What is the Best Month to go to Jerusalem?

Jerusalem is a fantastic travel destination at any time of year, but each season has its own special charm. In summer, the weather is great, there are special attractions, plus high-season crowds and prices. Fall (autumn) has the Jewish High Holidays. In winter Jerusalem is magical, and what could be better than visiting Bethlehem for a white Christmas. Spring is considered the best time for Jerusalem tours, as the weather is pleasant and there are tons of activities to choose from over the Easter/Passover period.Visiting Jerusalem in Summer (Average Temp 19°-29°C/66.2°-84.2°F)The advantage of a summer vacation in Jerusalem is the warm weather, vibrant atmosphere, fun festivals, and all the city attractions are open. The downside is the heat that can be uncomfortable, high-season hotel prices, and the crowds of tourists. Israeli schools close for July and August, making these the busiest months in Jerusalem.June - Summer in Israel officially starts on the 21st June and lasts until 22nd September. June is the coolest of the summer months. And Israeli kids are still in school, so you can enjoy fewer crowds. The Israel Festival is held in June, with three weeks of performances around the city. In June, you can also catch the spectacular Jerusalem Festival of Light, when light installations are projected on the ancient Old City walls.July - As summer progresses, Jerusalem can experience extremely dry, hot weather, known as khamsin. Thankfully, there are plenty of Jerusalem attractions where you can cool down. For example, the City of David & Underground Jerusalem Tour takes you below ground into the excavated City of David. You can also cool down with a walk through ancient water channels to the Siloam Pool. When the sun goes down, the temperatures drop, and it’s time to relax at the Jerusalem Wine Festival.August - This is the peak tourist season, when hotel prices are at their highest, Israeli kids are out of school, and the city streets are bustling with activity. The high season brings with it a huge choice of activities, Jerusalem tours and festivals. The International Film Festival, the Puppet Theater Festival, and the Jerusalem Beer Festival are all held in August. Despite the crowds and the heat, for some tourists, August is the most convenient time to visit Jerusalem, and offers the largest selection of activities.Tourists on a Jerusalem Tour. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinVisiting Jerusalem in Fall (Average Temp 12°-28°C/53.6°-82.4°F)Jerusalem has perfect weather in the fall, and fewer crowds. Nature-lovers can enjoy fall foliage in the nature reserves around Jerusalem. The disadvantage of visiting Jerusalem in the fall is that you need to plan your trip according to the Jewish High Holidays. During the High Holidays, Jerusalem hotels prices rise, there are shorter open hours, and a few national holidays when the city closes down. The Jewish holidays are a bonus for visitors who want to experience a genuine Jewish celebration.September - Summer often extends into September, with daily temperatures hovering around 22°C/72°F-28°C/82°F. The dates of the High Holidays are determined by the Jewish calendar, so they can be in September or October. In the Jewish month of Tishrei, there is Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year); ten days later there is Yom Kippur (Day of atonement), and five days after that is Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), a week-long celebration. Israel observes Rosh Hashanah and the first and last days of Sukkot as religious national holidays, when almost all attractions close. On Yom Kippur, the country closes down completely for 24 hours, obviously, no Israel tours are operated then. There is hardly any traffic on the roads and almost all businesses are closed. In the week of Sukkot Israeli kids are on vacation and there are tons of special events. If you plan to visit Israel during September book your flight well in advance, as Israel welcomes masses of Jewish tourists during this period. Probably the best solution not to get lost in the chaos of the Old City labyrinth crammed full with tourists would be to join a guided Jerusalem tour. Rosh Hashana decoration in the Old City, Jerusalem. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinOctober - The temperatures cool down, evenings become chilly, and there can be several days of rain in October. The Manofim Contemporary Arts Festival is held in October. Depending on the Jewish calendar, Sukkot can be in October, and you can enjoy special events like the Jerusalem March. Outside of the High Holidays, Jerusalem hotel prices are low and together with the comfortable weather, this can be a good time to visit Jerusalem. You can explore the Jewish Quarterand admire the traditional festive decorations with Jerusalem Old City Private Jewish Tour.November - By November, winter is in the air, and the nights are cold but days are still sunny with average daytime temperatures around 15°C/59°F-19°C/66°F. This is great for sightseeing if you prefer cooler temperatures and don’t mind the occasional rain. From the last days of October, through to the end of November, Jerusalem’s Old City hosts a magnificent Knights’ Festival. The streets are decorated with medieval pageantry, and stages are set up for shows of jousting, puppets, light instillations, and more. This is one of the top annual family events in Jerusalem. This would probably be the best month for a walking In the Footsteps of Jesus TourThe Jerusalem Knights Festival. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinVisiting Jerusalem in Winter (Average Temp 6°-14°C/42.8°-57.2°F)Don’t rule out a trip to Jerusalem in winter, you might even be lucky enough to have a white Christmas. In winter, Israel celebrates Hannukah, the Jewish festival of light, and Jerusalem’s streets are decorated for the occasion. Christian pilgrims should take a tour to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. Winter is the best time for budget travelers to visit the capital when hotel prices are at their lowest.December - December temperatures in Jerusalem average between 6°C/43°F and 14°C/57°F. The weather can be unpredictable and in the past has reached 29°C/83°F as well as -1°C/30°F! December is the month with the highest likelihood of snow. The Jewish Film Festival and Jerusalem Jazz Festival are held in December. During the week-long Hanukkah holiday Israeli kids are on vacation, and all attractions stay open. Hanukkah is characterized by candelabras displayed in the windows of all Jewish households, and delicious jam doughnuts sold on every street corner! Christmas is celebrated with moving religious services in the city’s churches, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A highlight for most Christian touristsis attending a midnight Mass in Bethlehem on the Christmas Eve in Bethlehem Tour. New Year is celebrated in Jerusalem with parties in nightclubs, restaurants.Christmas Tree in Bethlehem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockJanuary - Although January is Jerusalem’s coldest month, it is still mild compared to climates in other parts of the world. Temperatures hover around 12°C and can even get as low as 4°C. January has an average of nine days of rain. Israeli Arbor Day (Tu b’Shvat) is marked by events and tours celebrating nature. This is the best season to try Israel’s famous citrus fruit, which comes into season in winter. If you want a laid-back, quiet trip, visit Jerusalem in January when there are fewer crowds and lower hotel rates.February- By February the weather has warmed up and most of the month you can expect clear skies with a chill in the air, and an average of eight days of rain. It has been known to snow in January and February (including in 2021). During the four-week-long Shaon Horef Festival, Jerusalem streets come alive with exciting cultural events. February is a great time to explore the surrounding area and see blooming wildflowers at the Darom Adom (Red South) festival in the northern Negev. If you travel south from Jerusalem in winter, be aware of flash floods and sinkholes that can happen in the Dead Sea region when there is heavy rain. Consider that when planning a tour to Masada or travelling to Ein Gedi.Church of the Holy Sepulchre in winter. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinVisiting Jerusalem in Spring (Average Temp 9°-25°C/48.2°-77°F)Together with fall, spring is one of the best times to visit Jerusalem. The weather is perfect for sightseeing. Spring is a time of festive celebrations including Purim, Passover, and Easter. Spring is not considered the high season (except for Easter week and Passover week), so you may find some special hotel deals and low-cost flights.March - As Jerusalem shakes off the last of the winter's cold, spring can be felt in the air. March is the coldest of the spring months in Jerusalem, with an average of 6 days of rainfall. You can visit the Jerusalem Arts Festival in March, see the Jerusalem Marathon, and enjoy the colorful Purim celebrations. The Jewish festival of Purim is celebrated with fancy dress costumes, parties, and parades.Guide on a Jerusalem Old and New Tour operated by Bein Harim. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinApril - The weather begins to warm up, and although the nights are chilly, the days are perfect for outdoor excursions. Towards the end of March or the beginning of April, Christians celebrate Easter. Tourists can take the Jerusalem Palm Sunday Procession Tour, and join the traditional procession from the Mount of Olives following the route Jesus took when he entered Jerusalem.Easter services are held in the magnificent Holy Sepulchre Church and Baptists head for the Garden Tomb to mark the resurrection of Christ.Pasover is celebrated in late March or early April. Most businesses are closed on the national religious holidays at the beginning and end of the week-long Passover holiday. During Passover, Israeli kids are on vacation, and there is a festive atmosphere with plenty of activities. But it also means a week when bread, and other baked goods, are not sold in most Israeli stores.The Palm Sunday Procession, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Jenny Ehrlich May- As Jerusalem eases into summer, the temperatures average 25°C during the day and 16°C at night. The comfortable weather makes May the perfect time to explore the rural areas around Jerusalem and even take anexcursion to the Dead Sea. During spring the countryside is covered with a carpet of colorful wildflowers. And it is great weather for picnics in the park.In May, Muslim tourists can join the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in Jerusalem. The end of Ramadan is marked with feasts of delicious Middle Eastern delicacies and communal prayer in Jerusalem mosques, includingAl-Aqsa MosqueonTemple Mount. On Jerusalem Day, the city is festooned with decorations and flags. In late April or early May, the country celebrates Israel Independence Day with street parties, pop-up markets, and colorful firework displays.Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhen Should You Visit Jerusalem?Jerusalem is a great place to visit at any time of year; each season has its advantages and disadvantages. If you want a cool climate and likelihood of snow, with all the fun of the festive season visit in winter. For time outdoors in the sun, high-season crowds and prices, visit Jerusalem in the summer. If you’d like to catch some special deals, explore the surrounding areas, and see Jerusalem without crowds, then you should visit in spring or fall. Plan your Jerusalem vacation today, book Jerusalem tours, and no matter whenever you visit, you won’t be disappointed.Tourist at the roof of Austrian Hospice enjoying the view of the Old City, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Petal Mashraki
7 min

