Israel Travel Blog


Petra with Children: A Complete Guide (2023 UPDATE)

Why Visit Petra with Children?Out of all the reasons, we decided to focus on three.Children will be mesmerized by Petra's beauty. Carved out of rose pink rock, with narrow passageways, stunning facades, colonnaded streets, and magnificent views of the surrounding desert, it really is a one-of-a-kind place.It’s a great way to get your kids off their phones and iPads - once they’ve started exploring the site, they’ll probably be so fascinated with it that you’ll have to drag them away. Exploring Petra is a great way to teach them about history and the Visitor’s Centre offers a free audio guide for children that’s engaging and also educational, letting them explore the site and learn about the people that lived there.Kids at the Petra Archeological Park Jordan is a very child-friendly country. Like everywhere in the Middle East, children rule the roost - everyone loves them, makes a fuss of them, and spoils them. So on a visit to Petra, they definitely won’t need to be seen and not heard.Is it Safe to Take Children to Petra?Jordan is a pretty safe country to visit, in any event, but Petra - in particular - is highly recommended because it’s not just set up for tourism but the government and local security staff there take safety very seriously.There are few incidents of crime (e.g. petty theft) and almost no incidents of violence, making the area very safe for families. You can walk the streets easily, day or night, there are local police on hand both in Wadi Musa and the site of Petra itself. If you decide to visit, you will see many groups of people, consisting both of adults and younger family members, roaming around.The Tourism Police in Wadi Musa (Image by Dickelbers CC BY-SA 3.0)Petra is a popular tourist attraction (which brings in a lot of revenue) and the Jordanian government wants to keep it that way - as a result, they go to great efforts to make sure the area is kept safe - after all, happy tourists will spread the word, or even return!Exploring Petra with ChildrenPetra is enormous and there’s lots to see. But there are some places and things that really must be experienced, including:The Siq and Treasury - walking through the Siq passageway is an incredible feeling and at a certain point it’s so narrow that you can’t see far ahead, so have no idea when the Treasury will come into view. When it does, your children will be overwhelmed. As will you. Then spend time in front of the Treasury itself…it’s simply awe-inspiring.The Indiana Jones trail - older kids will find hiking this trail - in the footsteps of Indiana Jones - completely thrilling. Rather than walking through the Siq, take the trail that heads southwest across a desert plain…eventually you’ll arrive at an amazing lookout high above the Treasury. Think about taking a local guide so you don’t get lost!The view is Amazing!Horse and Carriage/Donkey Riding - some people like to use animals to travel the Siq and your kids might enjoy it - just make sure that you agree on the price beforehand to avoid any possible quarrels and that the animals look well-cared for.Petra by Night - taking children to Petra at night can be a lot of fun - the entire area around the Treasury is lit with thousands of candles and you’ll also be treated to a traditional Arabic musical performance. Just remember that you need to buy a separate ticket for this activity.The Petra Monastery - this medium to hard walk, involving 850 uneven stairs, is a bit steep and not suitable for youngsters but is a well-worn trail. Moreover, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of this site and there are far fewer crowds there than at the Treasury.Little Petra - a fifteen-minute drive from Wadi Musa and boasting free entrance, this site is smaller and more compact but with the same facades and gorges. Children will love the caves and rock formations there and there are easy hikes for all the family.What Kind of Places can I Stay with Children in Petra?Petra has accommodations to suit all budgets and tastes. Something kids will really enjoy is sleeping at a Bedouin camp - they are well set up and, in many respects, it’s more like ‘glamping’ - comfy beds, private toilets, and even mink throws for when it gets cold at night.Great hotels await you in and around the Petra Archeological Park There are plenty of mid-range and upscale resorts around, with family rooms, play areas, and even kids' clubs. You and your children will love eating traditional Jordanian food around a campfire at night or in one ofPetra's great restaurants. And if you decide that you need a quiet night out with your partner, you can book babysitters in some of the top resorts.Tips for Traveling to Petra with ChildrenAs we’ve said, your children are bound to love visiting this Lost City but there are still a few things you should bear in mind, and here are some tips to make the trip as enjoyable as possible.Try to avoid traveling there in the summer - it can be scorching hot. Consider March to May and September to November as optimal dates - temperatures are pleasant and skies clear, but there will be little rain.Keep an eye on your children - certain parts of Petra can get very crowded at certain times of the day, particularly the Siq passageway and the Treasury area.Make sure you're all dressed for exploration - you’ll need comfy shoes, breathable clothing, hats and sunscreen - the sun can be a beast if you aren’t careful.Carry water and snacks with you - it’s easy to get dehydrated if you aren’t careful and this can really ruin your trip, so pack plenty of water (everyone can carry a backpack with a couple of bottles, large or small). Also take some energy bars or dried fruits and nuts, to keep everyone’s strength up.Take the crowds into consideration - exploring Petra early in the morning and later in the afternoon with a rest in the middle of the day - not only will it be less crowded between 7am-10am and from 3pm to closing time, but you’ll all appreciate the lie-down! Your ticket is valid for the entire day so there’s no problem having a break, then returning once the crowds thin out.Book a guided tour of Petra- this means that everything is arranged for you in advance - visas, travel to Wadi Musa, accommodation and the entrance ticket Even better, you’ll have the services of a local guide, who can teach your children all about the special history of the area and make sure they have a holiday that they’ll never forget.
By Sarah Mann

How to Beat the Heat: Weather Guide to Petra, Jordan

Petra’s reputation as one of the modern wonders of the world is well-deserved: it’s not just a site of huge historic importance, it’s also extraordinarily beautiful - and no wonder so many people who take Israel and Jordan toursdedicate a day or two to see its timeless splendor.And let me tell you: the Petra Archeological Park can be visited year-round. Located in the Jordanian desert, on the outskirts of a small village named Wadi Musa, it actually experiences all four seasons!The Siq in Petra, JordanSo what kind of weather can you expect when visiting Petra? Let’s take a look at the average temperature across the calendar and what to expect when taking tours to Jordan at different times of the year.Summer in PetraThere’s no denying it - Petra can be exceedingly hot in the summer. With temperatures soaring, the mercury can end up above 37°C (100°F) at the day’s peak and when the sun is blazing (and the humidity is rising), walking around can be quite arduous.However, this doesn’t mean you can’t visit - it just means you need to be smart and plan ahead.How to deal with the weather at Petra, Jordan1. First of all, set off early. The gates to Petra open at 6 am in the summer which means that if you rise with the dawn, you can walk down the Siq passageway when it’s still quiet and be in front of the Treasury by 7 am. Not only will it be cooler, but you’ll also have incredible photographic opportunities.And if you’re not an early riser, set off later in the afternoon - after 3.30 pm. By then, the majority of visitors will be leaving and not only will the sun’s rays be less intense, but you’ll be able to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ when the colors of the rocks around you are constantly changing.The Sunrise over the Jordanian desert2. Dress appropriately. We can’t emphasize this enough. Invest in a wide-brimmed hat, good sunglasses (the glare of the sun in the desert is notorious), and wear breathable fabrics. Comfortable footwear is essential (it’s a long walk to the Siq unless you want to travel there by donkey) and before you set off, apply plenty of sunscreen.3. Drink water constantly. This is paramount. In the desert heat, you need to be drinking at least 3 liters of water per day. This may sound like a great deal but it isn’t. Carry water bottles and keep sipping, even when you don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration sneaks up on you and if you don’t take in enough fluids, you’re going to feel awful by the evening and - worst case scenario - end up with heatstroke.Drink as much as possible!4. Take cooldown breaks.If you’re spending the entire day at Petra (rather than going early in the morning, then returning later in the afternoon), try and stay out of the sun between 11 am to 3 pm. This is when it is at its most intense. Inside the site is a restaurant called The Basin, which offers shaded, indoor dining with air-con. This is a good option for breaking up your day and taking some rest.5. Visit Petra in the evening. Not that we don't think Petra is worth seeing in the day, but if you want to avoid the sun, go at night! Several times a week, the area in front of the Treasury is lit up by thousands of candles and it’s a truly incredible sight. Even though this is an additional cost to the ticket price, many find it to be a unique experience.Fall in PetraBy the time summer has passed, the temperatures will be dropping again: Fall is a wonderful time to visit Petra. In September it will still be hot in the day (around 30°C/85°F) but pleasant in the evening. Moving into October, temperatures will still be moderate but will start to dip as the month progresses.Get some shade, and grab a drink - the Coffee is better than you've ever imaginedBy the end of the month, the skies may be a little bit more overcast but you still shouldn’t have to deal with rain. Nevertheless, you should definitely pack a warm jacket because by the evening it will be cold!Still, with median temperatures of 27°C (81°F), this is a very popular time for visitors. And even in November, although you might encounter some light rain, it’s still possible to hike and cycle around the site! Petra isn't too crowded during this season, so people who favor a relaxed atmosphere tend to bookPetra toursfrom October to November.Winter in PetraPetra boasts a cold but reasonably dry winter climate. And even whilst there will be fewer hours of daylight than at any other time of the year, on a good day there might easily be 7 hours of sunshine! The average temperature throughout December - January will be around 14°C (57°F) but drop substantially at night - sometimes to between 0-2°C (32-34°F)Just remember that however much the sun shines in the day, when night falls it’s going to be bitterly cold. You are, remember, in the desert! You’ll need a warm coat, gloves, hat, scarf, and even thermal underwear if you suffer from winter chills!The Petra Monastery in winterTwice, since the 1960’s, Petra has flooded, which means the chances of having to deal with heavy downpours are unlikely but still possibleRain is most likely in December but there won’t be enormous amounts - you’re far more likely to see frost on the ground. And the good news about traveling to Petra at this time of the year means there will definitely be fewer tourists.Just remember that while the gates still open at 6 am in the winter, they close at 4 pm so plan ahead accordingly.Spring in PetraThe beginning of spring - March - is a wonderful time to visit Petra. The sun will be shining brightly, wildflowers out everywhere you look and temperatures will be hovering between 18 to 24°C (64-75°F).By April, spring will have arrived in earnest, and by May it will already be heating up. Still, this is a very popular time of the year to make a visit - the climate is almost perfect, being neither too cold nor too hot.The Petra Monastery during spring, with blooming Oleander bushesIn terms of exploring the lost city, the climate is perfect - not too hot and not too cold. The only possible drawback is being caught up in a ‘hamseen’ - a desert wind that blows across the Arabian peninsula at this time of the year. With it comes dust and sometimes dark skies, not to mention raised temperatures and sand flying everywhere. Luckily it tends to last just a few days, but it’s good to be preparedWeather at Petra, Jordan: When should I come?In conclusion, there’s no ‘one time’ of the year to visit Petra (or Wadi Rum, if you like camping, stargazing, and jeep trips) but the spring and the fall are undoubtedly the best months to make a trip. Because the weather is cooler but not too chur blog.
By Sarah Mann

