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10 Things You HAVE to See and Do When Visiting Israel

10 Things You HAVE to See and Do When Visiting Israel

Bit tricky, but here’s an attempt at narrowing down Israel’s top attractions to a top ten “must do” list. The best of the Holy Land in one ultimate checklist – these are things that you really should do, no matter if you’re here for a long weekend or a month.

In no particular order…

  • Float in the Dead Sea – The Lowest Point on Earth is one special place to visit. If you need to chill out, and especially if you’re feeling rundown, the Dead Sea is the ideal place in Israel to visit. Bring your newspaper along for that picture opportunity, smother some of that mineral rich Dead Sea mud on and then float on your back in the warm, salty sea. Just avoid diving in!
  • Tour the Old City, Jerusalem – The Old City of Jerusalem is a real must-see, being home to sites of key religious significance, including the Temple Mount, the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. You can easily spend a full day here: place a prayer between the cracks of the huge stones that make up the Western Wall, browse the stalls in the narrow streets of the Old City bazaar, and visit the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. This will probably be your main tourist sightseeing day on your visit to Israel.
  • Haggle in the Carmel Market, Tel Aviv – The Carmel market in central Tel Aviv gives you the opportunity to hone your bargaining skills and get a taste of the real Israel. Starting at the Allenby Street end, wander past the many clothes stalls before you hit the market’s epicentre; the food and spices. Amazing colors, amazing smells…listen to the stall vendors hawk their goods and taunt each other over space, prices, quality, or sports teams. A great day out.
  • Snorkel or scuba in the Red Sea, Eilat – Eilat is the place to go if you want to see amazing coral reef, beautiful fish, and crystal-clear water. Eilat is one of the world’s best diving sites. What with great weather practically all-year round, this is the place to dust off your snorkel, get acquainted with snuba and renew or initiate your passion for diving. Alternatively, for the less adventurous there’s always Eilat’s impressive Underwater Observatory. Eilat has its own airport so is easy to get to, plus is just a short drive from the amazing dives of Sinai.
  • Visit Yad Vashem, Jerusalem – A more sobre spot to visit, but an important place to visit in order to get a deeper understanding of Israel, this is Israel’s memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Located on the Western outskirts of Jerusalem on Har HaZikaron, the large complex of museums, outdoor monuments, exhibition halls with major archives, library and other resource centers extends over 45 acres. Take your time here, and be prepared to be deeply moved.
  • Stand at the edge of the Ramon Crater – An amazing geological feature of Israel’s mainly desert south, located about an hour south of Beersheva. The crater is 40 km long and 2-10 km wide, almost heart shaped, and naturally carved out by water and climate erosion. The largest crater in the world, it sinks some 500m at its deepest point. Get an amazing view of the Ramon crater from the Mitzpeh Ramon vistor center, where yes, you can stand at the edge of the world’s largest crater!
  • Enjoy a sunset on Tel Aviv beach – The gorgeous sandy beaches of Tel Aviv is the perfect spot to catch a sunset. Accompanied by a beer or wine or whatever you prefer, kick off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as the Mediterranean laps gently at the shore just metres (maybe even centimetres!) away. You could also wind down the day at one of the many beachside cafes, the choice is yours.
  • Visit the mountain fortress of Masada – The mountain fortress of Masada stands on an isolated rock plateau in the south east of Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea. The tale of Masada is one of Jewish heroics, 1000 inhabitants committing mass suicide rather than surrendering to their Roman enemies. Take a walk up the Snake Path to the top of Masada if you’re feeling adventurous, otherwise take the cable car. Early morning or late afternoon visits are recommended because of the heat.
  • Marvel at the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa – The magical terraces of Baha’i in Haifa are possibly just off the primary tourist track. But they really should be added to your visit to Israel. The Baha’i gardens must be one of the most beautiful gardens in the world and are a memorial to the founders of the Baha’i Faith, attracting pilgrims from around the world. Free to enter though you should dress modestly. The surrounding Haifa area is full of things to do and see, including museums, cafes, and a great artists colony!
  • Have a night out in the City That Never Sleeps, Tel Aviv – In Tel Aviv the nightlife is legendary, you can find pretty much anything you need for a good night out. There are countless bars and clubs, as well as museums, theatres, galleries, dance centres, and concert halls for the more cultured evening. If you have the energy, Tel Aviv can keep you occupied until the early hours, including the many restaurants and cafes throughout the city. During the summer months, try a night out in one of the many beachside (oh yes, feel the sand between your toes!) cafes and restaurants.

Enjoy your visit to Israel!