The Complete Two Week Israel Tour Itinerary

You’ve decided to visit Israel, that’s great! Now you need to plan your itinerary and the Israel tours you want to take. To cover all of Israel’s stunning sites from north to south you literally need to live here, but no panic, we have prepared a two-week Israel tour itinerary for you to enjoy the musts. The Holy Land is steeped with ancient history. There is a biblical landmark at every turn, and delicious Mediterranean food to tempt your taste buds in every city. This small yet vibrant country will surprise you with a holistic traveling experience.These are our recommendations for the Israel gems to visit and the top activities Israel has to offer.The Wailing Wall. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 1: Welcome to IsraelAfter landing in Israel, spend your first day settling in and exploring Tel Aviv. Use this free day to see a local show, take a walk in Yarkon Park, or relax on Tel Aviv’s stunning beaches that stretch for 14km. Tel Aviv has excellent markets and some world-class museums. Indulge in a delicious meal at one of Tel Aviv’s top chef restaurants or discover the local street food. On your first day in Israel, you could take a short excursion to nearby attractions, like the Ramat Gan Zoo, or the marina in Herzliya. At the southernmost point of Tel Aviv’s coastline is the old port city of Jaffa. Here you can wander the narrow stone alleyways, discover one-off art galleries, hunt for bargains in the Jaffa flea market, or take in the sea views.Overnight: Tel AvivZodiac Signs Fountain, Jaffa. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinDay 2: Tel Aviv City TourThere is no better way to get to know a city than on two wheels. Today, join a Tel Aviv Bike Tour for an urban adventure. Cycle through Tel Aviv’s well-known streets and see some of the hidden gems. The bike tour takes you to Tel Aviv Port, a vibrant repurposed space for recreation and entertainment. Ride your bike along Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade, and through the scenic Yarkon Park. Your guide will point out top landmarks, cultural sites, and some of the city’s famous Bauhaus buildings. You’ll see Rabin Square where Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated, and ride along chic Rothschild Boulevard. After today’s bike tour, you’ll know Tel Aviv’s back alleys as well as its most famous streets and monuments.Overnight: Tel AvivOptional tours for this day:Jaffa Flea Market tour, Graffiti and Street Art TourSee allTel Aviv toursTel Aviv Beach Promenade. Photo credit:© Dmitry MishinDay 3: Highlights of Israel’s Coastal PlainToday is spent visiting some of the top tourist attractions along Israel’s Mediterranean coast. If you prefer comfort and hassle-free travel, this Caesarea, Acre, and Rosh Hanikra Guided Group Tour will be a smart choice. You will visit the ancient Roman ruins in Caesarea, and see the perfectly preserved Roman amphitheater. About 2,000 years ago, Herod the Great built an incredible port city at Caesarea. Nowadays, the Caesarea Archaeological Park holds the remains of a palace, bathhouse, hippodrome, and Roman temples. The next stop is the Old City of Acre. Walk through Acre’s traditional Middle Eastern market and see Ottoman-era structures like the exquisite Al-Jazzar Mosque. Admire the undergroundCrusader city built by the Knights Templar. Continue to the northernmost point on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. Take a cable car down into the breathtaking limestone sea caves of Rosh HaNikra, and see waves crashing against openings in the rock.Overnight: Tel AvivOptional tours for this day:Acre and the Western Galilee Private Tour,The Carmel Coast and Druze Village Private TourSee allCaesarea Tours Rosh haNikra caves. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinDay 4: Highlights of the GalileeLeave Tel Aviv and travel north to the heavenly countryside of Galilee. Start your trip in Christ’s childhood hometown, Nazareth. If you join an organizedNazareth and Sea of Galilee Touryou will have a chance tovisit the magnificent Annunciation Church(the place where the Angel Gabriel told Mary of her future son) with a guide who will share its amazing history with you. In the crypt of St. Joseph’s Church, you will see the traditional site of Joseph’s carpentry and the Holy family home. Leaving Nazareth, continue toCana, where Jesus turned water into wine and the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Stop to see the excavated home of Saint Peter at Capernaum. And visit nearby Tabgha, the site of the Church of the Multiplication. Drive along the shore of the Sea of Galilee past Tiberias, a major city established in 20BC. Don't forget to make a stop where the Sea of Galilee meets the Jordan River, at the well-known baptismal site of Yardenit.Overnight: Galilee kibbutz hotelOptional tours for this day:Sea of Galilee, Cana, Magdala & Mt. of Beatitudes Tour, Mt. Tabor, Tsipori, Beit Shearim Private TourSee allGalilee and Golan Heights toursSt. Joseph's Church, Nazareth. Photo credit:©Dmitry MishinDay 5: Golan Heights Tour from Tel AvivTravel to the Golan Heights mountain range which forms a natural border between Syria and Israel. The mountains are covered with woodlands, vineyards, farms, and quaint villages. YourGolan Heights tour takes you through picturesque scenery, past Hamat Gader hot springs, and to the Shalom Observatory. From here, you can see Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Make the next stop at Katzrin, a settlement known as the “Capital of the Golan.” Explore Katzrin’s ancient synagogue and excavated 3rd to 6th-century Jewish village. Visit Katzrin’s Golan Antiquities Museum and learn about the nearby Second Temple Era city of Gamla. Continue along the Golan Heights to Mount Bental. Once a Syrian outpost, this historical site still has trenches and bunkers from the 1967 Six-Day War. Throughout your tour of the Golan, you will have stunning views across Galilee.Overnight: JerusalemOptional tours for this day:Golan Heights Private Tour,Golan Heights, and Safed TourSee allGalilee and Golan One Day Group toursGolan Heights. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 6: Free Day in JerusalemThis is a free day to explore Jerusalem. You can visit the famous Mahane Yehuda market, or maybe wander the lanes of Jerusalem’s Old City. If you love finding hidden gems, then visit the Montefiore Windmill, the American Colony Hotel, or the Museum on the Seam. Do some shopping in the huge Malcha Mall, the chic Mamilla Mall, or the Old City bazaar.Ein Kerem is one of Jerusalem’s most beautiful neighborhoods where stone houses drip with bougainvillea and quaint cottages have been turned into restaurants and art galleries. Ein Kerem is the traditional hometown of Saint John the Baptist, and this village within a city has several impressive churches. You might decide to use your free day to relax, or even go hiking in one of the spectacular nature reserves around Jerusalem.Overnight: JerusalemJerusalem market. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinDay 7: Full-Day Jerusalem TourOn day seven of this Israel tour itinerary, we recommend seeing the highlights of Jerusalem. Start with a view of Jerusalem’s cityscape from Mount Scopus. Next, enter the Old City and explore the top attractions (better with a guided Jerusalem tour) including the excavated ancient Roman Cardo, and the Western Wall. The wall (or Kotel) was once part of the Jewish Temple that stood on Temple Mount and is the most sacred Jewish site in the world. In the Christian Quarter, follow the iconic Via Dolorosa, as Jesus did when he walked towards Golgotha. The Via Dolorosa ends at the Holy Sepulcher Church, which is always a highlight for Christian travelers. This breathtaking 4th-century structure encompasses the final Stations of the Cross, including the site of Christ’s crucifixion, and His burial tomb. Leaving the Old City, the tour takes you for a drive through modern-day Jerusalem past important landmarks. The final stop on today’s tour is at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.Overnight: JerusalemOptional toursfor this day:In the Footsteps of Jesus Tour,Jerusalem Temple Mount & Dome of the Rock TourSee allJerusalem toursVia Dolorosa. