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Petra & Wadi Rum 2-Day Tour from Tel Aviv + Flights

Take a short flight from Ben Gurion Airport Tel Aviv (Terminal 1) to Ramon Airport near Eilat.This Petra and Wadi Rum tour 2-day tour from the Eilat includesexotic Middle Eastern landscapes, the iconic city ofPetra - one of the Seven New Wonders of the World- and an exhilaratingjeep safari through Wadi Rum.You’ll be picked up in Eilat and taken swiftly across the border into the Kingdom of Jordan. Walk through Aqaba's scenic street passages toMamluk Castle- an Ottoman fort overlooking Aqaba Bay's border nexusYou'll have free time to explore the seaside city of Aqaba, and enjoy awesome water activities such as boating+snorkeling, and have fun on a private beach.Next, you'll head out for an exciting jeep tour of Wadi Rum, a unique desert wilderness with amoon-like landscapeand an opportunity to snap some amazing photos. SeveralStar Wars movieswere shot here, and you'll see why.After an authentic, yet pampering night ina real Bedouin camp, You'll head for Petra. This extraordinary city was carved out of the red-hued desert cliffs 2,300 years ago, and its shrines and majestic mausoleums await you - starting with the famousPetra Treasury.Explore the Royal Tombs like Indiana Johns, gaze deep into Nabatean History, and take awesome photos of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Petra 2-Day Tour from Tel Aviv with Flights

This Petra 2-Day Tour includes exotic middle eastern landscapes, the iconic city ofPetra - one of the 7 New Wonders of the World- which is filled to the brim with fascinating history, unique photo ops, and exciting activities.After ashort flight, you’ll be picked up in Eilat and taken swiftly across the border into the Kingdom of Jordan. Travel to Petra -a whole city carved into the red-hued desert cliffs2,300 years ago. See every jaw drop in front of the marvelousPetra Treasury, thenfeel like Indiana Johnsin the nearby temples and tombs.After a pampering night at a great Petra hotel, you'll head back to the Archeology Park for a day of exploring, hiking, great local food, and much more. This is your opportunity to see the dazzling beauty of Ad Deyr - thePetra Monastery, located at the end of a mountain trail with amazing views.Visit must-see spots like theQasr Al-Bint temple, the temple ofWinged Lions, and thePetra Museumwhich shows just how unique was the ancient Nabatean culture, and take breathtaking pics of the unforgettable site from between 2,000-year-old columns.

Glamping Adventure: Petra & Wadi Rum, 3 Days from Tel Aviv With Flights

This Aqaba, Petra, and Wadi Rum 3-day tour offersstunning Middle Eastern landscape, a touch of thefantastic beachesof Aqaba, a visit tothe famous city of Petra- one of the Seven New Wonders of the World - and an excitingjeep safari in Wadi Rum.Take a short flight to Eilat, then quickly cross the border into the neighboring country of Jordan. Start your adventure with a visit to Mamluk Castle, a fortress towering over the border nexus of Aqaba Bay. Then enjoy free time in the seaside city of Aqaba, where you'll enjoy optional beach activities such as boating+snorkeling, and a private beach.Next, you'll take a thrilling jeep tour of Wadi Rum, a striking desert wilderness with a lunar-looking terrain, and a chance to snap some one-of-a-kind photos.Several Star Wars movies were shot here,and you'll see why.After an authentic and cozy night in a genuine Bedouin camp, You'll head for Petra. This impressive city was carved out of the red-hued desert cliffs 2,300 years ago, and its temples and tombs await you - starting with the world-renownedPetra Treasury.See the mysteriousDjinn Blocksand the uniqueObelisk Tomb, Walk in the footsteps of ancient rulers tothe Royal Tombs, and take exceptional shots of the Nabatean Theater from between the huge columns.After a night in a great hotel next to Petra, you'll have a full day of scouting, hiking, trying local cuisine, and more. This is your opportunity to see the fantasticGreat Templeof Petra and the Petra Monastery - a giant structure of rare splendor- atthe end of a ridge trail with astonishing views.

The Perfect Tel Aviv Walking Tour

Your adventure will start in old Jaffa - a treasure trove of colorful alleys and ancient stories. Your guide will take you to the old Jaffa port - a significant historical landmark that shaped Tel Aviv and Israel over the ages. After learning about its heritage, you’ll visit the lovely St. Peter’s church, cross the Wishing Bridge, and take great pics at the beautiful Zodiac Sign Fountain. We’ll also see the famous Jaffa Clock Tower, the Andromeda Rock, and the stunning view from atop the Garden of Pinnacle.Your next area to discover will be Carmel Market, the largest market in Tel Aviv and the city’s living, bleeding heart: amazing food awaits at every stall, and the aroma of spices from all over the Middle East fills the air; This is a true pleasure for every foodie: your guide will take you to try the local culinary - amazing pastries, cheese, Mediterranean platters and sweets you won’t forget. While absorbing the market culture, your guide will tell you how Carmel Market changed over the years, while remaining such a hotspot for great chefs looking for ingredients and inspiration.Our next stop is Nakhlat Binyamin - a bohemian neighborhood built by and for artists over 100 years ago. It still holds a significant impact on Tel Aviv’s creative culture and is filled with fabric stores, galleries - and incredible street art.The first thing you’ll see is the marvelous architecture: the lovely balconies, columns, and Art Deco elements. But the real magic of Nakhlat Binyamin is the graffiti: countless artworks, depicting a renegade culture’s struggles in pursuit of expression and beauty. Your guide will tell you about the artists’ styles, influences, and history - as well as their special social commentary. This fascinating layer of Israeli culture will conclude this great walking tour of Tel Aviv, after endless photo ops and memories. So are you coming or what?

Bethlehem & Church of the Nativity Day Tour

This one-of-a-kind Bethlehem Full Day Tour will take you from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv through the Judean Hills towards Bethlehem - The same route Mary and Joseph took when they journeyed to Bethlehem over two millennia ago. The beautiful, biblical landscape will charm you, as we reach the first stop: The Palestinian Separation Wall with its world-renowned graffiti, done by Bansky himself. You’ll see his cutting-edge creations, which convey ant-war messages in his unique, humorous style.After a quick stop at the Banksy Shop, we’ll continue our voyage and reach the biblical Shepherds' Field - where the angel appeared to the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-14) and announced the birth of the Savior, Christ the Lord, in nearby Bethlehem. This site is marked by the lovely Chapel of the Angels, designed by Antonio Barluzzi - and its beautiful murals will provide you with great photo ops.Next, we’ll head out for Bethlehem itself, and after a short drive, we’ll reach the Milk Grotto; this sacred landmark is where Mary nursed baby Jesus while hiding after the nativity. After learning more about this place’s special traditions and cultural impact, you’ll be taken to Manger Square, a holy nexus for Christians from all over the world.Time permitting, we’ll walk around the area and even visit the Bethlehem Market with its loud, colorful atmosphere - before reaching our main attraction: The unforgettable Church of the Nativity, marking the blessed birthplace of Jesus.The Church complex is kept by separate Catholic, Greek, and Armenian castodies, and while other tours are bounded by local availability, your group will go in and experience this holy site to its fullest: you’ll see the Grotto in the Grotto of the Nativity with its famous star on the marble floor, and sanctuary lamps hanging above; you’ll see the exquisite interior, covered in gold-hued mosaics; And enter the Chapel of the Kings at the northern transept of the church, where the Three Wise Men came to witness the nativity (Matthew 2:1-12).After learning more about the site’s surprising history, you’ll head back to the spacious tour bus, and drive back to the departure point while enjoying more of the area’s amazing views - A perfect ending for a perfect guided Bethlehem tour!

Gaza Strip Envelope Private Tour

This Private Tour in the Gaza Envelopeis designed to give participants a deeper understanding not just of the event of October 7th but the conflict between Israel and Hamas since 2006. Beginning the day, we will drive south along the coast, past Ashkelon and Ashdod, towards Israel’s border with Gaza and view the separation fence.Arriving at Netiv HaAsara, a moshav attacked by militants that day, we will view the Erez crossing, where up to 20,000 Palestinian workers would pass through each day, en route to work in Israel. From there, we will journey onto Sderot and tour the city, looking at areas particularly and the subsequent street battles between local Israelis and militants.Continuing south, we'll arrive at Nahal Oz, where both the Military Base and the kibbutz’s perimeter wall were breached. After lunch at one of the local kibbutzim, we will travel onto Kibbutz Be’eri, heavily impacted, walk around the remains of burned-out homes and hear stories of those who witnessed these tragic events.Afterward, we will travel on to Rei’m, the site of the Nova Festival massacre, where around 340 young people were slaughtered. The area has now been cleared and we will tour the memorials to the victims, each of whom has been given a name and photograph.Following on, we will visit an ancient synagogue close to Nirim, dating back to 5 BCE and look at its magnificent mosaic floor, then continue onto Ofakim and walk the ‘Path of the Heroes’. We will learn the story of Rachel, one of the town’s heroines, who managed to survive death that day by virtue of her extraordinary resourcefulness.Finally, heading back north, we’ll stop at Moshav Tekuma, to observe what is now a ‘car graveyard’, full of motor vehicles that were set alight that day.


