about the history of the Jews under Roman rule. Riveting.Oculusin thedomeof the Church of the HolySepulchre.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin“A Tale of Love and Darkness“by Amos Oz - Oz is a giant in the field of Israeli literature and his beautiful autobiography is guaranteed to move even the hardest heart. Telling the tale of his childhood, growing up in Jerusalem, during the last years of the British Mandate and before the establishment of the modern Israeli state, Oz dazzles and his words move many to tears, and his story is so compelling, you may well not be able to put the book down. Translated into 28 languages, it has sold over a million copies to date. A true masterpiece.“The Master and Margarita“by Mikhail Bulgakov - a story of the supernatural and the mythical, this Russian author wrote with elements of romanticism, realism, and mysticism. His rich and buoyant narrative moves back and forth between Moscow and ancient Jerusalem, weaving into the pages scenes that range from a Satanic ball to the murder of Judas in Gethsemane. A Russian classic!TheGardenofGethsemane, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin“The Book of Intimate Grammar” by David Grossman - Grossman is another one of Israel’s great novelists and he does not disappoint in this beautiful novel. The protagonist, Aron Kleinfeld, is the ringleader amongst the boys in his Jerusalem neighborhood, set in a time of ‘false’ innocence, just before the Six-Day War in 1967. The book mirrors the author’s perception of Israeli society at that time - reflective, insecure, and complex. Grossman’s insights into adolescent psychology are right on the money.“The Innocent Abroad”by Mark Twain - by all accounts, Twain did not enjoy his trip to the Holy Land, complaining bitterly and endlessly about desolate landscapes and rocky terrain. The one exception he made was for Jerusalem, where he stated: “Perched on its eternal hills, white and domed and solid, massed together and hooped with high gray walls, the venerable city gleamed in the sun...the thoughts Jerusalem suggests are full of poetry, sublimity, and more than all, dignity.” Highly recommended!Jerusalem square.Photo credit: © Shutterstock7. Is It Safe?Many visitors arriving in Israel for the first time, feel a little nervous. We’re happy to alleviate your fears and tell you that traveling in Jerusalem is really very safe (although if you want to wander around Mea Shearim or the East of the city, you may feel more comfortable with a guide). The streets are extremely safe to walk, but if you want a bit more reassurance, then there are also plenty of day tours on offer. Public transport is cheap and efficient, and almost everyone speaks English. Something else - Israelis love to help so the chances are that if you stop one and ask for directions, you might well end up being invited for coffee or if you’re lucky, Shabbat dinner! And once you’ve done that, you really will want to stay forever (or at least begin planning your next vacation in Jerusalem... Enjoy yourself in the beautiful, awe-inspiring, and quite unique city called Jerusalem!Antique shop in the covered alleyway of Jerusalem Old City Market. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Par Sarah Mann

48 Hours in Tel Aviv - How to Get the Most of 2 Days in Tel Aviv

Well, it’s official - Tel Aviv has just been named by Forbes as the second-best city in the world to visit in 2020 (disclosure: the White City was only beaten by Sin City...aka Las Vegas). And for anyone who’s visited here, this decision will come as no surprise. With its miles of pristine, sandy beaches, eclectic foodie scenes, and diverse neighborhoods (historic and hipster) you’re spoilt for choice with ways to enjoy yourself. Here’s our guide to 48 action-packed hours in Tel Aviv, a taste of a city that we guarantee will leave you longing for more.Day 1A) Namal PortThe majority of Tel Aviv tours start at the Namal Port. Originally built in the 1930s and used to store Israel’s most successful export - Jaffa Oranges - the hangers are still in evidence. Today, however, it’s more of a commercial hub, with a wonderful boardwalk, plenty of fashionable stores and restaurants, and a Friday Farmer’s Market that sells high-end local produce. After you’ve wandered the area, grab a coffee or ‘limonada’ (Israelis take theirs with mint) and begin strolling south, along the promenade (‘Tayelet’) along the endless Tel Aviv beaches. Each has its own unique flavor (some are popular with surfers or dancers, others with dog-lovers of the gay community) but all have fine white sand, clear water, benches to sit and take in the view, and even free workout stations (incredibly popular with the locals, who love to stay in shape). You could also join a Tel Aviv bike tourand experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere, top landmarks, and fantastic weather riding along the beachfront promenade andthrough Park HaYarkon, along the banks of the Yarkon River where there are expansive green lawns, lush gardens, and shady trees.Or discover the mouth-watering blend of spices that go into traditional Tel Aviv street snacks like sabich on a classicalTel Aviv street food tour.B) Yemenite Quarter and the Carmel MarketAfter around 45 minutes, you’ll hit the Yemenite Quarter, a maze of alleyways, part-renovated, part-dilapidated, but full of charm. Wander the narrow streets, then tour the Carmel Market, orShuk haCarmel, Tel Aviv’s most lively and colorful bazaar which is a hive of activity before the Jewish Shabbat begins on Friday night. Take in the Levantine smells, purchase some local spices to take home, then grab lunch at Shlomo and Doron (a grandfather and grandson team) renowned for their affordable hummus, and delicious vegan toppings. Afterward, sit with the locals at Beer Bazaar, one of the market’s most popular hangouts, which stocks over 100 different craft beers from around the country. It’s always lively, with occasional musical performances as the day wears on. Walk five minutes down to the beach and watch the sun go down over the Mediterranean.C) Rothschild BoulevardAfter a quick nap, take an early evening stroll along Rothschild Boulevard, one of Tel Aviv’s most iconic streets, crammed full of Bauhaus buildings, a style that originated in 1930s Germany and which gave Tel Aviv the name of ‘White City’. To see the stunning Tel Aviv murals, join a Tel Aviv street art tour.There’s no shortage of good restaurants in the neighborhood - we’d recommend Cafe Noir, a long-established European-style bistro, with seating areas that cater both to romantic dates and those inclined to a more buzzy atmosphere. It’s rumored that they serve the best chicken schnitzel in town, but don’t take our word for it!Stroll home leisurely whilst watching Tel Aviv’s young crowd head out for fun - the city has one of the most enviable nightlife scenes in the world and it’s rumored that things rarely get started before 2 am!Day 2A) JaffaBegin your day in the ancient port of Jaffa, with a history that stretches ack 4,000 years. Wander the narrow streets (named after zodiac signs) and pop into some of the many art galleries in the neighborhood. Walk through the Abrasha Park (with its stunning views) - this area is home to St Peter’s Church (with its Spanish baroque style), the ‘Gate of Faith’ statue (made of marble from the Galilee), and the ‘Smiling Whale’ sculpture.A short stroll away is the Jaffa Flea Market and whilst the second-hand section is closed on Shabbat, there are plenty of stores, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy.For lunch, we’d recommend the quirky Pua, which has been around forever but retains a special charm. The food is fresh and simple but moderately priced and beautifully served, and the portions are enormous. Moreover, it offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options (including pumpkin dumplings, red tahini, and fried cauliflower). Don’t hesitate to order a jug of their lemonade to go with your meal. (Fun fact: every piece of furniture in the restaurant is for sale). Another option is to join a guided Jaffa Flea Market tour "From Shuk to Chic" so that a local guide couldtake you through the labyrinth of lanes where junk, carpets, antiques and restored furniture spill out onto the sidewalk.B) Neve TsedekFrom Jaffa, take a leisurely stroll along the beachfront to Neve Tsedek, one of Tel Aviv’s oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods. Wander down Shabazi Street (the main thoroughfare), peruse the boutiques and jewelry stores then pop into the Anita gelateria for a sweet treat, or enjoy a coffee at Suzanna, a long-standing local haunt with a lovely garden in which to sit. Neve Tsedek is also packed full of cultural treasures including the Suzanne Dellal Centre (a cultural center, which is home to Israeli dance) and the Rubin Museum (who painted in a style similar to that of Matisse and was occasionally referred to as the ‘Gaugin of Palestine!’)C) Dizengoff StreetSpend your evening on Dizengoff Street which, like Rothschild Boulevard, has to be experienced. Named after the city’s first mayor, it has a bit of everything - fine-dining, casual coffee shops, glamorous cocktail bars and it’s the newly-renovated central square, complete with fountain, chairs, and trees that provide shade in the scorching summer months. Enjoy a ‘Happy Hour’ cocktail at Spicehaus (a ‘concept’ bar where the staff dress as pharmacists and the skeleton at the door reminds of your old school biology lab). Drinks are served, appropriately, in potion bottles of three sizes - and we recommend the Istanbul-Louisville Express (with gin, lychee, aloe vera, and rose flavoring). Then, a stone’s throw from the bar, have dinner at La Shuk, serving elegant, Mediterranean food (think fresh seafood, kebabs, and a medley of vegetable dishes). This is a hot spot (with a patio that’s perfect for people-watching) so be sure to make a reservation in advance.Dizengoff is always lively on a Saturday night, and so if you’ve any remaining energy, there’s always going to be a bar or coffee shop to wile away your last hour or two.