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 8: Visit the West BankVisit Bethlehem and Jericho from Jerusalem - better with a West Bank Tourthat will take you through the Judean Hills and past the Inn of the Good Samaritan. On route, you’ll see the Monastery of Saint George clinging to the cliffs of Wadi Kelt. Visit the biblical city of Jericho, built in c.8,000BC. According to the Book of Joshua, the Israelites made the walls of Jericho fall by marching around the city for seven days. The tour stops at the famous sycamore tree climbed by Zacchaeus who was trying to get a better view of Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). Leaving Jericho, continue to Bethlehem where the first stop is at Manger Square. Here you can enter the 4th-century Church of the Nativity and see the Holy Grotto where Christ was born. For Christian tourists, this is usually the most emotional part of the trip. Also visit the Church of Saint Catherine, where the annual Christmas Eve Mass is held. The return journey to Jerusalem takes you past Shepherds’ Field, where the shepherds received the news of Christ’s birth on the first Christmas Eve.Overnight: JerusalemOptional toursfor this day:Bethlehem Half Day Tour,Jericho, Dead Sea, and the Jordan River TourSee all West Bank toursNativity Church, Bethlehem. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 9: Masada and the Dead Sea from JerusalemOn day nine, head to one of the most popular destinations in Israel - to southern Israel. The first stop is at Masada, a flat-topped mountain, where King Herod built a fortress over 2,000 years ago. You can ride the cable car to the summit and tour the remains of Herod’s fortress. If you choose to join a Masada guided tour,your guide will tell you the moving story of Jewish rebels who made the last stand against the Romans in the 70AD Jewish-Roman War. The archaeological remains on Masada are incredible, and the views overlooking the Dead Sea are unforgettable. The second half of the day is spent at the Dead Sea; a bucket list item for most tourists. This unique body of water is nine times saltier than the ocean and packed with minerals. You’ll get time to relax on the beach, float in the water, and smother your skin with Dead Sea mud for a natural facial.Overnight: Ein BokekOptional toursfor this day:Full-Day Masada Private Tour,The Dead Sea Relaxation TourSee allMasada and Dead Sea Day ToursThe Dead Sea. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 10: Free Day on the Shore of the Dead Sea (Ein Bokek)One day isn’t enough to indulge in the delights of the Dead Sea. So, use this leisure day to spend more time lazing on the beach, getting a beauty treatment at one of the Dead Sea spas, or exploring the surrounding area. Nearby is the Ein Gedi desert oasis with lush vegetation, idyllic streams, and waterfalls. Other attractions in the Dead Sea region include Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered and the salt caves of Sodom.Overnight: Ein BokekThe Dead Sea Spa. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 11: Free Day in EilatToday we recommend you to leave the Dead Sea and travel further south to Israel’s most popular beach city, Eilat. If you ask any Israeli where they’d like to spend their vacation the answer will be Eilat. This seaside resort on the shore of the Red Sea offers all the indulgent pleasures you’d expect from a top resort destination. Try watersports, dive among the coral reefs, or even swim with dolphins. Eilat is a tax-free city, so everything is cheaper! There are several excellent malls, including the Ice Mall, which has an ice rink in the center. A free day means time on the Coral beach, shopping, and maybe a camel ride. End the day with a sunset cruise, and a sumptuous fish dinner. Eilat is also known for its beach bars, laid-back atmosphere, and dynamic nightlife.Overnight: EilatEilat. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 12: Petra Tour from EilatAs part of this complete Israel tour itinerary, you also need to see Jordan’s top attraction - the ancient city of Petra, probably, better with an organized 1-day tour to Petra.Start day twelve early with a drive across the Arava border to the Kingdom of Jordan. Thousands of years ago the Nabataean people created Petra as a desert oasis that became a prosperous stop along the ancient Arabian trade routes. The buildings, ornately decorated temples, and tombs of Petra were carved out of red rock cliffs. Take a walk along Petra’s colonnaded main street, and be amazed by the rock facades that tower above you. On the return journey to Eilat, you’ll travel through Wadi Rum, a desert wilderness made famous by Lawrence of Arabia. There may be time for a brief panoramic tour of Jordan’s Red Sea city, Aqaba before returning to Eilat.Overnight: EilatOptional tours for this day:Petra One Day Tour, Small Group,Petra and Wadi Rum, 2 Days TourSee all Jordan tours from EilatPetra. Photo credit: © ShutterstockDay 13: Timna, Mitzpe RamonToday leave Eilat and travel north through the heart of southern Arava, to Timna Park. Historical archaeological sites and unique geological features cover Timna’s unique landscape. The park is best known for its strange natural rock formations created millions of years ago by tectonic activity when the Great Rift Valley was formed. Timna is home to the world’s earliest copper mines which were used over 6,000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians. At the heart of the park is Timna Lake where there are tourist facilities and activities. After an exhilarating day, the tour continues north to Tel Aviv passed Mitzpe Ramon, a town perched on the edge of the incredible Ramon Crater.The 40km-long crater was formed by natural erosion, over 220 million years ago. Standing on the rim of the crater and looking out across the Negev Desert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.Overnight:Tel AvivMountain goat in Mitzpe Ramon. Photo credit: © Jenny EhrlichDay 14: Tel-Aviv-Your Last Day in Israel, Free Day and DepartureWhat an experience! On your last day in Israel, you can relax in your Tel Aviv hotel and reflect on the Israel tours that have taken you from one end of the country to the other. Pack your bags at your leisure, and prepare to head off to Ben Gurion airport. Depending on the time of your flight, you might want to buy last-minute souvenirs or gifts for the family. Use this day to visit any places you still want to see, enjoy the Tel Aviv beaches, explore the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, or tour the Carmel market. Then, it's time to head off to Ben Gurion Airport and begin your journey home.Carmel Market. Photo credit:© Dmitry MishinIf you wish to cover the majority of these sites in Israel, go ahead and book aclassical 10-day Israel tour. If you are interested in visiting Jordan as well, check thisIsrael and Jordan Tour Package, 12 Days.You can see the country’s top attractions without having to worry about transportation, open hours, or hotel bookings. You’ll have a mix of free days to explore, and tour days with a knowledgeable guide to show you the sites. With this tour itinerary, you can see the entire country.
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10 min