Aqaba is Jordan’s only seaport on the Red Sea, but it is much more than that and definitely worth incorporating a stop here into your tour to Petra. The city is known as the Jewel of the Middle East and is famed for its beautiful beaches, nightlife, and luxury resorts. The historic part of Aqaba has quaint stone buildings and cobbled lanes while the newer sections of the city have luxury resorts and amenities. And let's not forget water sports, museums, and more.Pro Tip: As Aqaba is a special economic zone you can enjoy duty-free shopping!The city of Aqaba, with its giant Jordan flagWhere is Aqaba?Aqaba is on Jordan’s Red Sea coastline, on the northeastern shore, not far from Eilat, the Israeli beach resort city. Pro Tip: Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba make up a golden triangle of tourist sites. If you’re taking a tour to Petra from Israel you can usually include a stop in Aqaba. The Israel-Jordan border crossing is just 5km from Aqaba. Also, if you're traveling to Jordan, make sure you won't do these common mistakes.The Aqaba Fortress (by Tamerlan CC BY-SA 3.0)History of AqabaAqaba has several archeological sites including Tal Al-Magass and Tal Hujayrat where there is evidence of human inhabitants going back to 4000 BC. The first port in Aqaba was probably built by the Edomites in about 1500 BC. And since then it has been a major hub of maritime trade thanks to the port’s location, where Asia meets Africa.Aqaba During the Classic PeriodFrom 735 BC the city experienced prosperity under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, and Greek rule. The Greeks called Aqaba one of the most important trading cities in the Arab World and they named the city, Bernice. The Nabataeans were a powerful force to the north in their capital city, Petra. Even when Aqaba was ruled by the Romans (and renamed Aela) the Nabataeans had a significant influence on the city.Early Muslim PeriodThe city fell to Islamic conquerors in 650 AD. It was ruled by the Umayyads (661-750), the Abbasids (750-970), and the Fatimids (970-1116). They named their city Ayla, and Aqaba Fortress was built surrounded by formidable walls and towers. Pro Tip: if the fortress interests you there are artifacts from this period on display in the Aqaba Archaeological Museum.Crusaders in AqabaThe city was conquered yet again, this time by Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1116. Under him, the Crusader fortress of Helim was built. But by the 12th century, following earthquakes and attacks from Bedouin and Mamluk forces the city began to decline. In 1187 Aqaba was captured by Saladin. He rebuilt the city, and in the 16th century the old fort was rebuilt but the city remained a simple fishing village for the next four hundred years.A 17th century map of the Aqaba areaModern History of AqabaIn 1917 the legendary T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) together with Arab forces defeated the Ottoman forces at the Battle of Aqaba. In the 1920s the Arab rulers gave Aqaba to the British protectorate of Transjordan. In 1946 Jordan gained independence from the British and Aqaba grew as a modern city and beach resort. In 1989 excavations uncovered the ancient Muslim city of Ayla.The Aqaba south beach (CC BY-SA 4.0 by عباد ديرانية)What to See and Do in AqabaAqaba Mamluk CastleThe Aqaba Mamluk castle was originally constructed by the Crusaders in the 12th century. When Saladin conquered the city the fort was destroyed, and later in the 16th century the structure was rebuilt under the Mamluk dynasty. A Mamluk inscription on the wall is dated 1514-1515. The fort played an important role in the Arab revolt in 1917 when the Ottomans were ousted. Over the years it offered shelter to pilgrims and travelers. Pro Tip: Spot the Hashemite coat of arms inscribed above the main gate.Mamluk Castle, AqabaWater SportsThe Red Sea is one of the best diving sites in the world thanks to the incredible coral reefs. There are about 30 designated dive sites off the Aqaba coast, and most of them are within the Aqaba Marine Park. See shipwrecks, a sunken tank, and the underwater Japanese Gardens. There are numerous businesses along the coast offering snorkeling, diving, and boat excursions as well as water sports such as skiing, and jet skiing.Jet ski near the coastAqaba Marine ParkThe marine park protects precious coral reefs and the marine biosphere. The reef is home to thousands of colorful fish and 127 types of Insta-worthy coral formations. Pro Tip: Invest in a device that can take underwater photos, you won’t regret it! The park operates about 20 dive sites including the Japanese Garden and Taiyong Wreck. ProTip: The glass-bottomed boat rides are great, and you'll see amazing aquatic animals without getting wet.Red Sea bay marine lifeAqaba AquariumThe aquarium is within the Marine Science Station Complex. Water is pumped directly from the Red Sea into the aquarium tanks where you can see a wide variety of local fish and marine life.Aqaba Bird ObservatoryThousands of migrating birds stop in the Gulf of Aqaba each year. Visit the Aqaba Bird Observatory where there are man-made wetlands, to get up close to the feathered friends, and see some of 390 bird species. The observatory is located in Al-Salam Forest, near the Araba border crossing into Israel.An Osprey with its prey, both surprised to see you!Aqaba GolfAqaba is a popular golfing destination thanks to the unique 18-hole championship course - Ayla Golf Club and the Ayla Golf Academy, a nine-hole flood-lit course.4th Century Church, AqabaSee the archaeological remains of a 4th-century Roman church. It is believed to be one of the world’s oldest purpose-built churches.The ancient church of AqabaMasjid Al Hussein Bin Ali MosqueThis beautiful white mosque stands between the souq and the beach. It is named after the initiator of the Arab Revolt, Sharif and Emir of Mecca (1908 to 1917). It has the largest dome of all Jordan’s mosques as well as stunning glass windows, and manicured gardens. Note that the mosque is closed to tourists during prayer time.Hussein Bin Ali MosqueSea and FunAqaba has exquisite white sand beaches which are framed by a promenade (Aqaba Corniche) where you’ll find cafes, restaurants, and hubbly bubbly lounges. ProTip: visit Al-Hafayer Beach (Palm Beach) which runs parallel to the corniche, where there are vegetables and fruit orchards cultivated by locals. If you’d like a quieter beach head to Berenice Beach Club.Enjoy the beaches of AqabaAqaba Heritage MuseumIf you want to see a traditional home visit this museum where you can see an intact model of a mud house, with a pine leaf roof, and gravel floor. The house is furnished with authentic traditional furniture and household articles. Pro Tip: This museum has free admission.Ayla Archaeological RemainsThe ancient Muslim city Alya was built in 650 AD and surrounded by fortified walls. You can explore the remains of the city and walk within the 2.5-meter-thick walls and through ancient stone gateways.Aqaba Archaeological MuseumThe museum is housed in the former home of Sharif Hussein bin Ali. It holds a collection of artifacts dating back 6,000 years.The Aqaba Museum(by Ana al'ain CC BY-SA 3.0)Aqaba SouqStroll along the picturesque lanes and browse through the market stalls. You’ll find fresh produce, spices piled high, and handicrafts.A traditional SouqPlan Your VisitOpen Times: Most Aqaba stores are open from 08:00 to 22:00 Sunday to Thursday.Prices: join a Petra tour from Israel that includes the entrance fee to Petra as well as a possible stop in Aqaba. ProTip: The Jordan Pass includes discounts to attractions in Aqaba.Average Visit Duration: You could spend a week in Aqaba enjoying all the attractions or make a short stop for a couple of hours.Popular Times: Aqaba is a year-round destination. The best time to visit Aqaba is in the shoulder seasons - spring and fall when it is hot but not scorching. Summer is perfect if you like constant beach weather, and winter is cool but not cold. Special Events: The Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival is in February and showcases traditional Bedouin arts and crafts.Relevant Tours: Try a two-day Petra tour from Israel that includes a stop in Aqaba. There are great 2-day Petra tours from Eilatand some relevant Tel Aviv to Petra 2-day toursthat also go through Aqaba.

Renaissance Tomb, Petra

Plan Your VisitOpen Times:Petra is open in summer from 06:00-18:00 and in winter from 06:00-16:00.Prices: Entrance to thePetra Archaeological Parkis 90JD, with a discount for Jordan Pass holders. Average Visit Duration:The average time spent at the Tomb of Renaissance is 30 min. Take into account the time it takes to walk to the tomb.Popular Times: Petra group tours usually don’t go as far as the Renaissance Tomb so if you are traveling independently or with a private guide you can choose when to go there. You won’t find crowds at the Renaissance Tomb at any time during the day. Special Events: The tomb itself has no special events but the Petra Archaeological Park holds an evening show called Petra by Night, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 20:30.Relevant Tours: Join a guided Petra tour from Israeland opt for a 2-day visit: This way you'll have time to explore independently visit the Renaissance Tomb.The Renaissance Tomb in Petra was not built in the Renaissance! Like most of the structures in the ancient Nabataean city, it was carved out of the red sandstone cliffs in the late 1st century or early 2nd century AD. It gets its name from the magnificent facade that features intricate carved decoration.Where is the Renaissance Tomb?You won’t find the Renaissance Tomb on a regular walk through Petra. It is located in Wadi al-Farasa and is accessed from across from the Petra Royal Tombs.Pro Tip: You won’t see the Renaissance Tomb on a 1-day Petra group tour, but if you are on a private Petra tour you can ask your guide to take you there.TheRenaissance Tomb in PetraWadi al-Farasa has several interesting tombs but it is less crowded than the main part of Petra and requires a long walk.Pro Tip: This is a very enjoyable part of Petra with other interesting monuments including the Garden Temple, and the Lion Fountain.What to See at the Renaissance Tomb, PetraRenaissance Tomb FacadeThe tomb facade measures 8 meters wide and 13 meters high. At the top of the facade is a triangular pediment decorated with three carved funeral urns. The pediment rests on an entablature (a horizontal band with decorative carvings) supported by two pilasters (columns that are carved onto the facade rather than being free-standing). The pilasters are topped with typical-style capitals. The tomb’s name comes from the archivolt (ornamental molding that follows the curve on the underside of an arch) above the entrance. Inside the tomb (Image source: Jorge Láscar CC BY 2.0)The archivolt is topped by an urn and is reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance style of architecture.Pro Tip: Spot the remains of a carved water basin on either side of the facade. This would have been part of the Nabataean's ingenious water system.Renaissance Tomb InteriorThe interior of this tomb measures 7 meters by 8 meters. It was excavated in 2003 and contains 14 pit graves. Unfortunately, all the graves (loculi) were looted hundreds of years ago.Pro Tip: Look out for the two tombs with unusual Nabataean inscriptions.