​​First Time in Israel: The Ultimate Guide for 2023

Whether you're traveling on a spiritual tripin the footsteps of Jesus, or just want to have some Middle-Eastern fun - your first time in Israel will be a trip you’ll never forget! This is a land that might be small, but it really packs a punch in terms of history, nature, art and culture, cuisine, and nightlife; few go away disappointed after a holiday here.The best sandy shores in the Middle East await you!Still, if it’s your first trip to Israel, you’re bound to have a few questions, not to mention be looking for tips and hacks to make sure you get the most out of your vacation. Here’s a few things we think you might want to know before you arrive. Shalom and welcome!The Best Time to Visit IsraelIsrael’s a great year-round destination but for the best weather conditions, we’d have to recommend spring and late fall. From March to mid-June, there will be plenty of sun, warm days with cool evenings and it’s perfect for sunbathing in Tel Aviv, hiking both in the Galilee, trekking in the Negev desert, and eating al fresco in the evenings.Ever seen the sunset from the top of a 2,000-year-old legendary Fortress?After the long summer months, October is a wonderful time to travel, when the heat is abating but you can still swim in the Mediterranean, and enjoy the blue skies. November is also pleasant and - with fewer tourists around - the top sites will be less crowded and accommodation will be cheaper to book.The Worst Time to Visit IsraelThere’s no real ‘worst’ time to visit Israel (honestly!) but there are certain times of the year that it’s worth avoiding, on a pragmatic level.Yom Kippur (falling sometime between Sept-Oct) is Israel’s ‘Day of Atonement’ where at least half of the Jewish population fast for 25 hours and attend services around the clock, in synagogues. It is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar and throughout the country, everything is shut.Yom Kippur In Israel - people just walking on the empty roads (Photo by Ron Almog, CC BY 2.0)By this, we mean everything! You cannot drive on the roads, shop, visit restaurants, tour historic sites and museums and even Ben Gurion International Airport shuts down. Essentially, the country comes to a standstill - so be prepared for ‘quiet time’ if you’re visiting.In terms of weather, July and August can be blisteringly hot, and January and February cold and rainy (especially in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights). And two of the major Jewish holidays - Passover (which lasts for 8 days and falls in the spring) and Sukkot (a seven-day festival in the Fall) are when Jews from around the world visit Israel, so the country is very crowded.Must-See Historic & Religious Sites in IsraelIsrael is home to hundreds of religious and historic sites, but some are so incredible that they have to be on your ‘Milk & Honey bucket list‘. They include:The Old City of Jerusalem.the Old City is small (less than one square kilometer) but walking through its ancient gates and wandering inside its walls is truly an unforgettable experience. Sacred to three major world religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) the Old City is crammed with religious sites, includingVia DolorosaandChurch of the Holy Sepulchre,the Dome of the RockandTemple Mount,the Western Wallandthe ancient underground tunnelsof the City of David.The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Old JerusalemYou could spend days, if not weeks, exploring Jerusalem but if you really want to get the most out of it we recommend taking awalking tour of the Old City- guides in Israel are licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and you’ll be blown away at how much history they really can share with you.Also, try to find time to visitthe Mount of Olives. Just outside the Old City, it’s home tothe Garden of Gethsemaneand several beautiful churches, includingDominus Flevit,Pater Noster, and theRussian Church.Masada Fortress:the ancient fortress of Masada, set on a plateau in the Judean desert, is one of Israel’s most visited archaeological sites. At its top is a Herodian palace, which you can reach and explore by taking a cable car up and witnessing dramatic views.The Masada national parkis also close tothe Dead Sea, so you can easilycombine the two attractionsin an organized day trip - there's plenty ofMasada Toursto choose from. Masada Fortress from aboveBethlehem:The famous birthplace of Jesus is just a short trip from Jerusalem. You can visitManger Square, continue to theChurch of Nativity, see enjoy great street food along the way.The city is under the control of the Palestinian Authority so the easiest way to explore it is with anorganized tour to Bethlehem; you will have the services of guides on both sides of the checkpoint and a comfortable and safe trip.Don't tell me you never spent Christmas in Bethlehem!Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee:The north of Israel isn’t just stunningly pastoral; it’s also home to Nazareth - where Jesus lived as a child - and the Sea of Galilee - where he spent most of his adult life, ministering, recruiting his disciples and performing miracles. Churches, synagogues, and glorious views of mountains and hills at every turn mean these spots should definitely make the ‘must-visit’ list.The Sea of GalileeWhat about nature and outdoor activities in Israel?You’re truly spoilt for choice in Israel when it comes to the great outdoors and with plenty of spots to ski, dive, hike, trek, rappel, and jeep ride - adrenalin junkies will be in paradise.Israel’s home to some stunning national parks, within which you can hike or bike along trails, swim in streams and stand under waterfalls, and picnic under eucalyptus groves. In the Golan Heights, you can take jeep tours along the border with Syria, affording you not just magnificent views but a chance to see old fortifications from wars fought long ago.The Banias WaterfallDown in the Negev and Arava desert, you can hike and trek through wadis (valleys), camp under the stars, spend a night with Bedouins, and explore one of the largest craters in the world - the Mahktesh Ramon in the tiny town of Mitzpe Ramon. Walk around its edges, hike inside it (it’s home to wonderful flora and fauna), or - for an experience, you’ll never forget - rappel down its side!Finally, for those who love the water, head to Eilat for snorkeling and diving in coral reefs, jet skiing and paddleboarding on the Red Sea, swimming with dolphins on a reef, camel riding in the nearby mountains, and a trip to Timna Park, home to incredible rock formations and an ancient copper mine!Israeli food: what should I expect?It’s impossible not to eat well in Israel. Trust us, this country is heaven for foodies, not to mention vegetarians and vegans, lovers of baked goods, cheese aficionados, those who keep kosher, and even gluten-intolerant folks.The Holy Land has some awesome gourmet foodBecause Israeli society is such a melting pot (Jews from every corner of the globe live here) that’s reflected in its food. There’s fantastic fish (straight from the Mediterranean), all kinds of white and yellow cheeses, an astonishing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and boutique bakeries at every turn.“Classic” Israeli street food includes falafel in pita (deep-fried chickpea balls, served up with salad, pickles, and tahini), sabich (an Iraqi sandwich), and - of course - hummus (if you’re adventurous, order a plate of it with an egg, mushrooms or ful (Egyptian fava beans). Meat lovers can go with shawarma or chicken soup (also known as ‘Jewish penicillin’).Israeli Street food is almost addictive!For those who are really curious, we’d recommend a Carmel Market food tour in Tel Aviv or perhaps splashing out on a gourmet meal at one of Jerusalem’s top restaurants.What’s the daily atmosphere like in Israel? Is it safe?Israelis are an interesting bunch - they’re curious about the world, love talking to tourists, are warm and friendly, and sadly often so direct that visitors mistake this for rudeness! Something else you’ll notice is that contrary to everything you read in the news, daily life in Israel is quite ‘normal’ (save for occasional flare-ups, most of which tend to happen in the West Bank).Israelis will just smile at you; it's in their natureIsrael’s remarkably safe on a personal level - you can walk around at 3 am and no harm will come to you - and is, therefore, a good place for solo and female travelers. Nearly everyone speaks some English and many people are fluent (Israelis are great travelers themselves) and are anxious for visitors to see how wonderful their country is.Eilat, Israel's best resort cityMost of all, Israelis love to help. If you trip over in the street, 20 people will run to lend you a hand. If you’re lost, you’ll not only be given directions but often offered a ride. And if you’re visiting over the Jewish holidays, don’t be surprised to receive an invite to someone’s home - hospitality here is legendary.What does a 10-day trip to Israel cost?We won’t sugarcoat it - this country can be expensive; Tourists arriving here are often astounded by the high cost of food, alcohol, and accommodation - of course, there are ways to travel Israel on a budget and make your trip more affordable - but you do need to prepare yourself.Whilst it’s possible to travel independently (public transport is cheap and efficient, most locals speak good English, infrastructure is developed) but you’re still going to spend a fair bit. That’s why many people choose, on their first trip, to opt for a package tour around Israel. The Bahai Gardens in HaifaWhether you’re looking for a ‘classic trip’ or something oriented towards Christian pilgrims, booking a package means you’ll have the services of a guide, an air-conditioned bus, the cost of entrance to many sites paid in advance, and all accommodation organized for you. Basically, it’s a stress-free and time-efficient way to see the country and, when you’ve crunched the numbers, it may not be that much more expensive than going it alone.Tour groups can save more, and do more in IsraelThat being said, it’s also possible to travel the country independently and, whenever you feel like it, book an Israel day trip. Places like Masada and the Dead Sea, Nazareth, and the Galilee, are a bit tricky to travel around without a car rental, and if you don’t want to drive or - of course - want to know more about the history of these areas, then a day tour with a guide is the way to go.If you’re interested in learning more about our taking a vacation in Israel or Organized Tours in Israel, feel free to reach out by email, Whatsapp, or phone - we’re happy to answer all your questions and help you make your trip a very memorable one.
By Sarah Mann

Is it Safe to Drink the Water in Israel?