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.
By Petal Mashraki
5 min

A Guide to Israel’s Holy Sites

Whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other faith, Israel’s holy sites should be part of your itinerary. There are sacred places spread across Israel, from Galilee in the north to Jericho in the south. This is where Biblical events unfolded and where every place has some mystical, religious, or historical significance. So, plan your pilgrimage to the Promised Land today, and prepare to be awe-struck.The Sacred City of JerusalemThe best Christian tours in Israel always include Jerusalem, where Jesus spent the last week of his life and was crucified. If you have to pick just one destination in Israel, it should be Jerusalem. This incredible city is steeped in religious significance and thousands of years of history. When you tour Israel with a top-rated guide, you can see places you might not have found by yourselfThe Wailing Wall. Photo credit: © ShutterstockChurch of the Holy Sepulchre - Without a doubt, this is the top Christian attraction in Israel. This impressive 4th-century church holds the last Stations of the Cross, including Golgotha and Christ’s tomb.Via Dolorosa - Walking along the same route Jesus took, bearing his cross to Calvary, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Follow the stone-paved lanes through Jerusalem’s Old City, pausing at the Stations of the Cross.Church of All Nations - You can’t miss the stunning golden mosaic on the facade of this church. Also known as the Basilica of Agony, this holy site is on the Mount of Olives, alongside the Garden of Gethsemane.Dormition Abbey - This impressive abbey and church, stands on Mount Zion, just outside the Old City walls. It is one of the largest and most beautiful Christian sites in Jerusalem.Garden Tomb - Protestant tradition holds that the rock-cut tomb in this serene garden is Christ’s burial site. Join a Jerusalem tour to visit the sacred tomb.Dominus Flevit - This is one of the most important Christian landmarks on the Mount of Olives. From here there are stunning views of the Old City, and it’s easy to imagine Jesus looking out over the city as he wept.Mount of Olives - The Mt. of Olives is a highlight for all visitors to Jerusalem, and it is home to several sacred sites. Tour the churches on the Mount of Olives, including the Pater Noster Church and the Chapel of the Ascension.The Lush Green Galilee’s Must-See Christian SitesTake a trip through the picturesque scenery of northern Israel, to the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus spent his ministry, going from village to village, teaching the word of God. It is also where he recruited his apostles and where Jesus performed unforgettable miracles like walking on water.Aerial view of Capernaum. Photo credit: © ShutterstockCapernaum -This ancient fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee is where Jesus based himself during his ministry. Discover the religious and historical treasures of Capernaum, starting with an ancient synagogue where Christ may have preached.Church of Annunciation - One of the most sacred Israel holy sites is the Church of Annunciation. It marks the spot where the Angel Gabriel told Mary of her future son, the Messiah. The church is in Nazareth, a popular stop on Christian Galilee tours.Jordan River Baptismal Site (Yardenit) - Christian pilgrims often stop at Yardenit, to be baptized in the Jordan River. Grab the opportunity to be baptized in the same river where John baptized Jesus.Church of the Multiplication - When you visit Tabgha, you can stand where Jesus shared the loaves and fish among the multitudes. It is easy to picture the Biblical scene that took place at this sacred site by the Sea of Galilee.Mount of Beatitudes - From here there are breathtaking views across the Sea of Galilee. The magnificent Church of the Beatitudes is rivaled only by the views from the mount.The Wedding Church - Learn how Jesus attended a wedding in Cana and turned water into wine. Israel Christian tours of the Galilee stop at the Wedding Church, which was built to commemorate the miracle that took place here.Magdala - Walk among the remains of this ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and be transported back in time to when Magdala was a Biblical fishing town and home to Mary Magdalene.Visit Bethlehem, Where Christianity was BornKids all over the world learn about the night before Christmas and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Join a guided tour of this iconic city, and see for yourself where Christ was born. With a Bethlehem tour, you can sit back and relax while your guide takes care of all the details and gets you safely, and conveniently to the most sacred places in Bethlehem.Basilica of theNativity.Photo credit: © ShutterstockNativity Church - Standing in front of the Holy Grotto where Christ was born, is an emotional moment for Christians. Travelers on to Israel say that the Nativity Church is one of their most memorable experiences.Shepherds’ Fields - Imagine those shepherds, 2,000 years ago, watching their sheep at night, on the first Christmas Eve in Israel. Christian tours pass by Shepherds’ Fields on route to Bethlehem.Milk Grotto -This unforgettable Israel holy site is where Mary nursed baby Jesus. The small, peaceful grotto, hollowed out from white stone, is the perfect place for a moment’s reflection.Church of St. Catherine - Discover the underground crypts beneath the church and see where Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve.The church stands where Jesus had his apparition of St. Catherine and foresaw her future martyrdom.Manger Square - Close your eyes for a moment and be transported back 2,000 years to when the Holy family arrived at the Bethlehem inn in the middle of the night. Surrounding Manger Square are ancient churches.Jericho - A Hidden GemCheck out one of the oldest cities in Israel. In the well-known Biblical story, Joshua marches his troops around the walls of Jericho until they fall. And Jesus passed through Jericho performing several miracles on the way. Jericho is a Palestinian city in the West Bank, near the Dead Sea. The quickest, safest, and easiest way to visit Jericho, is with a guided tour. Sign-up today for a tour of Jericho to make your trip stress-free.Qasr El-Yehud.Photo credit: © ShutterstockQasr Al-Yehud - Not far from Jericho is the Jordan River and the site of Christ’s baptism by John. Take advantage of the opportunity to be baptized at this sacred location.If you’ve dreamed of seeing where Jesus lived, or if you’re just curious, now is the time to book an Israel Christian tour. Come and explore the Biblical sites of the Promised Land.
By Petal Mashraki
4 min

Covid19 S & H measures in Israel on July 2020

Presently the Covid19 pandemic is very much alive in Israel. A second wave at the height of the summer season, much to the regret of the Israeli people.Too much too soon! Despite the flattening of the curve and major optimism, it is evident that the release measures, back to life as we knew it, (due to the mounting economic pressures on the government) that were issued some weeks ago, have allowed the second wave to come upon us. Israelis had taken back their tempo of life with high spirits and much gusto! As they swarmed to the restaurants, markets, beaches, and outdoor locations.Many strict measures have had to be released once again in order to curb herd contagion. Our figures for severe cases has only risen slightly, and statistically fatalities as well. Public sympathy has poured out to the entire health system workers who have borne the brunt of this crisis throughout.Airtravel has collapsed, Ben Gurion international operates partially and in the interest of preserving public health, Israel has banned the entry of non- residents presently until August 1st (regrettably to be revised).Anyone entering is required to enter a 14-day quarantine and fill in a PLF (passenger locator form).Israelis are required to wear face masks in all public areas.Travel on public transport is limited toa certain amount of passengers and carries out major sanitization frequently. A 500NIS fine issued to anyone in public areas who does not wear a mask. Some neighborhoods have weeklong closures until measures are revised.Like all countries, we await a vaccine that will be effective and mass-produced to have the resumption of safe travel.Bein Harim looks forward to the day that we can resume operating safe and hygienic tour services for travelers entering Israel.Stay well, and let's work to bring that day forward!In the photo, just a little reminder for a beautiful day in Jerusalem!
By Bein Harim Team
2 min