The Clock Tower

Plan Your VisitOpen Times: See the exterior of the clock tower 24/7.Pro Tip: The Tourist Information Center inside the clock tower is open Fridays and Saturdays, 09:30-16:00.Prices:Free to see from the outside.Average Visit Duration: Spend about half an hour seeing the exterior of the tower and taking a few selfies.Pro Tip: If you’re at the tower don’t miss the best bakery in the city, across the road from the tower is the legendary Abulafia Bakery.Popular Times: The tower is great night and day. In the night it is lit up beautifully.Special Events: Christmas in Israelis celebrated around the tower - a huge time a tall Christmas tree is erected in the traffic circle opposite the tower. And during other Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holidays, you’ll find decorations around Jaffa’s clock tower.Relevant Tours:Join a tour of Tel Aviv or take a Jaffa walking tour to see the tower and learn about its history.Israel’s most famous clock tower stands at the entrance to Jaffa, in Clock Square, at 14 Yefet Street. You can’t miss it as you enter this charming ancient port city. It looks like it belongs in Europe, but was built by the Turkish Ottomans. The Jaffa clock tower is the most popular meeting point in the city. Just tell your friends or tour guide to meet you at the clock tower and they will know exactly where you’ll be.The Jaffa Clock TowerPro Tip:On the north face of the clock tower is a small door where you can enter the Jaffa Clock Tower Information Center. There is another visitors' center in Kedumim Square where you can also get information aboutJaffa.History of Jaffa Clock TowerThe first cornerstone for the clock tower was laid on September 1, 1900. In 1901 construction began on the clock tower in Jaffa and in 1903 it was completed. At the time it stood close to the Jaffa police station, detention center, Ottoman government offices, or Soraya. It was one of six clock towers built in what was then called Palestine, and ruled by the Ottomans. It was built to celebrate Sultan Abdul Hamid II's 25 years of rule in the Ottoman Empire. In total, the Turkish Ottomans constructed 100 clock towers throughout their empire to mark the silver anniversary of the Sultan’s reign.Pro Tip: If you want to see the other clock towers you’ll find them at Acre above the Khan El-Umdan; Haifa in front of the El-Jarina Mosque; Safed, built above the Soraya Ottoman government complex, and in Nablus. The final clock tower was in Jerusalem but was demolished by the British in 1922.The Clock Tower in 1929Today Jafa and Tel Aviv are a joint municipality but in 1901 Jaffa was a separate city and the Jewish, Christian, and Arab residents paid for its construction. It became extremely important in the 19th century as a focal point of the city where events and markets were held. Official buildings were built around it and a central parking area for horses and carriages was set up on present-day Beit Eshel Street. From here theTel Aviv public transport departed taking people across the country. The clock tower has undergone several facelifts over the years, including those in 1965, 1966, and 2001.Pro Tip: This is a great place to arrange to meet someone as you can’t miss it. It is also a popular starting point for tours.What to See at Jaffa Clock TowerThe Jaffa Clock TowerFaçadeThe tower was built with limestone; it has four sides, and three floors (ground floor and two upper floors). It resembles a typical European church bell tower and has arched windows on the two upper levels and a similarly shaped doorway on the ground level. In the window openings is stained glass depicting scenes from Jaffa’s history. The stained glass was designed by artist Arie Koren. At the top of the tower is a copper cover and hidden inside is a bell. The base of the tower measures 3.8 meters on each side, and the tower stands 27.8 meters tall from the ground to the top of the antenna.The Jaffa ClockThe clock tower served an important purpose as most people didn’t have watches and needed a way to tell the time. Legend has it that a local businessman, Yossef Moyal, suggested the tower's construction because he was sick of people coming into his store to ask for the time. Nathaniel Markovich, a watchmaker with a store on Iskander Awad Street, was put in charge of the clock. And when the Turkish expelled the Jews during World War One, Markovich was given special permission to stay, so that he could continue operating the clock. The clocks that originally adorned the tower were made by a local Jewish watchmaker, Moritz Schoenberg.The Clock and the viewAt the time of construction, the tower had four clocks, one on each side of the tower. Two clocks showed the time in Europe and two showed the time in Israel. During the 1966 renovation, the ancient clocks were removed, and two new clocks were installed on the north and south sides of the tower. Another feature of the façade is a plaque commemorating the fallen soldiers from Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.The Sultan’s SealNotice the marble seal of the Ottoman Sultan that hangs about 12 meters above the sidewalk. It has the Sultan’s seal in relief and was featured on all the clock towers built in that year to honor the Ottoman ruler. Not long ago, the seal was restored. Before the restoration, it was virtually impossible to see the relief details as it was covered with smog and dirt. It got cleaned up, and it was also firmly attached to the tower as it had been dangerously close to falling off. At one time the tower had the Sultan’s seal on all four sides, but three haven’t survived and have been replaced with glass replicas. Pro Tip: You can only see the original marble seal on the southern side.

St. Peter’s Church, Jaffa

Plan Your VisitOpen Times:Services are held Monday to Friday at 07:00 (English), Saturday at 19:50 (Spanish) and 18:30 (Hebrew), and on Sundays at 09:00 (English), 18:00 (Polish), and 19:15 (Hebrew). The schedule can change so you should call ahead. Visitors are welcome Monday - Friday 8:00 - 11:45 and 15:00 - 17:00; Saturday 9:00 - 11:45 and 15:00 - 18:30 plus Sunday 9:00 - 11:45 and 15:00 - 19:00. The church is closed on Yom Kippur.Prices:Entrance is free but donations are appreciated.Average Visit Duration:Visitors spend about half an hour at the church.Popular Times:If you are Christian the best time to visit is during one of the religious services. Otherwise, the most popular times are during the Christian holidays.Special Events:Special services are held at Easter and Christmas.Tours of St. Peter’s Church: Several great Tel Aviv Tourswill get you pretty close, but the best is this Jaffa walking tourwhich tells the whole story of old Jaffa, including that of the famous church. Note thatIf you visit independently, there is no tour provided by the church.In the ancient port city of Jaffa, which is now a joint municipality with adjacent Tel Aviv, stands the Church of Saint Peter and monastery. It was built at the highest point of Jaffa overlooking the old port. Jaffa is one ofthe oldest port cities in the world, with a rich and colorful history. The church played a significant role in Jaffa’s history and welcomed pilgrims for hundreds of years.Originally a Byzantine church stood here, but it burned down and many years later a Crusader citadel was built on the church's remains. When the citadel was destroyed, it was replaced by a church in 1654, and the Ottoman rulers allowed Franciscans to settle here and operate a hostel for visiting pilgrims.St. Peter's Church in JaffaLater the church was restored with the help of funding from French King Louis IX. In the 18th century, it was destroyed and rebuilt twice. The current structure was built in 1894 and renovated in 1903. Since then it has been destroyed and rebuilt twice, The church we see today dates back to 1894, although it was given a facelift in 1903. St. Peter’s Church was the primary Catholic church in Jaffa until St. Anthony’s Church was built in 1932. Today the church is mainly used by foreign workers living in the city. Pro Tip: A room at the church once hosted Napoleon when he conquered Jaffa in 1799.St. Peter’s Church in Jaffa: The Biblical ConnectionPeter was one of the 12 apostles and is considered the first pope. He is known to have made Christianity accessible to all and to a large extent for spreading it throughout the world. The church was built in Jaffa to commemorate several deeds performed by St. Peter the Apostle in Jaffa.St. Peter's Church' fasssadeThe Bible tells us that Saint Peter stayed at the House of Simon the Tanner in Joppa (Jaffa), and he had a vision of a large sheet held at its four corners and lowered from heaven. In the sheet were kosher and non-kosher animals, reptiles, and birds. He heard a voice saying “Get up Peter, kill and eat.” Peter protested saying he would not eat non-kosher animals, but a second, and third time the vision appeared, and the voice said “What God made clean, you must not call profane”. (Acts 11:1-8) This vision has been interpreted as meaning that the gospel should be spread to Jews and Gentiles alike and that kosher rules should no longer apply.According to Acts of the Apostles, it was also in Jaffa that Saint Peter raised a faithful disciple, Tabitha from the dead. Jaffa has another biblical connection, it was from here that Jonah set sail for TarshishWho Was Saint Peter?Saint Peter was a Jewish fisherman from the city of Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. His original name was Shimon bar Yona. He became the most senior of the 12 apostles and is considered the first pope. The Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican is named after him.Pro Tip: Spot the large rock at the top of the church facade that supports a bronze cross. The rock was brought from Caesarea-Philippi (today’s Bania’s in Galilee). It was in the Roman city of Caesarea-Philippi that Jesus gave Peter his name, “Cephas” which means “Petros” or Peter in Greek (John 1:42). The rock on the St. Peter’s Church facade symbolizes Peter’s solid faith in Jesus.What to See and Do at St. Peter’s Church, JaffaChurch InteriorThe large church interior was designed in the Baroque style, with a long nave, vaulted ceiling, and thick columns. Oil paintings on the walls depict the Stations of the Cross and St. George fighting the dragon. Above the altar is a painting of Peter’s vision. The pulpit is beautifully carved to resemble a tree. Pro Tip: If you arrive and the door is locked, ring the bell on the right side of the door, and someone will come and open up for you.Church ExteriorThe church facade stands out from other structures in Jaffa with its distinct resemblance to Spanish churches in Latin America. The Spanish sponsored the construction we see today and so the architecture shows a little Spanish flare. Pro Tip: Notice that the church faces west towards the sea, unlike other churches that traditionally face east. This is linked to Peter’s vision that appeared from the sea. In the monastery courtyard is a statue of Louis IX of France, who was sanctified in the Christian tradition for his part in the Crusades.St. Peter's Church in Jaffa is one of the city's favorite spots among visitorsPro Tip:Next to the sacristy are the remains of two rooms from the original Crusader citadel where Napoleon spent the night, as well as the remains of the citadel tower. Also, in the basement of the Citadel Tower is a round stone chapel.Stained Glass Windows:There are four panels of stained glass in the church; they were designed and created by Franz Xaver Zettler in Munich. Each of the panels depicts scenes from Saint Peter’s life - the washing of Jesus’ feet at the Last Supper; the transfiguration of Jesus; the giving of the keys, and the miraculous catching of fish. Other windows in the church show Tabitha, the woman Peter brought back to life in Jaffa; Francis of Assisi, and the immaculate conception. Other stained glass windows depict Spanish saints, as the Spanish Empire funded the latest version of the church.Bell Tower of St. Peter’s Church:The church bell tower overlooks the old port of Jaffa and the Mediterranean Sea. For many years the tower was a beacon for ships coming into port, and the first thing pilgrims would see as they approached the Holy Land.Pro Tip: If you don't want to miss any of this place's splendor, you can always take a private tour in Tel Avivand see more of Jaffa and its surroundings.