As a general rule, wherever you are in the world you should be drinking at least two liters of water today but when it comes to visiting Israel in the summer, you need to be consuming water all the time, even when you don’t think you need it!We’re here to answer all your questions about the water supply in Israel - where does it come from, what’s in it, is it safe to drink, and plenty more besides. The good news is that being a modern country with an excellent healthcare system, we don’t think you’re going to have too many problems staying healthy as long as you just keep sipping!Is the water in Israel safe to drink?One of the first things we’re usually asked by people who book tours to Israel with us is “Is the tap water safe to drink?” and we’re pleased to announce the answer is a resounding “yes.”Israel's water is superb, even tap water.Wherever you go in the country, you can be assured that tap water in a restaurant, and water from public fountains found in big cities is perfectly safe. You can alsototally truston-site water coolerswhether you're taking a day trip in Jerusalem, visiting northern Israel,touring Masada and the Dead Sea, or any other tourist favorite spots.And one tip we always give our clients is to keep filling up your bottle, whenever you have the opportunity. Whether you’ve brought your own thermos flask from home or are just refilling from a plastic bottle you purchased here, it’s completely free.How much is a bottle of water in Israel?If you’re popping into a corner store or kiosk for a small bottle of water (500 ml), expect to pay around 6-8 NIS. A larger bottle may cost around 8-10 NIS, but if you go to supermarkets and buy in bulk (i.e. a pack of six, containing 1.5 liters) the cost is much more reasonable - between 10-12 NIS. This works out at less than 2 NIS a bottle.The bottle with you, fill it up laterOf course, lugging around large bottles is a bit inconvenient but it’s certainly cost-effective. Also, bear in mind that locally-produced water is cheaper than anything imported, and mineral water will set you back a little more than still water. Still, heading to one of Israel’s supermarkets is probably your best bet if you don’t want to spend a fortune.What’s the Israeli water supply like?Israel has its share of world-famous scientists and has developed an extremely advanced water filtration system in the last sixty years.In 1962, Amiad Filtration Systems was established and from then until now has created all kinds of water solutions (many that other countries across the world have adopted), ranging from filters for the home to huge projects for city authorities and industry.You can trust local water quality, for yourself and your familyThis, to some degree, accounts for Israel’s success in agricultural endeavors (think of the cherry tomato, the Galila melon, and Angello, the seedless bell pepper. In fact, Israel’s government is so committed to agriculture development, that whether you’re traveling up in the Jordan Valley or down in the Negev desert (both particularly hot regions) you’ll see farms and greenhousesWhere does Israel get its water?There are three sources in Israel from which water can be drawn - groundwater pumping (from the mountains and coastal regions). surface water (from the Sea of Galilee, and streams and springs in national parks in northern Israel) and from desalination projects in the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.Today, about 75% of Israel’s drinking water is drawn and then desalinated from the Mediterranean Sea. There is also a project in place (which should be up and running this year) where Israel will begin channeling desalinated water into the Sea of Galilee (the country’s largest freshwater lake and home to an emergency water store). The Jordan River has great water as well!Not only will this not damage the current ecosystem, it will even aid it by keeping water levels stable!And if you want an example of how advanced Israel is in terms of transforming water for economic gain, just look at the figures - in the USA, only 4% of wastewater is reused for agricultural purposes but in Israel, it is almost 90%.How strict are the water quality regulations?More good news - the Ministry of Health has responsibility for ensuring the water in Israel is of good quality so that the public can drink it safely, all year round and they take this matter seriously!Israel’s regulations about water are extremely advanced, with regulations updated every few years - they deal with treatment facilities, quality tests at the water source, and how the supply systems are working. So fear not, for you are in good hands.What is the Drinking Age in Israel?Israel has great water, but also wonderful local Beer. The minimum drinking age in Israel is 18, although some bars and nightclubs may not allow entrance to those under the age of 21-25 (always bring ID with you, if you’re going out for a night on the town).Wine, beer, and hard liquor are available freely in Israel although there are laws about where and when you can consume it (for instance, you cannot drink alcohol in public between 11 pm and 7 am). Technically, this means that if you’re sitting on one of Israel’s best beaches with a bottle of beer or wine, after midnight, the police could ask you to pour it away - in practice, this is not common though.Moreover, Israel is very Mediterranean in its drinking culture i.e. people will drink moderately throughout the evening, and avoid getting hopelessly drunk. This moderation is also aided by the fact that alcohol is quite expensive to purchase, both over the counter and in fashionable bars in Tel Aviv!Try the local Beers when you get the chanceEstablished in the 1990s, Bein Harim has been offering organized packages, day trips, and privately-guided tours all over Israel (and, more recently, to Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan) for over 25 years and with our experienced and qualified guides and professional team, promise to make your visit here one you’ll never forget.For more information about the tours we offer, feel free to contact us by email or phone and if you’re curious about our country, take a look at our blog, where we talk about all aspects of life in Israel.
By Sarah Mann

7 Best Italian Restaurants in Tel Aviv

If you’re visiting Tel Aviv and find yourself in the mood for some Italian cuisine, then you’re in luck. The Non-Stop City has a fantastic dining scene and the city is home to many top restaurants, many of which specialize in Italian fare, whether it’s simple pizza and pasta dishes or elegant Roman cuisine and Sicilian desserts that will make you sigh.Using high-quality ingredients, either grown locally (Israel’s famous for its cherry tomatoes!) or imported from the old country, even with minimal ingredients you’re talking about flavors and textures that never fail to hit the spot.From old-school trattorias to fine dining establishments, and from neighborhood haunts to celebrity haunts, here are what we think are seven of the best Italian restaurants in Tel Aviv…Neapolitan pizza, one of the most popular Italian dishes1. Cafe ItaliaIn the heart of Tel Aviv’s business district lies Cafe Italia, whose approach is ‘classic Italian food, served in a laid back atmosphere by professional yet warm staff’. And boy do they succeed in their mission! The dishes might be simple but they’re always well thought-out and presented and whilst the prices are high, you get good value and - hey - you only live once!From delightfully fresh salads to homemade tortellini, linguine and fettuccine (gluten-free options available) you’ll sigh with delight, and meat eaters will be in heaven with the Osso Bucco. For dessert, try the chocolate mousse or perhaps a classic Italian almond, lemon and polenta cake. And if you really want to indulge, take some of their gelato home…you won’t regret it. The wine list is also excellent by the way!Carbonara pasta. Italian traditional pasta2. ProntoPronto is a veritable institution in Tel Aviv and with good reason. One of the first trattorias in Tel Aviv, it’s headed by chef David Frankel, who has a reputation for creativity in his work…and the entire dining experience here perfectly combines formality. His desire to be innovative (reflected in the modern design) and yet traditional (using simple ingredients, that change with the season) is what makes this dining experience so wonderful.The menu is truly magnificent - buffalo mozzarella with aioli and anchovies and smoked pink trout with creme fraiche are excellent appetizers, not to mention dishes with figs, salty sheep's cheese and red snapper. Meat lovers will delight in the offal ravioli and sweetbreads with tartar, and seafood offerings include blue crabs with Jerusalem artichoke and red snapper with miso butter.With so much consideration taken in the composition of the dishes, truly this is Italian cuisine at its finest, which is why Pronto is consistently rated as one of Israel’s best restaurants).Arancini balls - Italian entree meal3. GemmaClose to the famous Gesher Theatre, in the trendy Noga area of south Tel Aviv, you’ll find this unassuming restaurant which serves tasty Italian fare with a slight Middle East twist, in warm and welcoming surroundings. Start with the artichoke and avocado salad or some crispy bruschetta, then pasta lovers should move on to lamb pappardelle or the gnocchi. The pizzas are particularly good - crispy, with just the right amount of cheese - and the tiramisu is divine.Gemma also has a lovely terrace on which to dine in warmer weather and inside you’ll find high ceilings and minimalist design, which make for a very comfortable dining experience! Afterward, if you’re not groaning from the large portions, take a stroll in nearby Jaffa, where you can enjoy the charm of the flea market and Artists’ Quarter as well as work off some calories!Lasagna Bolognese baked in the wood oven4. RusticoWith three branches across Tel Aviv, whether you dine at Rothschild Boulevard, Sarona or in the Old North you’re in for a treat at Rustico, which is beloved by locals for its intimate atmosphere and consistently good Italian dishes. The menu isn’t huge but everything on it is excellent - from the beef carpaccio and onion bruschetta to the spinach and lemon pappardelle and the mushroom risotto.The stars of the show, however, have to be their pizzas, which are a factor. Pizzas Tartufo (with truffles) and the Rustico (a Margherita with arugula added) are particularly good, and with a bottle of Chianti go down a treat. Plenty of sweet desserts to end your meal mean you’ll leave Rustico content and smiling.Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto with Thyme5. CantinaLocated on trendy and elegant Rothschild Boulevard, and is regularly frequented by the celebrities, artists and intellectuals of Tel Aviv. Cantina, this Italian eatery - with its huge balcony overlooking the people on the street, is the place to be, as well as enjoy authentic Italian food (just be aware that you absolutely have to book in advance!)Food is made with love from fresh ingredients, with all the dishes you’d expect including eggplant with mozzarella, beef carpaccio, pizzas, risottos and meat and fish grilled to perfection. They have an excellent wine list and are also open in the morning, so if you’re looking for breakfast in Tel Aviv then they can accommodate you. For dessert, it has to be the affogato!Afterward, take a stroll in this beautiful historic neighborhood and admire the Bauhaus architecture, or continue onto one of the areas's many trendy cocktail bars.Mushroom-stuffed ravioli pasta with creamy parmesan cheese sauce6. PankinaOn the corner of trendy Dizengoff Street with Gordon, you’ll find Pankina, an Italian restaurant and wine bar that has been delighting diners since it opened in 2017. As well as serving up excellent food, it has two other special attributes - it’s kosher (so perfect for orthodox Jews) and it also caters to those who are gluten-intolerant.Dishes that diners rave about include the Concia di Zucchine (a staple of Roman-Jewish, made up of courgettes marinated with olive oil, mint., garlic and parsley) four cheese gnocchi, arancini (fried risotto balls) and seared salmon. The desserts are all excellent, but the standout choice has to be their creamy, fluffy semifreddo. Cozy and charming, you'll want to return once you’ve eaten dinner on their terrace.Pasta alla Norma with eggplant, tomato, parmesan and basil7. Amore MioLast but not least, we had to include Amore Mio, a local restaurant on our list, because of its fantastic ambiance, great food and reasonable prices. Located on Ibn Givrol, close to Rabin Square, it's a trattoria that’s really stood the test of time and with its large portions and casual is very family-friendly (though not a bad place for a date either!)Whether you’re looking for a salad (their ‘Amore’ with lettuce, arugula, croutons, roasted red bell peppers, walnuts and Parmesan is fabulous) antipasti (the eggplant with tomato sauce comes highly recommended) or an enormous plate of pasta (adventurous eaters will enjoy the ‘Zio Giovanni’ which comes with goose breast) you won’t be disappointed. The pizzas are - without exception - all wonderful and the Millefoglia and chocolate fondant will both leave you speechless.Order a Peach Bellini, a Negroni or a simple glass of house red and enjoy! Amore Mio - what’s not to love?Tel Aviv offers a wide variety of culinary experiences beyond single-cuisine restaurants. In addition to dining at these restaurants, we recommend joining food tours in Tel Aviv to not only taste but also learn about the diverse range of dishes.
By Sarah Mann