Most Recommended Ways to Visit Bethlehem During your Trip to Israel

Bethlehem is a must destination for all Christian visitors to Israel, and for many non-Christians as well. Bethlehem is the Biblical location of the nativity, where Jesus Christ was born on the first Christmas Eve. Bethlehem has become a household name to most Westerners.Bethlehem is remembered in nativity scenes at school; in Christmas carols (Oh Little Town of Bethlehem) and in Biblical stories of the shepherds watching their sheep that night; the Wise Men (Magi) and the manger that gave Mary and Joseph shelter when there was "no room at the inn." These childhood memories of Christmas tales are what make Bethlehem a magical destination for anyone on a trip to Israel.Where is Bethlehem?Saint Jerome Statue, Saint Catherine Church, BethlehemBethlehem is situated in the central West Bank in the Palestinian Authorities Territory on the southern portion of the Judean Mountains. Although Bethlehem is in the West Bank it is only 10km (6.2 miles) from Jerusalem and can be reached from Jerusalem in under an hour. The journey to Bethlehem takes you across the border (Checkpoint 300) between Israel and Palestine so you will need to take your passport. There is no restriction on passing between Israel and Palestine at this checkpoint as many times as you want. This is generally a safe and friendly crossing and even if traveling alone in a taxi you will probably have no problems at the border.Visiting Bethlehem on FootOK this is only for the hard-core pilgrims who want to retrace Joseph and Mary's steps. The walk is doable but difficult and will take you at least 2 hours following Tel Khai Street out of Jerusalem, joining Bet Lechem Road and on to Hebron Road that leads you to Bethlehem. This route is best done with a group of pilgrims or guide and is not recommended.Visiting Bethlehem by TaxiYou can catch a taxi from Jerusalem to Bethlehem in one of the West Jerusalem taxis with a white number plate which can only drop you at the checkpoint. There you can cross into Palestine and catch a Palestinian taxi with a yellow number plate to Bethlehem or even walk the remaining way which could take about half an hour. Alternatively, you can take an East Jerusalem taxi with a yellow number plate which may be able to take you all the way to Bethlehem. You should negotiate a price before leaving Jerusalem and have the taxi driver wait for you in Bethlehem to take you back to Jerusalem.Visiting Bethlehem with a Rented CarAlthough you can rent a car in Israel and drive part of the way to Bethlehem you cannot take cars rented in Israel into the West Bank or across the border into the Palestinian Territory. This is for insurance reasons as cars rented in Israel are not covered by insurance in the West Bank areas not controlled by Israel. However, you could rent a car in East Jerusalem and drive to Bethlehem.Visiting Bethlehem by Public BusSt. Catherine's Church- the inner part of the Church of the NativitySeveral buses connect Jerusalem to Bethlehem. You can take the Egged #234 from near the Old City of Jerusalem or the Central Bus Station to Checkpoint 300 where you will have to disembark, cross into Palestine on foot and take a taxi or Palestinian bus into Bethlehem. The blue "Arab" Israel bus #21 leaves the East Jerusalem Bus Station on Sultan Suleiman St opposite the Damascus Gate of the Old City. This bus takes a different route than the Egged bus and travels through Beit-Jalla, across the checkpoint and straight into Bethlehem. So this bus route is longer, cheaper and you won't have to change to a Palestinian taxi at the border. You will need to show your ID at the border crossing but will probably be able to stay on the bus. Unless you are looking for an adventure a bus journey is not recommended, it can be unsafe and there can be delays.Visiting Bethlehem with a Guided TourGrotto Over Cave Star Marks Spot, Where Jesus Christ Born - Church of the Nativity BethlehemBethlehem tours leave Tel Aviv and Jerusalem regularly throughout the year. These tours include pick-up and drop-off from your hotel or a convenient point in the city. Bethlehem one-day tours often combine half a day in Bethlehem with half a day in Jerusalem or Jericho or the Dead Sea. With day tours to Bethlehem, you don't have to worry yourself about any of the logistics of the border crossing process. Bring your passport and the tour guide will take care of the rest. On a typical tour to Bethlehem, you will visit Manger Square, the Church of the Nativity, St. Catherine's Church, and sometimes the Milk Grotto as well. This may not be the cheapest option but it is definitely the most recommended way to visit Bethlehem in terms of safety and convenience.What is the Most Recommended Way to Visit Bethlehem?Traveling on foot, by bus, taxi or rented car are not recommended. Although this part of the country is usually safe the language barrier, checkpoint crossing, and cultural differences can make these methods of visiting Bethlehem challenging. Overall the most recommended way to visit Bethlehem is with an organized tour. Prices are reasonable considering you get transportation, security, convenience and you're accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. For a really special experience take a tour to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and enjoy Midnight Mass in Manger Square.
By Petal Mashraki
4 min

Traveling in Israel Without Planning

Traveling to Israel requires some planning although if you want to you can leave a good part of your time unplanned for exploring the country. There are many people who travel without a plan and simply arrive at their destinations, ask locals and the tourist information office for tips and advice and take it from there. There is very little additional planning needed for Israel as compared to other destinations. However, to make the most of your time it is best to do a little research and give yourself a basic outline for your trip.Basic Planning for Israel that you Can't AvoidTraveling without a plan is great but to make sure you're even allowed off the plane you should check if you need a visa to Israeland if so get that sorted out. Another part of planning for a trip to Israel that just can't be avoided is knowing which public holidays are happening while you are in the country. Israel's many national and religious holidays often involve a complete shutdown of public transport and attractions. This goes for the 24 hours from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday as well. During Shabbat the open hours and transportation in Israel are limited, and even non-existent in some areas. You should also check out any special events happening while you are in Israel. For example, when Israel hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 accommodation in Tel Aviv scarce and you wouldn't have been able to arrive without booking your accommodation. You also need to plan for the Israeli weather. Throughout the year you will need sun protection, especially in the summer.Do you Need to Make Plans for Security on a Trip to Israel?If you're wondering if you need to make any special plans for security in Israel the answer is no. You will find Israel is one of the safest places you visit; women can walk alone at night in the large cities and feel safe. Israel, unfortunately, has had ample experience of terrorism and conflict so security measures are entrenched in the Israeli psyche. Besides being vigilant Israelis are used to going about their daily business and living full and rich lives without letting any political situation or regional conflict ruin their fun.Having a General Plan for your Israel TripDon't forget to include theDead Sea in your trip in IsraelEven if you don't want to arrive in Israel with a ridged itinerary it is a good idea to consider basing yourself in different regions of the country so you can conveniently explore the nearby sites without traveling long distances each day. I suggest dividing your time between northern Israel, central Israel (Tel Aviv), Jerusalem and southern Israel (Dead Sea or Eilat). Spend a few days based in each of these areas and do your daily sightseeing from there. You might also want to plan for any highlights you don't want to miss – shows, attractions or natural wonders. Some need to be booked in advance to avoid missing. Israel has excellent public transport and plenty to see so you shouldn't have too much trouble just getting up in the morning and setting off for an adventure.How to Travel in Israel without PlanningAn organized group tour in Israel - Most of the services you need in one pack.So if you have covered the essential basic plans mentioned above you can then relax and play the rest by ear. There are a few ways to make an unplanned trip to Israel even better. Once you get to your hotel or hostel have a chat with the reception staff or concierge to get tips on what to see and where to go. They will probably give you a free street map to help you get around if you are in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Connect up with locals and get their input. Wander the streets just people-watching, shopping, and spotting the incredible architecture. Spend time on the beach, in parks, pubs, markets or side walk cafes. If you feel like you haven't covered the top attractions, you can always take a day tour. Alternatively if you want to take all planning out of your trip to Israel then join one of the Israel package tours where all guided tours and accommodation are included and organized for you. No stress, no planning, just sit back and let the tour company do all the work.A Little Bit of Planning Goes a Long WayHowever much you want to be a free spirit and arrive in the Holy Land ready to go, a little bit of planning will make your trip more interesting, trouble-free and enrich your experience. Have a guide or guide book so that you know what you're looking at when you stare at structures that are 2,000 years old. Plan how to spend weekends when transport and businesses close down and do your longer journeys on weekdays. I also suggest booking at least some of your accommodation as hotels are expensive in Israel and you can find better deals online than in the middle of the night wandering the streets like Mary and Joseph when there is "no room at the inn."
By Petal Mashraki
4 min