Fountain "Zodiac Signs"

Plan Your VisitLocation:Kikar Kdumim 6, Tel Aviv-YafoOpen Times: 24/7Prices: FreeAverage Visit Duration: 30 minutes.Popular Times:Great during the day and also at night when it is lit up. Try to avoid the midday sun.Special Events:In theIsraelisummer there are regular activities and festivals in Kdumim Square alongside the fountain such as the Jaffa Nights festival.Relevant Tours:A popular spot among Tel Aviv tours, any guided jaunt of Jaffa will take you past this famous fountain.In the heart of Old Jaffa, is Kdumim Square, where most tourists begin their exploration of this fascinating ancient port city located at the southern end of Tel Aviv. In Kdumim Square you can’t miss the beautiful Zodiac Fountain, an unusual water feature adorned with fun stone Israeli sculptures of the twelve zodiac signs.What is the Fountain of Zodiac Signs?The fountain was created in 2011 by local sculptors Ilan Gelber and Varda Ghivoly, with designs of the zodiac characters by Navot Gil. The fountain has twelve zodiac characters carved out of chalkstone. TheZodiac Signs Fountain in JaffaThey are rather cartoon-like chubby representations of the zodiac characters such as the Aries ram (which looks more like a cute sheep), the Leo lion, and the two fish for Pisces. The semi-circular pool of the fountain has a low rim so you can sit on it for a cute photo with the zodiac characters in the background. The fountain integrates lighting to bring the characters to life at night.Pro Tip: If you enjoyed seeing the fountain sculptures by local Jaffa artists then you’ll love the many unique local art galleries tucked away in Jaffa’s Zodiac Lane.Why Have a Zodiac Fountain in Jaffa?During archaeological excavations at the site, architectural elements from the Ottoman era were uncovered including walls, floors, a tiled courtyard, aqueducts, and a water reservoir. This seemed to confirm a local legend.According to the legend, a magical wishing well once stood here, and anyone who threw in a coin and made a wish would have their wish granted. And so zodiac signs which are associated with “luck” became the theme, and water represents the well.Side view of the fountainThe zodiac theme permeates Jaffa. Notice the names of the lanes throughout Old Jaffa and leading down to the port, they are named after the zodiac signs. The nearby Wishing Bridge connects Jaffa Hill to Kdumim Square and is also decorated with zodiac signs.What is Near the Zodiac Fountain?You can reach all of Jaffa’s attractions from the fountain on foot. The closest ones include the Old Jaffa Visitors Center (also known as Jaffa Tales because of the multi-media museumcovering the history of Jaffa accessed via the Visitors Center). Towering over Kdumim Square is Saint Peter’s Church. Saint Peter’s ChurchFrom the fountain, you can access the zodiac lanes that twist and turn down the hill to the Old Jaffa Port. The fountain area is also where you’ll find some of the top restaurants in Jaffa, many with brilliant sea views.Pro Tip: Did you know that Napoleon conquered Jaffa in 1799? Take a selfie with the statue of Napoleon just before you reach the fountain.

Suspended Orange Tree

Plan Your VisitOpen Times:24/7Prices:Free.Average Visit Duration: 10 minutes; people usually stand around it and take Instagram shots.Popular Times:See the Suspended Orange during the daytime, anytime.Relevant Tours: Take a good Jaffa walking tour and see the tree. You can also take a private Tel Aviv tour and ask to visit this popular spot.Pro Tip: If you’re wondering how the orange tree survives, you can look for the well-hidden drip irrigation system.It’s great to discover works of public art on your travels and the Suspended Orange in Jaffa is one of the most unusual ones you’ll ever see. Hidden among the lanes of Jaffa's old cityis a large egg-shaped clay pot suspended by metal cables attached to the neighboring houses, so that it is about a meter off the ground, and growing out of the earthenware pot is an orange tree. The Suspended Orange TreeThis installation piece was created in 1993 by Israeli artist Ran Morin and has become a symbol of the city. The tree is real and bears real oranges!Pro Tip:If you’re wondering how the orange tree survives, you can look for the well-hidden drip irrigation system.What is the Meaning of the Suspended Orange Tree?The most obvious explanation of the installation is that it represents the oranges of Jaffa, but there are several other possible meanings associated with the floating tree.Local legend holds that a resident planted an orange tree on municipal land but as this was forbidden by law, an official came to cut down the tree. The resident then hung the tree, suspended above the ground so that it was not touching municipal land and the officials could do nothing about it.The stone egg represents the roots of our ancestors, or the shell that we grew from. It is suspended to show that we eventually are torn away from our roots, and drift further away from nature. The tree represents the blossoming and growing beauty of people.It also symbolizes the Jewish people (the tree), uprooted from their land (suspended off the ground) and scattered throughout the world, but never disconnecting from Israel, and continuing to bear fruit.Another theory is that it represents the detachment between people and nature in today’s modern world.Who Is Ran Morin?The artist who created the Suspended Orange Tree is Ran Morin, an Israeli artist known for incorporating full-size trees into his work. On the outskirts of Jerusalem, near Ramat Rachel Kibbutz is Morin’s Olive Columns, an installation that consists of three tall columns topped by three olive trees.The hanging tree in Jaffa (Image source: vivali CC BY 3.0)Morin has said about the Floating Orange Tree that it shows a rooted and uprooted state while going on living, much as we do, growing into an unclear future.Jaffa OrangesAfter the establishment of Israel in 1948 the new country’s main income was from citrus fruit shipped from Jaffa Port. At that time Jaffa was surrounded by fields of orange groves, and the citrus smell permeated the air. The local Shamouti oranges were known for being juicy, delicious, and seedless.But their greatest quality for traders was that they remained fresh and ripe without rotting for a long time. This made them perfect for exporting to distant countries. Around the world, people ate oranges bearing the “Jaffa” label.Pro Tip:Tel Avivis nicknamed "The Big Orange". You can follow the Orange Trail walking routes through the city.Israel's Oranges are the best!In the 1970s, tragedy struck. As part of the ongoing tension between the Arabs and Jews following the Yom Kippur War, Arabs poisoned the orange groves with mercury. As a result, there were several deaths in Europe, and the Jaffa oranges lost their sterling reputation. Israel could no longer rely on agriculture as its main source of income and they started looking into other fields, eventually leading to the birth of the Start-Up Nation.There are no more orange groves surrounding Jaffa, instead, there is the concrete jungle of Tel Aviv. But the memory of Jaffa and the famous oranges remains.How to Find the Suspended Orange Tree in JaffaThe Suspended Orange Tree can be found at 2 HaZorfim Street. From the main street of Jaffa, Yefet Street, turn down Louis Pasteur Street, then turn right onto Mazal Teomim Street, and right onto HaZorfim Street. Just a few minutes along the street (which is more like a narrow lane) and you will reach a very small courtyard where the Suspended Orange hangs. It is a public area, no need to pay, or ask permission to see it.People gathering around the tree (Image source: deror_avi CC BY-SA 2.0)You may get lost in the labyrinth of lanes in Jaffa’s Old City, but that’s all the fun! If you’re coming from Kedumim Square, take Mazal Dli Street to Mazal Gdi Street, and follow the twists and turns of this street until you reach HaZorfim Street. This is perhaps the most popular way of reaching the Suspended Orange as it allows you to explore the lanes as you go along. It is a well-trodden route that takes you past art galleries and specialty stores. If you’re wondering about the strange names of these lanes, they are all named after the zodiac signs. Pro Tip: This is Jaffa’s Artist’s Quarter and among the lanes surrounding the floating orange tree you’ll find many unusual art galleries.

Ramses II's Gate Garden

Plan Your VisitOpen Times:24/7Prices:Free.Average Visit Duration:10-30 minutes.Popular Times:During daylight hours.Pro Tip: Visit in the late afternoon so you can enjoy the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.Attention, Instagrammers! This is one of the best chances for great pics.Relevant Tours:A walking tour of Jaffa usually includes the Ramses II Gate Garden. You can also take a private Tel Aviv tour and ask to reach this lovely spot.A series of connecting parks slope down from Jaffa’s Old City towards the beginning of the beachfront promenade that leads to Tel Aviv. The first of these tranquil gardens, closest toJaffa is the Ramses II Gate Garden (Sha’ar Ra’amses Garden or Ramesses Garden). Ramses Gate in JaffaThe main attraction of the small park is the Ramses II Gate, a triumphal arch. The gate is not the original which stood here over 3,300 years ago, but it does give you an idea of what it would have looked like and where it would have been.Pro Tip:If you want to see the original visit the Jaffa Museum. It is also a reminder that the Egyptians were in Jaffa. The gate has carved hieroglyphics praising Ramses II, Pharaoh of Egypt who lived from 1304 BC to 1214 BC. The gate stands in front of excavated ruins with remnants from several historical periods.History of Ramses II Gate GardenThe area of south-eastern Jaffa which is now a pleasant park was destroyed by the British during the British Mandate of Palestine (1917-1946), to control an Arab revolt. The area deteriorated to become a slum area of the city. In the 1960s, archaeological excavation in the area revealed the remains of an Egyptian gateway, that turned out to be from the 12th century BC.Further exploration uncovered stones covered in clay and an altar featuring a sphynx-like lion image from the same period.Pro Tip:The site is open to the public to explore when they visit the park.The Egyptians in JaffaThe legend of how the Egyptians conquered Jaffa is a bit like the Greek story of the Trojan Horse. In the 15th century BC, Pharaoh Thutmose III brought gift bakers to the people of Jaffa as a sign of peace, but hidden in the baskets were Egyptian soldiers. Once inside Jaffa’s city walls, the soldiers jumped out and opened the city gates to let in the waiting Egyptian troops. The people of Jaffa were taken by surprise and were caught off guard.The gate itself (Image source: Sylvia Steinberg) The Egyptians remained in Jaffa for 350 years, and it was an administrative center and military base. The triumphal arch that stands in the park today was at the entrance to an Egyptian fortress overlooking the port. The excavations include part of one of the fortress walls. There are also remains of the fortress ramparts and many small items such as bowls, and pottery shards. The Egyptians were just one of a long list of invaders who ruled Jaffa including the Canaanites, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans, and British. The result is a treasure trove of archaeological gems. Pro Tip: The Jewish exodus from Egypt may have taken place during Ramses II’s rule.Visiting Ramses II Gate GardenYou can reach Ramses II Gate Garden from several points in Jaffa, its location on the seam between Jaffa and the Tel Aviv promenade makes it a perfect place to start or finish a tour of Jaffa.Pro Tip: Nearby is the Wishing Bridge that connects Peak Park with Kedumim Square in the heart of Old Jaffa - and many more of the best attractions in Jaffa.