4 Ways Get from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is a unique and extraordinary place, so it’s not surprising that it’s one of Israel’s most popular tourist spots. The lowest point on earth, its waters are so salty that no living thing can survive in them…and the experience of floating in its waters, unable physically to put your legs down on its bottom, whilst you gaze over at Jordan or stare at the astonishing salt formations is indescribable.The Dead Sea sits in the Judean desert, about half an hour’s drive from the ancient fortress of Masada and a 45-minute drive from Jerusalem. Essentially it’s a landlocked salt lake that is shared between Israel and Jordan (who own its western and eastern shores respectively). With a warm climate, a range of beaches and a number of top-end hotels (complete with spas and local mud treatments) it’s a fantastic destination for a weekend getaway or simply just a few hours of relaxation.So how do you get to the Dead Sea from Tel Aviv? The good news is you’ve got plenty of options because Israel might be a small country but it’s extremely modern with excellent infrastructure. This means that whether you opt for public transport, car rental, private transfer or an organized day trip, you’re not going to have too many problems journeying south, for an outing you'll never forget.The highway along the coast of the Dead Sea1. Public TransportThere is excellent public transport in Israel - both in the form of trains and buses - that run from early in the morning until late at night. It’s modern, efficient, cheap and fast so this can be a cost-effective way to travel around.The best way to get from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea by public transport is with Egged bus number 421. It departs from the Sabidor (‘Tel Aviv 2000 Terminal’) station in the north of the city, on the Namir Road, which intersects with Arlozorov Street.The 421 bus leaves both at 9 am and 12 noon, Sunday to Thursday, and takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. It’s a direct route, with air-con on the buses, and will cost you around 75 NIS (approx $20) for a one-way ticket. You can pay the driver in cash, when you get on, or buy tickets online beforehand from Egged, or load up a Rav Kav card with credit (which is easy to purchase).Buses return along the route at various times in the afternoon and if by any chance you miss the direct bus back, you can return to Tel Aviv via Jerusalem (which involves an easy change). The 486 and 444 will drop you directly at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station and from there there are two different buses to Tel Aviv - the 405 and 480 - which leave every 15 minutes to Tel Aviv’s two main bus stations.Egged bus is picking up passengers on the way to the Dead Sea2. Organised Day TripIf you’re traveling to Israel independently, you might haveTel Avivor Jerusalem as a base but are keen to see a bit more of the country. If you don’t want to rent a car (for whatever reason) and want to get out and out, then booking an organized tour is the way to go.With anorganized day tour to the Dead Sea, you’ll be picked up from your hotel (or a pre-arranged pick-up point in central Tel Aviv) early in the morning and be driven there along with other travelers. You’ll have the services of a qualified and licensed guide, who speaks excellent English (therefore circumventing any language issues) and knows the area well and transport will be with a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle.Not only will you have a guide to answer all your questions and be on hand to deal with unforeseen circumstances, but you’ll also meet other tourists visiting Israel, which is something quite appealing for many solo travelers. Many of these day trips to the Dead Sea also incorporate a visit to Masada, which is an added bonus! For those who don’t want the hassle of public transport but aren’t looking to splash out on a private transfer/tour, this is definitely an excellent option.A group of tourists on a guided tour of Masada and the Dead Sea3. Car RentalRenting a car in Israel is surprisingly easy and affordable and there are lots of car rental agencies in Tel Aviv with which you can hire a vehicle, giving you plenty of freedom to plan your own journey. Hertz, Eldan, and Shlomo Sixt are among the providers, and all you will need is your international driver’s license and a credit card.From Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea, take the Ayalon Highway south and look out for Highway 1 which will take you to Jerusalem. Continue on Highway 1 until you reach Highway 90 - this road will take you directly to the Dead Sea and you can then choose the beach you like the look of. With a car, it’s also easy to make a visit to the nearby Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. (beautiful waterfalls, wonderful hiking trails) or the wow-factor Masada fortress (about half an hour’s drive from the Dead Sea).Car rental lot in Tel Aviv4. Private TransferThis is by far and away the most convenient way to travel since once you’ve booked and paid for your transfer, everything will be taken care of. You’ll be picked up either at your hotel or your private accommodation and driven directly to the Dead Sea, in a luxurious, air-conditioned vehicle, with an English-speaking driver.You will be able to spend as much time as you want in the area before being driven back to Tel Aviv and, of course, if you’d like to see other spots in the area whilst you’re there, you can discuss this with your driver. This is definitely not a cheap option but it is the most stress-free. Enquire with your hotel concierge or with us here at Bein Harim for approximate prices.Of course, you can also take a private tour of the Dead Sea with a company such as ours, where you’ll have not just a driver but the services of your own personal guide for the day.Last WordsThe Dead Sea offers an unparalleled experience that blends natural wonder, historical significance, and modern convenience. Whether you choose the efficiency of public transport, the sociability of an organized day trip, the flexibility of renting a car, or the luxury of a private transfer, your journey from Tel Aviv to this unique destination will be straightforward and memorable.So, pack your swimsuit, prepare to float effortlessly in the buoyant waters, and get ready to explore one of the most extraordinary places on earth. The Dead Sea is waiting, promising an adventure filled with relaxation and awe.
By Sarah Mann

8 Best Nightclubs in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv’s not known as the ‘City that Never Sleeps’ for nothing! Along with its stunning beaches, fashionable restaurants, beautiful Bauhaus architecture and pretty people, this is a city that comes to life when the sun goes down and for party lovers and thrill lovers, the city is packed full of nightclubs, all with their own style and charm.Whether you’re looking for a chilled outdoor scene, clubs that give dance lessons before the party starts, or ‘underground vibes’ with hard-core techno you’ll find it in the Non-Stop City - Tel Aviv has bars and clubs to suit every taste and budget. So prepare yourselves, and rest before you hit the town, because chances are you might not return to your bed before the sun comes up…1. Kuli AlmaNestled in South Tel Aviv, and a bit of a neighborhood institution, you’ll find Kuli Alma (‘The Whole World’ in Aramaic, the language spoken in Israel in ancient times). Owned and operated by a number of DJs, artists and party people, it’s a cool underground bar that’s consistently voted one of Tel Aviv’s best night clubs and if you visit you’ll know why.Kuli Alma has a number of rooms, all playing different music…and the fact that it’s split into levels means it’s a club, bar, art space and entertainment hub all rolled into one. Cool, hip and artsy, if you want to experience Tel Aviv like the locals do, this is where to head. The music tends to be electric (and gets more extreme as the night goes on). Arrive before 11 pm if you don’t want to join a line and expect it to be packed on the weekends. Unmissable. 2. Jimmy WhoThis lounge bar on Rothschild Boulevard is a tried-and-tested favorite on the Tel Aviv club scene, and an ideal spot for clubbers who like electronic music (save for Mondays, when the beats are more techno and house) Split into three different spaces.Jimmy Who offers clubbers a large dance space, a designated smoking area and a buzzy atmosphere. Good drinks, although a little pricey, and themed evenings make for plenty of fun. Prepare to party in the early morning!3. ShalvataIf you want to party next to the Mediterranean coastline, under open skies and aren’t too worried about the price tag, then Shalvata is the spot for you. This lounge bar, in the heart of the Tel Aviv Namal Port area, is popular both with locals and tourists, and because it's set up as both open plan and open air, it’s an amazing place to drink a beer in the afternoon then just dance all evening and into the small hours.Shalvata’s music is quite mainstream, but the atmosphere is great - expensive sound system, modern lighting, live shows - and the vibes chilled. The whole ‘indoor-outdoor’ concept is quite unique by Tel Aviv nightclub standards, and at the weekends - with the DJd in overdrive - expect it to be crowded.4. SputnikDown a small alleyway, off Allenby Street, down in historic Tel Aviv, you’ll find Sputnik, a club that opened in 2016 and in no time at all gained cult status. Describing itself as a ‘multi-retro futuristic bar’ it has wildly cool decor (think mannequins, street signs and odd paintings) and is known for its specialty cocktails and light bites.For those that want to dance, head inside to the large dance floor where. techno music rules the scene but different DJS work each night. With an underground feel to it, Sputnik tends to host a young, hipster crowd but the atmosphere is so welcoming and staff so friendly that, no matter your age, you're bound to have fun.Credit: Sputnik Insagram5. HavanaIf you’re a fan of Latin music and dance, you can’t miss the Havana club down in Tel Aviv’s business district. With three different rooms where you can take lessons at the beginning of the evening, as the night progresses the place fills up. The largest space has an enormous parquet floor which is perfect for those wanting to discover their inner dancer or just strut their stuff and it’s a great place both to brush up on basic steps or simply perfect your moves.Salsa and bachata songs are very popular here and the expensive sound system and great cocktails just add to the magic. The reasonably priced food menu and outdoor seating areas are both bonuses! Be prepared for Havan to be busy on the weekends but if you’re a night owl then you’re in luck because it’s often open until 5 am.6. DuplexWith multiple dance floors and a rooftop space as well, Duplex is known for its diverse music scene, including 90’s rock, hip hop, reggae and themed events. Located in hipster Florentin, the biggest bonus for many is that there’s no smoking allowed inside the club (nicotine addicts can head to the balconies). With DJs who know their stuff and a relaxed crowd, you get several experiences for the price of one ticket!Credit:Duplex Insagram7. Zoo ZooLocated on beautiful and elegant Rothschild Boulevard, you can’t miss Zoo Zoo’s entrance because there are flamingos outside it! Whilst it markets itself as a gastropub, there’s a fun dance floor inside and the music (Latin, reggaeton, hip hop) attracts a great crowd, particularly at the weekends when it’s packed to the gills.Zoo Zoo has outdoor seating, cozy corners and a small but tasty menu - the music pulses, the people are young and beautiful and you can see it’s a spot where Tel Avivis love coming to kick back after a long work week. With every night a new experience, no wonder it's always so busy.8. Lima LimaWith a reputation for epic partying, Lima Lima’s got to be on the list for anyone visiting Tel Aviv. This is a spot that has a reputation for serious partying, with different themes each night (Thursdays are old school hip-hop, Friday's mainstream and each Monday it hosts a gay-friendly evening).With a large dance floor (always packed) and a great seating area outside, it’s well designed and with a great sound system and DJs who know what they’re doing (plus take requests), you can’t not enjoy yourself. They also have deals for ‘all-you-can-drink bracelets’ until certain hours, so head on down to Nahalat Binyamin where you can dance for hours or just sit outside and chill.
By Sarah Mann