Jerusalem Street Art

Think Israel and what comes to mind? A beautiful mediterranean coastline, set against pristine beaches...churches, mosques and synagogues in biblical terrain...exotic fruits and spices in Levantine markets...desert palms, the exotic Red Sea and a shimmering Lake of Galilee? Yes, you’d be right on all counts...because you get a lot of bang for your buck in this country. But what you probably don’t expect to find is a thriving ‘street art’ scene in this part of the world.Think again. Street art has taken Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, by storm in the last few years and whilst the scene isn’t quite as well established as in its neighbor, Tel Aviv, what you can find in this spiritual mecca is quite impressive. So if you’ve had your fill of museums, holy shrines and ancient history, fear not...just grab your camera and head off to one of the areas below to check out the creative scene...TalpiotThis Jerusalem neighborhood isn’t particularly hip and happening, but it is home to some incredible artwork which sprang up after the Walls Festival Jerusalem came to town in the spring of 2018. This international mural festival was held with the aim of using public art as a means of changing the face of urban neighborhoods.Artists from across the globe who displayed there include the Brazilian “Bicicleta Sem Freio” (Bicycles without Brakes). Rouhan Wang from China and Eina and Gan, who go by the name of Brothers of Light (yes, indeed they are brothers). If you look at the Brothers’ enormous orange canvas, you’ll see it’s packed with tiny details that highlight both the local neighborhood and the land of Israel itself. Along with palm trees and camels, you’ll also spy a Dove of Peace (holding an olive branch), the same white bird that was sent out by Noah from his Ark, after the great flood.You’ll also see Hamsas (also known as Evil Eyes) - a traditional good luck charm for both Jews and Arabs - and even a local lottery booth! (Israelis love to play the lotto!)Besides these murals, Talpiot home to the studio of Dan Groover, who paints both bold street art and bright graffiti.The First Station and the Artists' Colonyin the Fall of 2019, street artists from around the world gathered in Jerusalem in a ground-breaking new venture - a collaboration set up to paint a series of murals, as part of the city’s Biennalle. In two months, they produced sixteen pieces on-site - nine at the First Station (ha Tachana Rishona) and seven at the Artist’s Colony (Hutzot ha Yotzer).The First Station is a major center of culture, entertainment and culinary innovations in Jerusalem and the Artist’s Colony is a beautiful lane, close to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, lined with studios. Artists in the Bienalle venture included Leonore Mizrahi-Cohen (who left Brooklyn for the Holy Land), Itamar Palogi (an Israeli who lived both in Italy and Germany), Hillel Smith (based in Washington DC) and Judy Tal Kopelman (a native of Jerusalem). Combining lush colors with Middle Eastern style, there are Jewish themes running through the designs. Even better, these wonderful, brightly-colored pieces are all staying up permanently, breathing vitality into the area and transforming the spaces... so get down there and take a look for yourself.(Our tip: don’t miss the hand-painted fish!)Mahane YehudaMahane Yehuda is Jerusalem’s biggest market (in Hebrew: shuk). Loud, colorful, busy and full of life from early morning to late afternoon, it’s the best place to buy fruit and vegetables, Levatine spices, and sweet challah bread (a Friday special). Sitting with a small cup of thick, black coffee, in one of its many cafes, it’s the perfect place to watch the locals and really soak up some Jerusalem atmosphere. And at night, the atmosphere is just as busy, with restaurants and bars opening their doors and making it a fun place to grab dinner or a drink.But there’s something else in the market too - street art. But there is a catch - it’s not visible whilst the market is operational. Why? Because it’s painted on the shutters of the stands, which are rolled up from morning to night!So if you’re curious about this recent phenomenon, the best time to wander there is on Shabbat, when the normally-frenetic market is closed.What you’ll see is a mixture of famous faces - some from the past, others contemporary. They are the brainchild of Solomon Souza, a British-Israeli artist and former Yeshiva (a religious study center for young men) student. Armed with spray paint, he begins his craft at night and as dawn breaks, the market shutters hold new and unusual paintings. They first sprang up in 2015, after Souza and his friend Hahn (who eventually took on the role of producer in this “Shuk Gallery” project) decided to liven up the place and get people thinking about the faces they were painting.And indeed you do. Characters as diverse as Mahatma Gandhi (the Indian freedom fighter) and Yehudi Menuhin (the acclaimed violinist) appear close to Rabbi Joshua Heschel (an influential American rabbi) and Hannah Senesh (a Jewish World War II heroine). Biblical scenes stand next to a painting of Steven Spielberg; Albert Einstein isn’t far from Bob Marley, who’s across from Jonathan Pollard. Over the years, Souza has even begun taking requests from local owners, most of whom are more than happy to have their shutters painted! And he and Hahn have grand plans - eventually, they hope that the entire market will be awash with their colorful designs, at which point they can give tours of the market and explain in more detail the stories behind the faces.And if you want to donate, feel free - this is a not-for-profit venture, aimed to bring art to the area and enhance peoples’ experience of a wander through the neighborhood.Our tip: wander there on Shabbat, when most of the city’s residents are at synagogue, at lunch or having a snooze. And if you’re really taken with his work, hop a plane to Goa, India, where he’s currently transforming local villages!Street art - it’s really food for the soul.
By Sarah Mann
4 min

The Best Beaches of the Dead Sea - the Lowest Place on Earth

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

Tel Aviv - Explore the Nonstop City

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

A Unique Society to Israel, the Kibbutz Community

A kibbutz, a unique collective community, that exists for over 100 years in Israel only, was established during the pioneering era at the turn of the 20th century. Kibbutzim were founded for settling the land through agricultural co-existence, and with its resident members formed part of the diverse ideological base on which the state of Israel, for 40 years before its creation, was built. There were different ideological movements, that formed agricultural cooperatives which embraced different political affiliations.Such a community formed a fully economical, sustainable and socialist based society, “all for one and one for all”, as part of the foundation of the Zionist movement, and its dream of settling the land of Israel, creating and establishing the homeland for the Jewish people. This was made possible by Jewish immigrants from Europe, North Africa, Russia. Many who fled oppressive regimes, survived atrocities, lost entire families and came to build a new life in Israel.Kibbutz community, based on egalitarian and social cooperation, its values and ethos, takes care of its members’ needs for their entire lives, providing vocation, occupations, homes, health services, education, and sustaining a communal lifestyle built on the community and individual needs, mutual and reciprocal. Various ideologies, religious practice, traditions, values, vision and political entities differentiated between numerous kibbutz movements.The kibbutz today has adjusted to the 21st century – lots of communities are privatized, and considerably fewer exist in its original or economic communal form. In the 21st century, the kibbutz community has become privatized in many aspects, some have even completely ceased to exist, meeting member’s specific needs and re-examining the individual’s needs. Until 1970 children grew up fed, clothed, lived and slept in children’s houses seeing their parents for a few hours each afternoon, from immediately after birth. Since then, housing was adjusted in size to accommodate children living with their parents, and families as a nuclear unit, under 1 roof, redefining the family unit and its part in the collective.The needs of the individual and community are addressed by the elected governing body, but all kibbutz members still have the voting right for all issues that affect them personally and collectively. The kibbutz as a community caters to the needs of the aged, until their passing. Many of them have an elderly population of up to 20 % of the entire member population, who are no longer productive working members but have their needs catered for, by virtue of having been part of the kibbutz all their lives.In recent years, kibbutzim have also created small, adjacent outside housing communities to strengthen them with a younger population ensuring their future existence. Young couples can build and buy homes, which are privately owned, and can fully enjoy communal services education, etc and a countryside lifestyle which they would not be able to afford living in major cities in the center of the country.The kibbutz system has proven its ability to move through the ages and remain relevant in Israeli society, however varied and distant it may be from the original nucleus of its formation.
By Jenny Ehrlich
2 min