Charles Clore Park, Tel Aviv

Plan Your VisitOpen Times:24/7Prices: Free.Average Visit Duration:Between half an hour to half a day.Popular Times:Visit the park in the late afternoon and watch the sunset over the Mediterranean.Special Events: The June Tel Aviv Pride Parade ends at Charles Clore Park with a massive party. In May the park hosts Eat Tel Aviv, a foodie festival, and throughout the year there are several pop-up events.Relevant Tours:You won’t find a tour specifically covering this park, but it could be included in private Tel Aviv tours.Tel Aviv has many beautiful parks, but Charles Clore Park is special. It stretches along the southern end of Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade to Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s joint municipality. The park’s charm comes from its location, between modern Tel Aviv, and ancientJaffa, facingthe Mediterranean Sea. Alma Beach and Charles Clore ParkThis means that you can watch the sunset over the sea from Charles Clore Park. The park is one ofthe best parks in Tel Aviv: It's about 1.5km long, 50-100 meters wide, and covers about 30 acres of reclaimed land, dried up from the sea. Enjoy the green lawns, the sea views,and the tranquil atmosphere.History of Charles Clore ParkAround the time of Israel’s establishment in 1948, the land where the park stands today was the Al-Manshiyya neighborhood. The residents were relocated, and by the 1960s all that remained was a slum. Discussions took place about how to clean the place up, and it was eventually decided in 1963 to demolish the crumbling buildings. However the contractors responsible for the demolition failed to remove all of the rubble and debris and instead, the remains of the buildings were dumped in the sea.It polluted the beach and the sea to the point where something had to be done. It turned out that it was cheaper to plant grass over the debris and dirt than to clean up the beach. And so a park was established on top of the demolition debris and to expand the park to cover the area where the sea had been dried up by the dirt and remaining buildingmaterials.The landscape architect, A. Hillel was brought in to design the park which had limitations. First, it was a long strip of land, not like the regular wide areas used for urban parks. Second, the earth beneath the grass was mainly building debris and dirt soil that was not suitable for growing trees, only low shrubs. He also had to take into consideration the sea winds and the salt content of the air and soil which further limited the type of plants that could be used.The entrance to the Park (Image source: Dr. Avishai Teicher CC BY 2.5)He planned to plant only bushes and low shrubs and to use palm and Tamarix trees on the eastern side of the park where the soil beneath the surface was not a dry sea area. On the western side, the designer placed a wall to prevent the park’s infrastructure from being washed away by the sea. Along the length of the wall is a wide promenade directly on the shoreline which has become popular with fishermen.In 1971, British businessman and philanthropist Charles Clore made a donation that brought the vision of the park to fruition in time for the city’s centennial celebrations in 2009. The Clore Foundation continues to care for the park and make regular improvements like adding barbeque areas, a playground, and outside exercise facilities. The park was opened to the public in 1974.What to Expect from Charles Clore ParkThis park and beach are used mainly by locals, and a few curious tourists. There is often an activity or special event in the park as well as families having a barbeque, couples sitting on a blanket and having aromantic weekend in Tel Aviv, elderly residents taking their daily walk, joggers, and fishermen. The lovely water fountains around the park (Image CC BY 2.5)The focus of the park is the sea, and apart from any particular attraction in the park, it is popular simply as a great place to relax and enjoy the view. Charles Clore Beach (Alma Beach) is best united to those who want to get away from the larger, more crowded beaches along Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade. Pro Tip: You can walk the entire length of the Tel Aviv promenade from Tel Aviv Port in the north down past the Tel Aviv beaches to Charles Clore Park and beach, then cross the Charles Core Bridge into Jaffa.What to See at Charles Clore Park, Tel AvivBeachfront PromenadeThe best way to see Charles Clore Park is to follow the beachfront promenade that connects Tel Aviv to Jaffa and takes you straight past the park.Pro Tip: There is a 24/7 paid parking lot adjacent to the northern part of the park. The parking lot has charging stations for electric cars.Playground andOutdoor Fitness FacilitiesThere is a state-of-the-art playground with a rope pyramid for climbing, and water fountains to keep you cool. Like many parks around Israel these days you can find several outdoor gym machines. Workout station in the Park (Image source: Avi1111 dr avishai teicher)There Is also a yoga platform where you can do your own thing, or join one of the regular classes. There are bike-share stations along the promenade so you can rent a bike for a few dollars and explore the city.Public Art and Sculpture GardenPositioned throughout the park are works of art by Israeli artists including a sculpture by Ilana Goor, entitled Woman Against the Wind.Beit Gidi Museum (Etzel House)This unique museumfocuses on the history of the Zionist paramilitary organization Irgun, also known as Etzel. The museum is housed in one of only two surviving structures from the Manshiyah neighborhood. The other structure that survived is the Hassan Bek Mosque. The Etzel Museum in the parkThe museum building has been transformed by glass panels that cover the facade, and join seamlessly with the remains of the ancient stone building.Pro Tip: If you’re interested in the history of Etzel there is a second Etzel Museum on King George Street.Alma BeachThe beach adjacent to Charles Clore Park is also known as Alma Beach. It is a small Blue Flag Beach, and there are lockers for leaving your belongings while you swim.You can also bring your dog to the central part of this beach, and participate in non-motorized water sports to the south. There are lifeguard services daily from 07:00 to 18:00 and changing rooms at the beach.Pro Tip: One of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv, Mantra Ray is located on Alma Beach and offers an excellent Mediterranean menu and a laid-back atmosphere.

Wishing Bridge, Jaffa

Plan Your VisitOpen Times:24/7Prices:Free.Average Visit Duration:10-30 minutes.Popular Times:During daylight hours.Pro Tip: Try to be here when the sun is setting over the sea for a brilliant photo op.Special Events:There are often special events in the adjacent parks: live shows, street performers, farmers' markets, and more.Tours:A quality Jaffa walking tour will include the Wishing Bridge. You can also take other kinds of Tel Aviv tours and see it, and many other nearby Jaffa attractions.On a walk through the Old City of Jaffa, as you reach the parks that slope down towards Tel Aviv, there is a wooden pedestrian bridge, the Wishing Bridge. Along the bridge’s wooden railing, at regular intervals are thick circles of bronze that feature the twelve astrological signs in relief. The bridge’s bronze adornments were created by local sculptors Freddy Fabian and Esther Shlomo. Welcome to the Wishing Bridge!At the entrance to the bridge is a mosaic of the zodiac signs set into the stone path created by Ilan Gelber, Navot Gil, and Varda Givoli, all residents ofJaffa. The bridge underwent renovations in 2016 and now has handrails and special lighting designed by Micha Margalit. Although the bridge has been updated and renovated over the years, it is still steeped in tradition.Pro Tip:The Wishing Bridge is one of the best places to take a photo ofSt. Peter's Churchand of Tel Aviv'sstunning coastline.Make A Wish on the Wishing BridgeThere is a local legend or myth that holds that if you grasp your zodiac sign on the bridge, look out to the sea, and make a wish it will be granted. Making a Wish on the Wishing BridgeAstrology is a theme throughout Jaffa. Spot the zodiac fountain in the main square, and the lanes each named after a zodiac sign.Where is the Wishing Bridge in Jaffa?The bridge connects Kedumim Square in the Old City of Jaffa with HaPisga Garden at the northern end of the Old City.History of the Wishing Bridge in JaffaThe bridge was originally built in the 1960s, to make the area more attractive and add points of interest. It also served a practical purpose connecting the Old City to the sloping parkland that continues down to the seafront promenade and Tel Aviv. In 2011 the bridge was closed because of structural issues. It had begun to erode and was unstable due to constant use.Crossing the Wishing Bridge, on the way to St. Peter's Church In 2016 renovations began on the bridge and its weathered wooden features were dismantled and replaced. The framework of brass and stainless steel replaced the original steel cable reinforcements, and measures were taken to make it stronger so it could withstand heavy traffic and the high sea winds. The original artists of the zodiac signs were commissioned to create new pieces.All About the Wishing BridgeLength: 26 metersSpan: 3 metersDate of original construction: 1960sDate of Renovation Completion: August 2016Structure: Timber, brass, laminated wood, stainless steel

