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May 2022 in Israel - What's Going On?

Springtime in Israel, particularly the month of May, is an absolutely fantastic time to visit the country. The rainy season has long passed, the sunshine is plentiful but it’s not terribly hot yet, in the way it can be in the high summer. With endless opportunities to enjoy the beach, explore the country and eat dinner outdoors on cool, breezy evenings, some would say it’s the perfect month to plan your perfect vacation in Israel.Sunset in the south of Israel. Photo byShai PalonUnsplashVisit Israel in the Spring!It’s also the ideal season for swimming in the Mediterranean Sea (the water is very pleasant), hiking inGalilee or Golan Heights, where flowers are blooming, visiting some boutique vineyards, or spending a few days in Jerusalem. If you’re there, why not wander the narrow alleyways of Nachlaot before grabbing a bite in theMahane Yehuda Market? There are also endless special events in Israel taking place - concerts, exhibitions, festivals, and one-off performances. If you’re down in the party city of Eilat, after a day of jet skiing, hanging out at the Dolphin Reef, or exploring nearby Timna Park, enjoy a cocktail by the Red Sea in Eilat, with breathtaking scenery in the form of desert mountains behind you.Here are a few of our recommendations for things to do in Israel in May - there’s something for everyone, trust us, so take a look at the list and get packing.Gray Dolphin in Eilat, Israel. Photo bySilviu GeorgescuonUnsplashJerusalem events in May 2022Jerusalem is the world’s most holy city for three major religions and a place packed full of historical sites, archaeological digs, and cultural treasures. And there is plenty going on there in May 2022.Jerusalem International Book ForumRunning from 15th to 18th May in the charming neighborhood of Mishkenot Shaananim, a stone’s throw from the Old City, Jerusalem International Book Forum is a week of professional and intellectual gatherings, with people from all different backgrounds across the world showing up in the capital. The forum offers workshops, panel talks, interviews, and social gatherings, looking at subjects such as podcasts, audiobooks, literature for young adults, and how to publish in a post-Covid world. With almost every event held in English, it’s the perfect event for anyone who loves books.Where: YMCA (26 King David Street) and Mishkenot Shaananim Conference Centre Flag of Israel at the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem. Photo byIvan LouisonUnsplashInternational Museum DayInternational Museum Day falls this year on the 19th of May and those participating in Israel (specifically in Jerusalem) and offering free entrance include the Bible Lands Museum, Bloomfield Science Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the world-famous Israel Museum.Established with the intention of exposing the public to the cultural wealth of museums, it’s a great way to raise awareness of the place of the museum in our society, and not just for adults but for children too. The Israel Museum, in particular, is bursting with treasures, including the Model of the Second Temple, the beautiful Sculpture Garden, replicas of ancient synagogues, and the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, housed in a dedicated building.There are also free guided tours that take you through the four wings - Archaeology, Fine Arts, Jewish art and life, and the Youth Wing for Art Education, as well as a chance to see current exhibitions on masks, food, and castles! Fun fact: Did you know that there are more museums, per capita, in Israel than anywhere else in the world?Where: In museums across Israel (check website for details)The Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.Photo credit: © ShutterstockJerusalem Day, all across the City of Jerusalem (28th-29th May 2022)Jerusalem Day(‘Yom Yerushalyim’ in Hebrew) begins on the evening of 28th May and ends the following evening. Commemorating the reunification of the city, after the Six-Day War in 1967, today the capital takes center stage. There’s plenty in store for anyone visiting Jerusalem, including Jerusalem tours, tastings, live music, workshops, and an enormous parade (complete with floats, featuring veterans, local Yerushalmis, and Christian supporters of Israel).It’s a wonderful thing to see, with stages set up in city parks, old-time singers belting out the classics (including Naomi Shemer’s ‘Jerusalem of Gold’) and the kids will love it too since there’s plenty of face-painting on offer! And if you want to learn more about the history of Jerusalem, from the time of King David, head down to the Jaffa Gate - the parade always goes past the walls.Where: Across central Jerusalem and outside the walls of the Old City, at the Jaffa GateEntry of a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo byLevi Meir ClancyonUnsplash“Which Came First? The Story or the Egg?” Exhibition at the Israel Museum, JerusalemRunning at the world-famous Israel Museum in Jerusalem, this exhibition focuses on prize-winning children’s books illustrator Hilla Havkin. Now she’s painting stories - on ostrich eggs! - and more than 20 of them are on display in this exhibition, each one focusing on a different story - including giraffes, bats, balloons, and kites. As the eggs rotate, surprises abound. What a wonderful exhibition!Where: The Israel Museum, Ruppin Boulevard 11, JerusalemSovev Cycling Event, Jerusalem (Friday 13th May 2022)If you love cycling, love Jerusalem, or love both, then Sovev is for you! This May, to celebrate spring, the city’s largest cycling event takes place, with routes that will take you through pastoral scenes, urban landscapes, and astonishing historical sites. There are three routes - 10km, 40km, and 50kms - and thousands of participants will join. Make sure to register early!Where: The gathering point for everyone is at the First Station in the German Colony.A palm tree in Jaffa, Israel. Photo byReiseuhuonUnsplashTel Aviv events in May 2022After a day at thebeach in Tel Aviv, stroll on itspromenade,learn about Bauhaus architecture in the White City or rent a bicycle and cycle toJaffa. You can also join one of the Tel Aviv special events listed below.DocAviv, Tel Aviv (26th May - 5th June 2022)Beginning on 26th May and running for 10 days, Docaviv in Tel Aviv will be showcasing a range of documentaries, many being their world premieres. Whether you’re interested in history, art, language, family, or politics, there’s going to be something there to intrigue you. This year’s opening film is ‘The Devil Speaks; Eichman’s Lost Confession’ which shows reels of footage of the infamous Nazi, talking to a journalist in Argentina, before his celebrated capture by the Mossad.Where: Cinematheque, 5 Ha’arba’a Street, Tel AvivEat Tel Aviv - A Tel Aviv Food Festival(8th May 2022)The ultimate festival for foodies, Eat Tel Aviv brings together many of Israel’s top chefs in one place, all attempting to woo visitors with their creations. For several days, down at Charles Clore Park, close to the Neve Tzedek neighborhood, you can enjoy live music, fantastic food trucks, and innovative dishes. Some of the top restaurants in Tel Aviv participate here, including Manta Ray (seafood), Vicky Cristina (tapas), and Dixie (burgers) as well as plenty of celebrity chefs. Tastings and street food. What’s not to like?Where: Charles Clore Park, Tel AvivJaffa port area. Photo byShai PalonUnsplashRooftop Yoga at City Hall, Tel AvivEvery Thursday beginning at 6 pm, at City Hall, next to Rabin Square, yoga lovers gather together, to enjoy an hour or two of free yoga classes and sessions on the roof of the municipality. Apart from the fact that there are great views over the city, it’s a good way to meet new friends.Where: Tel Aviv City Hall, Rabin Square, 66 Ibn Gvirol StreetWhite City Bauhaus Tours, Tel AvivEvery Friday at 10 am, beginning at the Bauhaus Center on trendy Dizengoff Street, a classic Bauhaus Tour takes place, beginning with an introductory movie and a map. You’ll then set off with your guide, and also armed with stereo headsets, connected to their microphone.You’ll be taken around the oldest boulevards and streets in the city - including Rothschild, Ahad Ha’am, and Nahmani - and learn about the history of the White City’s most prominent buildings in this style, built in the 1930s and ’40s by German Jews, who arrived in Tel Aviv just before World War II. The cost is 80 NIS (25 USD).Deep Purple Concert, Tel Aviv (Sunday 22nd May 2022)Founded in 1968, Deep Purple is truly a pioneer of the heavy metal scene (they also won a Guinness Record award for being the world’s loudest band). Next month, they will be performing at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, to the delight of their many fans in Israel. So get ready for a night out, with a bunch of hard rock lovers.Where: Menora Mivtachim Arena, Tel AvivBlack horse carriage in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo byAvi TheretonUnsplashEvents in Northern Israel in May 2022Whether you’re hiking in Galilee, tasting wines and cheeses on the farms of the Jezreel Valley, or kayaking down theJordan River, the Holy Land is waiting for you!Shivat Roim Dairy, northern IsraelBefore Shavuot arrives (in early June), why not head north to Shirat Roim (‘Shepherds Song’) up in the Galilee. It’s a boutique dairy, making fantastic sheep and goat cheeses, all without preservatives! It’s so good, it’s won prizes in Europe for its fabulous products. At their dairy on Kibbutz Lotem (near Karmiel), you can see the entire process (the making and the ripening), attend a workshop, and taste some samples. The ‘House of Cheese’ which is next door is open to the public on weekends and holidays. Yum! Where: Shirat Roim Dairy, Kibbutz Lotan, Western GalileeKayaking on the Jordan RiverThis is a really good activity for May because the weather is fantastic - not too hot and not too cold. It’s also a great experience for adults and kids - and the Jordan River is perfect for kayaking. Slide over small cascades, as your guide directs you through thick vegetation. Enjoy the fabulous views - the river banks are green and peaceful and if you’re lucky, you might even see a turtle!Where:the Jordan RiverView of the Golan Heights from Mount Bental.Photo credit: © ShutterstockYom Ha’Atzmaut (aka Israel Independence Day)Taking place this year on 4th-5th May, this is one of the most joyful days of the year, with celebrations that kick off at dusk and last through the night, followed by more celebrations the following day, in the form of a traditional Israeli ‘mangal’ (barbeque) at the beach, or in your friend’s back garden.All towns and cities in Israel have festivities, which include fireworks and concerts. In Jerusalem, there is the traditional torch-lighting ceremony atMount Herzl, attended by dignitaries, and in Tel Aviv, there’s a huge gathering atRabin Square(the square named after the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) with dancing and music.The following day, if you’re not a fan of barbeque, you can enjoy free entrance to certain museums, includingYad La Shiryonin Latrun (Israel’s official memorial for fallen soldiers) and theHall of IndependenceonRothschild Boulevard, where David Ben Gurion read out the famous Declaration of Independence in May of 1948.Where: Events all across the countryFireworks at the end of the 70th Independence day ceremony on Mt. Herzl. Photo byLavi PerchikonUnsplashJeep Tours, Golan HeightsThere are plenty of jeep tours you can take in Israel, but one we’d highly recommend is run by the company ‘No Other Land’ up in the Golan Heights, based on Kibbutz Merom Golan. It’s not just a great chance to explore northern Israel but really to see how locals, especially on kibbutzim, live in this part of the country.Guided by Ilan Shurman, who not only served in the IDF as a paratrooper but also holds a degree in Israel and Middle East Studies, he’ll give you plenty of history and geopolitics, with trips out to Qunietra (today a ghost town) and a stop outside one of the Israeli bunkers close to the border with Syria. This is a perfect family attraction and teenagers in particular, tend to love it!Where: Kibbutz Merom Golan,No Other Land Jeep Tours.International Yoga Festival in Israel, May 2022Israelis love yoga (seriously!) and this year, between 12th-14th May 2022 an enormous festival is taking place in the north of the country. Featuring teachers, lecturers, musicians, and workshops, people will gather together to learn and practice their skills for a long weekend, in the most pastoral of environments.A woman doing advanced yoga pose. Photo byARA CHOonUnsplashThe ‘yoga village’ at which it will take place is atGan HaShlosha National Park, one of Israel’s most beautiful nature reserves, which is located close to Mount Gilboa. The surrounding streams and astonishing waterfalls lend themselves to an atmosphere of happiness and tranquillity…and the festival is even promising a special ‘water compound’ with special sessions.The International Yoga Festival, along with all of the usual the ‘yogie’ activities, will feature music shows, a kid’s compound (complete with fun activities and shallow swimming areas), food stands (many of which are promoting vegan food), and a great artist’s fair, where you can purchase jewelry, clothing, and art.Wine Tours in the Carmel MountainsIsrael’s full of fabulouswineriesand what better thing to do than to take a tour of one, whilst enjoying the astonishing scenery? The Carmel Winery was founded by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1892, with the aim of helping farmers earn a long-term living, rather than relying on more simple crops.The Centre For Wine CultureinZichron Yaakovprovides guided tours and this includes a wine shop, restaurant, two specialist-tasting rooms, a small cinema, and a barrel room in an underground cellar. And Zichron itself is a lovely little town, so take a stroll afterwards on its midrachov (main pedestrianized street) or even head off toHaifa, which is just 30 minutes away.Where: Carmel Wintery, 2 Derek Ha Yekev, Zichron YaakovInterested in special events in Israel, private orday tours in Israel?Feel free to contact us!Flam Winery, Eshtaol, Israel. Photo by Eli Levit on Unsplash
By Sarah Mann
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Chol HaMoed and What to Do in Israel over Passover

Spring has arrived in Israel, in earnest, and with it comes the festival of Passover, one of the most beloved and most celebrated festivals in the Jewish calendar. However, Passover, unlike other festivals, does not last one or two days - it lasts an entire week - only of which two of these days are actually religious holidays! Complicated? Well, maybe, but let’s try and explain it here in terms that don’t have you scratching your head!People praying at the Western Wall. Photo bySnowscatonUnsplashWhen you know it’s spring, you know it’s PassoverAll Jewish festivals begin and end at sundown since the Jewish calendar is lunar. Of the seven days of Passover (in other communities around the world, Passover is celebrated for eight, but that’s another story) only the first and last day in Israel are days where observant Jews obey many aspects of Jewish law. Chol HaMoed - the ‘secular’ days of the festivalThe middle five days are referred to as ‘Chol Ha Moed’ - the ‘weekdays’ of the festival. The literal Hebrew translation is ‘application of the consent’ or ‘the secular part of the occasion’ and these days apply both to the holidays of Passover and Sukkot (which falls every year in the autumn, after the Jewish Day of Atonement).In Israel, Passover is a much loved holiday, celebrated both by secular, traditional, and Orthodox Jews, in different ways. Almost all Israelis attend a ‘seder meal’ on the first night of Passover where, along with friends and family, they celebrate their freedom, telling once more the story of Exodus in the Bible, when the Israelites fled slavery in Egypt and became a free people.A counter with spices at Jerusalem shuk.Photo credit: © ShutterstockHow to celebrate Passover over Chol HaMoedHowever, even though the days that follow are not religious, all schools are closed and many people take time off from work, to be with their children or to travel, in Israel or abroad. Not all work is forbidden, according to Jewish law, but generally, if you are in Israel at this time of the year, you will notice that people are out and about, enjoying themselves and it’s quite common to find that businesses are closed for the entire week.Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the things that are going on in the Holy Land this Passover, over Chol HaMoed. And, trust us, there is plenty to do, and not just for the kids either. The weather is good, everyone wants to be out, taking advantage of the best beaches in Israel, hiking trails, and desert scenery, but there are plenty of cultural attractions too. Best of all, many of them open their doors for free at this time of the year, so a day out won’t necessarily be hard on the pocket. So, pack yourself a matzah sandwich and some fruit, and enjoy yourself, wherever you choose to go… A Jewish man eating matzah. Photo bycottonbroonPexelsWhat’s going on in Jerusalem over Passover?1. Ice Eat Complex Offering food and music and workshops, this is a great place to bring the kids. They can learn to make Passover muffins with a yummy chocolate frosting, enjoy storytime sessions and join in their ‘cooking hour’ with top chef Chen Koren. The entrance is free.2. Passover at Train TheatreClose to Liberty Bell Park and offering all kinds of puppet performances, both in English and Hebrew, there are storytelling sessions with music and daily shows here too, including ‘Goldilocks and the Three Pandas’, ‘Toto and Friends’ and ‘Yuka the Doll’. 3. Bloomfield Science MuseumWith free entrance for kids toBloomfield Science Museum, this is a fantastic day out in Jerusalem, giving the whole family a chance to learn about Leonardo da Vinci, Hypatia the mathematician, electricity, levers, and why buildings don't fall down! What a way to make science fun.4. Passover at the Tower of DavidIf you want to learn more about the history of Jerusalem, you should visit the Tower of David. Take part in a ‘Hide the Afikomen inside the Box’ and crack the riddle or Climb to the top of the tower and enjoy magnificent panoramic views of the city. Or come at night for the ‘King David’ performance, and learn - through lights and music - about the boy who became King and founded this amazing city.Bloomfield Science Museum. Photo credit: © Katya Savina5. Passover at the Israel MuseumThe world-famous Israel museum is hosting a special Children’s Exhibition over Passover, as well as ‘Family Tuesday’ photography sessions, recycling workshops, and storytime in the illustration library. You can also enjoy the sculpture gardens, and the Dead Sea Scrolls area and tour the model of the Second Temple.6. Jerusalem Botanical GardensOffering free entry, this wonderful oasis offers a glimpse of plants from around the globe, and the opportunity to learn about biodiversity too. Wander from garden to garden and continent to continent, and escape the hustle and bustle of the capital for a couple of hours in Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. 