7 Best Escape Rooms in Tel Aviv

The Escape Room craze has swept many parts of the world, including Israel, and if you’re visiting Tel Aviv and looking for something a bit out-of-the-ordinary to do then you’re in luck. Tel Aviv’s Escape Rooms are enormous fun, endlessly intriguing and - best of all - many have English language options.Escape Rooms are more than just pure fun - they’re the ultimate ‘team activity’ where you work together to solve logical puzzles, work out hidden cues and follow a storyline in the hope that you’ll solve the mystery.Perfect for a date night, birthday celebration, bachelorette party, team building activity or just a gang of friends looking for an unusual evening out, all you need to do is decide which one appeals most. Here’s our guide to what we think are some of the best escape rooms in Tel Aviv…so get your sleuthing hats on.1.TitanicOne of the most visited and popular escape rooms in Tel Aviv, Titanic (as you’ve guessed) refers to the infamous cruise liner that, after hitting an iceberg, sank in the Atlantic in 1912. The game is set on the ship, with panic and hysteria sweeping the decks as passengers realise there aren’t enough lifeboats and, in the cold and dark, are desperately trying to save themselves and their loved ones.As for you, along with some friends, you had earlier been caught stealing from the upper deck and, as punishment, were locked up. Can you break free and escape death by drowning as this incredible ship slowly sinks to the bottom of the ocean?Titanic comes highly recommended - it’s quite technical and mechanical and has some cool effects (although the flashing lights might be problematic for some) and the problems can be quite maddening. But those who go there say it really forces you to think creatively.An attempt to solve a Mexican-style puzzle2. Motel PanoramaA young woman approaches a private investigator, telling her she spent the night in a motel in south Tel Aviv and felt the presence of someone watching her whilst she slept. The company sends out a woman named Jane to check out the motel but after two nights Jabe goes missing.Where is Jane and has something terrible happened to her? It’s up to you to find out and try and save her - time is of the essence and with a human life hanging in the balance. you don’t have a moment to lose. With a well-decorated room, interesting riddles and even the experience of a live actor, you’re going to love this one.A young team searching for clues on a map while solving a mystery3. Alice in WonderlandIdeal for those with young children, Alice in Wonderland is, as you might imagine, rather a magical experience where, just like Alice, you’ll be following a white rabbit down a hole and into a very special Kingdom named Wonderland. Your task will be to help Alice escape and return home - and who knows what bizarre characters and odd experiences you’ll have in the meantime…With plenty of color and magic, this is an ideal escape room for the little ones (note there are two versions, and the one just for adults is a bit harder). The kids’ version also includes a unique clue book, which will let them solve the puzzles for themselves.Intriguing style escape room4. The IlluminatiMost who’ve experienced this one rave about it but with one caveat - this is not an escape room for the faint of heart! The Illuminati (a secret society which controls the world through shadowy tactics) have - over hundreds of years - amassed so much power and money, they’re causing havoc on the world stage at every turn.You are a group of investigators, whose tireless efforts have led you to the Dizengoff Centre in Tel Aviv, where this ‘shadow order’ has their HQ. Will you be able to get inside, expose them and save mankind in the process?The Illuminati escape room is both challenging and interesting with a room full of unusual puzzles. Complex (probably best for teenagers rather than young children) this is really one for those who want to flex their grey matter.A team looking in the bucket in search of a conundrum solution to get out of the trap5. ShabakKnown as ‘Shin Bet’ to the rest of the world but in the Hebrew language named ‘Shabak’, Israel’s internal secret service is legendary, recruiting the brightest and best for a career in homeland security - gathering intelligence, recruiting informers and protecting the state. But it’s no easy task to be accepted into this agency - there’s a grueling set of challenges you have to deal with before you can become a bona fide spy.‘Shabak’ is perfect for anyone who ever wondered what the world of subterfuge was all about, or secretly fancied themselves as the next James Bond. If you want to find out whether a life of adventure (and some danger) is right for you, then come to this escape room where, in one hour, you’ll be given a set of challenges to see if you’re cut out for a career in this ‘cloak and dagger’ industry.6. Prison BreakAfter having been accused of a serious robbery (in which the police fabricated evidence against you) you’ve been sentenced to life imprisonment at the notorious Etzel Prison. At the moment you’ve almost begun to lose hope, you learn that a small group of prisoners are planning to ‘break out’ and you’re going to be put in the cell with them. Is this your final chance at freedom? You’ll have 60 minutes to make it happen.With excellent background music and lighting just perfect, reviewers say this is a fantastic experience. There are lots of riddles and puzzles that have been very well thought out, this is a game where teamwork is paramount so it’s great for those who want to get to know each other a little better.7. Hotel CaliforniaMade famous by the Eagles rock band, the song everyone knows talks about the hotel you can check out of any time but never really leave. This escape room’s a homage to that theme, with you investigating the mysterious Room 138 of the Hotel California - strange sounds, odd activities. The question is, if you enter this room, will you come out alive?Visitors here talk about the creepy atmosphere, with quite a high ‘fear’ level (though the operator can dial it down if you get too scared!) The plot is fascinating and there are some complex puzzles to decode - this escape room is certainly not for the faint-hearted!
By Sarah Mann

The 8 Best Cocktail Bars in Tel Aviv

Looking for a fun night out in Tel Aviv with drinks that will make your eyes widen and taste buds tingle? Well, you’re in luck, because the Non-Stop City, known for its pulsating nightlife, is home to any number of excellent cocktail bars, all offering visitors a mixology experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.From swish and opulent spaces to 1920’s ‘Speakeasy’ style bars and local ‘down-and-dirty’ drinking dens, you’ll be blown away by the edgy vibes and the flair and creativity of the creations being served up. Here are what we think are some of the best cocktail bars in Tel Aviv…just remember to pace yourself!1. SpicehausThis ‘cocktail lab’ of a bar, on trendy Dizengoff Street, is a must-visit - not just because of the serious mixology going on but for the ‘themed’ element of it all. Staff where white chemists' coats and drinks are often served in lab equipment such as flasks and beakers. Add to the atmosphere the wild decor touches (bras hanging in the windows) and the Edgar Allen Poe poem recording in the bathroom and how could you not be enticed?Spicehaus has ‘sharing cocktails’ (ideal for couples or gangs of friends) and as well as the classics, there are plenty of unusual creations (the ‘Istanbul’) and the bar team are always up for requests. The food they offer really hit the spot - the ‘crack toast’ comes highly recommended and up until 08:30 pm, the happy hour means you’ll get a great deal. Forget your dull days in chemistry class - this science lab is fun!2. BellBoyAt this achingly hip bar, the general premise revolves around the idea that life is something that needs to be enjoyed. So if you’re looking for fun, head to the Berdichevsky Hotel, because fun you will have. Inside, you’ll find BellBoy, where everything at this 1920’s inspired bar is both beautiful and, as the owners remark, ‘out of the ordinary’.Extraordinary cocktail servings - BellBoy (Credit:BellBoy Instagram)Inspiringly-named cocktails include the ‘Tooth Fairy’ (mate-infused pisco, syrup, mint and soda), ‘Holy Water’ (mastika, eucalyptus, lime, Sauvignon Blanc and Myrrh) or ‘Monkey Business (dark rum, sour rum, Vermouth and Benedictine) are all gorgeously presented. As for bar snacks? Order the duck pate, which is actually molded into the shape of a rubber duck. Truly a unique night out…3. ImperialUnder the watchful eye of some veteran cocktail bar staff at this upscale hotel, the Imperial’s aim (as it boasts) is to create a ‘temple to the lost art of the cocktail.’ And this they do - which is why they’ve won award after award for their creations, all served up in upscale, elegant surroundings, with dim lighting and old-world ambiance, swing jazz playing quietly in the background.Credit: Imperial Cocktail Bar Instagram The drinks at the Imperial are nothing short of fabulous. Try an ‘East of Eden’ (Bombay Sapphire gin, Fino sherry, fresh apple juice and bay leaf-white pepper cordial), or ‘Silver Buddha Punch’ (Banana and pineapple-infused Agricole rums, Amaro Montenegro and silver needles tea cordial). Daring drinkers should sip at the famous ‘Prelude to a Kiss’ (Pere Magloire apple brandy, pisco capel, fresh lime and peach jam) and if you’re not in the mood for alcohol, order their ‘Dollar Shake’ (a show-stopping strawberry milkshake creation).4. Bar 223Up in the Old North, on a quieter part of trendy Dizengoff Street, close to the Namal Port and Park Hayarkon, you’ll find 223, a fine establishment, without pretensions, which has been serving up mouthwatering creations since 2008. The bar staff are knowledgeable and expert at their craft, and with a chilled mood and high-quality drinks, you’re assured of a good time.From classics like the Negroni and Old Fashioned to bespoke creations (the bar staff all speak English so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions) you can’t go wrong. Teamed with their hamburgers and pizza, you’ll never want to leave. Prices are high but luckily they have a happy hour, so get there early and enjoy.The yard is waiting for you at Dizengoff 223 (Credit:223 Bar Tel Aviv Instagram)5. The Library BarCocktail bars in Tel Aviv don’t come much more stylish than the Library Bar at the elegant and luxurious Norman Hotel. Elegant creations, served in this uber-chic space (the decor is 1940’s British colonial style) and, open all day, this means you can begin enjoying cocktails at lunchtime (and in bar this good, you may stay until closing time). With an extensive list of spirits, and an expert team, as night falls the lights are dimmed and the atmosphere is transformed, making the Library Bar a glamorous choice not just for martinis and daiquiris but also some excellent complimentary bar snacks. To say this place is stylish is an understatement - the Library Bar is probably Tel Aviv’s most coveted spot for an evening drink so reserve well in advance!6. MargozaSet in beautiful and historic Old Jaffa, in the heart of the famous Flea Market, lies Margoza, a friendly neighborhood bar where, just like Cheers, everyone knows your name. A gastrofood haven, with a variety of tapas snacks, their cocktails mixed by expert bartenders who are always friendly and ever-obliging, will go down a treat.Margoza has seating both inside and out (perfect for spring and summer evenings) and great cocktails at very affordable prices. The food they serve up is also very good - try the lamb hummus or ‘flea market platter’ with your drink. Margoza is really a place that makes you feel you’ve come home, and with one of their mean Moscow Mules in your hand, just sit back and enjoy the Jaffa vibe.Credit: Margoza Bar Instagram7. FantasticWith its extraordinary design (inspired, as the owners remark, by ‘fairy tales, poetry, literature and wild animals’) there can’t be a bar in Tel Aviv that’s had so much time, money and effort put into it - and it shows. Up in the Namal Port area, Fantastic (owned by the BellBoy group) is a cross between 1920’s glamour and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the moment you enter their ‘Ball Room’ cocktail bar you’ll feel the magic immediately.Credit: Fantastic Bar InstagramFantastic serves up well-mixed cocktails, all in their own special cups and glasses (designed specially) with plenty of little gimmicks beside (go and see for yourself if you’re curious). Accompanying food plates are delicious - try the goose breast or the scallop bisque. Oh, and the decor and drinks at this place are incredibly photogenic so Instagram lovers will be in their element. Costly but a great night out and perfect for a special occasion.8. Social ClubLast but not least, don’t forget Social Club, just off beautiful Rothschild Boulevard, a New York-style bistro which is perfect for an early-evening drink, before the restaurant gets crowded. This ‘happening’ spot in Tel Aviv is always lively and whilst it might look chaotic (staff aren’t assigned to particular tables), there’s a method to the madness and a vibrancy to the place which you can’t miss.As well as the classics (their gin-based cocktails are particularly recommended) the bartenders will be happy to listen to your suggestions and the food bar, in the centre of the restaurant, is very well-designed. If you want to eat with your cocktail, the tataki tuna, grilled aubergine and beef bresaola. Social Club also has a space upstairs for private events, if you’re looking to throw a birthday bash or family event. Pricey but, hey, you only live once.
By Sarah Mann