Banksy Bethlehem Wall Graffiti

Plan Your VisitLocation: 182 Caritas Street, Bethlehem, The West BankOpen Times: The hotel is closed to visitors at this time, but as the situation in the region improves it will be reopened. Check the hotel website for more information. When it is operating, the hotel museum and art gallery are open to non-hotel guests daily from 11:00 to 19:30. The piano bar is open daily to non-hotel guests from 11:00 to 22:00. Pro Tip: The Piano Bar serves food and drinks and is a nice place to stop for lunch.Prices: Hotel prices start at $70 for a dorm bed. Entry to the Piano Bar is free if you are buying at least a coffee or drink. Entrance to the museum costs approximately $6.50 and tickets are sold at the hotel entrance. Pro Tip: The museum gallery does not hold artwork by Banksy, so if you have come specifically for his work, don’t buy a museum ticket, just enter the bar for a drink and you will see all the Banksy work.Average Visit Duration: 1 hourNotes for Visitors: The hotel is an independent, privately owned business that is not aligned with any political movement. They welcome guests of all nationalities and religions with open hearts, although the whole point of the hotel is to make a statement opposing the existence of the separation wall. Large groups need to book in advance.Special Events: Plans are being made for celebrations in 2027 to mark 110 years since Britain took control of Palestine, and 10 years since the hotel’s opening.Relevant Tours: It is highly recommended to visit the Walled Off Hotel on an organized tour from Israel, preferably a private tour. You can include the hotel in a day of Bethlehem sightseeing and also visit the Church of Nativity. The best option around is this1-Day guided voyage to Bethlehem.The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem is a themed art hotel and museum created by the world-famous street artist, Banksy. It is a one-of-a-kind place that not many tourists get to see. Although busloads of tourists visit Bethlehem’s top attraction, the Church of the Nativity, most don’t linger in the West Bank to visit this outstanding site.One of Banksy's most famous creations, the Flower Thrower (Image source: young shanahan CC BY 2.0)Walled Off Hotel is a hotel where every surface became the artist’s canvas and has been used to express his unique style of art that makes social comment. All of Banksy’s work sends a message or makes a sarcastic, satirical, ironic, or tongue-in-cheek commentary on society, politics, or a current situation or event. This particular Banksy project expresses the artist’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian problem, war, and particularly the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian West Bank.The Walled Off HotelThe hotel was established by the street artist Banksy together with locals in 2017. The artist had already visited the West Bank in 2005, but on his return, he saw the opportunity to have a site that was not only a gallery of his art but a working hotel. The hotel has hotel-type rooms, as well as hostel-like dorm rooms with bunk beds (decorated with IDF surplus materials). Artwork inside one of the rooms in the Walled Off Hotel (Image source: The official Banksy website)Visitors to Bethlehem who are not staying at the hotel can take a tour of the public areas that were designed by Banksy and feature his works of art, for example, the colonial-themed piano bar overflowing with kitsch furniture and decor.Pro Tip: All of the 9 rooms (and one suite) have views of the separation wall but they are not all designed by Banksy. Some of the rooms are designed by other famous artists, so if you really want a Banksy room, make sure you ask when booking.The Walled Off Hotel is a double entendre, referencing the iconic luxury hotel, the Waldorf, and the fact that Bethlehem is in the West Bank, separated from Israel by a wall.The hotel is located in a busy area with plenty of restaurants, bars, and taxis. It is about 500 meters from the checkpoint to Jerusalem and a mile from Bethlehem. So, theoretically, it is safe, but as the situation in the region is volatile and often changes it is best to check with your embassy. It is also highly recommended to visit the hotel with an organized tour from Israel. Organized tours are accompanied by a security unit, specifically to protect you.Who is Banksy?Banksy, a mysterious and elusive street artist, has become a global icon in the realm of contemporary art. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Banksy's identity remains unknown, adding an air of enigma to his work. Renowned for his thought-provoking and politically charged street art, Banksy employs stencils to convey powerful messages on social and political issues.His pieces often appear unexpectedly on city walls, bridges, and buildings, challenging societal norms and sparking conversations about topics such as war, inequality, and government surveillance. Beyond the streets, Banksy's artwork has found its way into prestigious galleries and auction houses, with his satirical and subversive style leaving an indelible mark on the art world.Many consider artist Banksy infamous rather than famous, but none can deny that the artist's commitment to anonymity and his ability to blend poignant commentary with visual allure make Banksy a unique and influential figure in contemporary art and the best-known street artist in the world.In the summer of 2005, Banksy and his team visited the West Bank and left their mark. On that visit, nine murals were created on the dividing wall between Israel and the West Bank. He visited again in 2007 and added several graffiti works of art to the wall. In addition, there is more Banksy Bethlehem art that he has not claimed or which has been done anonymously and the artist is unknown.What You’ll See at the Walled-Off HotelThe Nativity Scene (Scar of Bethlehem)Banksy usually sends the hotel a piece of art as a gift every Christmas, and this artwork is placed in the hotel lobby. One of the better-known “Christmas” gifts from Banksy is his take on the nativity scene. It is called “Scar of Bethlehem” (a play on the Star of Bethlehem) and is a traditional statue scene of the Holy Family against the backdrop of a concrete wall (the separation wall) with a bullet hole (the star) in it.The Girl and the HeartIn the Piano Bar, there is an authentic slab of the separation wall mounted on the wall which features one of Banksy’s works of art. A little girl crouches next to a heart-shaped hole in the concrete wall.Piano BarIn 1917 the British were given a mandate to rule Palestine, and the Piano Bar is themed as a satirical slice of colonial life in the Middle Eastern output. The room features leather furniture, vandalized oil paintings, Banksy statues (cherubs with gas masks), and large ceiling fans. Each day visitors are served English scones and tea in the Piano Bar in true British fashion.Pro Tip: Every night at 19:00 there are live musical performances in the Piano Bar.Gallery and MuseumThe gallery part of the hotel is a completely autonomous section and looks like a regular museum gallery. It showcases original artwork by local artists. The Banksy Gallery (Image source: The official Banksy website)The nearby Museum is dedicated to the separation wall it includesaudio-visual presentations, An animated history of the region, An original beach sculpture from Gaza, military images, and screenings of excerpts from the Oscar-nominated movie Five Broken Cameras.Flower Thrower (Love Is In The Air)Perhaps one of Banksy’s best-known pieces, and one of his first in the West Bank created in 2003. This is not Banksy Bethlehem wall art, as it is stenciled onto the side of a car wash on Ash Salon Street. It is not in very good condition and is not easy to spot, but you will see many replicas of this image. The image features a Palestinian man throwing flowers as if they were a Molotov cocktail.The Flower Thrower graffitiThe AlternativeA stencil piece featuring two cherubs with crowbars trying to open up the wall. It was created at a point where there is a crack in the separation wall, with a cherub on each side so it appears as if they have opened up the crack. This is one of Banksy’s most recent pieces in Bethlehem and is located about 50 meters down the road if you exit the hotel and turn left.Make Hummus Not WarThere are several of these “Make Hummus Not War “graffiti art pieces around the hotel, but they are most likely all replicas of an original that either no longer exists or its location has been forgotten.Banksy Girl Frisking a SoldierLocated on Hebron Road, alongside the Saint Micheal Hotel, inside the Banksy Shop, a small memorabilia and souvenir store. This is one of the oldest Banksy pieces in the city. To see it you need to enter the store, where it is protected to prevent people from getting close enough to damage the art.TheGirl Frisking A Soldier graffitiA Soldier Checking a Donkey’s IDThis piece done in 2007 on the separation wall was later removed and sold. However, you will see several copies of this stencil artwork in Bethlehem.Banksy Dove BethlehemOne of the Banksy works you are likely to see is the mural of a dove wearing a bulletproof vest (flak jacket). This mural is located at the entrance to the Palestinian Heritage Center on Manger Street. Israeli soldiers next to the Flak Jacket Dove graffiti (Image source: St.Dekker CC BY 2.0)It is also referred to as the Armored Dove. Whether or not this work of art can be attributed to Banksy is questionable, but the woman who runs the Heritage Center, Maha Saca claims to have met the artist. She also says that his original painting was of a soldier, and she asked him to change it to something softer. The reason people question whether the dove was painted by Banksy is because it does not appear on his official website like his other works.Pro Tip: You can stop at the Heritage Center when you visit the nearby Nativity Church and pick up an authentic souvenir.

Kibbutz Nahal Oz

Plan Your VisitLocation: Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Sha’ar HaNegev, IsraelOpen Times: By appointment and with a guided tourPrices: Enquire about tours to Nahal Oz for accurate prices.Average Visit Duration: Half-day and full-day tours are available.Tours:Gaza Envelope Toursare available; Visits must be arranged in advance with a licensed company such as Bein Harim Tourism.Kibbutz Nahal Oz is a name that will forever be associated with the horrific events of October 7, 2023, and the place will never be the same. The vibrant gardens, expansive fields, and farmlands once provided an idyllic life for the small community. Green lawns connected the kibbutz bungalows, gardens bloomed, and children rode their bikes along the kibbutz pathways. Today, the kibbutz is unrecognizable, and the ruins of the once-thriving community are a testament to the events of October 7.Kibbutz Nahal Oz back in 2015 (Image source: Shlomo Roded, CC BY 2.5)Before the massacre on October 7th, Nahal Oz was thriving, and growing at a steady pace as new members joined the kibbutz. The community had a dairy farm, crop fields, and a chicken coop. The kibbutz farms specialized in carrots, wheat, cotton, and asparagus. Members of the community also ran a silicon plant and an engineering firm. Residents enjoyed a cultural center, schools, and a local bar. There was also a Visitor Center for Heritage, Security, and Agriculture. But they lived in the shadow of a constant threat. Rockets, exploding balloons, and burning kites were regularly sent across the border from Gaza, into the Nahal Oz fields.Where is Nahal Oz?Spread across about 140 acres, the kibbutz is located in southern Israel, in the northwestern part of the Negev Desert, not far from the border with the Gaza Strip. Neighboring towns include Sderot and Netivot.What Does Nahal Oz Mean?The literal translation of Nahal is a stream, and Oz means courage. But Nahal is also a Hebrew acronym for Fighting Pioneer Youths, and it is the name of an Israeli army brigade that combines military service with social welfare and educational programs. Before the 1990s, Nahal was also involved in establishing agricultural settlements, often along the country’s borders. The Nahal program helped establish about 108 kibbutzim and agricultural settlements. The first of these settlements was Kibbutz Nahal Oz.Defense wall around the Nahal Oz Kindergarten (Image source: Dr. Avishai Teicher CC BY 2.5)In 1951 Nahal Oz was founded as a military post, in 1953 it evolved into a civilian community that lived as a communal farm. In 1955, the kibbutz was officially formed. The group of young, patriotic Israelis had agricultural training and were also able to protect the fledgling kibbutz from any attacks.They built, plowed, sowed, and planted on the former land of Be’erot Yitzhak Kibbutz which had moved further inland. At first, there were no fences, just open fields around the small community. The kibbutz experienced regular infiltrations by thieves, and Fedayeen (Palestinian militants), which culminated in the tragic murder of one of the kibbutz security officers, Ro’i Rothberg in 1956.On the day of Ro’i Rothberg’s murder, the community was preparing for the wedding of four kibbutz couples, and even the country’s Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan was invited. In the morning, as food was being prepared, and decorations hung for the weddings, there were reports of an infiltration across the fields.Ro’i set out on his horse to chase the infiltrators away, but instead, he was murdered, his body mutilated, and dragged into Gaza. A day that was supposed to be filled with joy, became one of mourning, and instead of singing and dancing, the first grave was dug on the kibbutz.In the years that followed, Nahal Oz still had to contend with frequent attacks, burned fields, and shelling. Each time they would replant their fields and continue. Fences were built, and rebuilt, but nothing could prepare them for October 7th.Nahal Oz Massacre on October 7th AttackBy 2023, Nahal Oz had a population of approximately 400-500. The Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah on October 7, 2023, was supposed to be a day of celebration as Nahal Oz marked its 70th anniversary. But there were no celebrations. In the early hours of October 7, an estimated 100 -150 Hamas terrorists and Palestinian civilians broke through the fence dividing Gaza from Israel and entered Nahal Oz. Nahal Oz was one of several communities in the Gaza envelope targeted that day, as well as an open-air music festival happening nearby.The terrorists found families still asleep, or only just waking up. They massacred whole families, took hostages, tortured, raped, and mutilated the residents of Nahal Oz. There was hardly a family that was unaffected by this unimaginable tragedy. Almost a quarter of the kibbutz members were either murdered or kidnapped.In addition to the bloodshed, the terrorists burned and destroyed property, and stole or destroyed all of the kibbutz’s farming equipment. The Hamas terrorists filmed their attack with GoPro cameras and uploaded evidence of the atrocities to social media. By the early afternoon, Israeli soldiers had arrived, and by nightfall, Israeli forces had cleared the kibbutz of all infiltrators.Kibbutz Nahal Oz Since October 7thThe surviving residents were evacuated, and Kibbutz Nahal Oz was declared a closed military area. The residents left behind their homes, land, and belongings, as well as their farms. As the war raged in Gaza, they gradually returned to the kibbutz to work the land and milk the cows.However, the Nahal Oz community has not yet made a plan to return to the kibbutz. They have been rehoused in other parts of the country, and are contemplating if and when to return to the place they once called paradise.In a hostage exchange deal in November 2023, 40 of the abducted Nahal Oz residents were returned to Israel. Among those still held in Gaza is one-year-old Kfir Bibas, the youngest abductee, but it is still not clear whether he is alive or dead.Places To Visit In and Around Nahal Oz KibbutzKibbutz Nahal Oz is still as it was in the aftermath of October 7th, debris lies on the ground, buildings are pockmarked with bullet holes, and personal items have been abandoned. You can tour the attack sites, and visit the kibbutz dairy farm (the feeding and milking have continued). See the graffiti dedicated to those who lost their lives and those who fought so bravely.Nova Music Festival in Re’im Forest where the October 7 terrorists took the lives of approximately 364 people. There are several memorials at Nova.Netivot is where the piles, and piles, of destroyed and burned vehicles have been collected from the October 7 attack.Kobi Hill offers an overview of the Gaza Strip.Sderot is one of the frontier towns where you can learn about the bomb shelters and protected bus shelters, and see some of the rockets that have been repurposed or turned into art.Nahal Oz Military Baseis not part of the nearby Kibbutz Nahal Oz. It was also attacked on October 7, and It is possible to see the outside of the base.Roadside rest stationsoffer Israeli soldiers a brief break and provide them with free meals, showers, and laundry services. Here you might be able to meet and chat with some of the soldiers.Should You Visit the Gaza Envelope?While the country is at war, the Gaza Envelope remains a volatile area, however, people still live and work in the region, and tours are provided for those who wish to bear witness to the events of October 7. Visiting the Gaza Envelope area is not a matter of gawping at the pain and suffering of others, but rather a gesture of solidarity with the people of Nahal Oz and Israel as a whole.