7. The Bible Lands MuseumThis is the place to go if you want to engage in some ‘Pharoah Mania’. The Bible Lands Museum is hosting a special exhibition for kids called ‘Egypt Here We Go’ where you can unravel the mysteries of Egypt, play online games and puzzles, enjoy crafts workshops and theatre performances and learn about the great Pharaohs!8. Ramparts WalkThe best place to see Jerusalem? From above, on the ramparts of course! Not everyone knows about this tour but it;’s fantastic….and two different routes are included in the admission ticket. From the north side, you’ll go from the Jaffa Gate to the Lion’s Gate, close to the Dome of the Rock. The south side (easier for kids) begins at the Tower of David and ends at the Western Wall. Put on your walking shoes!Ramparts Walk, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinWhat’s going on in Tel Aviv over Passover?1. ‘White City’ Architecture TourRun by the Bauhaus Center, and recommended by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, if you’re a fan of this German design style, you can’t miss this. Each Friday, beginning at 10 am at 77 Dizengoff Street, their two-hour tour of the ‘White City’ architecture of historic Tel Aviv takes you through Rothschild Boulevard, Ahad Ha’am, Montefiore Street, giving you a chance to see how many of these classic buildings have been lovingly restored. There are also family tours and private tours available. 2. Yitzhak Rabin CenterAssassinated in 1995 by an Israeli extremist, Rabin’s memory - as a brilliant soldier, much-loved Prime Minister and ‘typical Sabra Israeli’ has been honored at this museum, which is wonderfully designed. As you walk through the passages of Yitzhak Rabin Center, on one side you’ll learn about Rabin’s life, whilst on the other side - concurrently - you’ll see what was going on in Palestine/Israel at the very same time. Moving and emotional. Free entrance.Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective, Tel Aviv Museum of Art.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin3. Food Tour of the Carmel MarketThe Carmel Market typifies everything that is Tel Aviv - it’s chaotic, bustling, and sends your senses into overdrive with all of the sounds and smells on offer. Either walk around there alone or take a food tasting tour there, where you’ll mix with locals, learn about the history and the culture of the market and hopefully come away with some goodies for your pantry! 4. Tel Aviv Museum of ArtShowcasing modern art from both Israel and around the world, entrance to Tel Aviv Museum of Art is free this Passover. Not only can you wander their permanent collections, but there are also activities for kids such as ‘kaleidoscope’ (inspired by the Japanese artist Kusama’s work) and Shai Ignatz’s ‘Goldi’ portraits.5. Jaffa Flea MarketJaffa is the kind of place everyone falls in love with - wandering the narrow alleyways of the Artist’s Quarter, wandering down at the historic port, overlooking the Mediterranean, enjoying hummus at local eateries, and, of course, poking around at the flea market. It’s a treasure trove - bric-a-brac, vintage, furniture, second-hand clothes, and piles of toys on the floor. And if you’re really curious about the market’s history, then sign up for a Shuk to Chic tour!Jaffa Flea Market, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhat to do in Haifa and Northern Israel over Passover1. Haifa ZooA great day out for the entire family, this lovely little zoo has more than 100 species, including lemurs, meerkats, anacondas, Griffon vultures, camels, and the rare Persian fallow deer (who live almost exclusively in the Upper Galilee). All of the animals are in specially-designed habitats, and once you’ve had your fill of animal watching, you can enjoy their botanical garden and the Prehistory Museum in Haifa.2. Madatech Museum of ScienceA leading science and technology museum in Israel, Mada Tech offers more than 20 interactive science and technology exhibitions to its visitors. Learn about binoculars and microscopes or Leonardo da Vinci. Check out the solar system or discover what green energy is (steam, wind, solar), and don’t miss the exhibition ‘Smile’ where you can learn all about the teeth inside your mouth!Hi-Bar Carmel National Park. Photo credit: © Manu Grinspan. Published with permission of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority3. Carmel National ParkPacked full of walking paths, bicycle lanes, dedicated nature reserves, and endless archaeological sites, Carmel National Park is Israel’s largest national park and you can easily spend an entire day there. There are scenic views both of the Mediterranean and the mountains, and hiking trails of all lengths and difficulties. Look out for jackals and eagles, and enjoy peace and tranquillity, even though you’re very close to Haifa. 4. The Old City of AcreThe extraordinary Crusader City of Acre has much to offer the visitor, including the Knights Halls, Templar's Tunnel, the traditional market, and the historic Acre port. Home, over the years, to Romans, Byzantines, Mamluks, Ottomans, and the British, it is steeped in history and actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. After you’ve explored the Turkish baths, mosques, and citadels (all built on top of Crusader ruins), eat lunch by the sea (the fish is excellent), and you can even take a boat ride (for a small fee) and see the city from the water.5. Tour the Sea of GalileeArguably one of the most lovely areas of Israel, Galilee is a large area but a drive around the sea area is a fantastic day out. Explore the historical sites - the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Multiplication, the ruins of a fourth-century synagogue…then head onto Ein Gev, where your kids can explore the kibbutz on a train and you can eat a good fish lunch, whilst overlooking the sea.The route of the Old Akko walls, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhat to do in the Negev Desert and Southern Israel over Passover1. Mitzpe RamonIf you wanted to capture the spirit of beauty and silence in the desert, there’s no better place to do it than in this small town, which is home to an enormous Ramon crater. Here, you can hike, climb, abseil or just sit by the edge and enjoy the stunning views of Mitzpe Ramon. There’s also an Alpaca Farm nearby, which the kids will love, as well as the opportunity to spend the night at a Bedouin camp, complete with a bonfire and traditional dinner.2. Ein Avdat CanyonClose to Kibbutz Sde Boker, the burial place of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, this hidden gem of a hiking trail boasts springs, hiking trails, and a marvelous canyon, with steps carved out of the rock itself. Set within the striking landscape of the Zin Valley, the Ein Avdat canyon stretches for over 60 km and is home to all sorts of flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you might even see an eagle soaring high above you!3. The Negev Wine RouteDespite all the odds, there are a growing number of wineries in the Negev so why not explore them on this route? These include Nana Estate, Ramon, and Sde Boker wineries, all along Route 40 between Beersheba and Mitzpe Ramon. It’s a great opportunity to meet the owners who, in true pioneer spirit, have overcome the many challenges of working in such an inhospitable climate and are excelling in their trade.Ein Avdat National Park, Israel. Photo credit: © Oksana Mats4. Timna National ParkAbout 25kms north of Eilat, in the Arava desert, lies Timna National Park, which affords the visitor extraordinary hiking and biking trails. Once home to a copper mine, dating back to 4500 BCE, it is home to extraordinary rock formations, in hues of pink, orange, red and brown. And if you’re really adventurous, you can actually descend down one of the ancient mine shafts…affording you relief from the heat of the ground!5. Eilat over PassoverIt might be a bit of a cliche, but who can resist Eilat at Passover? It’s a holiday resort, with all kinds of attractions - restaurants, bars, the famed Dolphin Reef, and Underworld Observatory. And because it’s on the Red Sea, you can snorkel, dive, jet ski, swim, or just hire a sun lounger and lie on the beach all day, looking out at the Gulf of Aqaba! Wherever you end up going this Pesach, however, enjoy yourself, both at seder night and on Chol HaMoed and if you’d like to book a day trip in Israel with us, just contact us - we’re here to help. EilatAquapark, Israel. Photo byMichal IcoonUnsplash
By Sarah Mann
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10 Top Restaurants in Tel Aviv

Two or three decades ago, when you came to Israel the chances are that you’d be ordering ‘typical Israeli fare’ if you went out to eat. This could be traditional Eastern European food, such as gefilte fish, chicken soup, borscht and cholent (beef stew). Or it might be something more Moroccan - spicy peas, baked cod and orange cake. And then there was ‘Israeli street food’ - falafel, sabich, shawarma, jachnun and malawach. It was all good - but it wasn’t too adventurous.Restaurants in Tel Aviv by night. Photo byYaroslav LutskyonUnsplashThings sure have changed. Israel now has a thriving food scene and, without a doubt, Tel Aviv is at its epicenter. This lively Mediterranean city, with its non-stop nightlife, has, in recent years, become a foodie paradise, with fantastic restaurants springing up in every neighborhood. Indeed, there have been so many that it’s hard to know how to pick ten for this piece.But pick ten we will. Now we’re not saying that they’re necessarily “the best restaurants in Tel Aviv” - after all, that would be way too bold a statement to make. But in their own way, they all stand out - for their cuisine, their service, their style and their flair. Some are ‘fine dining’ establishments and others are more casual, with a very easygoing atmosphere. Here, we give you a taste of the city - from meat and fish to vegan and gluten-free, from tasting menus to tapas and from fine wines to unusual cocktails. Pick one and try it for yourself. And then pick another. In fact, extend your vacation in Israel - because once you’ve started eating in Tel Aviv, you might never want to stop.Tel Aviv perfectly combines the past and the future. Photo byShai PalonUnsplash1. Shila - Sharon Cohen Kitchen & Bar, Tel AvivStarting in the city’s north, we have Shila and for many locals and visitors to Israel alike, there’s no doubt about it - it’s the best seafood restaurant in Tel Aviv. Described by many as gastronomic heaven, it’s a great place not just to eat but also to have fun. Admittedly, the food is not cheap here but the dishes are very creative and it’s fair to say some of them are really gourmet quality. Dishes that are consistently rated highly include the blue swimmer crab, octopus carpaccio, and scallops with bacon. (Note - this is a seafood-heavy menu and very much not-kosher). For dessert, do try the pistachio turron - mousse, financier, and raspberry sorbet; it’s delectable! They also have a superb wine list. With its lively atmosphere and efficient service, Shila is definitely a fine dining establishment. But it’s also one of the city’s trendiest places - both for couples on romantic dates and groups, who love the closed outdoor seating. And because it’s open late, it’s great for Night Owls. Shila, Ben Yehuda Street 182. Tel: 02 522-1224Shila - Sharon Cohen Kitchen & Bar, Tel Aviv. Photo from Shila by Chef Sharon Cohen Facebook page2. Nina Hachi, Tel AvivThis kosher sushi and Asian-inspired restaurant has both a modern and relaxed atmosphere and is a firm favorite with locals and visitors to Israel who observe the Jewish dietary laws. With its warm wooden decor and arty presentation, you can be sure of generous portions and top-quality fresh sushi.Vegetarians will love the gyoza, spicy fried tofu, sweet potato maki, and the wonderful coconut curry. f you like raw fish, the tataki (beef/tuna) or salmon caterpillar sushi rolls are a great choice. If you’re a meat-lover, try the Teppan Yaki chicken and if you have a sweet tooth, there’s tapioca in coconut, or be adventurous and order some mochi! And one last thing - they actually have special fish dishes for pregnant women! A great kosher eatery.Nina Hachi, Ben Yehuda Street 228. Tel: 02 624-9228Nina Hachi sushi restaurant, Tel Aviv. Photo fromNini Hachi Facebook page3. Alena Restaurant at the Norman Hotel, Tel AvivThe Norman Hotel is one of Tel Aviv’s most luxurious establishments so it’s no surprise that their in-house dining options are rather classy too. In the words of Alena themselves, guests can partake of an ‘exciting menu that enhances European-inspired favorites with a Mediterranean and Galician flourish’. Intrigued? You should be. Their menu includes tortellini with hyssop butter, drumfish with toasted fennel, a charred octopus skewer, and calamari with crystal shrimp. They also pair their desserts with wines (a nice touch!) - we recommend the olive oil chocolate tart, accompanied by a Port. And if you’re not exhausted at the meal’s conclusion, head to the Norman’s Library Bar, which is incredibly elegant and full of charm - their gin martinis are to die for too! Then walk it off with a stroll on Rothschild Boulevard, which is two minutes away…The Norman, Nachmani 25. Tel: 03 543-5555.Alena Restaurant at the Norman Hotel, Tel Aviv. Photo fromThe Norman Tel Aviv Facebook page4. OCD, Tel Aviv“Does Tel Aviv have a restaurant with a Michelin star?” visitors often ask. Well, not yet, but if there’s any establishment worthy of one then we think it’s OCD. Under the watchful eye of chef Raz Rahav, a select few diners around a bar (19 per sitting) get to partake of a 19-course degustation menu, using local food from artisan producers. OCD is open exclusively for dinner, with two seatings per evening - and you may well have to book many months ahead, to be assured of a reservation. A fusion of eastern Mediterranean and haute cuisine, diners have no idea what will be on the tasting menu when they arrive but can choose from different categories of food beforehand (vegetarian, fish and seafood, meat, vegan, etc). As you sit around the bar, the open kitchen is in the background, so you can watch the sous chefs preparing each plate, quite meticulously. Indeed, it can be quite mesmerizing, watching them put so much effort into every small detail.From black caviar and trout sashimi to cauliflower pancakes and beet chutney, people continually rave about the unique textures and tastes of the gourmet food. Very pricey - but this kind of meal really does come at a price! Our tip: Order a Moscow Mule cocktail to really make the evening special.OCD, Tirtsa 17, Tel Aviv. Tel: 03 556-6774.A sandwich byOCD, Tel Aviv. Photo from OCD TLV Facebook page5. Taizu, Tel AvivOpened in 2013, by the acclaimed chef Yuval Ben Neriah, this is probably one of Tel Aviv’s best Asian restaurants. Inspired by Ben Neriah’s travels through Southeast Asia, dishes served are a twist on authentic street food from Cambodia, Vietnam, India, China, and Thailand.Taizu’s food is inspired by the five Chinese elements - fire, water, wood, metal and earth and his shareable plates reflect this theme well. Chilli crab, tiger shrimp dumplings, steamed buns and Szechuan wontons are all favorites with diners and every Sunday evening they serve a specially-themed Indian dinner, with extraordinary creations such as octopus tandoori. The desserts don’t disappoint either - we recommend the ‘mango sphere’ - mango mousse, carrot curry cream, saffron and white chocolate. Excellent service, original recipes and a wonderful atmosphere - Taizu is simply splendid, which probably accounts for the several awards it has won in the last 5 years. Prepare to open your wallet! Taizu, Derech Menachem Begin 23. Tel: 03 522 5005.Sesame-covered fish tartare by Taizu, Tel Aviv. Photo fromTaizu Restaurant Facebook page6. MESSA, Tel AvivMessa, which means ‘table’ in Spanish, is a chef restaurant established in 2004 and its menu is based on ingredients and recipes from around the globe. Combining French, Mediterranean, Italian and Asian influences, the dishes are colourful and creative. They also take decor very seriously - everything is designed to make you feel comfortable, from the restaurant area (painted entirely white) to the bar area (decked out entirely in black). Lamb pate with brandy sauce, foie gras, beef tartare, caramelized salmon with Asian dumplings (stuffed with mushrooms, peanuts, and ginger), gnocchi with pumpkin, and cheek meat ravioli in a garlic cream are some of the delectable creations they serve up. Semifreddo brulée, double cheesecake with fondue and vegan tahini parfait with raisins and pistachios are all perfect for those with a sweet tooth. This is not an everyday dining experience, and it really is expensive, but it’s worth it if you want to splurge. Messa is located in the Sarona neighborhood, so if you’ve energy after dinner, you can stroll around the area and admire the restored houses that were once part of the German Templar Village, built in 1871.MESSA, HaArba’a 19. Tel: 03 685-6859A dish from Messa's menu, Tel Aviv. Photo from Messa Restaurant Facebook page7. West Side TLVManaged by chef Omri Cohen, this upscale establishment is arguably one of the best kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv. Located inside the high-end Royal Beach Hotel, it’s made a name for itself, serving fine Mediterranean fish and meat dishes, as well as plenty of salads and vegetarian options. Red tuna tartar, Nebraska sirloin with Jerusalem artichoke, oxtail gnocchi, mushroom risotto, and tomato salad with citrus dressing are some of the menu’s offerings, and plates are beautifully balanced, with flavors that are both intense but fresh. They also have a version of the British dessert ‘Eton Mess’ - with strawberries, meringue, and cream - but, since the restaurant is kosher meat, the ‘cream’ is actually non-dairy, although very tasty! (They also have dark chocolate creations, which are excellent). Diners rave about the excellent service at the West Side, and how