Gaza Envelope Memorial: Places You Must Visit

In the last seven months, international news has been dominated by one topic - the Israel-Gaza War. Whilst this region is no stranger to conflict, this particular war has much greater significance for the Middle East than usual because of the sheer scale of the events that led up to it.Today we’re taking a look at the area in which the conflict began, the Gaza Envelope, and what places in this area are still possible to visit.What is the Gaza Envelope?The Gaza Envelope (in Hebrew ‘Otef Aza’) is a region that incorporates all of the communities in the South of Israel which lie within 7 km of the Gaza Strip. Together, there are about 50 communities in the Envelope, with a population of around 70,000 people.These include a number of kibbutzim, moshavim and the town of Sderot. All are in such easy reach of the Gaza Strip border that they have been subject to barrages of Qassam rockets and mortar shells fired by Hamas over the border on a regular basis since 2008.Gaza Envelope, from the 805th Battalion Memorial Observatory (Image source: Blue-green69 CC BY 3.0)What happened in the Gaza Envelope on October 7th, 2023?In the early hours of 7th October 2023, which was both the Jewish sabbath and a religious holiday, Hamas (who ruled the Gaza Strip) launched an enormous attack on Israel. As well as barrages of rockets being launched toward the major cities in Israel, several thousand terrorists infiltrated the border by land, sea and air.Fanning out around the Strip, they went from community to community, murdering those they encountered (the vast majority civilians) and burning homes to the ground. By the end of the day, approximately 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals were dead, including 350 young people who had been attending a nearby Peace Festival. As well as this, 240 individuals had been kidnapped and taken back to the Gaza Strip to be held as hostages.It was the worst terror attack on Israeli soil since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the scale of it was quite unprecedented.What are some of the places I should visit whilst in the Gaza Envelope?Within hours of the attack, residents of the Gaza Envelope were evacuated and the majority of them remain displaced around Israel. Whilst it is unclear when they can return, it is now possible to visit some of the sites in the area that were most heavily impacted. (Of course, this is very much dependent on the current political situation, since the Envelope is currently under the control of Israel’s military).Places that are recommended to visit include:1. Netiv Ha’asaraThis moshav (a semi-collective agricultural community) sits just 100 meters from the border and from this point, you can see the Israel-Gaza fence (named the ‘Iron Wall’). It is also home to the ‘Path of Peace’ which is a mosaic on the wall itself, created before the massacre, symbolizing peace, hope and tolerance.Observation deck overlooking the Gaza Strip from the side of kibbutz Netiv HaAsara2. Erez CrossingThis is the most northern of the crossing points between Israel and Gaza and the only border through which both people and goods can pass into Israel. Managed by the IDF, on October 7th many terrorists breached this crossing and then made their way into Israel.Erez Crossing3. SderotSderot is the largest community in the Envelope, with a population of 33,000. It came under heavy attack on October 7th, with terrorists driving through the streets in pick-up trucks, firing weapons indiscriminately and gunning down a group of senior citizens en route to the Dead Sea on a day trip. Around 15 people were murdered whilst trying to hide in a shelter and others in their homes.The police station at Sderot also came under attack, with terrorists overpowering officers and barricading themselves inside. Thirty civilians and officers were killed and the subsequent battle there lasted almost 24 hours, with the situation culminating in the Israeli army bullzoning the building and shooting dead around the terrorists inside.Sderot Resilience Center (Image source: Nizzan Cohen CC BY 4.0)4. Kibbutz Nahal Oz and nearby Nahal Oz Military BaseFounded in 1951, and with a population of 471, Kibbutz Nahal Oz is situated just 4.4 km from the border with Gaza. Early on October 7th, gunmen carrying out surprise attacks all over the Envelope infiltrated the kibbutz, breaking into residents’ homes, kidnapping some and murdering others.At the same time, the nearby Nahal Oz military base came under sustained attack, killing many soldiers both guarding the entrance and inside the base itself. The gunmen used not just Kalashnikovs but toxic flammable substances which led soldiers to suffocate to death. Furthermore, all of the surveillance buildings and the computer equipment at the base were destroyed early on in the attack.The Dining room of Kibbutz Nahal Oz5. Kibbutz Be’eriKibbutz Be’eri sits 5 km east of the Gaza border and was one of the hardest-hit communities on October 7th. Founded in 1946, and home to around 1,300 people, militants stormed it early on the Saturday morning and left a trail of devastation behind them that was simply unimaginable.More than 120 residents were murdered, including children, and a number of hostages were also taken. Homes were set on fire and some residents, who were not shot, choked to death in the smoke. Today, around 120 out of 350 homes are due to be demolished and rebuilt, with many more structures needing enormous renovation due to the damage done that day.6. Kibbutz Kfar AzaKibbutz Kfar Aza sits 1.3 km from the Israel-Gaza border, between Netivot and Sderot. It was one of the first communities Hamas reached on 7th October. Many kibbutz members were shot dead and their bodies subsequently mutilated.Others suffered the ordeal of being burned alive, Molotov cocktails thrown into their homes. Others, it now seems, were tortured and raped. Of around 750 kibbutz members of Kfar Aza, 62 were murdered and 18 were kidnapped and taken hostage in the Gaza Strip.United States Senator Lindsey Graham visits Kibbutz Kfar Aza (Image source:U.S. Embassy JerusalemCC BY 2.0)7. Re’im Forest - Site of the Nova Festival MassacreRe’im Forest was the site of the Nova Festival - an outdoor music festival, which began on the night of 6th October and was due to last into the late morning of next day. About five kms east of the border with Gaza, about 3,500 people (mainly young) were there to celebrate peace and love.Hamas gunmen began attacking the site just after 7 am and in the course of a few hours 364 people were murdered in this normally serene and tranquil spot. Today, there is a memorial you can visit, established by families of the dead, where you can see pictures of those killed and lay flowers. In January 2024 the Jewish National Fund planted a forest of 364 pine trees close by.Nova memorial site8. OfakimOfakim is the community in the Envelope furthest from the Gaza border - approximately 26 km from the fence. With a population of around 30,000, it was the bravery of a number of residents - who went into the streets with their weapons to fight Hamas - that saved many others from a horrible fate.In January 2024, the “Path of Heroines' was inaugurated, commemorating the bravery of these locals, many women, who - with no thought for their own lives - defended Ofakim so tenaciously.How Can I Visit the Gaza Envelope?Whilst it might be possible to travel to this area independently, it’s not recommended, particularly if you don’t have a good command of Hebrew and are not familiar with the political situation in Israel.The best way to visit the Gaza Envelope is with a private tour. Not only will your transport be organized, with a licensed Ministry of Tourism guide leading the group, but, in all likelihood you’ll have the opportunity to meet residents of the area who have returned, so you can hear their stories firsthand.For more information about the Gaza Strip Envelope Private Tour that we offer, feel free to contact us at Bein Harim by phone or email - we’re here to help!
By Sarah Mann