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

Caesarea, Acre and Rosh Hanikra Tour

This tour to the incredible coastal cities of Caesarea, Rosh HaNikra, Haifa, and Acre starts as we travel north of Tel Aviv along the coastal road. We pass the beach resort cities of Herzilya and Natanya then arrive in Caesarea. Our Caesarea tour takes us through the remains of Caesarea Maritima, an ancient Roman city constructed by Herod, King of Judea in about 25-13 BC. The port city had a theater, hippodrome, temples, palaces, and other structures. Many have been excavated and preserved. The theater is still used today for performances by leading artists. Later Caesarea became a Byzantine capital. Then the Crusaders established a city here surrounded by massive fortified walls.Continuing on our tour we pass through Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city built on the slope of Mount Carmel facing the sea. The Haifa tour stops at the Baha’i Gardens where 19 terraces flow down Mt. Carmel. The terraces are planted with geometric precision and adorned with flowers, fountains, and statues. At the center of the garden is the Shrine of Bab. Your tour guide will tell you about the Baha’i, their beliefs, and the significance of the gardens. Next, the tour reaches the extreme northern border where Israel meets Lebanon and the sea crashes against the white cliffs of Rosh HaNikra. Over millennia nature has hollowed out a labyrinth of tunnels and caves in the rock. The reflection of the white rock onto the blue water creates a magical turquoise color. Once the caves were only accessible from the water but today tourists can take a cable car down to the caves.As the tour makes its way south on our return journey we stop in the Crusader City of Acre (Acco). Above ground, there is a lively Ottoman-era city with a busy market and fishing harbor. Beneath the surface is a complete Crusader city built in the 12th century. See fortified walls and a moat that even Napoleon was not able to overcome. Tour the Crusader remains the Turkish citadel and see sites used during the British Mandate. The tour leaves Acre and returns south along the coast.

Jerusalem Old and New Day Tour

This Jerusalem Old and New Tour starts on Mt. Scopus with stunning views of Jerusalem’s skyline. In the distance is the Old City and Temple Mount where the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock offers the perfect photo-op. Looking down we see a 3,000-year-old Jewish cemetery. As we leave the mount we pass the Garden of Gethsemane; the Church of All Nations and Kidron Valley, site of ancient Jewish tombs.The tour continues to the Jewish Quarter where we see the 1,900-year-old Cardo, an excavated Byzantine street. Later Crusaders added stores flanking the Cardo and today modern stores fill the Crusader structures.The tour continues to the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site. The Western Wall was part of the original Second Holy Jewish Temple and the only part to survive destruction in 70AD. On the tour you can join others from around the world and place a prayer note between the stones of the wall.The tour of old Jerusalem takes you along part of the Via Dolorosa; this is the route Jesus took as he carried his cross towards Calvary. At the end of the Via Dolorosa is the sacred Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This 4th century church holds the site where Jesus was crucified and Christ’s burial tomb. Today the church has more than 30 chapels and precious religious relics. The tour takes a lunch break and then passes the Old City’s Middle Eastern bazaar.We leave the Old City and travel through the new modern city of Jerusalem. Instead of ancient structures and religious landmarks new Jerusalem holds modern-day wonders. We make our final stop at Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum. At Yad VaShem you can see a vast collection of historic photographs, authentic artifacts, documents, video testimonials by Holocaust survivors and memorials to those that lost their lives.

Nazareth and Sea of Galilee Tour

The Nazareth and Sea of Galilee tour begins with a scenic drive north along the Mediterranean coast. The tour turns inland to the Valley of Armageddon where we see Megiddo in the distance. Before reaching Nazareth we pass by the Mount of Precipitation. The Book of Luke tells us how an angry crowd tried to throw Jesus off this mount. In Nazareth, we tour the beautiful Church of Annunciation built on the site where the Angel Gabriel told Mary of her future son. This Sea of Galilee tour continues to the adjacent Church of St. Joseph where the Holy Family lived and where Joseph had his carpentry workshop. Leaving Nazareth the tour continues through the idyllic countryside to the Sea of Galilee.We pass by Cana the site where Jesus turned water into wine. We see the Mt. of Beatitudes where Christ gave his Sermon on the Mount. The tour stops in Capernaum where Jesus based himself during his ministry in Galilee. In Capernaum, we will see the Church built over the excavated home of St. Peter and in the nearby village of Tabgha - the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes.The tour takes you along the shore of the Kinneret where Jesus walked on water and calmed the Sea. It was on these shores that Jesus performed most of his miracles. We can enjoy the view of the Sea surrounded by green farmlands with the majestic Golan Heights rising up on the opposite shore. We pass Tiberias, the largest settlement on the shores of the beautiful Sea of Galilee dating back more than 2,000 years. The tour stops where the Jordan River meets the Sea of Galilee. It was here that Jesus may have been baptized by John. On this tour, it is possible for visitors to also be baptized here in the JordanRiver. After a thrilling day filled with Christian sites in Galilee, we return south past Mt. Tabor site of the Transfiguration.

Golan Heights Tour

This Golan Heights tour sets off traveling north and takes you up the coast before turning inland and traveling through the Plain of Armageddon and past Megiddo. We travel through the green pastures and rolling hills of Galilee and look down on the Sea of Galilee. To the east of the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights await us. We make our way up the Golan Heights through the smallcommunities, vineyards, farmlands, and forests. We pass Hamat Gader famed for its hot springs that have been enjoyed by man since the Roman era. We reach Shalom Observatory high on the basalt cliffs of the Golan. It is clear why this point is of such strategic importance as we can even see as far as Tiberias on the opposite shore of the Sea of Galilee.The next stop on this Golan Heights tour is Katzrin, the site of excavations that revealed a settlement from the 1st-century Mishnah and 4th-century Talmudic periods. Parts of the village have been restored including the synagogue, homes, and an ancient oil press. We stop in modern-day Katzrin to visit the local sites.The tour continues to Mount Bental where parts of the Syrian fortifications have remained. We walk through the remaining Syrian bunkers and trenches captured by Israelis in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1974 this has been a peaceful border and from this elevated location we can look over into neighboring Syria; the Syrian capital is just 50 km from here. The Golan Heights tour comes to an end as we drive through the lush countryside leaving the Galilee behind and make our way back towards Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem and Bethlehem Tour

Tour Jerusalem and Bethlehem with a PRO guide! we'll be at Mount Scopus with a breathtaking view of Jerusalem. You'll see the Old City walls and beyond the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Then, we descend from Mt. Scopus to the Kidron Valley on the way to the old city we pass Christian landmarks like the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations.The Jerusalem tour enters the Old City via the Zion Gate and continues through the Armenian Quarter arriving at the Jewish Quarter. Here we see the Byzantine Cardo, an excavated ancient street that was once a bustling thoroughfare. We stop at the Western Wall, the one part of the Second Holy Temple that survived destruction in 70 AD. Next, we'll continue to the Via Dolorosa. Following the path Jesus took from his judgment to his crucifixion the Via Dolorosa leads us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This ornate 12th-century church encompasses the last Stations of the Cross including the Calvary where Jesus was crucified and the burial tomb where he was laid to rest. We leave the Old City via a typical Middle Eastern market.The Jerusalem and Bethlehem tour moves on to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ. Arriving in Manger Square we enter the Basilica of the Nativity. This church was built above the Grotto of the Nativity where Christ was born. While in the church we see 12th-century mosaics as well as the original floor and mosaic from the first church that was built by St Helen in the 4th century. If possible, we also visit the adjacent Church of Saint Catherine where we descend to subterranean caves and see sacred tombs and chapels. We make our way back to Jerusalem passing the Church of the Angels in Shepherds Field and the Field of Ruth where King David’s great-grandmother met Boaz.