polite, attentive, and professional the servers are. Overlooking the sea, it’s designed in ‘NYC style’ - spacious, comfortable and contemporary. If you’re observing Jewish dietary laws, this is a great choice for dinner.West Side, Hayarkon 19. Tel: 03 740-5054.A dish with Za'atar and mint,West Side TLV Kosher Restaurant. Photo fromWest Side TLV Facebook page8. Meshek Barzilai, Tel AvivNestled in the heart of the charming Neve Tzedek neighborhood, Meshek Barzilay is by far and away one of Tel Aviv’s best vegan restaurants, and a real trailblazer when it comes to sourcing local produce. Placing their emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce, they’ve definitely proved in the last few years that food can be tasty and creative without using meat, fish or dairy produce.Their tempting appetizers include tempura vegetables, avocado Panjabi and Indonesian salad. Mains don’t disappoint either - the artichoke and cashew cheese pizza is excellent, as are the Masala Dosa and sweet and sour tofu. And if you thought vegan desserts were boring, think again. Their ‘drunken pear’, lemon tart, ‘Chocoluz’ and ‘Wild Thing’ are all worth trying, and visitors rave about their ‘chocolate leaves.’Service is friendly and professional and there’s both an indoor area and a terrace. Meshek Barzilay also offers a separate kid’s menu and a set-price dinner each Sunday night. Trust us, if you eat here, you will leave, asking yourself “How can vegan and gluten-free food be this good?”Meshek Barzilay, Ahad Ha’am 6. Tel: 03 516-6329.Various soups byMeshek Barzilay, Tel Aviv. Photo from Meshek Barzilay Facebook page9. Vicky Cristina, Tel AvivIf you’re a fan of tapas, then head in the direction of Vicky Cristina, which offers original and authentic Spanish dishes with all kinds of colors and flavors. Located in HaTachana (the old railway station in Tel-Aviv/Jaffa), it’s a great place for a fun night out, with its bar area with high stools, courtyard, and garden with mosaic-covered sculptures.Some say the atmosphere is more reminiscent of Barcelona and Madrid than the Levant and as you dig into the plates, with a pitcher of sangria next to you, you could well feel that way. There are all the dishes you’d expect - patatas bravas, fried calamari, Spanish omelet, garlic shrimp…and the menu changes throughout the year, according to what seasonal produce is available.Our tip: sit outside on the patio, next to one of the city’s oldest ficus trees, and let yourself be swept away by the live music and (if you’re lucky) flamenco dancing performances. Not cheap but a fun night out.Vicky Cristina, Hatachana (The Station), Tel Aviv. Tel: 03 736-7272Sashimi byVicky Cristina, Tel Aviv. Photo fromVicky Cristina Facebook page10. Rustico, Tel AvivWe think it’s fair to say that whilst Rustico is not super expensive, or gourmet, it’s still one of the best Italian restaurants in Tel Aviv. In their own words, they serve classic fare - salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, pizzas and pasta, lasagnas, risottos and seafood, all with typical Italian warmth and informality.The dishes are flavourful, well-presented, and generous in their portions and there’s a huge terrace outside, which is perfect for warm days. Inside, the atmosphere is cozy but the wait staff are still alert, attentive and professional.Dishes that never disappoint are the gnocchi with mascarpone and chestnuts, chicken liver with black pepper, sherry butter shrimp linguine, mushroom risotto and sea bream fillet. The pizzas are fantastic and vegan cheese is available for three of the options. Their classic - ‘the Rustico’ - with tomatoes, mozzarella, arugula and parmesan is, frankly, out of this world.Rustico has a good wine list, the bartenders can whip up excellent cocktails and there are a few nice little touches - like serving patrons a shot of limoncello, whilst they’re deciding on dessert or ordering espresso. And if you have a sweet tooth, you could do worse than try their tiramisu or créme brûlée... Whether you’re seated at a table, around the bar or outside on the terrace, this is the closest thing you’ll get to sitting in Piazza Navona in Rome, with a 6 pm aperitif. Rustico, Rothschild Boulevard 15. Tel: 03 510-0039Dinner at Rustico, Tel Aviv. Photo credit: ©Asaf Karela, from Rustico Facebook pageWe hope your taste buds have been tickled with this list of wonderful restaurants, and that you’re tempted to book a table. Finally, if you’d like to take one of our tours of Tel Aviv (including the Jaffa Port and flea market, or a Food Tour of the Carmel Market) don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.
By Sarah Mann
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Historical Events in Israel: From the Byzantines to the British

The history of the Land of Israel, from ancient times, through the centuries, and up until present day, is incredibly rich and fascinating, full of twists and turns - no wonder there are no end of books on it. But if you don’t have time to read tomes when planning your perfect vacation in Israel, then let us do some of the hard work for you and give you a ‘potted history’ of the Holy Land.The Knights Halls in the Hospitaller quarter, Acre, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockIn Part One of our series on major historical events in Israel, we took a look at certain ‘stand out’ events in the Bible, recorded in the nation’s first thousand years - from Abraham and Moses at Sinai to the eras of Kings David and Solomon, followed by uprisings against the Romans and the life and times of Jesus.Following on from this, today we’re taking a look at thousands more years of Jewish history, beginning with Byzantine Rule and ending with the British Mandate and plenty in between. From Persians and Crusaders to Arabs and Ottomans, we’ll do our best to give you a timeline on what, when and how in the Holy Land, from 313 to 1948. Ready? Then read on…1. Byzantine Rule in ancient IsraelBetween 313-636, ancient Israel was controlled by the Byzantines. Ruled over by Emperor Constantine, Christianity became widely practised in the Holy Land and churches were built in Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Galilee. The conquered territory was divided into three provinces: Palestina Prima, Palestina Secunda and Palestina Tertia and these provinces were part of the Diocese of the East.The Byzantines practised Orthodox Christianity but, compared to other periods in time, Jews fared well under their rule, at least the early part. This is because they occupied a legal position that was somewhat in ‘no man’s land’. They were not regarded as pagans, nor were they expected to convert to Christianity.Byzantine Cardo, Jerusalem, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockInstead, they were granted citizenship (i.e. legal equality with other citizens) and, for the most part, allowed to worship as Jews. They were not forced to violate Shabbat or Jewish holidays and synagogues were their recognised prayer houses. (However, the ritual practice of circumcision was banned, since it was considered barbaric by the Byzantines).Unfortunately, by the beginning of the 5th century, Emperor Theodosius ruled that Jews were perfidious (since they had rejected Jesus) and forbade them from holding public office and increased their taxes. Intermarriage was forbidden, as was the building of new synagogues. Luckily for the Jews, the Byzantines had other problems within their Empire so enforcement of the last restriction was lax. Consequently, Jews continued to build, and in old synagogues across Israel today, you can find beautiful mosaic floors, depicting Byzantine-style art. Some of the best examples can be viewed at archaeological sites such as Tsipori, Tiberias, Beit Shean and Beit Alpha.2. Persian Invasion to Ancient IsraelAt the tail end of Byzantine rule came an invasion of ancient Israel by the Persians. They were helped by the Jews (who hoped to be ‘delivered’ from their lowly status) and, as a reward for the help, the Persians decreed that they could administer Jerusalem. Unfortunately for the history of Jews in Israel, this ‘halcyon period’ only lasted three years after which the Byzantine army reconquered Jerusalem and expelled its Jewish population.Beit Shean Roman Theatre, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Arab Rule in Ancient IsraelBetween 636-1099, ancient Israel was conquered by the Arabs, who would rule ancient Israel for the next 450 years or so. Events began with the Siege of Jerusalem in 636, four years after the death of the Prophet Mohammed when the Rashidun army conquered the territory. In the next four centuries, a number of Caliphates would rule, first from Damascus and subsequently from Egypt.Initially, Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and settle there. They were granted the status of ‘dhimmi’ (non-Muslims protected by law) and this gave them security over their property as well as freedom of worship. Of course, this came at a price - special taxes that they paid - but it certainly safeguarded their lives.However, as time passed, the Jews began to suffer more economic and social discrimination and, as a result, many of them left the country. By the end of the 11th century, the number of Jews in the land of Israel had decreased quite substantially.In the meantime, under the Umayyad Empire, caravan stops, bathhouses and places of worship were constructed, the most famous of which is the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. Built by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in 691, this Islamic Shrine is one of the best examples of architecture and, today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed on the Temple Mount, its golden dome makes it the city’s most recognisable landmark and, of course, it continues to be a focal point for Muslim prayer.Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount, Israel. Photo byThales Botelho de SousaonUnsplash4. The Crusaders Arrive in the Holy LandBetween 1099-1291, the Crusaders dominated the landscape of the Holy Land. Christian knights and peasants from across Western Europe heeded the call of Pope Urban to take up arms and aid the Byzantines in their struggle to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim control.The Crusades (or ‘holy wars’ as they are also known) were met with an extraordinary response from all sections of society. Military Orders were particularly well represented, including the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights and the Hospitallers, who made it their business to protect pilgrims travelling to and from the Holy Land.All in all, there were four major Crusades, the first of which culminated in the fall of Jerusalem and the slaughter of hundreds of its inhabitants, even though the leader Tancred had promised they would be spared. Today, if you visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, you can still see endless crosses carved into the stone walls, left behind by Knights who took shelter there.As a result, Christian rule was established in the Holy Land. Castles were built in Acre and the Galilee and Crusader states were established far north of ancient Israel. Only in 1181 did Saladin (the first Sultan of both Egypt and Syria) reclaim Jerusalem. In front of the Damascus Gate and the Tower of David, Saladin's army bombarded the ramparts with arrows but only after six days, when he moved to the Mount of Olives, was he victorious.Jews fared little better than Muslims in the Crusader era - thousands were murdered (beheaded or thrown in the sea) and their synagogues. The Crusades set the tone for many more centuries of antisemitism, not just in the Holy Land but throughout Europe.Ruins of Yehiam Teutonic Fortress, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin5. Mamluk Rule in PalestineBetween 1291-1516, it was the Mamluks who ruled the region. In Arabic, Mamluk means ‘one who is owned’ or ‘slave’ and these non-Arabs (who had, historically, served Arab dynasties in the Muslim world) came from a number of regions including Caucasia, Turkey and from Southeastern Europe.The Mamluks' years in power were marked by a major eradication of Crusader culture in the Holy Land. Not only did they prevent the Mongols from advancing into Syria but they were also extremely cultured - today, in Israel, and especially in Jerusalem, you can still see many of the buildings they designed.Initially, as with the period of Arab rule, Jews were once more granted ‘dhimmi’ status but as time passed, the Jewish community began to shrink. Where Jews continued to live, they were discriminated against in legal matters and forced to pay taxes on all manner of things, including the drinking of wine. Even so, despite these restrictions and laws, the legal position of Jews in the region was still far better than most of their fellow Jews in Europe. Mihrab (prayer niche) cut in the wall near Damascus Gate, Jerusalem. Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin6. Ottoman Rule in PalestineLife for the Jews improved considerably between 1517-1917, when the Ottomans conquered the region - in fact, many of the Jews driven out of Europe fled to the Holy Land, since they knew their chances of surviving there were better. Under the Ottomans, there were fewer restrictions for Jews in their daily lives and professions (even though they still had to pay a ‘head tax‘) but many decrees against them were not enforced and some Jews even rose to power in the Ottoman Court, as physicians and economists.Both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews settled in the Ottoman Empire and many became successful in business enterprises. The Jews were allowed to be responsible for their own courts and schools and held a wide variety of political opinions - some were extremely loyal to the Ottomans, others were ardent Zionists.Ottoman building in Acre, Israel. Photo byShalev CohenonUnsplash7. First Aliyah to Palestine‘Aliyah’ in Hebrew means ‘to ascend’ (or ‘go up’) and is a term traditionally used when referring to the immigration of Jews from around the world to Israel. The First Aliyah (also known as the ‘agriculture aliyah) was a large-scale arrival of Jews to Palestine. Many of them arrived from Russia since waves of nationalism and antisemitism had led to pogroms (organised killings) in their birthplaces. Since immigration to Palestine has occurred before, the use of the term "first aliya" is controversial.The Jewish Virtual Library says that almost half of the settlers (3000 persons) did not remain in the country as they faced financial problems and did not have any experience in farming.A majority of the immigrants did move to cities, such as Rishon LeZion (‘First in Zion’). However, some of them - pioneers as they are now known - established agricultural settlements, particularly with the financial support of Baron Rothschild. These includedZichron Yaakov(nearHaifa), Metulla (in northern Israel) and Rosh Pina (in Galilee).Ohel Ya'akov Synagogue, Zichron Yaakov, Israel.Photo credit: © ShutterstockLife wasn't easy for the pioneers - when you factor in disease, lack of infrastructure, hard physical work and the hot climate, in retrospect it is astonishing how much they achieved with their labours. Nevertheless, the founding of these ‘yishuvs’ (agricultural communes) only served to strengthen their resolve to create a new kind of Jew - one who was both physically and mentally resilient, both a warrior and a farmer!The First Aliyah was also responsible for a resurgence in the cultural life of the Holy Land. Much of this can be credited to Eliezer Ben Yehuda, born in Vilna in 1858 who, after having moved to Jerusalem, vowed to transform Hebrew into a modern language, spoken by the majority of people arriving (at the time, it was only used for prayer).In this period, the National Library was founded and today houses books, photographs, maps and pamphlets and even poems written in the revived Hebrew language(now known as ‘Ivrit’). Incidentally, Ben Yehuda not only wrote the first-ever Hebrew-English dictionary but realised his dream - today, it is the national language of the State of Israel and spoken by almost nine million people! Quite some achievement.Old fashioned farming in the Biblical Garden in Yad HaShmona, Israel.Photo byGeorg Arthur PfluegeronUnsplash8. Second Aliyah to PalestineThe Second Aliyah took place between 1904-1914 when approximately 35,000 immigrants arrived in Palestine. The vast majority were from Eastern Europe (many fleeing pogroms in Poland and Russia) but some were from Yemen. Many of them were pioneers who joined the ‘old yishuv’ i.e. traditional Jewish communities based in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron and Safed and this brought with it considerable urban development (most notably in Tel Aviv, which was founded in 1910).Although a minority of them were ideologically committed, without a doubt they left their mark. They were committed to the establishment of ‘Hebrew settlements’ (run as co-operatives) and many eventually became involved in politics - including Ben Gurion and Beri Katznelson. The framework they created would, undoubtedly, set the groundwork for the establishment of the future state of Israel.9. British Mandate Period in PalestineOttoman rule came to an end after 400 years when the British arrived in town and established the Mandate. The period of their rule lasted from 1918-1948 (from the moment General Allenby walked through Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City (becoming the first Christian in hundreds of years to control the city). The British Mandate was a critical period in Jewish history for a number of reasons, maybe one of the most important being that it set the scene for the “Balfour Declaration.” In essence, this was when Lord Balfour, Britain’s Foreign Minister, pledged his support for the establishment of a ‘Jewish national home in Palestine’.The house of Paula and David Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: © Jenny EhrlichThough Israel would not be ‘born’ for some decades, this declaration had a major effect - Jewish migrants began arriving in earnest to Palestine and Jewish institutions began to take shape. However, as violent clashes between Arabs and Jews, unfortunately, became more common, support in England for the Mandate began to wane.Whilst the Mandate survived World War II, support for it was at an all-time low and after Jordan was given independence in 1948, Britain declared they would terminate their Mandate in Palestine on 14th May 1948. In that respect, they did accomplish one of their goals - hours earlier, the Israeli Declaration of Independence was issued. This leads us onto number 10…!10. The State of Israel is ProclaimedOn 14th May 1948, on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, David Ben Gurion read out a proclamation, declaring the birth of the State of Israel. Today this building is a museum and is called the Hall of Independence. Just eleven minutes later, the USA would recognise his decree, soon followed by the USSR. Jews everywhere danced into the street, celebrating joyously, even though they understood that a war with the Arab world was almost inevitable. Although the British army had withdrawn their troops earlier that day, the State of Israel officially came into being at midnight on 14th May 1948, when the Mandate was officially terminated. And then began a whole new era, with the first-ever Jewish state established. Watch this space for Part Three, when we’ll look at some of the major historical events in Israel from 1948 to the present day.Independence Hall where is The Israeli Declaration of Independence was made on 14 May 1948, was the Tel Aviv Museum.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann
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Car Rental in Israel

If you’re traveling to Israel, and want to spend time in more than just one place (as most of us do) then you’re going to be thinking about ways to get around. The good news is that there are various modes of transportation in Israel - trains, public buses, private taxis, shared taxis, bikes, electric scooters and even, in Tel Aviv, initiatives such as ‘Bubble’ (shared vans that have the convenience of a taxi but for a far cheaper price).Beit Shean Theatre, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinHowever, if you want complete and absolute freedom (if one can ever have that!) then you really should think about renting a car. Once you’re behind the wheel, you’re in complete control - you get to decide when you travel, where you travel, and what kind of route you want to take. And if at the eleventh hour, you want to change your mind, then you won’t have to make phone calls, lose deposits and check schedules. The car will still be there for you when you are ready to leave.Business and Pleasure - a Сar is IdealRenting a car in Israel is ideal for tourists but it’s also great for business trips too. OK, you are in Israel to get work done but that’s no reason you can’t have some fun too. Traveling for work has its own challenges but if you have a car, you can explore the country and - with a bit of internet homework beforehand - find activities, restaurants, coffee shops, and museums that you’re curious about. Once you’ve rented a car, the country is yours for the taking. If a meeting finishes early or is even rescheduled, you can take advantage of your free time and drive to the beach or a nature reserve in no time at all. Traveling from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a breeze, by the way - less than an hour on the highway without traffic, meaning it's an easy day trip, especially if you leave in the afternoon (before rush hour) and return late in the evening.Driver's hand on steering wheel.Photo bywhy keionUnsplashOff the Beaten Track - Seven Days a WeekAnd if you’re in Israel as a tourist, you want to have fun and having a car means you set your own agenda. There are many parts of the country that are quite spectacular, including the Galilee, the Golan Heights, Crusader fortresses, and desert trails, but many are pretty inaccessible without a car. When you rent a vehicle, you can put together an itinerary that doesn’t just suit your personality but takes you off the beaten track, to the hidden gems of Israel that tourists never see - the ‘real’ Israel.Of course, even with a car, it’s sometimes nice to take a private tour of an area, where a professional local guide shows you around and gives you a chance to learn more about the area whilst not having to do too much work! Whether you want to join a group tour or book a customized excursion, here at Bein Harim we offer all kinds of solutions for the business or leisure traveler.Something else that’s critical to know is that Israel takes its religious Jewish holidays - including the weekly Sabbath - very seriously. Between Friday afternoon (about 2 hours before the sun goes down) until Saturday night (around an hour after the sun sets), all public transportation comes to a halt. This means that getting around is very difficult unless you are prepared to pay for costly private taxis. Of course. if you have a car, you can bypass these restrictions...Sure, we admit that driving in Israel can sometimes be challenging but you can do it. With some courage and patience, a GPS system (or Waze, which you can download on your smartphone) let’s take a closer look at the nuts and bolts of renting a car here...A car driver chatting with his pals in the middle of the street, Jaffa, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinCar Rental AgenciesThe good news is there’s plenty of choice in Israel. What’s the best car hire company to use in Israel? Well, there isn’t one in particular but car rental companies that we'd recommend include Eldan, Hertz, Budget, Shlomo Sixt, Tamir, and Avis. They all have branches dotted around the country - particularly in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa - as well as Ben Gurion Airport. One thing that is important to note is that it is not possible to drive a rental car from Israel to Jordan. This means that if you’re planning on taking a trip across the border to tour Petra, the best thing to do is to go with a guided tour. Logistics of Renting a Car in IsraelIn Israel, all road signs are written in three languages - Hebrew, Arabic, and English and, like most of Europe and North America, you drive on the right-hand side. We recommend that you download Waze - an app that was ‘born’ in Israel in fact - onto your smartphone before setting off. It can show you almost every road in Israel, as well as advise you on the fastest route, delay updates, and real-time traffic jams. Its smart technology can even help re-route you, once it knows that a traffic jam is building up, which means you’ll be directed away from crowded areas. This saves you time and frustration and makes for a much more pleasant driving experience!Traveling by car in Israel. Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinParking in IsraelParking, in Israel, can be a headache, we won’t deny it, but the good news is that there are plenty of parking garages around. Another app we’d recommend downloading is called PinkPark. This clever little tool shows you available parking throughout the area you’re in - it’s especially popular in Tel Aviv (where it’s notoriously hard to park!). Working on the ‘shared economy’ basis, you can pay the owner of a spot (either at their home or workplace) and ‘sublet’ it by the hour. Since you’ve pre-booked it, that’s less time driving around or sitting in line, and more time to enjoy yourself! Parking garages (or lots) are plentiful in the big cities - whether they’re tucked away in side streets or in a mall/commercial building. In Tel Aviv, they are dotted all over the city - especially close to the beaches, the Carmel Market, Sarona (a popular nighttime area, with many cafes and restaurants inside converted Templar Houses), Rothschild Boulevard, and Jaffa.If it’s the summer, you might also want to consider an underground parking lot, since the heat can be relentless and your car will take the brunt of it. There are often digital signs at the entrance of these lots, to show you how many spaces are free on each level. However, please be aware that if you see a blue light flashing in a space, that means it's set aside for someone with a disabled badge.At the large lots, take your ticket when entering and keep it until you leave, at which point you can pay at self-service machines. At smaller lots, there will usually be a man in charge who you’ll pay a set fee to for the day/evening. He may also ask you to leave your keys behind whilst you go off, in case he has to move your car to let someone else through! Don’t worry - your keys will be safe!Red and white curb parking, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinTips for the Car Renter in Israel1. Do your homework beforehand. Car rental in Israel does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Prices can start from as little as 260 NIS (80 USD) a day and if you shop around online, a few days before, you might even grab a bargain and find a cheap car rental in Israel. Take a look at a few websites and see what’s there - you can also call the representatives themselves - they will all speak good English, for sure! 2. Remember to pack your own license (or, if you have it, an international driver’s license). This is really a deal-breaker! In general, most car rental agencies will insist that you are over the age of 24 (or sometimes 25) - this is for insurance purposes.3. If you’re coming to Israel in the height of the summer or around the busy Jewish holidays (particularly Passover and Sukkot) we’d highly recommend that you plan ahead and book something before you arrive. At these times of the year, thousands of people arrive at Ben Gurion Airport each day and you don’t want to be disappointed when you get to the car rental desk and they’re all sold out! Speed Limits in IsraelAs with most countries in the West, Israel has speed limits and does enforce them. Here are a few of them, in kilometers. Driving in urban areas 50 kms per hourHighways 80 kms per hourHighway 1 (Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) 100 kms per hourHigh-speed highways 110-120 kms per hourSpeed limit road sign. Photo byTitus BlaironUnsplashRules for inside the car in Israel1. It is mandatory to wear a seat belt. If you have toddlers or babies, make sure to strap them in their booster seats.2. Talking on your cell phone (without using a hands-free device) is strictly forbidden. If you are seen doing so, you will in all probability be stopped and given a ticket. If that’s not enough of a deterrent, remember how dangerous it is!3. Turning right at a red light in Israel is not allowed.4. All rental cars are fitted with yellow reflective vests. So if you’re unlucky and you break down/have to pull over, put it on and make yourself visible at the side of the road.5. Between 1st November and March 31st, it is mandatory to have your headlights switched on, whether driving within cities or on highways.Traffic Lights in IsraelThe traffic light system in Israel is a little different to that which you will find in North America or Europe. The red, yellow, and green colors have the same meanings as you would expect but you may see them in an order that you find strange. Here’s an explanation: when the light is red you have to stop; when it is red and yellow together, this means: ’get ready to drive’. Once it’s green, and not before, you can set off. When you see the green light flashing, this means you need to begin slowing down and, quickly after, the light will turn yellow and then red once more.Car Parking in Acre, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinRight of Way in IsraelIn Israel, if you see a green light you automatically have the right of way. That means you do not need to wait for oncoming traffic before turning. Of course, you should still keep a careful eye out for pedestrians!Parking Rules and Regulations in IsraelLike every country, there are rules about parking in Israel, which are set out according to curb color, and here are some of them:Blue and White - You will see this primarily in areas in large cities, where paid parking is available. Either you can buy a ticket from an old-fashioned machine and then display it in your front window, put some coins into a nearby meter or use the ‘Pango’ app, which can easily be downloaded to any Smartphone.When you see blue and white curb parking, it’s also advisable to read the signs nearby carefully. Just because it;’s paid parking, that doesn’t mean it’s available 24 hours a day. For instance, it may be necessary to pay only up until 7 pm, it may be free on Shabbat or some of these spots might be reserved for local residents. Cars at the traffic lights, Jerusalem, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry MishinRed and White -Simply put, red and white curb colors mean “do not park here under any circumstances.” If you do, you will be given a ticket (and officers patrol the major cities with vigilance) for at least 200 NIS (63 USD) and possibly more. Worst case scenario, your car will be towed away, which means a tiresome and costly visit to a compound to retrieve it. You have been warned!No Color -If you’re in a small town or community, it’s often possible to park more easily. This is because there’s not too much traffic and not many residents in the center. So if you see a curb without color, you’re good to pull in. Highway numbers in IsraelFinally, here are some of the major highways you might be using, when driving: No. 1 - the Dead Sea – Jerusalem – Tel-Aviv - Jordan Valley; No. 2 - Tel Aviv - Haifa; No. 3 - Ashkelon - Kirya Malakhi - Latrun - Modi’in; No. 4 - Rosh Hanikra – Ashkelon.Israel has one toll road, which is Route 6 (also known as the Trans-Israel or Yitzhak Rabin highway). This begins in the north of Israel, near the Lebanon border, and runs down to the center, to Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion. If you want to use this road, factor in the cost before you set off - in general, from the far north to Tel Aviv will probably cost you around 32 NIS (10 USD) but do check first.Now buckle up, put some gas in the car and get going!Cars in the White City of Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: ©Dmitry Mishin
By Sarah Mann
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How to Get from Ashdod to Tel Aviv

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

There are plenty of ways to travel around Israel - between cities you can use public Egged or Metropoline buses, catch a train or rent a car. Within cities, there are also excellent local bus services that run from early in the morning until late at night, as well as city bikes and electric scooters that can easily be rented, with nothing more than a credit card.Taxi sign.Photo byMarkus SpiskeonUnsplashHowever, there are always going to be times when nothing but a taxi will suit you! Whether you’ve just arrived at the airport after a long haul flight and you’re jetlagged, or you’re in a rush to get across town, whether you’re laden down with bags of shopping or it’s 2 am and you’re coming out of a trendy Tel Aviv cocktail bar, grabbing a cab is going to be the fastest and most foolproof option.In this article, we’re looking at the hows, wheres, and whys of taking taxis in Israel - whether hailing them on the street, ordering them through phone apps (or through hotel services/tour operators), or ‘going native’ and sharing them with locals. With all of this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to make the decision that’s best for you and your wallet...which will only improve your mood and your trip to Israel!1. Regular private taxiPrivate taxis are plentiful and easy to order in Israel, whether you want to book one in advance, particularly from Ben Gurion airport to Tel Aviv, or simply just flag one down on the street. A taxi in Jerusalem.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinTraveling by taxi from Ben Gurion AirportThe taxis at Ben Gurion Airport operate under the supervision of the Israel Airports Authority and are all registered and regulated. After you pass through customs and walk out into arrivals, head through the main door and walk straight ahead. This is where the taxi stand is located.The taxis are easily recognizable with their distinct black and yellow taxi sign on their rooftops. The taxi fare you will pay to whichever city in Israel you are traveling to has a legally fixed price. This will depend on the time of the day that you are traveling (after 9.15 pm there is a surcharge of +25%). There will also be an extra charge for more than 2 passengers and if you have a large amount of luggage you may have to pay another 5-10 NIS. Taxi drivers also charge an extra 5 NIS when leaving the airport.In general, a taxi into Tel Aviv should cost you anywhere between 120 - 180 NIS and, without traffic, the journey should not take more than 30 minutes. It is normal to tip around 10% for a regular taxi ride and perhaps to increase it to 15% for anything above or beyond (i.e. help with luggage). There are reduced rate licensed taxis on Level 2 at Terminal 3 but the airport does not recommend you use them. There are also unauthorized taxi drivers operating in the area and we would not advise taking them, since they might compromise your safety or present you with an ‘extra’ charge at your destination.Ben Gurion Airport, Israel.Photo credit: © Maria MurashovaCatching a cab in the street in IsraelIt is still common practice to hail a taxi on the streets in Israel. There are two ways to set the price: A) Ask the driver to turn on the meter - this is a good way to ensure you do not get overcharged by someone unscrupulous. The meter should begin at 13 NIS, which is the standard minimum charge in Israel between 5.30 am and 9 pm. Drivers are also obliged to present you with a receipt at the end of the journey, should you ask for one.B) Negotiate a fee with the driver before you get into the taxi. Make sure you agree on a fair price for both of you, so there are no nasty surprises when you arrive at your destination. In general, it is usually better to insist the driver uses the meter, and drivers are legally obliged to switch it on if you ask. Of course, many will try and convince you it is not necessary - but you are well within your rights to insist. Ordering a taxi through companies/hotel concierges in IsraelYou can always ask your tour guide, or the concierge at the hotel, to call you a taxi. They will know reputable local firms with honest and reliable drivers, who will not try and overcharge you.Tel Aviv street with a parked taxi, Israel.Photo byDaniel LermanonUnsplash2. Sherut Taxi (“Service Taxi”) in IsraelService taxis (in Hebrew ‘Moniot Sherut”) are brightly-colored minivans that run throughout the bigger cities in Israel and also between major cities. Basically, they are shared taxis which accommodate 10 people. Yellow in color, on their front windscreen you can see their number and this shows what route they are taking.Sheruts are privately owned and run which means that, unlike public buses and trains, they do run on the Jewish Shabbat, and this is a major plus for anyone who wants to travel on Friday afternoon/evening or Saturday.In general, these yellow shared taxis follow the