The 7 Best Bakeries in Tel Aviv

Beaches, galleries, boutiques, nightclubs, Bauhaus architecture…Tel Aviv has them all - and if you’re intent on exploring them all, then you need to fuel up. And forget lunch and dinner - today we’re talking carbs, both sweet and savoury, and in the form of baked goods.The fact is that Tel Aviv isn’t just famous for classic Israeli street food and fine dining restaurants - it’s also home to some fabulous bakeries, where you can start your day with a pain au chocolat, stop for a well-deserved afternoon sweet treat or even pop in the late evening for a little something to end your day.Here are seven bakeries you have to check out when visiting the White City…just make sure you have no diet plans when you set off!1. LehamimWe have to start with this chain of kosher bakeries (several Tel Aviv locations) because it’s simply out of this world when it comes to sweet treats. Renowned for their breads, you’ll be blown away by the choice - pumpernickel and raisin loaf, sourdough and the legendary challah (served on every Israeli table on Shabbat) which Israelis queue for on Friday lunchtime.The sweet treats at Lehamim don’t disappoint either - cookies, rugelach, chocolate Babka, almond croissants, plum cake…you won’t know where to begin. And their legendary ‘Krem Schnitt’ (filled with custard and chantilly cream) is so good there are few words to describe it. This is the perfect place to indulge - your waistline won’t thank you for it but your tastebuds will. 2. DallalNestled in the heart of Neve Tsedek, one of Tel Aviv’s most charming and picturesque neighborhoods, you’ll find the Dallal Bakery, beloved by locals and visitors alike. A team of savvy bakers, supervised by pastry chef Timor Levi, work throughout the day to produce traditional baked goods which combine classic European influences with Israeli flavors - and few leave disappointed.Whether you’re looking for a bagel, a brioche, a croissant (their almond variety is legendary) or a puff-pastry apple caramel turnover, you’ll sigh with delight once you taste it. Have it with coffee (they make a mean espresso) and kick back with a book, or ‘grab and go’, heading to one of Tel Aviv’s nicest beaches, where you can enjoy your fare with a Mediterranean view.3. Stefan Austrian BakeryJust a couple of minute’s walk from the city’s famous Carmel Market, Stefan’s the place to go if you want a slice of Vienna in Tel Aviv. This Austrian bakery has a reputation for serving the most incredible apple strudel and Sachertorten (a legendary chocolate cake that dates back to the 1800s and has never gone out of style).Stefan, the warm and friendly owner, also makes all of the ice creams on the menu - in-house - and visitors rave about it, particularly the range of flavors (watermelon, coconut, clementine…!) Rich, creamy, dense and not too sweet, it goes perfectly with a slice of strudel or any other baked good in the place. Stefan Austrian Bakery is simply unmissable. 4. Urban BakeryIf you find yourself in Noga, a trendy neighborhood in south Tel Aviv, then head straight to the Urban Bakery, which serves up high-quality pastries (made in-house), and strong coffee in a warm and cozy atmosphere. Beloved by locals, who come here for breakfast pastries and lunchtime sandwiches and pizza, the staff are friendly and helpful and everything tastes good.Urban Bakery is French-inspired, so expect almond croissants, macarons, and cream puffs filled with creme patisserie as well as time-honored classics like chocolate chip cookies, poppy seed cake, and gooey brownies. With its Bohemian vibe, it’s the perfect place to start your morning if you’re intent on exploring Old Jaffa. 5. Maison KayserThis bakery, cafe and dessert store (with three branches across the city, the most popular probably at the Namal port) is always busy, so expect to wait (especially on Fridays). However, the wait will be worth it…whether you want bread, croissants, cakes, or some wonderful patisserie, you’ll find it here.Visitors rave about the apple chausson (the French equivalent of the apple turnover), pistachio financiers, chocolate eclairs and their berry tartlets but there are plenty of savory options too, including baguettes filled with cheese and salmon and delicious quiches. Admittedly the prices are high at Maison Kayser, even by Tel Aviv standards, but after a bite, you won’t regret splashing the cash. 6. NOLAIf you’re hankering for a taste of the United States, then head to NOLA Bakery on trendy Dizengoff Street. This bakery’s been a major hit with both locals and tourists since it opened back in 2012, the brainchild of Tayla Rasner, who drew on her New Orleans’ heritage and dreamed up a menu that soon convinced Israelis that American bakeries could be worth visiting!Along with the staples (salmon and cream cheese bagels, fluffy American pancakes, sweet cupcakes and chewy Brownies), there are more unusual dishes like the ‘Blackstone Biscuit’ (a buttermilk biscuit served with poached eggs and Hollandaise), healthy granola with yogurt and fruit, enormous healthy salads (try the wheat berry with roasted pumpkin) and their famous Club Sandwich, served wight both turkey and bacon!)The accompanying retro decor and child ambiance make this a must-visit bakery if you’re in the neighborhood.Open-faced buttermilk biscuit topped with 2 poached eggs, grilled tomatoes and Hollandaise Sauce, served with a green salad 7. MilkThis hipster bakery is perfect for visiting if you’re wandering around Jaffa and ready to take a break. A moment from the famous Jaffa Flea Market (Shuk haPishpeshim) this place is a treat, with pastries lovingly made in-house and throughout the day, as well as excellent coffee to give you a decent caffeine infusion.Whether you’re looking for a simple butter croissant, a slice of a pistachio-cherry cake, one of their delicious sandwiches, or some patisserie (the choux buns come highly recommended) you’ll find it at Milk Bakery. And they also sell marvelous cakes which are perfect for a birthday celebration - the cheesecake decorated with edible flowers is a constant winner!Sitting at Milk, soaking up the ambiance of Old Jaffa and people-watching? Is there anything better to do when on vacation? Looking for more culinary experiences in איק White City? Join our Tel Aviv Food Tourand taste the best authentic dishes of the Carmel Market,from Falafel dishes, to special pastries that only the locals know.
By Sarah Mann

5 Ways to Experience Tel Aviv Like a VIP

Everyone likes a little pampering now and again and being made to feelthat they’re special - and what better way to do that than to take a holiday which revolves around you being the centre of attention?And if you’re coming to Tel Aviv and looking for a high-end experience on your trip, you’re not going to be disappointed, because this is a modern, vibrant city where everything can be yours - for a price of course…So if you’re ready to go big (but not go home), then the Non-Stop Capital is yours for the taking. The only question is where to begin in your quest to feel like a celebrity, which is where we come in. Here are five ways we think are the perfect way to experience Tel Aviv like a VIP…1. Use the Ben Gurion Airport VIP ServiceWhat better way to start your vacation than by arriving in style? The best way to do this is to use the VIP Airport Service at Ben Gurion Airport (about 20 minutes from downtown by cab).From the moment you disembark, you’ll feel special. An airport representative will be waiting for you with a sign that bears your name. You will be transported by private vehicle with an escort, offered hot food, light refreshments and a variety of soft/alcoholic beverages, whilst an agent will take care of your passport formalities.After your luggage has been collected for you, you will be driven in a luxury air-conditioned car vehicle to your destination of choice.Ben Gurion VIP Transportation service2. Enjoy Fine Dining at Chef-Renowned RestaurantsIn Israel’s ‘capital of cool’ if you want to feel like a VIP then skip the classic Israeli street food (which is great if you want to ‘grab and go’) and instead opt for a Tel Aviv fine dining experience. Whether you like classic French fare, Levantine specialties, or Asian fusion, this city is a foodie’s paradise - although it won’t come cheap!Taizu - this restaurant, under the helm of talented chef Yuval Ben Neriah, is heaven for those who love Asian food and are inspired by his journeys through South East Asia. Themed around Chinese elements, the shareable plates are divine… whether you’re into tiger shrimp, sea bream, dumplings, or sashimi.Shila - located on bustling Dizengoff Street, in the sedate and bourgeois Old North neighborhood, Shila serves up some of the best seafood in the city, and has a well-deserved name for fine dining - the octopus carpaccio is legendary. With its intimate atmosphere, it’s also a great place for a romantic dinner.Messa - located in the lovely Sarona neighborhood (once home to German Templars), Messa is a chef restaurant that consistently cuts with picky Tel Aviv diners - the lamb pate with brandy sauce, cheek meat ravioli in garlic cream and semifreddo brulee will have you groaning in delight.OCD - book ahead for an experience you will never forget - a select few diners (19 per setting) around a bar and prepare for a 19-course degustation menu, with all food served to come from local artisan producers (you can choose from meat and fish-heavy menus to vegetarian and vegan). And the pairings of dishes with wines by the sommeliers? It’s spectacular!Chef dressing salad with fresh greens3. Stay at one of Tel Aviv’s Luxury HotelThere are more luxury hotels in Tel Aviv than you’d think, and whilst they don’t come cheap they are a fantastic way to enjoy yourself. From beach view Hilton and Dan hotels to understated elegance at the Vera and the Drisco, these accommodations are there to fulfill your every whim…whether it’s a 24/7 concierge, a celebrated chef restaurant, Egyptian cotton sheets or artisan chocolates left on your pillow each night.If you want a beachfront experience, you can’t go wrong either with the Hilton (which overlooks one of the city’s most lovely beaches and boasts a fantastic spa) to the Dan, with its iconic rainbow-coloured facade, poolside bar and ‘breakfast in bed’ service.Classics like the Norman Hotel (with its fine dining restaurant, hardwood floors, and famous Library Bar) and the Vera (a contemporary boutique hotel with rooms so plush they’re a haven for design aficionados) don’t come cheap but are guaranteed to make you feel like a VIP.And of course, don’t forget The Jaffa (a state-of-the-art luxury in a beautifully restored building) and the Setai Hotel (located in a former Ottoman prison, it has an infinity rooftop pool from which you can enjoy staggeringly beautiful views over the sea) in Old Jaffa, where history can be found on every corner.The Norman Hotel Tel Aviv, one of the most luxurious hotels in Israel (Credit:thenorman.com)4. Indulge in Some High-End Retail TherapyIf you’re in the mood to make a dent in your wallet, you could do worse than hit the mean streets of Israel’s most lively city.From tiny boutiques scattered across the city to high-end brand names in the big shopping malls and Kikar HaMedina (home to Louis Vuitton, Dior and Valentino), there’s all kinds of luxury shopping in Tel Aviv.For artisan jewelry, explore the Artists’ Quarter in Old Jaffa, where some of the city’s top designers produce wonderful creations from their studios. Or stroll down Shabazi Street in nearby Neve Tzedek (one of Tel Aviv’s most charming and picturesque neighborhoods) full of upscale clothing and home furnishing stores selling independent labels by local designers.Tel Aviv’s also home to a number of shopping malls - from the iconic Dizengoff Centre in the heart of the city to old-style Gan Ha’ir near Rabin Square, the Azrieli Centre (with showstopping views of the city from its rooftop platform) and Ramat Aviv mall, where ladies who lunch love to come home with heaps of shopping bags.And finally, don’t miss Kikar Ha Medina, which is home to all kinds of luxury brands - Dior, Valentino, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, not to mention plenty of upscale cafes and bakeries where you can enjoy coffee and a croissant where you’re resting your weary feet.5. Take a Private Guide for the DayThere’s no better way to see Tel Aviv (or another part of Israel for that matter) than with your own private guide. The whole trip can be tailored to your precise requirements, from the time of pick-up at your hotel to every aspect of your itinerary. Not only will you be driven around in a luxury vehicle, but you’ll have the undivided attention of your licensed and accredited guide.The Clock Square, at the entrance to Old Jaffa and Jaffa Port - One of the must-see spotsIsrael’s a small country, which means you can be in Jerusalem in less than an hour, without traffic, and free to explore both the Old City (home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall) or stroll in the new city, visit a museum, and take a tour of the city’s lively Mahane Yehuda market.Or what about a Masada and Dead Sea Private Tour? Combine history and archaeology (the ancient fortress of Masada sits on a plateau in the Judean desert and affords astonishing views) combined with chillout time at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth! Or even a day trip to the Galilee, where you can tour ancient religious sites, take a boat out on the water and stop at a local winery for a tasting.The choice is yours!
By Sarah Mann