Par Sarah Mann

Ancient Routes of Israel

When reading about the history of the Middle East and, in particular, the Holy Land, you’ll often hear references to the term ‘‘ancient Israel’. But what does that really mean? Well, in large part it is to do with the tribes and kingdoms that were formed by the Jewish people in the Levant in ancient times. (The Levant is an area that, today, is made up of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel and Palestine)A camel rests between trips, Negev Desert, Israel.Photo byCole KeisteronUnsplashAncient Israel's main agricultural products were grapes, olives, lentils, dates and grains (usually wheat or barley). Over time, they developed a thriving trade with Egypt, Greece and Cyprus (using their ports on the Mediterranean). But how did they travel further afield? By creating different routes, some which ran by the sea and others which ran over hilly terrain.Below we’ll be taking a look at certain ancient routes in Israel - some no longer exist, and others have been ‘modernised’ to give tourists a sense of what life was like thousands of years ago when people travelled by foot and with camels to explore new lands and trade their wares...The Via MarisThe Via Maris was, for sure, one of the most significant ancient Israel trade routes. Both In Hebrew (‘Derech haYam’) and Latin, this means ‘ Way of the Sea’ and references to it can be found both in Isaiah (in the Hebrew Bible) and Matthew (in the Christian Bible). It dates back to the early Bronze Age and was a route linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Mesopotamia and Anatolia.‘Via Maris’ is a Roman term and the reference to the sea is, of course, theMediterranean Sea- the stretch of coast through which the route passed. It is also known by other names - the ‘Coastal Road’ and ‘the way of the Philistines’ and in modern-day Israel, it is referred to as the ‘International Coastal Highway.’Tel Aviv Port, Israel. Photo byShai PalonUnsplashThe Via Maris was one of three major trade routes that were used in ancient Israel, along with the Ridge Route and the King’s Highway. Within ancient Israel, it ran from the Galilee (in the north) to Samaria (in the south) and passed through the Jezreel Valley. Along the route, it split into two branches - one that ran along the coast from Acre down to Ashkelon and Gaza, and the other that took an inland route, through the Sea of Galilee and Jezreel Valley, the two branches reunited at Megiddo (known in contemporary times as ‘Armageddon’).The Via Maris was a principal coastal highway for traders and the one most of them chose to travel on from Egypt and then far north. There were simple reasons for this - it was close to water, sources of food and towns. It also avoided the highlands. Megiddo was equally important as a pit stop on this route, guarding the western branch of a narrow pass on the most important trade route of the ancient Fertile Crescent. Sea of Galilee, Israel. Photo byChris GallimoreonUnsplashThe Via Maris connected all of the major trade routes stretching from Egypt and Syria to Iraq, Turkey and modern-day Iran. As a major thoroughfare, it connected the Sinai with Damascus passing, as mentioned before, through the Jezreel Valley. Over the centuries, after the Jews were exiled from Israel, that valley was abandoned and became a marshy, swampy area. It was only revitalised after Zionist pioneers arrived in the early 20th century and set about draining the land; today, of course, it is unrecognisable - filled with orchards, greenhouses and kibbutzes/moshavim that produce all kinds of fruits and vegetables.Crucially, branches of the Via Maris also intersected with the major trade routes of its era including the Silk Road, the Indus Valley and beyond. The Via Maris was a ‘home base’ for explorations of worlds beyond - indeed, it was really the beginning of commerce, where Jews would trade fish, grains, oil and dairy for everyday staples from the Far East (as well as luxuries like spices). Nachsholim Beach, Nahsholim, Israel. Photo byBen MichelonUnsplashThe King’s HighwayThe Kings Highway (also referred to as the ‘Via Nova Traiana’ was an ancient thoroughfare that connected the Gulf of Aqaba and Syria through the area that we now know as Jordan. One of the world’s oldest continually used routes of communication, it is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The King’s Highway was a crucial passage for ancient trade, running from north to south of this part of the Levant. The Roman Emperor Trajan (who reigned from 98-1117 CE) actually renovated the road, in his desire to improve communications and transport between Aqaba and Bostra.Once ‘modernised’ the road was then referred to as the ‘Via Nova Traiana’ (as opposed to another road, in Italy, that had been built by the same Emperor, named ‘Via Traiana’. The King’s Highway was a crucial artery for Crusaders, journeying from Europe via Syria to Jerusalem on their military pilgrimages and for the interested visitor, there are many fortified castles to be explored on its route, even today.Today, the King’s Highway is still promoted as a tourist attraction with more rural parts of Jordan. It links up important historical sites such as Al Karak, Al Tafilah and, most notably, Petra, as well as beautiful natural sites such as Wadi Al Mujib.Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Jordan. Photo byRinaldo VadionUnsplashThe Ridge RouteThis path was of less importance for international trade than either the Via Maris or the King’s Highway but, nevertheless, travellers used this route. They would travel through the hills of Judea and Samaria, passing by the city of Jerusalem. It was called the Ridge Route (or sometimes the Hill Route) because it followed the watershed ridgeline of the surrounding mountains.The Way of the PatriarchsThis ancient north-south route crisscrossed the land of Israel. It was given this name by biblical scholars because of its having been mentioned in biblical narratives. This, you see, was the route often travelled by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the three founding fathers of Judaism.Also known as Derech ha Avot (the Hebrew term), it linked Jerusalem and Hebron and today can be found between the communities of Alon Shvut and Neve Daniel in the Gush Etzion part of Judea. Unlike the Via Maris and the King’s Highway, which were ancient roads that ran international borders and passed through the territory of many different peoples, this route was entirely within the territory of ancient Israel.Snow in Kings Highway, Jordan.Photo by Thales Botelho de Sousa on UnsplashThe Incense RouteThe Incense Route was an ancient trade network of important land and sea trading routes. It connected the Eastern world with the Mediterranean and involved ports all across Egypt and the Levant, as well as northeastern Africa, Arabia, India and the Far East. From the 3rd century BCE until 2 CE, the Nabateans were transporting incense across the desert, from Arabia to the Mediterranean and, from then on, demand for other luxury goods in the Roman world flourished. The Incense Route was a way to trade all kinds of articles, including Arabian frankincense and myrrh. Gold, rare woods and feathers came from Africa whilst precious stones, pearls, silk and spices arrived from India and further east. The Incense Trade Route was, in the main, controlled by the Arabs, who transported goods by camel caravans and for almost 700 years, this hazardous but very profitable trade was carried on.Mamshit, Nabatean city, part of the Incense Road, Israel. Photo credit: Jenny EhrlichMerchants also had other ingenious ways of trading on this route - indeed, some individuals in Southern Arabia constructed inflatable rafts made out of animal skins. From there, they could secretly float bundles of incense out on the Arabian sea, where ships were clandestinely waiting for them. The ships would then sail up the Red Sea in the dead of night and drop off the incense at ports in Egypt.Today, visitors to Israel can explore the Incense Route down in the Negev desert. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a wonderful site, with archaeological sites and desert panoramas. The ‘Spice Route’ as it is called by locals, is perhaps best explored on a jeep trip since much of the terrain (especially in the Arava part of the desert) is barren and suitable only for experienced hikers.Travelling north on the Spice Route, a particularly fine place to visit is Mitzpe Ramon, home to the world-famous crater. Whether you want to hike inside it, wander around its parameters and enjoy the views or abseil down its side, you’re bound to enjoy yourself. There’s also an ‘Artists Quarter’ nearby, as well as a farm selling local goats’ cheeses and many visitors choose to stay overnight in Bedouin campsites.Mitzpe Ramon, Israel. Photo byDmitry ShamisonUnsplashThe Gospel TrailThe Gospel Trail was established by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism in November 2011, giving Christian pilgrims (and indeed anyone else interested in this period of history) the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Consisting of over 60 km of paths and roads with special signposts, tourists can walk, hike or cycle as little or as much of the route as they choose. The route itself runs through Galilee, beginning at Nazareth (where Jesus spent many of his formative years) and ending at Capernaum, on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. It follows the route Jesus was supposed to have taken (referenced in the Book of Matthew, in the Christian Bible) when he left his hometown and set off for Galilee, where he would begin his ministry.The main part of the route begins, as stated above, in Nazareth, and visitors can walk along the Nazareth range, affording panoramic views of Mount Tabor, the Church of the Transfiguration, Kfar Kanna, and the Turan Valley.Column in the synagogue,Capernaum, Israel. Photo byPhil GoodwinonUnsplashThe path then slopes down through the Arbel cliffs towards the sea of Galilee, until it reaches ancient Magdala (the home of Mary Magdalene). From Magdala, it continues north along the Sea of Galilee until it reaches what is known as the ‘Holy Triangle’ - the places that are the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha, and Capernaum.From there, visitors can walk the length of the Sea of Galilee on the promenade (or bike around it, if they are fit!) and stop along the way to see all kinds of attractions, including national parks, churches and the baptismal site of Yardenit.Israel National Trail (Shvil Israel)This hiking trail traverses the length of the country, stretching approximately 1000 km from Kibbutz Dan in the far north (near the Lebanon border) all the way down to Eilat, on the Red Sea. Loved by nature enthusiasts, biblical scholars, and adventurers alike, it's the perfect way to see Israel’s natural beauty.The Israel National Trail was the idea of Abraham Tamir and Ori Dvir, who were avid Israeli hikers. Inaugurated in 1995, it has given thousands of locals and tourists the opportunity to experience Israel’s varied landscapes up close and personal - from mountains and hills to deserts and wadis. A continuous footpath across the country, it has been lauded by nature enthusiasts, ramblers, hikers, and even National Geographic.Mountains near Eilat, Israel.Photo byJosh AppelonUnsplash
Par Sarah Mann

How to Get from Tel Aviv to Eilat: From Culture to Chillout

A great many of Israel’s visitors want to see as much of the country as they can on their trip, and two of the spots they prioritize are Tel Aviv and Eilat. Tel Aviv, the beating heart of the country’s centre, is close to Ben Gurion airport and an ideal place to spend a first night after arrival and even a few more days afterwards, enjoying cafe life, cultural pursuits and some fine dining. Eilat, nestled on the Red Sea, is a popular destination too, especially in the winter when temperatures are warm and swimming and sunbathing are a top pastime. With its breathtaking views (look one way you can see Jordan, look the other there is Egypt, and look behind you for pinkish, orange-red hued mountains) it’s perfect for chilling out, snorkelling and a little hiking in the nearby Timna Park. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also join aPetra tour from Eilat.Eilat beach.Photo credit: © ShutterstockFrom Tel Aviv to Eilat - Four Ways to Do ItThe distance from Tel Aviv to Eilat is 281 kilometers. There are 4 ways to travel from Tel Aviv to Israel's southernmost resort: bus to Eilat, rental car, plane, and private transfer. Below, we’re going to give you some helpful pointers to make sure everything goes as smoothly and easily as possible along the way. Luckily, Israel is a small country, so no journey ever takes that long (even when on desert roads!) but having the ‘lie of the land before you set off is always a good idea.Unfortunately, Israel does not yet have a direct train running between the two cities. The proposed high-speed rail link has been talked about for years but, unfortunately, the project is currently at a standstill. To date, the furthest you can travel by train is to Beer Sheva and Dimona (a tiny town a little way on). There is a small stretch of railway that passes beyond Dimona, running out to some phosphate mines in the Tzin Valley, but the train that heads there is for cargo only and functions on an 'as and when' basis.Red Sea, Eilat, Israel. Photo by Vitaliy Paykov on UnsplashInsider TipsOf course, you could take the train as far as Beer Sheva and then catch a bus onto Eilat, but this would mean making a change and, if you have a lot of luggage or small children, it could be inconvenient and tiresome. Still, it’s possible - and let’s give you some insider tips. Firstly, reserve a seat on the Beer Sheva - Eilat bus three days in advance. Try and book one in the middle (not over the wheels) - number 18 is ideal! Look for a seat on the shady side (no. 17 if you’re traveling in the morning and no. 19 if in the afternoon).Book a train to Beer Sheva and make sure you leave plenty of time for your connection. After arriving (the journey is approx. 1 hour 10 minutes), exit the train station and turn left. You will see the bus station right in front of you. If you need to use the bathrooms, it’s better to do so in the train station - they tend to be cleaner than the ones in the bus station!Grab a snack or a light bite in the bus station, which has all kinds of eateries, plus coffee shops. We recommend the shawarma and also the bourekas (pastry filled with salty cheese or potatoes). Pick up some water too - the driver will probably stop for a coffee break at Yotvata Inn, but that won’t be for another two hours or so, and if you’re traveling in the summer, it’s essential not to let yourself become hydrated. Egged intercity buses in Israel. Image: via Egged Facebook pageA tip: when you arrive at Yotvata, you’ll have time to stretch your legs but also to pop inside and treat yourself to one of their famous Italian-style ice creams, which come in a marvelous range of flavors (we recommend the mascarpone and figs). There’s also a fantastic date-flavored frozen yogurt and mango sorbet for those who prefer to avoid dairy. Yotvata also has a gift store where they sell boxes of juicyMedjool dates, all grown on their own kibbutz. Now onto the direct options.Getting from Tel Aviv to Eilat by BusThe bus is a pretty good option and, as buses go, it’s a comfortable journey with varied and beautiful landscapes. At around 70 NIS one-way, it’s also rather cheap (public transport is heavily subsidized in Israel). The national bus service is called Egged and their green and white logo is easily recognized. We’d recommend booking a seat in advance, just to guarantee that you won’t be turned away, but if you want to take a chance, just show up with cash (or a loaded Rav Kav card) and if there’s a spare seat, the driver will welcome you aboard. Tickets can be ordered online via Egged’s website (in Hebrew) or by phone at 03 694-8888 or *2800 (many of the operators speak English as well) using a credit card. Vintage Egged bus from the Egged Bus Museum in Holon.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinEgged ScheduleSunday-Thursday: This is the Israeli work week and buses leave regularly, with line 394. This is located at Platform 601, on level 6 of the Central Bus Station on Levinsky Street. Buses leave regularly i.e. every 90 minutes, with the first one departing at 06.30. On Friday, the last bus usually leaves around 14.00. This is because the Jewish Shabbat begins when dusk falls on Friday and public transport in Israel generally stops running a couple of hours before. On Saturdays (i.e. the Jewish Shabbat) buses depart a little before the end of the day (i.e. before night falls) - sometimes as early as 14.00 from Tel Aviv. Always check the timetable carefully and, if possible, call up in advance to confirm your departure, as all times are subject to change, depending on adverse weather conditions (e.g. flash floods in the Negev).Self-Service Tickets with EilatomatAnother thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to book tickets in advance (through the website or the Customer Service Center) you will need to collect them from a self-service ticket machine named Eilatomat. These machines can be found in the central bus stations of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rishon le Zion, Haifa Hof ha-Carmel, Haifa Central, Hadera, Rehovot, Beer Sheva, and Netanya. A ticket can be collected from an Eilatomat ticket machine up to 2 hours before boarding and then shown to the driver when you enter through the front door. We recommend arriving 20 minutes in advance, as the lines can be long! Antique Egged buses from the Egged Bus Museum in Holon. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinGetting from Tel Aviv to Eilat with a Rental CarIt’s relatively simple and not particularly expensive to rent a car in Israel if you want to drive. Both Ben Gurion airport and Tel Aviv have a number of car rental businesses, including Eldan, Hertz, Tamar, and Shlomo Sixt. Just bring your passport and driver’s license and you should be issued with a vehicle within 30-45 minutes. The journey from the country’s center to the far south will take between four to five hours (depending on your speed and if you stop for a coffee break in Mitzpe Ramon, where you can admire the views of the crater and even pop in on the Artist’s Quarter or if you’re with young kids, the Alpaca Farm). From Mitzpe to Eilat, the road is winding and narrow (and it’s where accidents often happen) so please take particular care, especially at night, when there will be long stretches of road with no light. If you are easily car sick, we would advise taking this journey in the day, when it’s easier to stop and take a breath! The scenery is also beautiful - the desert landscapes are arid and rugged, and as you drive through the Arava, the rocks will turn pink, orange, and red in color.Sunset inEilat area. Photo credit:© Oksana MatsGetting from Tel Aviv to Eilatby PlaneThis is a fast option and an excellent idea if you need to travel straight to Eilat, after arrival in Israel at Ben Gurion Airport. The internal flight will take just under an hour and Arkia, Israel’s domestic carrier operates a service every couple of hours. After a long, international flight, taking trains, buses, or renting a car could quickly turn into an ordeal, particularly if you’re very jetlagged. Flights cost around $100, so save yourself time and energy - with Arkia, you’ll be in Ramon airport in no time. From there, it’s a 15-minute journey to Eilat, either by taxi or local bus. Of course, if you want to see desert scenery, you can always catch the bus back to Tel Aviv, on your return leg, or rent a car.Musical fountain in Eilat.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsGetting from Tel Aviv to Eilat with a Private TransferIf you are based in Tel Aviv, the quickest and most convenient way of all would be to book a private transfer to Eilat. This ‘door-to-door’ service means you’ll be picked up and dropped off exactly where you choose - and you can also break the journey if you choose (a pit stop at Beer Sheva, Mitzpe Ramon, or the famous dairy store at Yotvata Kibbutz - see above). Make sure to choose a trusted tour operator, who will answer all your questions in advance and tailor the experience to your specific needs.Now you’re ready. Don’t forget your COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a snazzy bathing suit. Everything else is optional! Trust us, you’re going to have a fine time. Shalom and enjoy!Getting to Eilat by camel is not an option anymore.Photo credit:Muhammad Abo Omar
Par Sarah Mann

How to Get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are Israel’s two largest cities, as well as being huge tourist centres, meaning that the majority of visitors want to see both. Luckily, the two cities aren’t far apart - in fact, by European or North American standards, travelling between them is easy and cheap. Making a day trip takes minimal effort (indeed, some Israelis commute between the two cities five days a week) and whether you want to plan ahead or just wake up and decide to head off, it’s your choice. Here, we look at some of the different ways you can make the 54 km (33 mile) journey.A statue of King David playing harp, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Shutterstock1.How to Travel Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem byBusThe Tel Aviv to Jerusalem bus service is highly recommended since it’s inexpensive and efficient, with buses leaving every 15 minutes from early morning to late at night. The Egged company runs this very popular service and if there is no traffic your journey should take between 45-55 minutes. If you want to know if it’s safe to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, then the answer is a resounding yes. Bus drivers are trained to high standards and, moreover, if any kind of problem arises, someone will inevitably offer you assistance - Israelis are very hospitable people and love to help! There are two central bus stations in Tel Aviv that operate this service:- The Central Bus Station (Tachana Merkazit) located on Levinsky Street in the south of Tel Aviv, close to HaHagana train station. This operates bus line 405- The Terminal 2000 station, on Namir Road/Arlozorov Street, in the north of Tel Aviv, which operates line 480.Either you can pay the driver when you board the bus (cash is fine) or use a Rav Kav card. These cards can be purchased at many points in the city and loaded up with credit which can be used on buses within the city as well as longer journeys around the country. You can also buy a ticket beforehand from a machine (most machines have an ‘English’ option) or a staff member at one of the counters. The cost of a one-way ticket is 19 NIS and there is a discount if you buy a return-trip ticket.All buses arrive at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, which is very close to the main highway and the Bridge of Chords. From here, it is very easy to navigate your way around Jerusalem - either by bus, the light railway (which runs all the way down to the Old City), or a taxi. The Jerusalem bus station also has an array of shops selling clothes, electronic goods, and food/beverages, so if you're desperate for a coffee or you’ve forgotten your phone charger, never fear.As with all cities in Israel, there is no public bus service on Shabbat i.e. from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening, after dark.Old City market, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock2.How to Travel Between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by TrainAfter decades of talks that came to nothing and plans that regularly collapsed, the high-speed rail link connecting Israel’s two largest cities opened in 2019. The Tel Aviv to Jerusalem train is, without a doubt, a fantastic way to travel between the cities - it’s a direct service, using a spacious two-level train and it takes between 36 and 43 minutes, depending on which of the three Tel Aviv stations you depart from. These stations are:- Savidor Center - like the Terminal 200 bus station (see above), Savidor is on the corner of Namir Road and Arlozorov Street.- Shalom train station - close to the famous Azrieli Towers, this station is located on the HaShalom Interchange on the Ayalon Highway - HaHagana railway station- the most southern of the three stations is also located on the Ayalon Highway, north of Highway 1 and 200 meters easy of the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.A one-way ride costs 23.50 NIS and for much of the day, the train runs every 15-20 minutes. As with the Egged buses (see above) you can use your Rav Kav card or buy tickets from cashiers or machines in the station. You will arrive at the state-of-the-art, Yitzhak Navon station in Jerusalem, complete with modern design, vaulted ceilings, and beautiful wall mosaics. It’s also one of the world’s deepest stations (80 meters deep) and conveniently located on Jaffa Street, with access to city buses, taxis, and the famed light railway, which will transport you to downtown Jerusalem and the Old City in just a few minutes. Jerusalem light railway, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Taxi - Shared or PrivateIn all of the major cities in Israel, you will see small yellow vans standing at their main bus stations. These are called ‘sheruts’ and basically, they are ‘shared taxis.’ They take 10 passengers and are not owned by the government, which means that they run on Shabbat (unlike Egged buses and trains, which stop between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening). All you need to do is climb in and pay the driver in cash (22 NIS). Once the seats are all filled, off you go! (Bear in mind that you might have to wait a few minutes for the sheruts to fill up). Sheruts leave from the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station on the ground floor, just outside the main entrance, and can drop you either close to the Jerusalem bus station or downtown, close to Tzion Square and a short walk from the Old City.For more comfort (and if you’re willing to pay a premium) then it’s possible to take a private taxi from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Either ask your concierge to arrange this service for you or download the Gett Taxi app (as yet, there is no Uber in Israel). Expect to pay around 350 NIS door to door (and more at night or on Shabbat). Buses on Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Shutterstock4. Private TransferA Tel Aviv to Jerusalem private transferis a comfortable and convenient way to travel and is easily organized through a trusted tour operator. You will be driven in a vehicle that is comfortable and air-conditioned and, of course, if you wish to make a detour along the way (to visit the village of Abu Gosh, for example, or grab a cup of coffee at the ‘Elvis Diner’ then that’s your prerogative). You should expect to pay around 700 NIS for this service.5. Organized