same routes as the major bus lines in the city they are in. In Tel Aviv, for instance, the two most common sheruts are numbers 4 and 5, which more-or-less replicate the routes of the two major bus lines, running from the Central Bus Station past Rothschild Boulevard, Ben Yehuda, and Dizengoff Street and through the heart of the city.The way it works is incredibly simple - simply raise your hand and hail one, as you would a private taxi. The driver will pull over and open the door using a large handle from his seat. Once you’ve climbed in, just grab a seat. You can pay the driver yourself (in cash) but a time-honored Israeli tradition (which some love and some hate) is to hand the money to the person in front of you, who passes it forward. Your change will come back the same way! Unlike buses, there are no fixed stops with service taxis so they will let you off wherever you like, along the route. Just tell the driver the corner or spot, you want to alight and he will pull over and drop you at the side of the road. Something else about this method of transport is that it tends to be a bit faster than using a bus (since it’s transporting fewer people and generally stopping at fewer stops). Some people find them a bit cramped and it’s definitely harder to board one if you have a lot of luggage but, in general, it’s a convenient way to travel and much cheaper than taking a private taxi.Tel Aviv roads at night. Photo by Shai Pal on UnsplashService taxis (monit sherut) within citiesAs stated above, sheruts tend to run on major streets - either check online for their routes, ask a friendly local (Israelis love to help!) or just keep an eye out for their yellow color, which makes them so noticeable. Tel Aviv numbers 4 and 5 begin at the Central Bus Station on Levinsky street - on the ground floor, just around the corner from the main entrance. Service taxis (monit sherut) at Ben Gurion AirportWhen you walk out of the airport’s main arrival door, at Terminal 3, walk straight until you come to the road. There you will see a private taxi stand. Look to the right and you will see a bus stop and different yellow vans. On the front of their windscreen, they will have the destination written on them. Jump in and pay (your luggage will go in the back) - the van will set off as soon as it’s full. There is no need to tip the driver when you reach your destination; this is included in the price. These sheruts go to Jerusalem and Haifa (not Tel Aviv) and run 24 hours a day. There are also sheruts from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion Airport.Please note that there are no sheruts from Ben Gurion to Tel Aviv. However, you do have other options - private taxi (starting at 120 NIS), Israel Railways - a one-way ticket to the center costs 14 NIS - or bus 445 that leaves from a stop close to the Jerusalem shuttle. Although it leaves only once an hour, it does run through the city center, and along HaYarkon Street, next to the beach and all of the hotels there. Taxis in East Jerusalem.Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on UnsplashIt also costs a mere 9 NIS. From Ben Gurion Airport or central Tel Aviv to Eilat it is possible to book a service taxi that accommodates up to 10 people usually - a good way to do this is through your hotel or concierge or a trusted tour operator like ourselves. It is also possible to book a private transfer from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem - this is the most costly option but once you are happy with your quote and have paid by credit card, there is nothing else to worry about. No doubt about it, this is the ultimate hassle-free choice.Service taxis (monit sherut) between cities in IsraelYou can take monit sheruts between the big cities - the most popular route is Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but shared taxis also run to Netanya, Haifa, Rishon le Zion, Ashdod, and Rehovot. They leave from the Levinsky Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv and from the corner of Ha Rav Agan and Ha Rav Kook streets, close to Zion Square in Jerusalem on weekdays. On Fridays and Saturdays the sherut only pick up in Jerusalem either at HaNevi'im and Monbaz corner or they move a couple of blocks to HaRav Agan and HaRav Kook streets.Fares of service taxis (monit sherut) in IsraelService taxis have a fixed price, no matter how many stops you go, which is almost the same as public buses. However, be aware that on Shabbat you may have to pay a few shekels more. Jerusalem thoroughfare near Mamilla Mall.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Apps: Gett, Yango, Uber in IsraelBooking a taxi using an app on your smartphone is increasingly popular now.Yango Taxi Israelis an app where you can set your destination and see the estimated cost of your ride almost immediately. You can also track your ride in the App and see exactly when it will arrive. It’s an easy-to-use service that works both on Android and iOS telephones. Yango lets you book a ride with multiple destinations and can also suggest alternative pickup points to reach your destination faster and at a cheaper price. Because the price is upfront, it will stay the same, even if you are delayed by traffic.Gett - About 8,000 of Israel's 25,000 cab drivers now use Gett, an Israeli company once known as Gett Taxi. Gett Taxi app in Israel does not actually own taxis or employs drivers but simply takes a fee for introducing passengers and drivers, and acting as a third-party for payments. Like Yango, the system is transparent so passengers can’t be overcharged. Also, it’s easy to pay by credit card.Uber - Uber is smaller than Yango or Gett so response times might be a bit longer but ordering an Uber driver costs 8 NIS from the time you get in the car then 1 NIS for every minute you spend in it, plus 2 NIS for every kilometer.Ordering a taxi with an App. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash4. Private Transfers in IsraelPrivate transfers in Israel are a very comfortable way to travel between cities and are not difficult to arrange. However, we do advise that you book them through a trustworthy tour operator - this means you’re likely to get an honest price and a reliable driver. Once you have been told the price and agree that it is fair, your credit card will be charged and everything afterwards will be taken care of, meaning you won’t have to deal with any aspect of the journey. At Bein Harim, we are always happy to help with private transfers - please call us or send us your details on our ‘Contact Us’ form and we will get back to you promptly, with a competitive offer.
By Sarah Mann
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How to Get from Haifa to Tel Aviv

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

Sports in ancient Israel are mentioned in the Bible although some practised by Egyptians and Greeks were condemned by the sages for involving pagan practises. But others were definitely ‘kosher’ e.g. running. Although sport was not supposed to detract away from the idea of studying the Torah (Jewish Bible), there are dissenting ideas. Rabbi Kook, for instance, argued: "When the holy people will be physically firm and strong, holiness will prevail in the world.” The theatre in Caesarea is also evidence that sports were popular, back in the day.Kitesurfing in the Red Sea, Israel. Photo by Raimond Klavins on UnsplashMajor sports in Modern Day IsraelThe sports tradition in more modern times has continued, particularly with football which first came to the Holy Land under Ottoman rule. In 1928, the Palestinian Football Association was formed and the British Mandate of Palestine national team played Egypt in 1934 in a World Cup qualifying game (they lost - and badly!) After the creation of the State of Israel, they were renamed as the national team of Israel and their first match as an independent nation was against the US Olympic Team. So what are the most popular sports in Israel? Well, we’d have to say football and basketball for starters.Israel’s Premier League was started in 1999, and today is a member of UEFA. The national stadium, first located in Ramat Gan, was where games were originally held but today games are usually played at Bloomfield Stadium, in Tel Aviv. Football (soccer), arguably, is Israel’s national sport today, just edging out basketball in the popularity stakes. ‘Ligat Ha Al’ - the Israeli Basketball Premier League - makes up the top 12 basketball teams in Israel and was set up in 1954. It is well-known in Europe and in recent years they have had more links with the NBA in North America.Surfers at Alma Beach in Tel Aviv.Photo by Zoltan Tasi on UnsplashThere are also many other sports that are popular in Israel - swimming, rowing, tennis, chess, boxing, figure skating, and gymnastics. Golf is a relatively new sport in Israel but there is a full-sized course in Caesarea. Baseball became more popular in the 1990s, and today there’s a very successful ‘Baseball for All’ program running in Israel, which encourages Jewish and Arab Israeli students in 6th grade to play together three times a year. Indeed, Israel was only just pipped to the post (by the Netherlands) in the European Baseball Championship in September 2021.Martial arts are very much enjoyed, particularly Krav Maga (a self-defense and fighting system, developed by the Israel Defence Force). There’s also Kapap - a ‘fusion of different fighting styles like boxing, judo, jiu-jitsu, and knife combat. Extreme sports in Israel are also becoming more popular. Whether you want to rappel down the side of the Ramon Crater, a canyon in the Golan Heights, or sandboard in the dunes of the Negev desert, there’s a tour for it. The bicycle race Giro d'Italia in Israel.Photo by Yoav Aziz on UnsplashWater Sports in IsraelWith its fabulous Mediterranean coastline, the Sea of Galilee, and the beautiful Red Sea besides. Israel is a paradise for anyone who loves water sports. Diving - there’s no better place to dive than Eilat, with its clear waters, stunning coral reef, and shoals of brightly colored tropical fish. For beginners, there are authorized PADI courses available and for more experienced divers Eilat Coral Beach is a great spot to explore. For those nervous about going underwater, it’s also fun to snorkel. Jet skiing - available both in Eilat and the Sea of Galilee, either take a trip out with an instructor or rent your own! Trust us, it’s an extremely exciting experience. Stand Up Paddle Boarding - this sport is growing in popularity - these boards look much like surfboards but are infinitely more stable, so you move around without tipping over precariously. Ideal for exploring on flat water, you’ll see both locals and tourists out on the Mediterranean, enjoying themselves in this way.Sea Kayaking - If you want to go out on open waters such as lakes, bays, or the Mediterranean Sea in Israel, Because they are long and narrow, they’re great for negotiating waters. Sailing - it’s easy to hire a yacht in Israel and spend a few hours on the sea, topped off with a wonderful sunset. Clubs in Tel Aviv and Herzliya rent out vessels from a few hours to a week...so get set!Swimming in the Jordan River, Israel. Photo credit:© Jenny EhrlichBeach Sports in IsraelMatkot - this is, unofficially, Israel’s national beach sport and much loved by the locals. It’s a wooden paddleboard game, where two players smash the ping pong-sized ball back and forth and observers hope they don’t lose an eye when the ball goes astray!Beach Volleyball - also very popular in Tel Aviv.On summer Saturday mornings in particular, at Gordon Beach, you’ll see plenty of young, attractive people (dressed in very little) getting fit, by way of the free courts there.Sports Events and Festivals in IsraelThere are so many to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin but here are a few we can’t resist mentioning...The Maccabiah Games are held every four years - essentially it’s a quadrennial Jewish Olympics, bringing together the most promising Jewish athletes from around the world. First held in 1932, It is the third-largest sporting event in the world, with 10,000 athletes competing and hosts open, junior, master, and disabled events.The games were named after Judah Maccabee, a Jewish leader who defended his country from King Antiochus. Today, the torch that lights the flame at the opening ceremony takes place in Modiin, his birthplace. The Maccabiah Games recognizes all 28 current Olympic sports, as well as chess, netball, and cricket! Women in Yoga Project, Israel. Photo by Mor Shani on UnsplashTel Aviv MarathonUsually taking place in February, this is a huge event, both for locals in Tel Aviv and runners around Israel. Over 40,000 people have been participating in the last years and because Tel Aviv is quite compact, the marathon passes through many parts of it. Starting in the north, at Yarkon Park and culminating in the south, in Jaffa, it’s a great day out, either as a participant or just a spectator.Jerusalem MarathonTaking place a month after Tel Aviv’s marathon, in March, back in 2013 Women’s Running Magazine this was chosen as one of the top 10 international spring running events worldwide. And whilst Tel Aviv is very flat, Jerusalem is incredibly hilly so this is a very challenging marathon, even for experienced runners. The good news is you can choose the length of your run - and the astonishing views of Jerusalem are to die for. Because it takes place at the beginning of spring, weather conditions are also good. Have a look at this video, to see for yourself.Beach volleyball in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo by Kai Pilger on UnsplashFrom North to South - Marathons Across IsraelThere are also many more marathons in Israel, held in all parts of the country. There’s one in the Dead Sea, where you’re literally running the lowest race on earth! The Sea of Galilee event is the oldest of its kind in Israel (45 years old) and has a flat course. The Crane Race, in the Hula Valley, offers a variety of marathons (half, 19k, 5k, and family events) around Hula Lake, where you can see thousands of cranes migrating. And let’s not forget the ‘Volcano Run’ in the Golan Heights. Beginning in Mount Hermon and ending at the Yarmuk River, you can enjoy running up and down five peaks, past a dormant volcano and breathtaking views. Probably not for the fainthearted! The desert marathon is held in Eilat, beginning in the desert and ending on the shores of the Red Sea. The Bible marathon recreates a run mentioned in the Bible, with its starting point at Rosh Ha’ayin (once Eben Exer) and ending at Shiloh (an ancient Сity of the Tabernacle). And let’s not forget the Arad-Masada race - beginning in the desert and ending at the foot of Masada, it’s renowned for its ‘afterparty rave’. After all, isn’t a dance party the perfect way to end this kind of race!People exercising on sports ground in Tel Aviv, Israel.Photo credit: © Jenny EhrlichTel Aviv Night RunHeld annually in October, this 10k race is fantastic fun - and unique in Israel because it’s held at night. It’s a tradition for anyone who runs to wear neon clothes (pink, yellow, green), and anyone over 14 can sign up. The route is completely urban and with thousands of people cheering on the runners, it’s a fantastic experience. It begins at Rabin Square, Rothschild Boulevard, down trendy Dizengoff, and into the finish area at Yarkon Park. Oh - and then there’s an all-night celebratory party with music and dancing - Tel Aviv style!Sail Tel AvivSail Tel Aviv is Israel’s largest maritime sports activity, and runs from between two to four days, usually in the spring, celebrating all things to do with the sea. Held next to the beach, it’s free for the public and involves many different kinds of competitions and activities. Come and look at the sand sculptures and the photography exhibitions, grab a bite, listen to some music. If you’re brave, you can even sign up for the open experience day with SUP, kayak rowing, and boat sailing! Israman Eilat and Ironman TiberiasA full & half Iron-Distance Triathlon takes place in Eilat, in January and another arduous one in Tiberias, by the Sea of Galilee, in November. So if you’re up for swimming, biking, and running, you know where to go!Skaters in Tel Aviv. Photo byYoav AzizonUnsplashSovev Tel Aviv Bike FestivalUsually taking place in October, around the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Sovev Cycle Tel Aviv offers the participant three different routes - the 8km (for beginners and family), the 21 km (for anyone in good shape), the 40 km route (if you’re experienced) and the 60km (for masters of the sport!) Bara Epic IsraelTaking place in northern Israel, between the Crusader city of Acre and the Sea of Galilee, this event is designed for avid mountain bikers! The race routes change annually, to make sure long-term participants never get bored (!) and range from 75 to 100 km per day. It’s all very challenging, with the idea to finish within a designated time limit. If you like spectacular scenery and something to test your stamina, this is an ‘epic’ choice! Here’s a short video, to give you a taste of how exciting it is.Israel RideThis great fundraising ride, where all proceeds benefit environmental charities, takes place in the Arava desert and lasts 5 days. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or want a more ‘recreational’ experience, there’s a route for you. The crew supporting you organize local accommodation, hearty food, and a chance to learn about the ecology of the area, and the challenges environmentalists there face. Shabbat is a day off too, so you’ll get to spend some quality time with your fellow riders. Old and young are equally welcome too.Skiing in Mount Hermon, Israel.Photo credit: © Evgeny BrizeliWheels of LoveThis charity cycling event takes place in southern Israel, often in the Arava desert, and whether you choose the three or four-day routes (the offroad is a little more challenging) the monies you raise will help an incredible cause - ALYN, which is a Jerusalem Hospital caring for children and adolescents. Mud Run Tel AvivFor those who are looking for a bit of levity, there’s nothing more fun than the Mud Run. Beginning at Ganei Yehoshua in Yarkon Park, you can challenge each other in an obstacle race of either 2, 5, or 10 km, and very few finish in a clean state. As the organizers say ‘Get Ready to get dirty!’Among other major sports in Israel are martial arts, sport fishing, and sky sports.Finally, Bein Harim is happy to help if you want to join a private or group day tour, whilst taking part in a sports event in Israel. Feel free to contact us, by phone or mail, to talk more about your needs. We’ll be delighted to help.