The Israel National Trail

Criss-crossing the entire land of Israel, and stretching just over 1000 kilometres (around 630 miles), the Israel National Trail (‘Shvil Israel’) is the kind of experience every hiker will remember for years after. National Geographic have listed it as one of the world’s “most epic” trails and when you hike it you’ll understand why...it marries mountains with desert, coastal plains with green fields, snow-capped hills with warm waters in the Red Sea, Roman and Crusader ruins with Arab/Druze villages...basically, it’s a taste of everything the land of Israel encompasses.Rare OpportunityIt also offers the hiker something else too - a chance to understand more about the Biblical significance of the land as well as the opportunity to meet Israelis from every walk of life...not just those whose villages and towns you’ll pass through, but those who will aid you practically, as you continue on your journey. (But more of that later.)The trail itself is easily marked in colorful stripes - blue white and orange - and is the brainchild of Avraham Tamir and Ori Dvir, who love hiking and nature. Inaugurated back in 1995, first and foremost its aim is to give hikers the chance to experience Israel in its most natural settings. What’s also great the National Israel Trail is that you don’t have to complete the entire stretch. If you're not an expert hiker, or you only have a few days to spare, that’s fine - you can focus on one particular part of it or even take day trips. But for any ardent hiker, between 4-6 weeks will need to be set aside in order to complete the entire stretch.Trail AngelsOn a practical level, strong boots, snacks and a hardy water bottle are all must-haves, particularly for when you’re in remote areas of the trail. The SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature) sells high-class topographical maps, in English, with an emphasis on the hiking trails - they are an invaluable resource!There’s also more good news - all along the route, you’ll be able to call upon the services of “Trail Angels”. These wonderful people provide hikers with a place to shower/sleep, kitchen facilities and quite often dinner, or at the very least a coffee and a chat, in their homes. Getting to meet locals in their natural habitat? It doesn’t get much more authentic than this! Some Trail Angels also partake in a water-burying scheme (in the desert areas) which really comes in handy when you’re half way through your day and parched.It’s up to you whether you want to work your way up or down the country, but since trekking in Israel’s summer can be unbearable, we suggest you begin your journey in the autumn or winter. Here’s an example of an itinerary, beginning in the south, in mid-February.Timna, the Arava and the NegevStart your journey in Eilat (on the tip of the Red Sea), and spend your last day of ‘freedom’ on the beach, enjoying views of Jordan, Egypt and Saudi. With its endless palm trees and clement waters, it’s the ideal place to enjoy some R&R.Trekking through the Eilat Mountains, and the Arava desert, pass through Timna Park - 15,000 acres set in a valley shaped like a horseshoe, surrounded by Mount Timna and some very steep cliffs. The geology is quite fascinating (our tip: look out for the Pillars of Solomon, two sandstone columns that tower above you). Heading up through the vast desert expenses, you’ll pass Kibbutz Neot Samdar (they sell excellent vegetarian produce) and arrive in Mitzpe Ramon, a small town that sits on the edge of the magnificent Ramon Crater. (It’s actually possible to hike, bike or take a jeep tour inside the crater).About 35 kilometers north, you’ll arrive at the Midreshet Ben Gurion, an intimate community that boasts scientific institutes, the burial site of David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) and some striking views of Wadi Zin. Call upon Trail Angel Arthur du Mosch, who leads tours of the desert, is an expert horse-rider and actually caught a leopard in his home, many years back!Judean HillsJudean DesertHead north through the Negev to the Yatir Forest, Israel’s largest forest which, despite receiving very little rainfall, is home to some of the country’s most varied woodlands (including a unique eucalyptus with red blossoms). Enjoy some archaeology - the Yatir Ruins (associated with the Biblical city of Jatti). From there it’s into the Judean Hills. Don’t miss the breathtaking views inside the ‘British Park’ and sites such as the Luzit Caves, Kidon Ruins and Monastery of Beit Jamal. Trek through dirt tracks, pass caves and look over Highway 1, which served as a battleground in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The trail continues through the Sharon coastal area, including Tel Aviv. The ‘White City’ (named after its Bauhaus Buildings) can be a good place to enjoy a couple of day’s rest, some good coffee and sandy beaches.Carmel and the GalileeIt’s then north to the Carmel...an incredibly lovely part of the trail, with wondrous views of the Galilee and steep ravines in which you can hike. The path runs through Kibbutz Yagur, where you’ll find more helpful Trail Angels. Dip your feet in the Nakhash Stream, sip at your water bottle and breathe in the clean air.Further north, you’ll arrive at Mount Tabor, rising up from the very flat Jezreel Valley. Green all year round, it provides magnificent observation points. (Our tip: don’t miss the caves and the Greek Orthodox/Franciscan churches).Mount Meron, the Yesha Fortress and the Upper GalileeAbout 70 kilometers north, just after the spiritual center of Safed, you’ll arrive at Mount Meron which, at 500 meters above sea level, is Israel’s largest peak. It is home to ‘Elijah’s Chair’ (a huge lectern-shaped rock which is rumored to be where the great prophet sat). Parts of the area are a protected nature reserve - and don’t miss the village of Meron either (where you’ll find the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai).Another 30 km north, you’ll arrive at the imposing Yesha Fortress - built by the British during the Mandate period. Today it’s used by the Israeli border police. Hike up the path that leads to a splendid panorama of the Hula Valley below. On your left, you will see the villages of Metula and Kiryat Shmona and, across the Valley, the Golan Heights (whose peaks might even still have snow on them).You will also find at the site a plaque that remembers the 28 men who died fighting here in the War of Independence (our tip: don’t miss the small grove nearby that has 28 trees planted in memory of the men).The last part of the trail - the Hula Valley, Upper Galilee and Naftali Ridge - will see you hiking when spring has truly arrived - with luck you will have blue skies and sunny days, and all around you will be fields carpeted with brightly-colored crocuses. On the eastern side of the Rmim Cliffs, the trail will afford you views of planted forests (after the Second Lebanon War, a reforestation project was undertaken). Don’t miss the Saadia Scenic Lookout, the Menara Cliffs and the Shepherds Spring.And by then, you’re homeward bound and you can honestly say you know the land of Israel a great deal better!
By Sarah Mann
5 min