Jaffa Theater

Plan Your VisitLocation: 10 Mifratz Shlomo Street, Old JaffaOpen Times: Most shows are presented at 20:30 in the evening.Prices: Performance tickets range in price from approximately 90 ILS to 115 ILSAverage Visit Duration: 1-2 hours. Pro Tip: It is worth stopping to see the building’s exterior even if you are not attending a performance. It is also a great place to get sea views.Special Events:The Festival of Arab Hebrew Women - MarchTheatronetto - Passover (April)Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture - MayJaffa Fest - June-JulyInternational Festival of Children’s Theater (Jaffa Children’s Festival) - SukkotRelevant Tours:Many Tel Aviv tours in the Jaffa region will take you to see the theater building’s facade.The Jaffa Theater, also called The Arab Hebrew Theater of Jaffa is made up of two theater companies that operate independently and together - The Local Theater (Teatron Hamekomi) and The Al Saraya Arab Theater. The theater’s Hebrew and Arabic artists work to promote cross-cultural understanding through the arts. The theater holds community and educational programs as well as local outreach programs. It often presents performances that have a social message, or local significance and focus on national identity, tolerance, and social issues.Theater buff? You'll enjoy the cultural scene in Jaffa! Jaffa Theater has received numerous awards and is a haven for intercultural relations in Jaffa, a city shared by Jewish, Muslim, and Christian residents. The theater is located in a stunning historical building in Old Jaffa with great views along the coast and Tel Aviv’s seafront promenade.What Makes the Jaffa Theater Special?This unique theater brings together performing artists and audiences from diverse cultural backgrounds. It is unique among Israeli theaters for its social and political mission and the language used on stage. In the Jaffa Arab-Hebrew Theater, all of the focus is on creating a multi-cultural environment that exists harmoniously. Whether it is through the productions it presents in Arabic and Hebrew, or through the projects that the theater runs with multi-ethnic communities in Jaffa and across the country. This theater offers a platform for interaction and collaboration between people from different religions, races, and cultures.The Jaffa Theater BuildingIt's not just the type of performances and the diverse cultures of the theatrical team that make Jaffa Theater unique. The building that houses the theater is an attraction in itself. The Jaffa Theater building (Image source: Amikamraz CC BY-SA 4.0)Saraya House was built in the 18th century on the remains of a Crusader structure. It served as a grand palace for the Ottoman governor, Mohammed Agha. It was also used for various government offices, a prison, and a post office. In 1897 the Ottoman government offices were moved to a new building.Once the government offices were gone, the Old Saraya building was used as a soap factory by the local Chrisitan Demiani family and they produced soap made from olive oil. The building continued to house various factories until 1961 when it was repurposed into a museum and became home to the Jaffa Museum of Antiquities.Pro Tip: A short walk from the Jaffa Clock Tower past the New Saraya Building, the Greek Orthodox Market, and the Mahmoudiya Mosque to the Old Saraya Building is a great way to enter Old Jaffa.The stone building’s facade has beautiful arches and historic window metalwork. The municipality offered Jaffa Theater the building as a permanent home and extensive renovations were made to create a performance space. Today the museum continues to share the building with the Jaffa Theater.Pro Tip: Jaffa Theater is in the Old Saraya Building. There is also a New Saraya Building built towards the end of the 19th century and later restored. It stands in front of Jaffa’s clock tower and is recognizable by its four tall columns.What is the History of the Jaffa Theater?The theater was founded by Ezraty in 1999. He was inspired by a film called Mephisto which tells the story of an actor who collaborates with the Nazis and sacrifices his moral principles for success. Ezraty wanted a theater where his belief in tolerance and acceptance between the Jews and Arabs who share the country could flourish. The lovely arches of the Jaffa Theater (Image source: Yiftah-s CC BY-SA 3.0)He had been involved in political and social movements but was searching for a way to combine his strong feelings about social issues with his profession as a theatrical director. He believed the theater could be an important and effective tool for teaching about injustice and social issues.Pro Tip: During Israel's summer of 2024 the Jaffa Theater will celebrate its 25th anniversary with special performances.What Can You See and Do at the Jaffa Theater?The productions presented at the theater range from classics such as Shakespeare, Waiting for Godot (given a local twist) to original productions such as Oum Kalthoum about the famous Egyptian singer, and a new adaptation to Hanoch Levin’s Shampoo Queen, performed by a cast of Jewish and Arabic actors. The theater presents award-winning and internationally acclaimed work. No doubt whatever show you see will be surprising, and innovative, and give a new take on the subject matter. You can also see a display of artwork by local artists in the theater foyer. There are discounts for seniors, students, and soldiers. There are several places reserved for audience members in wheelchairs.A promotional image from the show Manegalian Passport, one of the favorites in the theater (Image source: The official Jaffa Theater website)The Jaffa Theater is housed in the same building as the Arab Al Saraya Theater Company and the Jaffa Museum; Performances are in Hebrew and Arabic and some productions have English subtitles. Tickets are bought online on the theater's website and most productions are on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays. The theater also offers educational programs, workshops, art exhibitions, literary evenings, and musical performances.Pro Tip: Don’t rush out the door when the show ends, as the actors and directors regularly host discussions with the audience following the show.
By Petal Mashraki

Lehi Museum

Plan Your VisitLocation: 8 Avraham Stern Street,Florentin, Tel Aviv.Open Times: Sunday to Thursday 08:00-16:00, Fridays by prior arrangement, Saturdays closed.Prices: Adults 20 ILS, children, students, seniors 15 ILSAverage Visit Duration: 1 hour.Special Events: Entrance is free on Israeli Independence Day, usually in May or April.Relevant Tours: Tours can be prearranged on request, just ask your guide upon taking private Tel Aviv tours.Unless you know a bit about Israel’s history, the name of this museum might seem strange! Lehi is actually an acronym of the Hebrew“Lohamei Herut Yisrael” or in English “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”. Lehi was an underground Jewish paramilitary organization that fought for an independent Jewish state during the period of British rule of Palestine.The Lehi Museum house in Florentin (Image source: Nadav Barkai CC BY 2.5)The museum was created in honor of the Lehi resistance fighters who lost their lives in the struggle to create a home for the Jewish People. The museum is located in the heart of Tel Aviv’s trendy Florentin neighborhood, in the house where Lehi founder and commander Avraham (Yair) Stern was murdered by the British secret police. The building is also known as Beit Yair (Yair House) in Stern’s honor.What is the History of Lehi?The Jewish underground movement Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang, emerged during the tumultuous period of British Mandatory Palestine in the 1940s. Founded by Avraham Stern, Lehi aimed to resist British rule and fight for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.The group vehemently opposed what they perceived as the British betrayal of Jewish aspirations, particularly in restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine during World War II. Lehi engaged in guerrilla warfare against both British authorities and Arab forces, carrying out attacks on military and civilian targets.Equipment used by Lehi operatives(Image source: The official Lehi Museum website)In 1944, they assassinated Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State in the Middle East. The group's tactics and extremist ideology, including collaboration with Nazi Germany against the common enemy of the British, generated controversy within the Jewish community.From 1944 to 1948, Lehi members were held by the British without trial at a detention camp near Jerusalem and were deported to internment camps in Africa. The British thought this would weaken the underground forces and encourage political submission. The fighters were released and returned to Israel a few months after the State of Israel was established.Despite their relatively small size compared to other Jewish paramilitary organizations, Lehi played a significant role in shaping the dynamics of pre-state Israel, eventually disbanding in 1948 when the state of Israel was established.Pro Tip: Several Jewish underground movements were instrumental in fighting for Israel’s independence. If you’re interested in this period of history you could visit the Etzel Museum or the Palmach Museum.What is there at the Lehi Museum?The museum is spread over two floors devoted to Lehi and its endeavors. On the top floor, you can see the original apartment where Yair Stern was shot. It has been recreated with original furnishings to look as it did in 1942. The rest of this floor of the museum tells the story of Avraham “Yair” Stern. The displays take visitors through the exciting life of this heroic underground fighter.A model of an internment camp used by the Mandate (Image source: The official Lehi Museum website)The apartment on the top floor of the building was rented by Tova and Moshe Savorai, and Stern lived there for the last few weeks of his life. In this one-room apartment, "Yair" hid from the British detectives who offered a monetary reward of one thousand Israeli pounds on his head.On February 12, 1942, British policemen arrived at the apartment and after a short search found "Yair" hiding in a closet and called the chief of the Bureau, Geoffrey Morton, who shot him to death while his hands were tied. For the best understanding of the exhibits, start on the top floor and work your way down.The daring escape performed by Lehi operatives is displayed in the Museum (Image source: The official Lehi Museum website)On the other floor of the museum, there is an exhibit of Lehi’s history in chronological order. On display are records with descriptions of battles and operations. There are excellent models for each of the operations.Learn about the trials of Lehi fighters by the British, and the detention camps in Israel and Africa, where Lehi fighters were held. There is a display of weapons, printed propaganda material, and artifacts used in their intelligence operations.Pro Tip: Did you know that future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was one of Lehi’s three key members?The museum also hosts changing exhibitions and special events are held here with regular lectures by former Lehi fighters. This floor is home to a library and archives. There is also a commemorative hall honoring the fallen fighters of Lehi and information on other Jewish underground movements at the time.
By Petal Mashraki