By Sarah Mann
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Theatre in Israel

Israel’s a land of beaches, mountains, seas and nature trails, endless religious and historical landmarks, archaeological sites and museums that deal with so many different themes. But it’s also a nation of culture lovers - which is why the performing arts are so well-supported. Whether you want music, fine art or theatre, both the big and small cities won’t disappoint. Even better, when it comes to theatre, there are so many choices for the visitor, including performances in Hebrew, Russian, English and even Yiddish!Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinToday we’re going to be looking at the lively and active Israeli theatre scene. Whether it’s contemporary plays, classical productions, performances at the Romantheatre in Caesarea, or under the stars in Jerusalem, there’s an exciting and dynamic ‘scene’ in the country. Israel is also a veritable melting point which means the actors, directors, and playwrights you’ll come across here hail not just from the Levant but all across the globe. From professional repertory and international musicals to regional plays and amateur companies, devoted audiences can expect a treat when they book tickets. Let’s start with a brief history of how it all began...History of the Theatre in IsraelThe first-ever Hebrew theatre in Israel was a group called ‘Lovers of the Hebrew Stage’ who performed actively in the Holy Land between 1904-1914. In the years of the British Mandate, when many Jewish immigrants were arriving in Palestine, many of the plays performed were themed around Jewish history and the trials and tribulations of being involved in ‘building a new country’. Habima,a theatre group founded in Moscow, arrived in Tel Aviv in 1928, delighting audiences with a production of ‘haOtsar’ (‘the Treasure’), a Yiddish to Hebrew translation of Shalom Aleichem’s Der Oytser. Settling in the city in 1931, a theatre was built and opened in 1945.Habima Theatre, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinOld and New Themes - from Shakespeare to LevinAfter the creation of the state, theatre in Israel flourished, combining native and international narratives. Playwrights such as Hanoch Levin, Moshe Shamir, and Nissan Aloni began exploring subjects pertinent to the new, fragile state, particularly the impact of the Holocaust and the current state of play between Israel and the Arab world. Over time, international classics also became popular in Israel - Shakespeare, Moliere, Samuel Beckett, and Tom Stoppard to name but a few. Today, Israel’s theatres have a reputation that is well-deserved, drawing on eclectic themes and promoting young actors and actresses. With a growing number of students studying acting in high school and the exciting atmosphere that exists on stages across the country, the future indeed looks bright for Israeli theatre. Let’s now have a look at some of the most well-known theatres in Israel:Theatre curtain.Photo by Rob Laughter on UnsplashTop Theatres in JerusalemJerusalem Theater - This landmark structure opened in 1971 and houses a number of open spaces, which perform all kinds of cultural activities. The complex consists of five halls - the Sherover Theatre can seat 970 and the Henry Crown Concert Hall 760! Located in Talbiyeh, it hosts over 600,000 visitors each year.Khan Theater - This theatre is a leading repertory-creator in Jerusalem, producing 4-5 new critically acclaimed plays each season, as well as its repertoire of 10 ongoing productions. They perform classical, modern European, and American plays, as well as Israeli dramas and, are considered by critics as the theatre that has produced the most groundbreaking works in recent years. Without a doubt, it is a real cultural center in the city. The Train Theater - Formed in 1981, this artistic puppet theater for children promotes creation and innovation. Every summer, it puts on the International Festival of Puppet Theater, bringing together puppeteers, viewers, artists, and festival directors from Israel and around the world.Caesarea Roman Theatre.Photo credit: © ShutterstockTop Theatres in Tel AvivHabima - Habima first opened in 1945 but was rebuilt and reopened in 2009 - today, located at the top of Rothschild Boulevard, it is considered a world-class theatre. Most productions are performed in Hebrew but often translated simultaneously into English, making it accessible for thousands of tourists. It has produced many critically acclaimed plays, both classic and independent, and today visitors can also enjoy a number of musicals on offer there, including Les Miserables and Mamma Mia.Gesher - The Gesher Theatre was founded in 1981 by new immigrants who had arrived in Israel from the USSR. It is one of the few bi-lingual theatres in the world, performing with the same troupe in Russian and Hebrew alternately. Today most of the productions are in Hebrew, but it has a very unique and artistic feel to its productions. Many of its plays have been hailed as remarkable and outstanding and today it is regarded as one of the most innovative theatres in Israel.Jaffa Theatre - The Jaffa Theater promotes intercultural dialogue, bringing together people from Jewish and Arab backgrounds, in an atmosphere of mutual respect. The theatre is a great advocate of reconciliation and peace and puts on many productions that deal with identity and ‘belonging’.Roman Theatre in Caesarea.Photo by Joshua Sukoff on UnsplashThe Cameri Theatre - The Cameri, founded in 1944, is one of Israel’s leading theatres and, to date, has staged over 600 productions, in front of thousands of people. Based in central Tel Aviv, each year, they present around 15 new plays to Israeli audiences, using an accomplished cast and well-known directors (five of whom have been awarded the Israel Prize for contributions to their field). Suzanne Dellal Center -Established in 1989 in the charming Neve Tzedek neighborhood, the Suzanne Dellal Centre offers a diverse number of performances, festivals, and events that relate to the world of contemporary dance and performing art. Suzanne Dellal is also home to the world-famous Batsheva dance troupe, with Martha Graham hired as its first artistic director, back in 1964. The Stage - This is home to a performing arts community in Tel Aviv that operates in English. They run large and small productions, all on a voluntary basis. Their claim to fame is a production of the notorious ‘Vagina Monologues’ and they also offer writing, directing, acting, and improv workshops as well as stand-up comedy and ‘open mic’ nights. If you are looking for an English-language theatre in Israel with English-speaking actors, this one is not to miss.Students dancing near the entrance to Suzanne Dellal Center.Photo credit: © Dmitry MishinImprov Theater Israel - Founded in 2007 by Anna Preminger, this is currently the home of Israeli improvisation theatre. Tmu-Na -This small community theater and performance center, features fringe and avant-garde performances in central Tel Aviv. Yiddishspiel - Yiddishpiel was established in 1987, its aim being to restore and revive the rich language of Yiddish, spoken by millions before World War II and part of a rich, Jewish cultural tradition. They have a rich and diverse repertoire, including classic works by Shalom Aleichem, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Shai Agnon.Founded by Shmuel Atzmon-Wircer, to date over 100 new productions have been staged and the theatre has also gained international recognition, performing in festivals around the world. Since their beginning, they have traveled to London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, and Vienna to perform.Malenky - This company was founded in 1997 by a group of immigrants from the old USSR and its forte is the adaptation of classical literary works. Malenki means ‘small’ in Russian but there’s nothing insignificant about these actors. Currently, they perform both in Russian and Hebrew and their repertoire includes ‘the Bastards Story’ (based on Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’), ‘About the Sin’ (based on Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment), and ‘The Stranger’ (based on the novel by Albert Camus). Market Dance, Carmel Market, Tel Aviv.Photo by Liel Anapolsky on UnsplashTop Theatres in HaifaHaifa Theatre - Founded in 1961, with the support of Abba Hushi - the mayor at that time - this was the first creative urban theatre in Israel. Undoubtedly, it expanded the cultural horizons of Haifa - and today acts as a creative home for young directors and original playwrights. (Fun fact; famous Israel playwrights Hanoch Levin, A B Yehoshua, and Danny Horowitz all began their professional lives here).Al-Midan -Founded in 1994, by a group of Arab-Israelis, this Haifa-based theatre serves as the artistic community for Arabis in Israel. With its two halls, its plays are performed only in Arabic and use both young Arab performers who have just graduated from Israeli drama schools, in collaboration with seasoned actors from the community.Theatre at CaesareaCaesarea isn’t just a magnificent national park, at which you can see extraordinary examples of Herodian architecture. It’s also home to a huge theater where, every summer, theatergoers come to enjoy concerts and plays under the stars. What once was a place where thousands watched Sophocles being performed is now a major venue for international performers. Not to be missed! To visit Caesarea join one of numerous Caesarea tours.Ballerina in Tel Aviv.Photo by Liel Anapolsky on UnsplashIsrael Musicals and Musical Theatre in IsraelThe King and I, Rent, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Sound of Music are some of the many musicals that have proved to be huge hits in Israel. Many Broadway shows make it here, both in large and intimate venues and enjoyed both by Israelis and those whose native language is English!Theatre Festivals in IsraelEach year, Israel holds a number of fantastic theatre festivals, to which thousands of people - both locals and tourists - flock. These include:Musrara Mix Festival - Usually held in February, and held in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Musrara (between the east and west of the city), this runs for three days and hosts a number of Israeli and international artists, as well as students from the Naggar School of Art. All events are free to the public, and visitors love walking through the narrow streets of the area, meeting locals, and enjoying all kinds of artistic performances.Puppets.Photo by Ray Harrington on UnsplashFestigal - Performed annually since 1981, Festigal is a wonderful musical show with many well-known actors and singers in Israel performing across Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. It begins with a musical, then comes a break, in which the audience vote for their favorite song. The second half consists of a concert. Held at Hanukkah time (December), it’s incredibly popular with children and each year it adopts a different theme. Acre Fringe Theatre Festival -Since 1979, the marvelous Crusader City of Acre has been home to an international fringe festival, which is held in the days that fall between the beginning and end of Sukkot (the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles), in the Autumn. Acre, with its ancient port, narrow alleyways, and eclectic architecture, is the perfect place to stage productions.Held at the Knight’s Hall (the Hospitaller Fortress), the stunning archaeological backdrop intrigues and mesmerizes visitors. It is Israel’s biggest theatre festival and is known to be a hub of creativity - it hosts companies from around the world and also boasts street performances and many activities for children. Enjoying theatre in a city like Acre was never this much fun...Acre Port.Photo by Daniel Newman on UnsplashJaffa Fest - Running since 2018 and held in the beautiful city of Jaffa, this festival hosts a number of music and theatre productions. Initiated by the Gesher Theatre, since 2020 it has been including a variety of content created for digital broadcasting in Hebrew, English, and Russian.Masrahid Festival - Held annually, at the Acre Theatre Centre, this festival performs plays in Arabic with simultaneous translation provided in Hebrew, opening the event up to millions of people who want to watch original works and understand more about Arab and Palestinian culture. International Puppet Festival - Taking place each July in Holon (just outside of Tel Aviv), this festival began in 1995 and is organized by the Israeli Puppet Centre. It hosts workshops for professionals and amateurs and gives performances by locals and international artists alike. Even better, most events are free...Bat Yam Festival - This annual festival takes place every August, close to the beach (on the boardwalk) in Bat Yam (a city just south of Tel Aviv-Jaffa). Running since 2005, it’s all about street theatre - and this street theatre is edgy, risky, and happening. The audience is people who happen to be walking there and performers have the job of making them look up and take notice. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see some acrobatics!To be able to visit any particular show or theatre in Israel, please consider joining aprivate tour.The Wandering Israeli Show, Cameri Theatre, Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin
By Sarah Mann
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Celebrating Silvester in Israel

Time is flying. Even though Corona has been with it for what seems like an eternity, and some countries are already returning to lockdown, Israel, for the moment, is not in the grip of a crisis. Whilst the borders are temporarily closed for tourists at present, the chances look good that they will open again soon.New Year decor. Photo byAnnie SprattonUnsplashHanukkah has now passed for Jews but what’s just around the corner is Christmas, followed by New Year, a time when thousands of Christian pilgrims flock to Israel, to visit Bethlehem (the place where Jesus was born) and Jerusalem (where he was crucified, buried and then resurrected). In the modern Gregorian calendar, the New Year falls on 1st January and is preceded by the famous ‘New Year’s Eve’ festival, which in Israel is called Silvester. So, why Silvester and why do Jews celebrate it in Israel?What does Silvester Mean?The word ‘Silvester’ is derived from the Roman Saint, Pope Silvester (also spelled Sylvester) from, back in the 4th century. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar was reformed and the last day of its year was declared to be December 31st, linking it up with the feast day of Silvester. Today, of course, 31st December is one of the most celebrated public holidays across the globe. Fireworks are a traditional way to end the evening, along with parties, cocktails, and a certain degree of merriment. Silvester is a huge tradition in central Europe (particularly Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy).And of course, over time, that tradition - like the traditions of Halloween and St. Valentine’s Day - has arrived in Israel. So when did Silvester make its first appearance and how do Israelis celebrate this festival today?Happy New Year hanging decor. Photo byKelly SikkemaonUnsplashSilvester in Israel Past.From the Ottomans to the BritishBy any standards (well, thousands of years in fact), the Jewish calendar predates the Gregorian calendar. Furthermore, when Palestine was ruled by the Ottomans, the ‘Rumi’ system (which is solar-based) was operational. Of course, all this changed when the Ottoman Empire fell and the British conquered the territory on 1st March 1917.Under the Mandate, Muslims celebrated their new year in the summer, Jews would celebrate Rosh Hashanah in the Fall and Orthodox Christians marked the New Year using the Julian calendar. However, because there were so many British soldiers (and diplomats and their wives) in the Holy Land by that time, the demand for a party on New Year’s Eve grew.In 1927, the first one was held, in the form of a dinner followed by a ball. At the same time, the Jews who lived there were not celebrating 31st December/1st January (instead celebrating Hanukkah in Israel) and so advertisements for these festivities were promoted more to English and Arabic speakers.Wine glasses and champagne for the New Year party. Photo byAndres SiimononUnsplashSilvester Springs UpBy the 1930s, however, many Jews from Germany and Austria (where Silvester was always popular) had arrived in Palestine. These Jews were, in the main, secular and worldly - they dressed beautifully, spoke eloquently, and enjoyed ‘bourgeois’ traditions such as summer tea dances and winter balls. Thus the tradition of the Hanukkah ball was born!These ‘Hanukkah/Silvester’ celebrations actually did gain some popularity, although there was a certain amount of discussion and disagreement from other Jews, who felt they were not in keeping with the ‘Zionist ethos’ (as well as being named after a Pope who was notoriously anti-semitic). Indeed, in 1934, the powers that be in Tel Aviv argued:“This foreign custom of Silvester parties is absolutely undesirable, contrary to the spirit and traditions of the people of Israel...and requests that all coffee houses and large event hall owners in the city not organize Silvester parties.” (Deputy Mayor Rokach)The Chief Rabbis went even further, declaring that Silvester was a tradition alien to Jews and something that should not be allowed to ‘invade’ the Holy Land. Essentially, they regarded these parties as a dangerous precedent - one that could lead to Jews adopting Christian traditions! However, as time passed, it became clear that many Jews in Palestine (and, after 1948, the State of Israel) wanted to celebrate. Attempts to stop parties (or even ban them) never came to much, and by the 1950s, Silvester parties were very fashionable (and attended by artists, journalists, and even Israeli politicians).New Year Fireworks. Photo bymeagan paddockonUnsplashSilvester in Israel TodaySo, how many Israels celebrate ‘New Year?’ today. Well, that’s a great question and essentially it all depends on which one you’re referring to. The Jewish New Year - also known as Rosh Hashanah - marks the beginning of the ‘holiday cycle’ (as we’ve said before, Israel has many holidays!) and is celebrated widely by families and friends, usually with a festive dinner and sometimes a trip to the synagogue. Rosh Hashanah, like every Jewish holiday, is based on the Jewish (lunar) calendar so its exact date differs every year. However, it usually falls sometime between early September and early October. Occasionally Israelis give gifts, but the biggest traditions are eating apples dipped in honey and round challah bread! And just in case you’re invited to someone’s home for such a celebration, it’s good to know how to say ‘Happy New Year’ in Israel. You say “Shanah tovah u’metukah” which, translated, basically means ‘Have a good and sweet New Year.”Rosh Hashanah treats. Photo byIgal NessonUnsplashDoes Israel Celebrate New Year's Eve?Silvester, of course, is a completely different ball game - it’s not a religious holiday whatsoever. As a result, many Israelis will celebrate the evening, although more traditional Jews (who observe Jewish ritual law) may not do anything special, since historically they have regarded it as a more ‘Christian’ holiday.In Tel Aviv, for instance, (Tel Aviv has a reputation for being secular, liberal, and somewhat hedonistic) you will find endless attractions - restaurants holding special New Year’s Eve menus, dance parties, intimate celebrations in peoples’ homes and, in hipster neighborhoods like Florentin and Jaffa, people partying in the street when the clock strikes midnight.In Jerusalem, however, which is a lot more traditional (even conservative) any celebrations will be more low-key, perhaps in peoples’ homes and you definitely won’t see revelry in the capital’s downtown. And, of course, since January 1st is not a public holiday in Israel, you’ll still be expected to attend work the next day!New Year tree balls. Photo byAnastasiya RomanovaonUnsplashSilvester Events in Tel Aviv this Year (2021)The New Year’s Eve countdown in Tel Aviv can be celebrated at many different venues across the city, including: The Breakfast Club - this popular nightclub on Rothschild Boulevard is throwing a Tiki party, with lots of dancing and tropical cocktails!Cheers Bar - hanker for some old music? Well, this bar is throwing a 1990s themed bash with music from that era, including Madonna, the Spice Girls, and Nirvana! Get your dancing shoes on...Brown TLV Hotel - this trendy hostel is converting its lobby into a disco and with its reputation for upmarket design, style, and cocktails, it’s bound to be fun!Shpagat - this popular gay bar on trendy Nahalat Binyamin is throwing their annual ‘Sylvester Prom Party.’ It’s an intimate and cozy venue and, even better, there’s no entry fee.The Dancing Camel - this fun bar is throwing a Roaring Twenties shindig, where you can dance to swing music and drink fabulous cocktails.The Kitchen Market - this upmarket restaurant, above the food market in Tel Aviv’s Namal Port, has a special New Year’s Eve menu, with both early and later sittings.New Year's Eve sparklers.Photo byIan SchneideronUnsplashNovy GodAs well as Silvester, the holiday of Novy God has also become increasingly popular in Israel. ‘Novy God’ is Russian for “New Year’ and symbolizes both the Russian New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.Historically, Russia adopted European customs in 1700 under Tzar Peter I, when he issued a decree, declaring that all citizens should have a fir tree in their home. By the mid 20th century, after the Tzars had been overthrown by the Bolsheviks, Novy God was declared a public holiday Unsurprisingly, it became very popular, perhaps because it was the only holiday in the Soviet Union not associated with communism. Israel has a large Russian population (many of whom arrived in the country after the fall of the Soviet Union) and so Novy God has gained popularity in the last 30 years. Especially in places where there is a large Russian community (Ashdod, for example), many festivities are held, with plenty of revelries to boot.A typical ‘Novy God’ dinner (which can often resemble a veritable feast) will include traditional Russian appetizers such as cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms, beets, and dill. Salads with mayonnaise (Olivier Salad and dressed herring, e.g.) are popular and caviar is often served, not to mention fermented pickles, which are often paired with vodka shots and champagne!New Year Celebration. Photo byJonathan BorbaonUnsplashWhen the clock strikes midnight, that’s when festivities really kick-off. There’s often lots of dancing and, at a certain point, dessert is served - the Napoleon cake is a big favorite, as well as vareniki (dumplings) filled with cherries. Celebrations go on way into the night and many Russian Jews will tell you that they have fond memories of their childhood Novy Gods, when they were not told to go to bed, often staying up until dawn broke. There will often be a decorated tree with presents underneath, which ‘Ded Moroz’ (‘Grandfather Frost’) hands out to the children.Now that more and more Israelis are beginning to understand that Novy God has little in common with Christmas, they’re also dying to learn more. Outreach initiatives mean that, across the country, many Russian-Israelis are inviting friends and neighbors into their homes, so they can share their wonderful traditions with them. Teaching others that Novy God is less about drinking in a bar and more about getting together with family and friends to share food and stories is just one more way of spending 31st December. So whether you’re religious or secular, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, Happy 2022 to you all - and whether you’re celebrating Silvester, Novy God or just staying home with Netflix, enjoy yourselves!Chrismas and New Year decorated tree.Photo byTessa RampersadonUnsplash
By Sarah Mann
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First Time in Israel: Must See Places

It’s indisputable - for a tiny country, Israel invariably punches above its weight as a holiday destination. Whether it’s religious and historical landmarks, glorious Tel Aviv beaches, astounding nature, skiing in the north and diving in the south, exploring boutique vineyards and Crusader castles or simply wandering the local streets, there’s enough in this country to keep you busy for several holidays. But what if you’re a first-time visitor, with a fixed amount of time to spend in this incredible country? What are the ‘must-see’ places in Israel for a newcomer? Well, there are many but some, of course, are stand-out destinations. And the good news is that Israel is pretty compact - you could drive the length of the country, from the Golan Heights, down to Eilat on the Red Sea, in about 8 hours. From east to west, it sometimes even takes less than an hour.The Church of the Beatitudes.Photo credit: © ShutterstockOne Holiday - Endless AttractionsThis means that whether you’re renting a car, travelling as part of a tour package or moving around independently, you’re going to be able to cover a fair bit of ground in one to two weeks. So with nothing more than a little planning, the fact is that you’re going to be able to combine all kinds of top-rated attractions in 7-14 days.Below is our list - we’re biased of course, but we’re certain you won’t come away disappointed after a trip to any of these incredible places. And whether you see them all or end up missing out on one or two, don’t worry - because you can see them again on your next trip - as well as few ones we haven’t mentioned! Let’s take a look:1. Jerusalem’s Old CityJerusalem is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world and the primary reason many tourists come to Israel. Home to three major world faiths and spectacularly beautiful, you could spend an entire vacation in Jerusalem, with much of it just within the Old City. Inside its walls (erected by Ottoman Emperor Suleiman, hundreds of years ago), the area is divided into four quarters - Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian - which you can spend hours wandering through (and getting lost in!)Within the Old City are treasures such as the Western Wall (sacred to Jews, as the last remaining vestige of the Second Temple), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (a beloved Christian pilgrim site, being where Christ was both crucified and resurrected), the Via Dolorosa, along which Christ walked, stopping at different ‘Stations of the Cross’ and the Temple Mount (Islam’s third most holy site, and known as the spot at which Mohammed flew over on his way to Mecca). There are also underground Western Wall tunnels, water cisterns, Ramparts, the Tower of David, the Byzantine Cardo, tiny churches and the Jerusalem shuk(bazaar) atmosphere itself which visitors often find overwhelming (in a positive sense!) because of its smells, sights and sounds. To get the most out of your time, we’d recommend taking at least one of variousJerusalem toursbecause the city guides have a wealth of knowledge and expertise at their fingertips and can really make Jerusalem come alive for you.One of the Stations of the Cross, Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem. Photo credit: © Shutterstock2. Bahai Gardens in HaifaThe Baha’i Gardens, at the heart of the beautiful Mediterranean city of Haifa, are a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and the highlight of any visit. Sloping down Mount Carmel, all the way to the foot of the sea, these impeccably manicured 19 terraces have, at their centre, a small white shrine, on top of which is the gold-coloured dome. This is the final resting place - and shrine - of the founder, ‘the Bab.’ Today, there are estimated to be around 7 million of his followers across the world.hebronThe terraced gardens are filled with exotic flowers, fountains and small sculptures and contain nine concentric circles. They are surrounded on either side by woodlands, to ensure the area remains peaceful and calm - a true spiritual site for followers of the Baha'i faith but loved by tourists and locals alike. (Fun fact: number 9 is sacred in this faith and this is reflected in the garden’s design - there are 9, 19, 99 of each element of the garden, as well as 999 steps along the path!). Either take the daily tour at midday (in English) or splash out on a private tour of Haifa and the Carmel - which also includes a visit to a Druze village of Daliat-el-Carmel. Haifa truly is the jewel in Israel’s north.Bahai Gardens, Haifa. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. The Dead SeaThe lowest point on earth and a body of water in which very little can survive, coming to float in the Dead Sea salty waters is an immeasurably fun activity for every new visitor. Surrounded by stunning Negev desert scenery, snapping a shot of yourself unable to put your legs down or slathering yourself in mud, is a guaranteed way to gain your friend’s envy on return home after your first time in Israel.Taking a Dead Sea tour will also give you a chance to see other attractions in the vicinity, including Masada, Ein Gedi and the Judean desert. Of course, if you’re looking for pure relaxation, you can always just settle in at one of the top Dead Sea hotels at Ein Bokek. The pampering spa treatments offered there will leave you rejuvenated and reinvigorated, trust us.The Dead Sea mud. Photo credit: © Shutterstock4. The Judaean DesertLess than an hour’s drive from Jerusalem lies the ancient fortress of Masada, affording some of the most spectacular views imaginable of the surrounding Judean desert, Masada is of great historical significance to Jews, as it is where they made a last ‘heroic stand’ against a Roman invasion. Whether you ascend via the winding snake path or travel up by cable car, it’s hard not to be taken aback by the sheer beauty of this mountaintop fortress and, once at the top, the archaeological artefacts are a real must-see. Tour Masada with its once-grand Herodian palace, view the bathhouse and mosaics and let yourself be carried away by history. To fit as much in as possible, we recommend taking our Masada Sunrise, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea Tour and for those who like an adrenaline rush, signing up for the Judean Desert Jeep Tour.Judean Desert, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock5. The Crusader city of AcreWith its endlessly intriguing backstreets, narrow alleyways, fortifications and fascinating history, the Crusader city of Acre is another destination we couldn’t pass over. Home to ancient city walls, the gothic vaulted Knights Halls, the Ahmed Al-Jazzar Mosque, St. John’s Church, the Templars' tunnel, an old Turkish hammam (bathhouse) and a lively ‘shuk’ (Acre Old City Market), visitors are blown away by the history they encounter at every turn.Walk through the main market area, breathe in the exotic smells, and end up at the port area, which has beautiful views and excellent fish restaurants. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and with beautiful vistas across the harbour, you may never want to leave. To see more of the north of Israel, we’d also recommend joining theCaesarea, Acre and Rosh Hanikra Tour.Ghattas Turkish bath, Acre, Israel. Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin6. Sea of Galilee with its Christian sitesThe Sea of Galilee is a major attraction in Israel, both for Christian pilgrims and secular tourists. A beautiful place in its own right, this is where Jesus spent many of his adult years preaching to his disciples and ministering to the local population. Today, the area remains home to a whole host of sites, both of religious and historical significance.A visit to the ‘Kinneret’ (the biblical name for the Sea of Galilee) should always include stops at the Mount of Beatitudes (where Jesus is thought to have given his Sermon on the Mount), St. Peter’s Church in Capernaum, and Kibbutz Ginosar, where you can see the ‘Jesus boat’. Why not take our Sea of Galilee Christian Tour which even includes a stop at Cana of the Galilee, where Jesus turned water into wine.The Sea of Galilee, Israel. Photo credit: © Shutterstock 7. SafedNestled in the lush Upper Galilee, and surrounded by pine forests, the ancient and mystical city of Safed is one of Israel’s four ‘holy’ cities (the others being Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias, all centres of Jewish life after the Ottoman conquest of Palestine). Safed was said to have been founded by one of Noah’s sons after the biblical Flood and today it remains not just a pretty and mystical place but also a site for those interested in ‘kabbalah’ (an esoteric Jewish philosophy).Wandering the backstreets of this tiny city, you’ll see bright blue doors and window frames, especially in the Artist’s Colony. In the cemetery, you’ll find the graves of many Jewish leaders, as well as pilgrims on their own spiritual voyages. And after you’ve finished exploring the many beautiful ancient synagogues, don’t forget to take a look at the old British Mandate buildings too. The entire area is incredibly beautiful, and a Galilee and Golan two-day touris an ideal way to pass some time.Synagogue in Safed.Photo credit: © Shutterstock8. Tel Aviv PromenadeYou can’t come to Israel and not spend at least a day in Tel Aviv, the beating heart of the country, packed with cafes, boutique stores, museums, galleries, as well as long stretches of wonderful beaches. But if you’re not the kind of person that wants to shop or bake in the sun all day, then why not try a Tel Aviv bike tour?Exploring theWhite Cityas its known (because of its abundance of Bauhaus buildings), you’ll familiarise yourself with the fashionable Rothschild Boulevard, Yitzchak Rabin Square (where Israel’s Prime Minister was tragically assassinated), the Hall of Independence (where Ben Gurion announced the creation of the State), the banks of the Yarkon River at Yarkon Park and the bustling Tel Aviv Port (Namal).There’s nothing like seeing a city at ‘street level’ and Tel Aviv has dedicated bike lanes, lined with trees affording you shade, which makes cycling from north to south a positive joy. And when you’re finished, you can treat yourself to an iced coffee, a fresh juice or a local beer, and sit by the Mediterranean, in anticipation of a glorious sunset. What’s not to like, we ask?Bauhaus buildings in the White City of Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Shutterstock9. JaffaJaffa is truly one of Israel’s most beloved tourist spots, not just because of its history (this is where Jonah fled God and ended up in a whale’s belly!) but because of its charm. Save for the cobbled streets, artist’s quarter and Jaffa port, there’s also the fabulous Jaffa Flea Market (shuk), a treasure trove of bric-a-brac, antiques, vintage clothes, designer furniture and even just plain, old-fashioned ‘junk.’The shuk is open six days a week, although Friday is by far and away the liveliest time to visit. On our Jaffa Flea Market Tour "From Shuk to Chic," you will have a chance not just to search for some treasure of your own but learn about the history of this flea market and how the area became the ‘hot spot’ that it is today.From ramshackled and out of favour to gentrified and bustling, you’ll see street art, wander in boutique stores and even get a chance to sample some of the incredible food on sale (our tip: if you’ve had enough hummus, try the spinach dumplings and jugs of lemonade at Puaa cafe, and finish with some sweet treats from Abulafia!)Jaffa flea market.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin10. GalileeThe Galilee isn’t just beautiful, but it’s also historic and well worth exploring, particularly on a Nazareth and Sea of Galilee Tour. This trip around the area will take you to Nazareth, the city where Jesus grew up, giving you the opportunity to see the beautiful Church of the Annunciation, before journeying on to the Multiplication Church in Tabgha, where Jesus turned two loaves of fishes and five loaves of bread into a feast for the five thousand.There’s also time spent at Yardenit, where thousands of pilgrims, dressed in white, wait each day to be baptised in the Jordan River, the very same place that John baptised Jesus. With its beautiful landscapes, lush greenery and charming villages, this is somewhere we’re sure you’re going to want to return, probably on aguided Galilee tour.The Wedding Church in Cana. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann
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Honeymooning in Israel - Where Romance and Adventure Make for the Perfect ‘Marriage’

We all know that planning a wedding takes effort which is understandable since for many people it’s the most important day of their life. But what about what comes afterwards? How do you want to begin your married life and what factors do you take into consideration when it comes to planning the first trip you’ll take together? Choosing a destination that ticks the right boxes is incredibly important because this isn’t just a holiday, it’s your honeymoon!Just married. Photo by Derek Thomson on UnsplashWhere Modernity and History Come TogetherWe might be a bit biased, but we think Israel is the place of honeymoon dreams. It’s a modern, developed country with every amenity you could wish for, combined with oodles of history and culture. It’s small enough to travel around easily but incredibly diverse in terms of landscapes and climates. There’s extraordinary nature, astonishing archaeological sites, history at your fingertips and miles and miles of pristine white sandy beaches and aquamarine Mediterranean waters to enjoy.Yes, whether you’re a sun worshipper, a culture buff, an avid nature lover or a city slicker, Israel has it all. With four climate zones, you can ski in the Golan Heights in the morning and dive in the Red Sea at night...or hike in a crater at sunrise and be overlooking a Crusader castle by sunset. With its blue flag beaches, hip hotels, fabulous cuisine and breathtaking scenery, Israel is one of the best honeymoon destinations, and here are a few of the ideas we have in mind, to help convince you...View of Safed against the backdrop of the Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © Shutterstock1. All Coupled UpThere’s nothing more appealing for many Israelis than the prospect of heading off to a ‘zimmer’ for a romantic weekend in one of the country‘s most beautiful areas - the Galilee - and for honeymooners, we think this is a perfect idea. The word Zimmer comes from the German ‘room’ but this unique accommodation goes way beyond that. Zimmers are self-contained units that often take the form of cabins and are rustic yet luxurious, with hot tubs, stylish furnishings and extravagant breakfasts. Pastoral and private, there’s no better place to begin your married life than in these rural retreats, with no one but you and your beloved - oh, and the birds, of course!A house in Safed,the highest city in Galilee and in Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock2. Urban LivingFor city lovers who yearn for an ‘urban’ holiday, then Tel Aviv fits the bill nicely. With its hip boutique hotels, stylish fine dining scene combined with the romantic backstreets ofJaffa and the smart boutiques of the Neve Tzedek neighbourhood, it’s a great choice for a honeymoon in Israel.The city has all kinds of stylish hotels, many with rooftops that offer stunning views of the skyline and bars where you can enjoy a coffee by day and an aperitif before dinner. By day, stroll the Rothschild Boulevardand tiny streets,soak up the atmosphere; by night, lounge at a cocktail bar, before eating al fresco at some modern Mediterranean spot then dance until the wee hours at one of the city’s hottest clubs.Neve Tzedek.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin3. Sunrises and SunsetsHolding hands and watching the sunrise over Masada, in the magnificent Judean desert has got to rank as a seriously romantic activity. On any Israel tour, a trip to the ancient fortress of Masada is a must, but climbing it early in the morning really is a wonderful idea. Sitting atop the ruins, as the sun hits your face, before taking a cable car back to the bottom and heading off to the Dead Sea for a float in the world’s lowest body of water adds a touch of fun to the activity too. Slather yourself in mud, or even take a spa treatment at one of the hotels on the promenade. You can also combine all three, by taking an organised Masada Sunrise and Dead Sea Tour,which includes time at Ein Gedi - hiking, animal spotting and a refreshing dip in David’s Waterfall. Similarly, why not enjoy a sunset in the beautiful north of the country, in the Golans (nature, history and a foodie’s delight), or on a boat trip around the Sea of Galilee? Or atop an abandoned fortification at Mount Bental, on a private tour of the Golan Heights? This part of the country is renowned for its spectacular landscapes and beautiful wildlife (eagles, deer and jackals). You can climb the Nimrod Fortress (the largest Crusader-era castle in Israel) or take a detour to the Hamat Gaderhot springs. The area is a paradise for foodies too, with its locally sourced cheeses and olive oils as well as several chocolatiers providing sweet treats for locals and visitors! Wine lovers are advised to visit one of the boutique wineries and indulge in some tastings. All of these private tours are custom-made too, so it’s entirely up to you where you travel...Sunset in Tel Aviv.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin4. Out of the Comfort ZoneIf you’re in Israel to relax but want a few activities thrown in, save for the classical day tours or private excursions, why not step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never tried before? Head south to the Negev desert, to stargaze and look for meteors at the amazing Mitzpe Ramon crater, before experiencing some local hospitality in the form of a night in a Bedouin tent. Or take a hike around Timna national park before heading to Eilat for some diving or snorkelling in the Red Sea.There’s also plenty of hiking in the Negev desert, and a trip to the spectacular Ein Avdat canyon, near Kibbutz Sde Boker (home to Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion and his burial place) is well worth it. If you’re looking for more ideas, take a look at our Israel tour packages page, to inspire you.Traditional Bedouin flatbread getting baked on a tabun in the Negev desert.Photo credit: © Oksana Mats5. A Little Bit of LuxuryEveryone loves pampering and what better time for it than on an Israel honeymoon? The country has some incredibly luxurious hotels, and we’d recommend indulging in at least one or two nights in them! Jerusalem boasts the Waldorf Astoria, the pinnacle of style with its eclectic and elegant architecture and furnishings. Try their afternoon tea - it’s to die for. Or head to King David, with its stunning views over the Old City and palatial limestone walls. In Tel Aviv, we’d recommend the Norman - luxurious bedrooms, fine dining and the famous ‘Library Bar’ - perfect for an evening aperitif. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention ‘the Jaffa’ too - a modern luxury set in 19th-century grandeur. With its minimalist style, sumptuous bedrooms, lavish bathrooms and all kinds of luxury amenities, this is - by and standards - a ‘lifestyle’ hotel, and perfect for newlyweds.Rosh Hanikra Grottoes, Israel.Photo credit: © Shutterstock6. Roots SchmootsIf you are Jewish, it might be a dream of yours to hold your wedding in Israel but if that’s not possible, then come here afterwards - as part of the Honeymoon Israel.This unique project offers young couples, just married or in the early years of their union, a nine-day subsidized honeymoon in Israel program. The idea is to give them an immersive travel experience and - whatever their personal backgrounds - make them feel at home both in the country and in the Jewish community.The trip around the country involves outings to the top tourist spots in the country as well as unusual experiences i.e. eating dinner with locals that you wouldn't get on a classical Israel tour package. There will also be time to explore alone, with your partner and, of course, at the end of the nine days you are free to stay on longer if you want to see more of the country.Banias National Reserve.Photo credit: © Shutterstock7. Adrenaline RushIf you’re a couple that craves excitement, then an Israeli honeymoon won’t disappoint. With miles and miles of coastline and rivers too, there are all kinds of water sports - sailing, surfing, kayaking on the Jordan river and jeep safari tours through rugged desert terrain. Explore the tunnels on a tour of the City of David and Underground Jerusalem, or head off to Acre, another Crusader City, with its stone walls and winding streets.For the truly adventurous, explore some of the country’s caves - Sorek (the Stalactite Cave) in the Judean Mountains has wooden walkways which make it easy to explore. Malcham, close to the Dead Sea, has huge spaces and vertical shafts over 400 feet deep! Or what about the Maresha Caves in Beit Guvrin National Park, in which you can find cisterns, olive presses and burial caves of the Phoenicians.Beit Guvrin National Park. Photo credit: © Shutterstock8. Small PleasuresTake pleasure in the small things! If you’re in Tel Aviv, eat ice cream on a hot day (the city has some fabulous artisan gelaterias) take a stroll on the beach promenade (‘Tayelet’), hunt for vintage items in Jaffa’s flea market then have lunch at Jaffa port, watching fisherman pull in their catch. Hire a bike and explore the city by cycling the boulevards or head to Yarkon Park and rent a paddleboat, which you can take all the way down to Luna Park (what’s more romantic than a ride on a Ferris wheel at night?). Also, consider a Jerusalem tour package - have a guide walk you through the Old City, from one ancient spot to the next, soaking up an atmosphere that’s 2,000 years old. Jerusalem might not have beaches and 24/7 activity, but it has a charm all of its own.City of David Archaeological site.Photo credit: © Shutterstock9. Getting LostFor those who like to live on the wild side, head to the central railway station of the city you’re staying in, buy a ticket to a place with the most exotic or unusual sounding name you can find and take a day trip there. Wander the streets, grab some street food and get lost. Just remember not to miss the last train home! Here are a few of our recommendations, on the ‘unusual’ front:Ein Hod - a charming artist’s village on the foot of a hill in the Carmel, between the mountain and the sea! It doesn’t just offer accommodation either - there are workshops for those with a creative inner spirit!Ein Kerem - this tranquil village in the west of Jerusalem will delight every honeymooner - full of history, its lush vegetation is downright gorgeous (and if you’re there in February, look out for the almond blossom).Caesarea - famous for its Herodian architecture, the city also boasts the Ralli modern art museum - filled with Spanish and Latin American art, its Moorish courtyard is the perfect place for honeymooners to sit and swoon over each other.Safed- magical and holy, wander through the ancient streets and let yourself be enveloped by its mysterious and intoxicating atmosphere. Don’t forget to visit the Artist’s Quarter while you’re there.Safed street.Photo credit: © Shutterstock10. Do as the Locals DoThis one sounds rather odd, but why not just ask a local? Israelis are notoriously friendly and apart from loving to help, they love to give advice! They also have opinions on everything - particularly the best places to see in what they consider to be the greatest country in the world.They won’t name the tourist spots either - they’ll tell you about the places they grew up in, went to as teenagers, or travelled en route to their army base! Places like the underground water cisterns in Ramle, the Druze village of Daliat-el-Carmel, and the Latrun monastery. They are all hidden tourist gems and most visitors to Israel never make it to them. To sum up, then, we think that you’ll love taking a honeymoon in Israel. The adventures the two of you will have in this exciting, beautiful and unusual country are ones you are guaranteed to love and the memories you’ll make we think will stay with you for years to come. Congratulations on tying the knot and see you soon!The Wedding Church at Cana, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine.Photo credit: © Shutterstock
By Sarah Mann
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The Ideal Vacation in Tel Aviv

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