Trips to JerusalemIf you’re based in Tel Aviv, but want to visit Jerusalem and see as much as you can in a set period of time, it’s really worthwhile considering one of the many Jerusalem tours on offer. Taking a guided trip in Israel really takes the hassle out of everything - you’ll have a driver, a guide and - whether it’s one, two, or three days - the chances are you’ll get to see quite a bit more than if you’re traveling under your own steam. There are all kinds of Israel day tours and Jerusalem tour packages available - whether you want to explore the Old City, visit ancient churches, wander the world-class Israel Museum or take a stroll in the vibrant, bustling Mahane Yehuda market, there’s something that will suit you. Jerusalem is a city that offers a taste of everything - culture, history, architecture, food, and scenery. It’s probably one of the most extraordinary cities you’ll ever visit so soak it up.The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin6. Rent a CarRenting a car in Israel is not difficult - there are plenty of companies around and prices are reasonable. GalCal, Hertz, Shlomo Sixt, and Hagar are some of the most reputable names, and booking via their websites (all in English) is easy. All you need is your international driver’s license, your passport, and a credit card. Allow about half an hour to sort out the paperwork and then you’ll be good to go.There are two major routes that you can take - either Road 1 or Road 443, via Modiin. Traffic is notoriously bad on these roads early in the morning and later, after the workday ends, so try and plan your journey in quieter hours, otherwise, your journey could double in time. Also, bear in mind that parking is limited and expensive in Jerusalem itself, so if you’re visiting just the Old City itself (rather than combining your city trip with a tour of Masada and the Dead Sea for example), you’ll be better off using public transport or taking an organized Jerusalem tourfrom Tel Aviv.Montefiore Windmill, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
Par Sarah Mann

How to Get from Haifa to Jerusalem

By North American or European standards, Israel is not a large country. In fact, you can easily travel from one end to another i.e. the Golan Heights to Eilat, in a few hours. Whether you’re using the bus, train, taxi or renting a car, it’s easy to move between cities, which means you can pack a lot into your trip.Haifa Maritime Museum, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinToday, we’re looking at how to get from Haifa to Jerusalem. Haifa is Israel’s largest city in the north of the country and sits on the Mediterranean coast, on the slopes of Mount Carmel. Within the city itself, there are some fine things to see, including the iconic Bahai Gardens, the German Colony neighborhood (with its Templer houses), Wadi NisNas (with its tiny alleyways, old stone houses, and colorful market), and the National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space.Not too far from Haifa itself are beautiful nature reserves, parks, hiking trails, and also attractions such as Acre (an ancient Crusader City), Rosh Hanikra, in the Western Galilee, with its caves and grottos, and also Nazareth, the city where Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel and where Jesus himself spent many of his formative years.Of course, no trip to Israel would be complete without a visit to Jerusalem, a city of three world faiths and home to some extraordinary museums, places of worship, and archaeological sites. Staying in Haifa doesn’t mean a day trip to Jerusalem is out of the question either, as long as you’re prepared to make an early start. The actual distance between Jerusalem and Haifa is just 120 km (74 miles), which is really quite manageable. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to get between these two cities, and some step-by-step directions to make your journey run smoothly.Haifa View from Bahai Gardens Terrace.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Bus from Haifa to JerusalemIsrael’s public network is cheap, efficient, and modern, and traveling from Haifa to Jerusalem is easy and inexpensive. Without traffic, the journey should take around 1 hour 40 minutes. There are different bus stations at which you can catch an Egged bus (Israel’s national bus line) including Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform, Hof HaCarmel, and the Technion/visitors station.HaMifratz central bus station is the main bus station of the Haifa Bay district. It is next to Haifa's central railway station (see below under the ‘train’ section) and also the Lev HaMifratz shopping mall.Egged bus from Haifa to Jerusalem (№960) leaves from Floor 3 Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform bus station, every 20 minutes. It takes, on average, 1 hour and 44 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs 36 NIS (11 USD).Hof HaCarmel is close to the sea and Haifa’s central bus station. It serves local buses within the city and all Egged buses heading south. Passengers can ask for a free transfer to urban buses when they buy their inter-city ticket to continue from one central bus station to the other one, or into the city. FromHof HaCarmelbus 947 runs less frequently but is also a direct service, taking just under 2 hours. Again, it costs around 36 NIS.Technion - the Israeli Institute of Technology has a visitors center and buses run from there.From the Technion University, it is possible to take the 796 to Mishmar HaGvul junction, walk 3 minutes then catch the 942 to Jerusalem. All buses alight at Yitzhak Navon, the central bus station in Jerusalem, which is adjacent to the city’s light railway (the best way to travel around Jerusalem). Haifa Bay View from Bahai Gardens. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin2. Trainfrom Haifa to JerusalemTaking the train from Haifa to Jerusalem is an excellent way to travel - Israeli trains are comfortable and modern and the service is frequent - every half an hour. At present, it is necessary to change trains at either Tel Aviv Savidor or Ben Gurion Airport stations - there is a connection time of around 11 minutes - before continuing on to Jerusalem. The journey, in general, takes between 1 hour and 42 minutes to 2 hours. Most tourists will wish to alight at Jerusalem’s main train station, Yitzhak Navon. Spacious and modern, it is conveniently located on Jaffa Road, next to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station and the light railway (which runs every 3-5 minutes, both to downtown Jerusalem and the Damascus Gate, in the Old City).Payment can be made by buying a ticket from the cashier's office, by booking through the Israel Railways website, using a green Rav Kav card loaded with pre-paid credit (which can be purchased from any station and many pharmacies and stores in Israel), or the Rav Kav mobile telephone app. The cost of a regular one-way ticket is 42 NIS (around 13 USD). Trains begin running at approximately 5.30 am and the last train leaves Haifa at approximately 21.30, arriving in Jerusalem two hours later (11.30 pm).Trains depart from three stations within Haifa itself - Center HaShmona, Bat Galim, and Hof HaCarmel. The largest of these is HaShmona which is situated at Plumer Square, on Independence Road. The station itself was built by the British under the Mandate, in the Bauhaus style, and opened in 1937.Bat Galim was Haifa’s major train station from 1975 until the early 2000s. It is within walking distance of the port and also the city’s Rambam hospital. Hof HaCarmel - located next to the Carmel Beach central bus station. Situated on Sakharov street - this is the city’s busiest train station. It is within walking distance of two shopping malls and the MATAM high-tech park. The train in Israel does not run between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening (two hours before Shabbat commences and an hour after it ends).Interior of the Israeli train.Photo by Lital Bamnulker on Unsplash3. Getting from Haifa to Jerusalem by TaxiTaxis are plentiful in Israel and it should not be difficult to find one to take you to Jerusalem. You can either ask your hotel concierge to book one for you or call one of the numerous operators in the Haifa area. You should look to pay somewhere between 700-800 NIS (215-250 USD). One of the most popular companies to use is BookTaxi.4. Getting from Haifa to Jerusalem with Private TransferPrivate transfers are very easy to arrange in Israel but it's advisable to book them through a trustworthy Israeli tour operator, who has contacts within the industry and can ensure you will be put in touch with a reputable and honest operator. Once you are satisfied with the quote, you will be charged by credit card and all matters forthwith will be handled by the tour operator, giving you complete peace of mind.At Bein Harim, we are always happy to help obtain quotes for people visiting Israel who need a private taxi - please call us or send us your details on our ‘Contact Us’ form and we will get back to you promptly, with a competitive offer.Taxis in East Jerusalem.Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash5. Israel Shore Excursions from Haifa PortHaifa is becoming an incredibly popular destination for international cruise liners, and if you have a full day on land, traveling to Jerusalem is a wonderful idea. A ship-to-shore excursion to Jerusalem is really worth considering - you will be picked up at Haifa port by a private guide and whisked off to Jerusalem, giving you time to see world-famous spots, historical and religious landmarks, and even walk on the Mount of Olives. You’ll have a comfortable and interesting experience, and it will all be timed perfectly so you’ll return to Haifa before your ship leaves the port.6. Getting from Haifa to Jerusalem with a rental carRenting a car in Israel is a popular way to see the country. Rental charges are not exorbitant and using a car to get around gives you a level of freedom that nothing else can. Whilst parking can be a challenge in Jerusalem (and it may be advisable to pay for a spot for the day), it’s a fast way to get you from one city to the next. Taking Route 90 (Yitzhak Rabin Highway) will usually take about 2 hours, as long as there is not too much traffic on the road.Popular rental hire companies in Israel include Eldan, Hertz, Shlomo Sixt, and Thrifty, and, on average, renting a car costs around 260 NIS per day. All are convenient to work with, accessible, and competitively priced, and if you shop around beforehand you can get some great deals.View of Jerusalem Old City.Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
Par Sarah Mann

How to Get from Haifa to Tel Aviv

If you’re visiting Israel, whether it’s for the first time or the tenth, the chances are you aren’t going to want to stay in one place. And why should you? Israel has it all - beaches, archaeological sites, wineries, places of worship, nature trails, mountains, deserts and so much more besides.View of Bahai Gardens, Haifa.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTo give you an idea of the size of Israel, it’s about equivalent to the US state of New Jersey or half the size of Switzerland. Its total area is 22.145 square km (8.630 square miles) of which 21. 671 km is land. Israel is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Egypt to the southwest, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.And something else that’s really great about travel in Israel is that the country has a highly developed infrastructure - highways and public transportation in Israel are both modern and efficient, making it easy to move around - and reach one end of the country from the other - quickly and with not too much effort. This means that even if you’re just in the country for a few days, you can see several areas without wasting too much of your precious time.In this article, we’ll be looking at how to get from Haifa to Tel Aviv. Haifa is the ‘capital’ of the north of the country and a real Mediterranean city, perched on the slopes of the lovely Mount Carmel. Historically a port city, and today very mixed (Jews and Arabs continue to live and work together here) it’s a lovely place to visit or even spend a few days.Within the city itself there is lots to explore - the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood, with its bustling market and small alleys, the German Colony (home to the German Templar movement, over a century ago) and, of course, the world-famous Bahai Gardens (affording spectacular views of the city), with its perfectly manicured lawns and shimmering gold dome. Haifa Maritime Museum, Israel.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinOutside Haifa, less than an hour’s drive from the city you can find nature reserves, the Crusader City of Acre, the Herodian ruins of Caesarea, Druze villages, charming vineyards, rustic zimmers (upmarket ‘cabin style’ accommodation, usually in pastoral settings), Nazareth (where Jesus spent many of his early years) and the Sea of Galilee. And if you want to head as far north as possible, there’s also Rosh Hanikra, with its spectacular caves, close to quiet and pristine beaches. Of course, we haven’t yet mentioned Tel Aviv - Israel’s largest and most lively city, in the heart of the country, close to Ben Gurion airport and also situated on the shores of the Mediterranean. Just 92 km (50 miles) separates the two cities, so traveling between the two is really very easy - whether you want to go for a few hours, make a day of it or take a mini-break in the ‘White City’ giving you time to explore its cafes, boutiques, Bauhaus architecture, and excellent restaurants.Below, we’d like to give you some detailed information on the different ways to make the journey - taking the bus from Haifa to Tel Aviv, catching a train, a private or shared taxi, using a private transfer, opting for a shore excursion from your cruise ship or simply renting a car. This will give you a better idea of how to plan, for when you arrive in Israel and start planning your trip around the country. The distance from Tel Aviv to Haifa is approximately 94 km.The Bahai Temple in Haifa.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin1. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv by BusIsrael’s bus service is modern, comfortable, inexpensive, and reasonably efficient. Traveling from Haifa to Tel Aviv by bus is a popular option since buses leave regularly. If there is no traffic on the road, the journey should take between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs 24 NIS (approx. $7.50).Haifa Bus StationsThere are two different bus stations at which you can catch an Egged bus (Israel’s national bus line) including Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform and Hof HaKarmel station. HaMifratz central bus station is the main bus station of the Haifa Bay district. It is next to Haifa's central railway station (see below under the ‘train’ section) and also the Lev HaMifratz shopping mall.Egged bus 910 leaves Haifa Merkazit Hamifrats/Inter-City Platform bus station from Floor 3, every 20 minutes and runs directly to Tel Aviv Central bus station. It takes between 60-90 minutes and a one-way ticket costs 21 NIS (6,5 USD). You can pay the driver in cash when boarding or use your Rav Kav Card. View of Haifa Bay from the top terrace of Bahai Gardens.Photo credit: © ShutterstockIt will drop you directly at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station (see below). It is also possible to alight on the Namir Road, at the Arlozorov (Savidor) bus station, if you are heading to the north (rather than south or central) Tel Aviv. Buses can also drop you further down, at the Azrieli Centre (ideal for connections with the HaShalom railway station).The green Rav Kav cards are used widely in Israel - they can be purchased either at bus and train stations or stores and pharmacies in cities and towns. It is possible either to pre-pay specific amounts (with cash or credit cards) or purchase daily/monthly passes. For more information, take a look at the official Rav Kav website.From Hof HaKarmel, bus number 910 can also be caught. Also known as the Carmel Beach bus station, it opened in 2003. Passengers are entitled to receive a free transfer to urban buses when they buy their intercity ticket to continue from one central bus station to the other one, or into the city.Banana Beach,Tel Aviv.Photo by Daniel Klein on UnsplashTel Aviv Bus StationsTel Aviv’s Central Bus Station is located in the south of the city on Levinsky Street. The 910 bus alights at the seventh floor and from there it is possible either to take a private taxi, a yellow van shared taxi / monit sherut (see below) or Dan local buses to your destination. The Levinsky bus station is a gateway to cities around Israel, and also operates buses that run every two hours down to Eilat, for those wishing to connect on for their trip to Petra, Jordan. Tel Aviv’s second bus station is in the north of the city, on the corner of the Namir Road and Arlozorov streets, next to the Savidor Railway Station. It is close to the Ramat Gan Bourse, as well as a half an hour walk to the beachfront. Many local buses run from this station around the city, as well as out to Ramat Aviv and the university, as well as intercity buses onto Jerusalem and Beer Sheva.2. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv by TrainTaking the train from Haifa to Tel Aviv is highly recommended. It’s a fast, frequent and very efficient way to travel and trains leave every 20 to 30 minutes, making it easy to change your plans at the last minute. And because, on Israel Railways, you can buy a ticket at the last minute and it won’t cost you any more than if you book it in advance, you don’t even have to worry if you’re delayed - simply take the next train!The journey from Haifa to Tel Aviv takes approximately 1 hour 4 minutes on the fastest train, which runs directly between the two cities. There are also slower trains, which take up to 1 hour and 26 minutes. A one-way ticket costs 31 NIS (approx $9.50) and trains run from 5.25 am to 11.35 pm. A train is also an excellent option if you’re time conscious since you won’t have to factor in traffic jams and tailbacks which, unfortunately, are very common on the main highway during commuter hours.Yachts in Jaffa Port.