Jerusalem and Dead Sea Tour

This Jerusalem and Dead Sea tour starts on Mount Scopus where we enjoy an incredible view across the rooftops of Jerusalem. Your guide will point out highlights on Mount Scopus like the Garden of Gethsemane, Church of All Nations, and Kidron Valley below. Driving through the stunning Jerusalem scenery the tour reaches the Old City and enters by way of the Zion Gate.Within the 500-year-old Old City walls, we see the Armenian Quarter and head for the ancient Jewish Quarter. See the excavated 1,500 year old Byzantine Cardo, an ancient street lined with tall columns. The Jerusalem tour visits the sacred Western Wall, a remnant of the Second Holy Temple’s outer retaining walls. This wall survived the Temple’s destruction in 70AD and is now a holy Jewish landmark.The tour traces Jesus’s route to his crucifixion from the 5th Station of the Cross along the sacred Via Dolorosa. Bearing his cross Jesus reached Calvary which is now encompassed by the massive Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We enter this iconic Christian landmark and see many chapels and Biblical sites like the Stone of Unction and Christ’s burial tomb. Before leaving the Old City we take a lunch break and then make our way through the Old City bazaar. Driving through the stunning desert scenery we can see Jericho in the distance. The tour pauses briefly at the sign indicating “sea level” then we descend lower and lower until we reach the Dead Sea at 430m below sea level.The tour takes you to a Dead Sea beaches where you can relax on the sand, soak up the sun and float in the water. The Dead Sea environment is known to have natural health and beauty benefits. While here you can lather your skin with mineral-rich Dead Sea mud. Get a classic photo floating in the Dead Sea where the high saline content gives you natural buoyancy! After completely unwinding and feeling rejuvenated the tour comes to an end.

Jerusalem Half Day Tour

This Jerusalem half-day tour begins on Mt. Scopus where we enjoy breathtaking views of the Jerusalem skyline. From this elevated position, we see across the walls of the Old City to Temple Mount, the site of the sacred Temple until its destruction in 70 AD. On the slopes of Mt. Scopus, we pass a 3,000-year-old Jewish cemetery; the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Church of All Nations. We drive past large ancient Jewish tombs of the biblical Kidron Valley.The tour takes you through the Zion Gate, one of several gates in the Ottoman-era Old City walls. We reach the picturesque Jewish Quarter where a 1,500-year-old Byzantine street, the Cardo has been excavated. The tour stops at the iconic Western Wall, the most sacred Jewish landmark in the world. This section of wall is only a small part of the outer retaining walls that once surrounded the Second Holy Jewish Temple on Temple Mount. In 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Temple and only this section (and its continuation below ground) has survived. You’ll have time to place a prayer note in the crevices of the wall.We continue on our half day Jerusalem tour and join up with the Via Dolorosa at the 5th Station of the Cross. We retrace the path Jesus took bearing his cross from his judgment to his crucifixion at Calvary. The Way of Sorrow culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which encompasses the final Stations of the Cross where Jesus died on the cross and was placed in a burial tomb. Today the ornate 4th-century church is shared by several Christian denominations and holds more than 30 chapels. To end this Jerusalem half-day tour we walk through the traditional Old City bazaar where you can enjoy the colorful character of a Middle Eastern market.

Jericho, Dead Sea and the Jordan River Tour

This Jericho, Jordan River and Dead Sea tour operates from October to May and takes visitors to a number of stunning locations. All highlights mentioned here are visited on this tour but not necessarily in this order. The Jericho, Jordan River and Dead Sea Tour visits the city of Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world. Jericho features in the Bible where Joshua and his troops caused the city walls to fall in the Battle of Jericho. In the Book of Luke Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree to see Jesus over the crowds that had come out to greet him as he entered Jericho. On this tour we visit the ancient sycamore tree that features in this Biblical story. While in Jericho the tour visits Elisha’s Spring. This spring supplied the city with fresh water over the course of thousands of years. Without the spring people would not have been able to survive in this harsh environment. Just 2 km from Jericho is the archaeological mound of Tel Jericho, the site of the original Jericho settlement. Archaeologists have uncovered 23 layers from previous settlements in Jericho dating back to 9000 BC. One of the most fascinating finds is a Neolithic watchtower dated c. 8000 BC. The tour continues to Mount of Temptation where the devil tried to tempt Jesus to forsake God. On the mount a Greek Orthodox monastery seems to defy gravity clinging precariously to the cliffs. You’ll get to go up to the top of the mount by cable car and take in the stunning views. This tour includes Qaser el Yahud, a site on the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. At Qaser el Yahud the Jordan River has been made accessible to visitors who want to be baptized here. This is also where the Israelites may have crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.To end off a perfect day the tour takes you to the Dead Sea. Here you can float in the water that is 8.5 times saltier than the ocean; lather your skin with mineral-rich Dead Sea mud and soak up the sun on the beach.

Caesarea National Park

The main attraction of Caesarea is the Caesarea National Park. The ancient Roman history of this site is recorded by Roman historian Josephus Flavius. On the edge of the national park is the massive Roman Theater. This classic Roman theater is perfectly preserved. It has the typical semi-circular shape with seating on staggered stone steps facing the stage and sea beyond. In Roman times the theater would have been important in entertaining the many foreigners and sailors who came into port. The theater was originally built under Emperor Vespasian and later expanded by King Herod.Herod’s Reef Palace Several pillars remain from the inner courtyard of King Herod’s Reef Palace. The opulent palace would have had two stories and was partly built on the marine reef jutting out onto the sea. Today parts of the palace can still be seen and parts are submerged beneath the sea. Experts differ in opinion as to whether this was Herod’s palace or a later construction. We can also see the remains of a swimming pool alongside a floor mosaic and ritual bath. Among the archaeological remains, there is a large hippodrome with reconstructed frescoes. Here the Romans would hold horse and chariot races. Throughout the park, there are large Roman columns, capitals, sculptures, gravestones and carved architectural features attesting to the importance and opulence of this former Roman city. Also at the site, we can see where the bathhouse, temples, storerooms and homes once stood. Of particular interest among the many archaeological findings was an inscription naming Pontius Pilate. This was the first recorded mention of Pilate’s name dated within Jesus's lifetime. Structures remaining from the Byzantine era include a villa with floor mosaics and the ruins of a Byzantine church. Remains dating back to the Crusader era include the reconstructed Crusader Gate, a large moat that encircled the Crusader fortress, a high defensive wall and arched entranceways.Want to visit Caesarea National Park? Join ourCaesarea, Acre and Rosh Hanikra Tour.

Masada National Park

Masada is a dramatic rock outcrop rising out of the flat landscape of the Judean Desert in southern Israel. The rock mesa overlooks the Dead Sea just 20km away and is about 400m high with a flat rock plateau summit covering about 500m in an area with steep cliffs on every side. This isolated clifftop holds a special place in the region’s history and Jewish history because of two major events. Masada’s place in history and the invaluable archeological finds made here have earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.Herod’s Palace Fortress at Masada Between 37 BC and 31 BC Herod the Great (73 BC-4 BC), the Rome-appointed King of Judea had a massive palace-fortress built on the top of this high, remote outcrop. He had the complex built as a retreat and refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. This incredible complex of structures included massive storerooms, guardhouses, water cisterns, the commandant’s office, watchtowers, a bathhouse, and elaborate palaces for the king.The Northern Palace is particularly impressive, built on the edge of the plateau on three descending terraces. The Western Palace is the largest structure on the summit covering 3700m². Today we can still see parts of the ancient mosaics and murals that decorated the bathhouse and palaces. Thanks to the remote location and dry climate much of the original fortress has survived.The Siege of MasadaThe second important event on Masada took place during the First Jewish-Roman War (66 BC-73 AD). A group of Jewish rebels desperate to preserve their freedom entrenched themselves on Masada’s plateau summit. They inhabited what remained of Herod’s abandoned fortress and took advantage of the excellent fortifications and inaccessible location to protect them from the Romans. The Jews of Masada became the last stronghold against the Romans. The Romans held Masada under siege and used all of their military strength to try and scale the cliffs.In the end, the Romans built an earthen ramp on the western flank of Masada so that they could bring their battering rams and military machines closer to the fortified walls that surrounded the summit.Once they eventually managed to breach the fortified walls the Romans found that all the 960 Jews had taken their own lives rather than be captured, tortured, enslaved, or forced to forsake their religion. Masada became a symbol of heroism, martyrdom, selfless courage, Jewish determination, and commitment to the freedom of the Jewish nation.Visiting MasadaToday visitors can enjoy a visitor center at the base of Masada where there is a small museum, food court, and souvenir store. From there you can take a cable car to the summit. Alternatively, it is possible to hike the “Snake Path” - a twisting and turning path up the face of Masada. At the top of Masada, visitors can tour the many excavated structures of Herod’s fortress and enjoy the breathtaking views across the desert and the Dead Sea.Want to see the amazing view from Masada? Join ourMasada and Dead Sea Tour.

Kalia Beach

Kalia Beach is located at the southernmost end of the Dead Sea’s eastern shore. The beach has been made easily accessible with stairs, ramps and walkways. There are useful facilities to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.Kalia Beach – an Eco-Friendly BeachKalia is an eco-friendly beach where environmental awareness is actively encouraged. This is done by providing special beach ashtrays; recycle bins; solar energy is used for heating the showers and glass bottled drinks are sold at the kiosk and visitors are encouraged to return them for a deposit when they have finished.Kalia Beach FacilitiesThere is an entrance fee of 54 ILS for Kalia Beach but this means you have the convenience of the facilities. The entrance fee allows you free use of the showers, toilets, WiFi, beach chairs, and umbrellas. There is a lifeguard on duty and the beach is accessible to those with physical challenges. There are lockers where you can store your belongings for about 15 ILS and towels to rent. Kalia Beach has the Lowest Bar in the World (at the lowest point on Earth). The bar serves food and drinks on the water’s edge. For a more substantial meal, there is a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. At the beach, there is a gift shop and cosmetics center that sells Dead Sea products, useful beach items, and souvenirs. There is Dead Sea mud available to smother over your skin. The mud is a natural skin mask that feeds your skin vital minerals and extracts toxins. It is possible to camp on Kalia Beach for approximately 85 ILS per person per 24 hours.If arriving with an organized tour your entrance will be included in your tour price and you will be taken all the way to the entrance. If arriving by public transport you can call Kalia Beach and arrange for a shuttle to pick you up from the public bus stop or you could walk 10 minutes to the beach. Taking a taxi from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv would be very expensive. The beach is open daily from 8:00 to 19:00 (18:00 in winter) except for Yom Kippur. Want to float in the lowest place on earth? Join our Dead Sea Tour.

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 ( 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