15 Best Things to Do in Israel
If you are wondering whether it is safe to travel to Israel, then know that it is one of the countries that has been hit by the Coronavirus epidemic. 12 cases have been detected in Israel till this date. While the authorities in Israel are taking all the steps to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is recommended to take precautionary measures while visiting Israel. Also, we suggest that you check flight operations to and from Israel as they might be affected amidst the virus outbreak.
Note: The Coronavirus statistics mentioned in this article are based on the updated reports available on March 03, 2020. These figures will be updated depending on how the outbreak unfolds.
Popularly called as the ‘Holy Land of Bible’, Israel is a destination that every spiritually inclined person would want to visit. But, the diverse country has a lot in store to offer other than just a spiritual reflection. Soaked in rich history, you can easily teleport to the past by visiting the numerous archaeological sites like the Masada Fortress, the Western Wall Tunnels, and Beit She'an. The Dead Sea will give you a unique experience of floating on the water, while de-stressing you with all the rich mineral salts. Its historic churches including The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Church of the Sepulcher, and the Church of the Beatitudes exemplify spectacular architecture.
If you wish to thoroughly explore Israel, it would take you days together. But, if you are short on time, then here are the 15 best things to do in Israel.
1. Explore the Old City of Jerusalem
The Old City of Jerusalem is home to different religious sites. Divided into four quarters, namely the Armenian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, and the Christian Quarter, this is a place where diversity exists in peace. Although situated at a walking distance from each other, every quarter exudes a distinct personality. The Wailing Wall, Dome of the Rock, and Church of the Sepulcher are prime attractions in the Old City of Jerusalem. You may opt for a half-day or a full-day city tour to take in all that this magnificent place has to offer.
2. Enjoy floating in the Dead Sea
It would be a sin not to visit the Dead Sea when you are touring Israel. This huge lake with high concentration of dissolved mineral salts will keep your body afloat. The mineral salts help you destress and relax your body. These salts also have high medicinal values and are proven to cure illnesses like joint pain, arthritis, and skin problems. What many do not know though, is that, the Dead Sea is observed to be shrinking rapidly. Many sinkholes have been registered at the salty lake. So you need to hurry if you want to capture the unique experience of floating on water.
3. Discover the ancient ruins in Israel
Hauntingly beautiful archaeological sites are scattered throughout Israel. The Masada Fortress on the top of a barren plateau, overlooking the Dead Sea, is one of the prime tourist attractions in Israel. Temple Mount and the Western Wall tunnels in Jerusalem are other two ancient sites that you must include in your itinerary. Caesarea Maritima includes ruins of an entire ancient city and exhibits glimpses of the different eras, ranging from the Roman Empire to the High Middle Ages. Step into the Beit She'an city which is marked with multiple sites full of ancient ruins. Visiting these, you will get an insight into different periods, starting from Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods to the British Mandate period.
4. Wonder at the geological formations in Israel
Dead Sea is not the only natural wonder that Israel is blessed with. Many other fascinating geological formations in the country will leave you awestruck. The jaw-dropping Makhtesh Ramon, or Ramon Crater as it is popularly known, is the largest crater in the world. Unlike other craters, it is not an impact crater formed by a meteor or a volcanic crater formed due to volcanic eruptions, which truly makes it a natural wonder. Next, the Ashvalom Cave in Israel, densely packed with stalactites and other cave formations, is a must-visit. Rosh HaNikra grottoes is another fascinating geological formation to be visited in Israel.
5. Admire the historic churches in Israel
The churches in Israel are not only good for worshipping, but also make for the best places to visit in Israel. These monumental churches exhibit spectacular architecture and treasure rich history. Your trip to Jerusalem in Israel will not be complete without a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.The Church of Nativity is another church worth visiting in the city. You should visit The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, to see its unique structure. Showcasing lovely Byzantine Revival architecture, the Church of the Beatitudes by the Sea of Galilee, makes for a postcard-perfect picture. St. Peter's Catholic Church in the Old City of Jaffa, the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and St. Gabriel’s Church in Galilee are a few other that you may love visiting.
6. See a beautiful mixture of nature and history at the Israeli National Parks
There are more than 40 national parks in Israel and each one is unique in their own way. Step in the Masada National Park and it will give you a glimpse of the Israel and Jewish history. Considered to be one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Israel, this national park is dotted with a number of ancient ruins. Boasting to be Israel’s largest national park, The Mount Carmel National Park is spread over a massive area of over 10,000 hectares. Home to pine, eucalyptus, and cypress forest, it is also marked by several archaeological sites and has many walking and cycling paths for the outdoor enthusiasts. Gan Hashlosha National Park should also be included in your Israel itinerary.
7. Visit the top sights in Israel
Israel leaves no stone unturned to satisfy the tourist in you. It is packed with a plethora of sights that are a must-visit. You absolutely cannot miss visiting the Hanging Gardens of Haifa while touring Israel. These terrace gardens are located on Mount Carmel, surrounding the Shrine of the Báb. It is a designated UNESCO world Heritage Site and lie in the neighborhoods of Wadi Nisnas and Hadar HaCarmel. Roman ruins in Caesarea, Golan Heights, Arava Desert, are a few other attractions that are worth paying a visit.