The Design Museum Holon

Ten years ago, it’s fair to say that the Israeli city of Holon (not even 20 minutes drive from Tel Aviv) wasn’t on the itinerary of many tourists. But a decade later, all that has changed with the opening of the country’s first Design Museum. Since March 2010, this small but intriguing space has fast established itself on the world map, promoting design and contemporary culture not just to professionals and aspiring design students but also to those with no formal background in the subject.Iconic DesignSet up with the aim of acting as a dynamic and vital institution, the Design Museum encouragers designers and students to use the building as a creative resource, as well as a space to showcase their work. But it’s more than that - it’s also an architectural gem and a fine place to spend an hour or two, enjoying the ever-changing program of exhibits and workshops and also just walking around this iconic space.At the helm of the initial plan to build this space was renowned architect and industrial designer Ron Arad whose passion for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum shone through in the initial sketches. The result? Nothing short of ‘wow.’ From a distance, this is a structure that grabs your attention; as you draw closer, it becomes even more impressive. Hues of red, orange and purple accost your eyes - in front of you are huge bands of metal, six of them in fact, all made out of weathering Corten steel, and swirling in front of you like ribbons.Wandering through the Design Museum in Holon is, indeed, a true immersive experience. Not for nothing did America’s Conde Nast Traveller Magazine describe it as one of the new seven wonders of the world!Design and DialogueArad’s design is deliberately ‘fluid’ and aims to start a dialogue with you, from the moment you begin wandering through the building. Most visitors begin in the large gallery at the top and stroll through the space until they reach the smaller, more intimate gallery, below. The museum also boasts a design hall, a significant number of exhibition spaces, room for workshops and even a design lab. The upper gallery is lit naturally, taking advantage of the semi-transparent roof which, innovatively, filters the sunlight coming through. And whilst the building is mainly comprised of reinforced concrete, clever use of light and steel make it far less ‘brutalist’ in style than you would imagine.The CollectionsThe museum’s permanent collection is made up of all kinds of artefacts, which include furniture, lights, models, textiles, shoes, jewelry and limited-edition objects. And within this collection, four distinct areas can be found - Older Israeli designs (from the 1930’s until 2000), contemporary design (from 2000 to the present), works by up-and-coming students of design within Israel and an international contemporary design section. As well as the permanent collection, the Design Museum also offers visitors a series of temporary changing exhibitions...in the last few years, Bedouin art, 3D printers and couturiers such as Issy Miyake and Yohji Yomatoto have all been on show. The museum also aims to pique the visitor’s curiosity, with exhibits on the history of bicycle, chair and eyewear design. These collections are set up in two different spaces - the Design Lab and the Collections Window, both of which give the visitor an opportunity to view artefacts at close quarters.At present, the Design Museum’s most talked-about exhibition is “State of Extremes” (following on from the inaugural “State of Things” in March 2010). The world is changing dramatically, it argues, with its inhabitants never more polarised - in terms of climate crisis, political ideology and social media. “State of Extremes” aims to show that design has the potential to “reveal, critique, resist and mitigate...serving as a call for moderation.”“Family Saturday”Tying into this subject, the museum is currently holding ‘Family Saturday’ activities, which are designed for kids between 6 to 12 years old. Firstly, you are taken on a tour of the museum. Led by a guide, every family member will be given short, fun tasks to complete and encouraged to become a ‘design detective’ in order to solve them. Afterwards, both parents and kids attend a workshop where they are encouraged to work together to create light fittings - but only out of eco-friendly materials. The fact that we only have one planet, and that our surroundings have to be cared for and preserved, is the theme running through the activity. This is 90 minutes well-spent, by any accounts and an excellent way to introduce children to the subject of climate emergency!And if you’re more into fashion than extremity, don’t worry because the upcoming exhibition (due to open in June 2020) is dedicated to...evening gowns! In spaces set up throughout the museum, the exhibit will chart the history of couture from the days of 17th century France to classic and contemporary cocktail dresses. Expect to see on display an array of elegant and beautiful creations from Israel’s leading fashion designers.Holon’s Design Museum is open Monday to Saturday and tickets can be booked online. It has a cafe and is wheelchair accessible. By car, from the Tel Aviv center, allow 20-30 minutes. There are also buses running regularly.Design Museum Holon, Pinkhas Eilon St 8, Holon, 5845400
By Sarah Mann
4 min

Must-Visit Museums in Jerusalem

For a country as small as Israel, it sure does pack a punch when it comes to museums and nowhere more so than in Jerusalem. So after you’ve explored the Old City, enjoyed the buzz of the Mahana Yehuda Shuk and are looking for some culture, where should you begin?Well, frankly, you’re spoilt for choice but if you’re short on time, here are some of the must-visit museums in the capital that we can’t but help recommend. And if you don’t see them all? Well, you’ll just have to return to Israel…!The Israel MuseumIf you’ve only got 2-3 hours to spare, then it really has to be spent here. Ranked as one of the world’s leading museums, it is packed full of treasures relating to Jewish art, archaeology, dresses, coins, jewelry and everyday artifacts (to name but a few). It also boasts two particularly extraordinary (and muse-see) exhibits, The first is a stunning white dome, reflected in a pool of water that surrounds it, and the home of the Dead Sea Scrolls (discovered in 1947 by a shepherd boy, in the caves of Qumran). Considered a landmark of modern architecture, it is designed to express spirituality and signifies a ‘sanctuary’ of sorts.The second is the Model of Second Temple Jerusalem. Designed by the scholar Professor Avi-Yonah, and measuring around 1,000 square meters, this is an outstanding reconstruction of Jerusalem. It reveals the uniquely Jewish character of the city, particularly the Temple Mount. Note the Herodian architecture and visualise how the city looked, back in the time of Jesus!You can easily spend an entire day at the Israel Museum, but as a minimum allow 2 to 3 hours. There are also free guided tours, a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden and numerous temporary exhibits.Yad VashemMaking a visit to the world holocaust remembrance center is an unforgettable part of any visit to Jerusalem. Using state-of-the-art resources, Yad Vashem (which, in Hebrew, means ‘a monument and a name’) tells the story of the holocaust from a uniquely Jewish perspective, making the stories of those who survived (and the millions who also perished) come alive through testimonies, possessions and artifacts.Designed by the architect Moshie Safdie, the building represents a prism-like structure, bringing in daylight from above through a 200 meter-long glass skylight. 180 meters long, in the form of a spike, it is supposed to portray the complexity of the Jewish peoples’ situation. The entire museum complex is built out of reinforced concrete, with different heights and angles of light. Within the museum, there are exhibits, galleries and some particularly poignant areas including the Children’s Memorial, the Hall of Names and the Hall of Remembrance. It is hard not to shed a tear whilst watching survivor testimonies on video, or viewing the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis. Yad Vashem is an essential viewing - to commemorate the past and safeguard the memory of those who perished in such a dark period of Jewish history.Tower of David MuseumAlso known as the Jerusalem Citadel, this museum is located close to the Jaffa Gate (in the Old City) and tells the story of Jerusalem from a historical perspective, but using a range of illustrative techniques (films, lights, and 3D models). Chronicling the city’s history (beginning in the second millenium BCE), you soon realise how Jerusalem came to be so important to the world’s three largest monotheistic faiths. If you can, book a ticket for the unique ‘Night Spectacular’. Sophisticated technology project brightly-colored screened images onto the stone walls of the Old City, all whilst accompanied to original music, bringing the story of Jerusalem to virtual life.From the top of the tower, enjoy panoramic views of the city, including the Judean Desert, Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea.Bible Lands MuseumThis archaeological museum, with its priceless collection of antiques, takes you on a journey through the Ancient Near East, giving you a unique insight into the people and tribes who inhabited the lands of the Bible. Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman cultures...western society has been enriched by their endless accomplishments in fields as far-reaching as technology, writing and commerce. Verses from the Bible are displayed next to artifacts and the explanations of our current customs (and how they are derived from ancient societies) are comprehensive. With its changing exhibitions, lectures and gallery talks, it really is a gem of a collection. Tip: don’t miss the Classical Courtyard or the Roman Frescos Room (the paintings are believed to have come from a suburb of Pompei).NB: the tour in English begins every day at 10:30 am.Islamic Museum of ArtFounded in the 1960’s by Vera Bruce Salomons, a woman ahead of her time, this museum houses one of the most important collections of Islamic art worldwide.Made up of six galleries, this outstanding collection consists of rugs, ornaments, jewelry, pottery and ancient pages of the Qu’ran - all reflecting the grandeur and beauty of Islamic life across the ages. Don’t miss the basement level, where you will find one of the most important watch collections in the world (belonging to Vera’s father, David). Particularly beautiful is the clock of Queen Marie Antoinette - made up of 823 parts, all in gold!The museum also hosts cultural events and promotes dialogue between Jews and Arabs, acting as a bridge between the two cultures.Ideal to visit if you want a break from the tourist circuit.Bloomfield Science MuseumMuch like Madatech in Haifa, this museum is great for kids, with education and interactive exhibits that bring science to life! Their demonstrations, hands-on workshops and intriguing performances change constantly - and any child is bound to love ‘Lunar Landing’ (commemorating 50 years since the Moon Landing) or the games in the ‘machine’ room...This is an ideal place to bring the kids, not just to teach them about science but to bypass a rainy morning or sweltering afternoon in Jerusalem.
By Sarah Mann
4 min