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHaifa Train StationsThere are three train stations from which you can begin your journey from Haifa to Tel Aviv - Center HaShmona, Bat Galim, and Hof HaKarmel. HaShmona is the largest of the three and is located on Independence Road, at Plumer Square. The station opened in 1937 and was built by the British (under the Mandate) and has a Bauhaus design.Bat Galim was Haifa’s primary train station from 1975 until the early 2000s. If you are staying close to the port or coming from Rambam - the city hospital - this station is within walking distance. Hof HaKarmel situated on Sakharov Street is the city’s busiest train station. It is conveniently located next to the Carmel Beach central bus station and walking distance from the MATAM high-tech park.Payment can be made by buying a ticket from the cashier's office, by booking through the Israel Railways website, using a green Rav Kav card loaded with pre-paid credit (which can be purchased from any station and many pharmacies and stores in Israel), or the Rav Kav mobile telephone app. Please note, much like the bus services, there are no trains in Israel on the Jewish sabbath. From two hours before Shabbat commences (Friday afternoon) and an hour after Shabbat ends (Saturday evening) public transport in Israel does not run. Israeli train.Photo by John Adeoye on UnsplashTel Aviv Train StationsSavidor (Arlozorov) - this is located at the intersection of Namir Road and Arlozorov street and is next to the bus station, providing quick access to local buses. From here, it's a quick journey to Tel Aviv University and north Tel Aviv. HaShalom is the train station closest to the Azriel Towers and many large offices in the city center. HaHaganah train station is Tel Aviv’s most southern railway station and is located about 400 meters from the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station (Tachana Merkazit).3.Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv byPrivate Taxi / Shared Taxi (Monit Sherut)Taxis in Israel are easy to come by - you can either hail them in the street, use one of the many operators in Haifa or Tel Aviv (ask your hotel concierge or check online) or book a taxi from Haifa to Tel Aviv directly through an app such as Gett. You should look to pay somewhere between 700-900 NIS ($215 to $280) for the drive.Another useful service in Israel is the monit sherut from Haifa to Tel Aviv (in Hebrew this means ‘ shared taxi’). These little yellow vans are operated privately and seat 10 passengers. They run between cities and you simply get in and pay the driver. The only ‘catch’ is that they don’t leave until the van is full, so if you’re the first one in you might have to wait a few minutes. The upside to the monit sheruts is that because they are not state-operated, they operate on the Jewish sabbath. They are an excellent option for those who wish to travel late Friday or on Saturday. Sheruts in Haifa can be found in HaNevi’im street in the Hadar neighborhood and run to Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Station. Expect to pay a few shekels more than you would for a bus ticket.Cozy streets of Old Jaffa.Photo credit: © Shutterstock4. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv with a Private TransferPrivate transfers are a comfortable way to travel between cities and in Israel they are easy to arrange. However, we do advise that you book them through a trustworthy tour operator - this means you’re likely to get a fair price and an honest driver. Once you have been given the price and are comfortable with it, your credit card will be charged and everything afterwards will be taken care of, meaning you won’t have to deal with any aspect of the journey. At Bein Harim, we are always happy to help with private transfers in Israel - please call us or send us your details on our ‘Contact Us’ form and we will get back to you promptly, with a competitive offer.5. Israel Shore Excursions from Haifa PortHaifa is a famous port and, as the years have passed, has become an increasingly popular destination for a cruise. So if your ship is stopping in northern Israel for the day, making a trip to Tel Aviv is a fantastic idea. With shore excursions from Haifa Port, the moment you disembark, you will be met by a private guide and set off quickly for Tel Aviv.Just over an hour later, traffic permitting, you’ll be at your destination, giving you several hours to explore this buzzy, cosmopolitan city.Take a stroll along Rothschild Boulevard and admire the Bauhaus architecture, wander the streets of the charming Neve Tzedek neighborhood, book a tour to the Jaffa flea market or simply stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy lunch at one of the many fantastic restaurants in the city. With a ship-to-shore excursion from Haifa to Tel Aviv, you can really make the most of your free day and, rest assured, we’ll get you back up north in plenty of time before your scheduled departure.Lifeguard Station, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Getting from Haifa to Tel Aviv with a Rental carRenting a car in Israel is an excellent way to see the country, leaving you in control of when and where you travel. It is not incredibly expensive to rent a car (indeed, prices are quite competitive) and the freedom it gives you is unparalleled - you can travel before dawn breaks, on Shabbat, and to the tiniest villages in the Galilee and Negev desert that public transport won’t get you to.Parking in Tel Aviv, however, can be an enormous headache so if you are planning on driving from Haifa to Tel Aviv, think about either paying to leave the car in a lot (although it won’t be cheap). Alternatively, there is some free parking up at Reading, in the north of the city, near to the Tel Aviv Port and you can then take a bus, electric scooter, taxi, or even bike into the city.Driving from Haifa to Tel Aviv, via route 90 (Yitzhak Rabin Highway) will take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half (depending on how much traffic you encounter and how fast you drive!) Popular rental hire companies in Israel include Shlomo Sixt, Hertz, Eldan, Thrifty, and, on average, renting a car costs around 260 NIS (80 USD) per day. All of the representatives will speak good English and their hubs are accessible. Take a look beforehand online - if you shop around, there are some great deals to be had.Namal (Tel Aviv Port), Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Par Sarah Mann

How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either in Israel or planning a visit so let’s first say ‘welcome - you’re going to have an amazing time!’ Israel’s relatively small by North American or European standards but it has an enormous amount to offer and, because it doesn’t take hours and hours to drive between cities, that means you’ve got more time to enjoy yourself - whether it's exploring historical sites, wineries, nature parks, pristine beaches, Crusader fortresses or Herodian ruins. A ship dragged anchor at Ashdod, Israel. Photo by Felix Tchverkin on UnsplashThe other thing we should say, off the bat, is that Israel is very well developed in terms of its infrastructure. The roads and highways are in good condition and public transport is pretty cheap and, for the most part, efficient. This means if you don’t want to stay in one place (and most people don’t) you’re going to be able to move around with little fuss and maximise your free time.In this article, we’ll be looking at how to get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, a distance of just 35 km (22 miles). Both cities are situated on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and have fantastic beaches, marinas, boardwalks and plenty of options for lunch and dinner.Tel Aviv, Israel’s biggest, and just a short drive from Ben Gurion airport, is a must-see for any tourist in Israel. Situated, like Ashdod, right on the seashore, it’s full of trendy restaurants, lively bars, cute cafes and charming neighbourhoods, not to mention a wealth of museums, art galleries, theatres and live music venues. So, without a doubt, spending a day (or several!) in the "White City" won’t disappoint.So here below is you plenty of information on the various ways you can travel between these two cities - whether it’s taking a bus from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, booking a train journey, using a private or shared taxi, booking a ship-to-shore excursion from your cruise ship or putting your foot down in a hire car. Once you’ve read through the options, you’ll have a better idea of which one is right for you, so you can plan a trip that suits you.Tel Aviv Beach Promenade.Photo credit: © Shutterstock1. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv by BusIsrael’s bus service is modern, comfortable, inexpensive and reasonably efficient. Taking a bus from Ashdod to Tel Aviv by bus is a good option, with buses running regularly from early in the morning (6 am) until late at night (11 pm). If you don’t travel in rush hour (7-9 am and 4-6 pm) the journey will likely take about 50 minutes. The bus number you need is 320 and is operated by Veola. A one-way ticket from Ashdod to Tel Aviv costs approximately 10 NIS (3 USD) and you can pay the driver as you board. There is also a second bus departing from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, numbered 280, which can drop you at Tel Aviv’s second bus station, in the north of the city.Another popular way to pay for buses (and trains) is by using a Rav Kav card. These small green cards can be purchased easily all over Israel (in all bus and train stations and sometimes in stores and pharmacies). Once you’ve bought one, you can load it with credit or buy a daily/monthly ticket. Just swipe it in front of the electronic device next to the driver, when you board the bus and it will automatically deduct the payment, showing you on the receipt how much credit you have left. For more information, check out the official Rav Kav website.The Ashdod Festival of the Nations and Their Tastes.Photo credit: © Oksana MatsAshdod Central Bus StationThe Ashdod Central Bus station is located on Menachem Begin Boulevard, in the heart of the city, and an 18-minute walk to the Marina. Check inside with information to see which platform the bus departs from (there are signs in English and staff who can point you in the right direction). Tel Aviv Bus StationsTel Aviv’s Central Bus Station (Tachana Merkazit) is located in the south of the city on Levinsky Street. The bus will drop you on the building’s sixth floor and after that, there are a number of possibilities to continue your journey - either by private taxi, shared yellow van taxi, (see below), or the local Dan buses, which run all over the city. The Levinsky bus station is also a gateway to cities around Israel, and also operates buses that run every two hours down to Eilat, for those wishing to travel on, for a trip to Petra, Jordan. Tel Aviv’s second bus station (‘Terminal 2000’) is in the north of the city, on the corner of the Namir Road and Arlozorov streets, conveniently located next door to the city’s Savidor railway station. It is a half an hour walk to the beachfront and you can also take intercity buses on to Jerusalem and Haifa.Saint Peter's Church, Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock2. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv by TrainTaking the train from Ashdod to Tel Aviv is an excellent way to make the trip - it’s fast and efficient and trains leave reverie 15-20 minutes at peak time. The journey itself takes between 50-60 minutes, depending on which of the three Tel Aviv stations. A one-way ticket costs 20 NIS (approx 6 USD) and trains run from 5 am to 11 pm.Ashdod Ad Halom railway station is in the Ad Halom area, near the eastern entrance to the city. The station contains a small beverage and refreshment kiosk and you can buy tickets there from machines (using different language options) or at the counter or online through different smartphone apps. Tel Aviv has three stations - Savidor, HaShalom and HaHaganah. Savidor is situated on the corner of Namir Road and Arlozorov street in the north of the city. It’s next door to the Terminal 2000 bus station (see above). HaShalom is the train station closest to the Azriel Towers and many large offices in the city centre. HaHaganah is Tel Aviv’s most southern railway station and is located about 400 metres from the Tel Aviv (Levinsky) Central Bus Station.The interior of the Israeli train.Photo by Lital Bamnulker on Unsplash3. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv byPrivate TaxiTaking a private taxi in Israel is easy - you can either flag one down in the street, book one through an App (such as Gett) or order one from a reputable taxi firm (your hotel concierge can help you). The cost of a private taxi from Ashdod to Tel Aviv will probably be somewhere between 230-420 NIS (70-130 USD). It is customary to tip the driver 10-15%, depending on how helpful he is. You can also travel from Ashdod to Tel Aviv with a sherut (shared taxi service).4.How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv with a Private transferPrivate transfers are very easy to arrange, but we advise you to book them through a trustworthy tour operator, to ensure you will be put in touch with a reputable and honest operator. You will be given a price and if you are satisfied with it, you can pay by credit card and from then on all matters will be handled expertly by the company and you don’t have to worry about a thing.At Bein Harim Tourism Services, we are always happy to help obtain quotes for people visiting Israel who need a private taxi - please call us or send us your details on our ‘Contact Us’ form and we will get back to you promptly, with a competitive offer.A building inRothschildBoulevard, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Shutterstock5. Shore Excursions from Ashdod PortMaking a shore excursion from Ashdod Port to Tel Aviv is a great way to spend your free day since you can be in Tel Aviv within an hour and have plenty of time to see many of the sights that this buzzy, fashionable city has to offer. With Ashdod Port Cruise Excursions, as soon as you step onto dry land, you will be met by a private guide and within minutes you’ll be in a comfortable vehicle, heading off to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.In less than an hour, all things being equal, you’ll be in the ‘White City’ of Tel Aviv (so named for its fabulous Bauhaus buildings) and the next few hours are yours. There’s so much to do, you won’t be disappointed - stroll along the boardwalk and admire views of the Mediterranean, take a bike tour around the city, or wander along the famous Dizengoff Street, known for its cafes, restaurants and boutique stores.There’s also a number of beautiful small neighbourhoods that are lovely to explore - the Kerem (close to Tel Aviv’s famous Carmel Market), Neve Tzedek (with its charming houses and tiny alleyways) and, of course, Jaffa, one of the world’s oldest cities, famous for its port (where Jonah fled God and, for his trouble, ended up in the belly of a whale), a charming artists quarter and the famous Jaffa flea market, where you can hunt for bargains before eating lunch in one of the many lovely cafes around. Finally, we promise that when you book with Bein Harim we’ll get you back to your ship in good time for your departure. (Just for the record, if you want to travel to Tel Aviv from your cruise ship independently, please note that the bus terminal is about 6 km from the port so walking there is not possible. You can, of course, grab a taxi, (which should cost about 50 NIS (15,5 USD) and take a few minutes) or even bus number 2, which costs 5.30 NIS and will take about 15 minutes.A street in Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv with a Rental a CarRenting a car in Israel is a wonderful way to see the country on your own terms. You can decide how long you want to spend in a city and also stop off on the way if the mood takes you. Prices for car rental in Israel are quite reasonable and, with a car, you have a level of freedom that no other kind of transport affords you. Moreover, since there is no public transport in Israel from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening (the Jewish sabbath), options for moving around are limited - obviously, when you have a car, this is not a problem.Driving from Ashdod to Tel Aviv, via Route 4, without too much traffic should take you around 45-55 minutes. Just bear in mind that parking in Tel Aviv is notoriously difficult to come by - free parking is almost impossible to find and even parking lots can get crowded on weekends. Of course, if you are patient (and ready to pay up!) you will always find somewhere to park but if you want to save money (and hassle) you can always park just outside the city and travel by public transport.One way to do this is to park up in the north of Tel Aviv, near the Tel Aviv Port (Namal, Reading area) where there is some free parking, then just catch a bus/sherut/taxi into town. For the adventurous, there are also bikes and electric scooters that can be rented easily, with just the swipe of a credit card!Well-known rental hire companies in Israel include Eldan, Hertz, Shlomo Sixt, Hertz, Eldan and Thrifty. Prices can be quite competitive and, on average, renting a car should cost you around 260 NIS (80 USD) per day. All of the representatives you encounter will invariably speak good English but you might also want to shop around online beforehand - there are always bargains available so why not take advantage of them?Enjoy your journey!Aerial overview of Tel Aviv Port (Namal parking).Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash
Par Sarah Mann
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