8. See innovation, creativity, and much more at the Israeli museums
Every major city in Israel is dotted with a lot of museums. When you are in Jerusalem, you must make your way towards The Israel Museum. This is a heaven for those who are interested in art and archaeology. The museum has an extensive collection of about 500,000 objects. Tel Aviv is a proud home of Eretz Israel Museum for it is a perfect stop to get an insight into Israel’s history and art. Its vast collection includes anthropological artifacts, glassware, ceramics, photographs, and postal stamps. A few of its exhibits showcase the Israeli folklore. While you are in Tel Aviv, you may also visit the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Boasting of a collection which includes artworks of Vincent Van Gogh, Amadeo Modigliani, and Pablo Picasso, this museum allures the art-lovers.
9. Shop in the old souks in Israel
Exploring the local markets in Israel is a stand-alone experience. Selling a variety of products, ranging from spices to clothes, these souks teleport you into an entirely different world. Walk through the doors of Jerusalem’s Old City Arab Souk and you can shop till you drop. Here you can buy the best of souvenirs at the most affordable prices. Just show off your negotiation skills and you will land up with the best deals. If you are interested in buying textiles, accessories, paintings, or glass while listening to live music, then head towards the Bezalel Arts Fair in Jerusalem on a Friday. And then there is the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, which is nothing less than a gala fair. Starting from handmade cheese to traditional clothes, this everyday market sells everything.
10. Grab the opportunity of snorkelling in the Red Sea
Eilat is a huge resort city in israel, located by the shores of the Red Sea. It offers snorkelling opportunities to the tourists throughout the year. As a result, it has become a favorite destination amongst the European tourists during winters. The Coral Beach Nature Reserve is considered to be the best spot in Eilat to go snorkelling. Here, you will be able to spot more than 650 species of fish and 100 types of coral. Parrot fish, butterfly fish, marine turtles, rays, and lionfish are the common sightings at this spot. Dolphin Reef, which is one of the loveliest beach in Eilat is another best option for you.
11. Step back in time at the Historical sites
Israel is soaked in rich history and its many attractions offer you a glimpse of the past. Besides the ones mentioned earlier, there are numerous other historical places to visit. The City of David, perched on top of a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem, dates back to the Bronze Age. It is considered to be one of the most popular archaeological sites in Israel. At Capernaum, you will be able to see the ruins of a Roman city. Avdat, which was established around 3rd century BC, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins at this place include ancient temples and churches, a watch tower, a wine press, many caves, a bathhouse, and much more. If you wish to step back in the 14th-13th century BC, then visit the Old City of Acre.
12. Relax at the beaches in Israel
Beaches in Israel are the best places to spend some quality time with family and friends. While a few beaches may constantly buzz with activity, others are an abode of tranquility. If you wish for a natural jacuzzi, then make your way towards the Mineral Beach of Dead Sea. While many other beaches of Dead Sea have stalls selling mud packets, the Mineral Beach boasts to have a huge mud pit. For the party animals, Dado Zamir Beach in Haifa is the best bet. It features a dance arena, many pubs and beachside restaurants, an amphitheatre for summer events, and a pool for toddlers. Leisurely stroll along its boardwalk promenade and have a pleasant time. If you wish to escape the crowds then you may head towards the Banana Beach, known for its serenity. It is a perfect place to spend some time in solitude.
13. Bow down at the religious points of interest in Israel
Popularly dubbed as the ‘Land of Bible’, it is no surprise that Israel has a lot of religious sites. Apart from the Western Wall, the Church of Holy Sepulcher, and Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, following are a few other places in Israel infused with religious importance.
Golgotha Hills: This is supposedly the place where Jesus was crucified.
Bethlehem: The birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth that comes alive during Easter and Christmas
Capernaum: Dubbed as the town of Jesus and home to many churches that spread the teachings of Jesus
The Jordan River: The place where Jesus was baptized
14. Enjoy the buzzing nightlife of Israel
If you wish to experience the nightlife of Israel, there is no better place than Tel Aviv. Step into a club after 10:00 PM in Tel Aviv and you won’t step out until the wee of hours. End your day of wandering in Israel on a high note by visiting a nightclub. Popular amongst hipsters as one of the best party cities, Tel Aviv is gradually gaining popularity as the city that never sleeps. You will find the best of bars and clubs in the Allenby, Levontin, and Lilienblum areas. The Jaffa City in Israel also attracts the party goers with it many lines of bars and clubs.
15. Attend the joyous festivals of Israel
The best way to know the culture of Israel is by attending its festivals. Sukkot, which is quite similar to the Western Harvest Festival, is an ideal Jewish traditional festival. The Summer Cultural Festival in Jerusalem, conducted during July and August showcases dance, music, and theater performances. Karmiel Dance Festival is one grand affair where more than 5,000 international and Israeli dancers come to give their best performance. Along with the dance events, a huge market is also a part of the festival which sells a variety of products. Jerusalem Beer Festival is just right for the ale-lovers and Jacob’s Ladder Festival is ideal to listen to a variety of music.
Be it the fascinating Dead Sea or the historically bound several ruins, Israel has the perfect amalgamation to attract every kind of traveller. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this ‘Holy Land of Bible’ ranks high on a wanderer’s bucket list.