A land straight out of a history book,
A land where three religions meet,
A land where culture and nature blend seamlessly at every nook,
A land where there are people so sweet.
As travel bloggers, we do have our small list of must-visit places and no doubt with each passing day, the more we travel our list keeps growing.
Israel has been on Sam’s list for some time now as he reads a lot of books and has always been fascinated by the rich cultural history associated with Israel.
The country is replete with holy sites, deserts, and offers some stunning beaches off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.It is not just a holy land but also a story-land where every corner speaks volumes about the past and history that span close to four thousand years.
From floating in the Dead Sea to skiing in Golan heights, from the street food of Haifa to the posh restaurants of Tel Aviv. Israel offers something for everyone.
In the last few years, there has been a lot of interest among Indian tourists to travel to this beautiful country. So, if you too are planning a trip to Israel then this post is definitely going to help you plan your trip.
We’ve listed here the top reasons to visit and places to visit in Israel
– Cultural Hub –
Israel is the melting point of three religions of the world namely Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The seamless blend of these religions can be easily seen in the old city of Jerusalem. The Western Wall is considered sacred by the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an important pilgrimage site for the Christians and the Dome of the Rock is a 7th-century Islamic shrine.
The Old City of Jerusalem is a walled city which was built by King David and is divided into four quarters, which are the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. Each quarter is unique architecturally and has a lot of history around it. There is a lot to do and see in Jerusalem if you have a knack for history. Taking a walking tour and exploring the different quarters inside the old city is an experience in itself.
You can even retrace Christ’s footsteps along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
– Culinary Heaven –
Israel boasts of some of the best Mediterranean cuisines across the world. Some of the cities known for food are Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv.
In Israel, many of the restaurants prefer home-grown stuff. Restaurant menus are loaded with cuisines based on the season’s produce. Be it a fresh catch from the Israeli waters or the home-grown vegetables. There is plenty on offer to satiate both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian taste buds. You will definitely be spoilt for choices that you get. One dish or to say side dish that goes with every meal is the Hummus.
Make sure to order either Hummus Masabacha spread (made from crushed chickpeas and mixed with tahini sauce, lemon, olive oil, salt and garlic) or Kawarma (Hummus topped with chopped lamb). Mouth-watering falafel (mix of chickpeas, fava beans and loads of spices) is another interesting dish that you can find on every menu in Israel.
Shawarma is also quite popular as a street food, minced lamb/chicken tossed up with spices and rolled up with salads and served with hummus or pickle.
If you love eggs, then you should not come back without sampling Shakshooka – deadly combination of tomatoes, garlic, spices and onions topped up with a poached egg. Every meal in Israel is laced with various types of bread, special mention for Lechem bread which is considered to be the finest of all bread. Israelis also love Aubergine or Eggplant and hence it finds its way into many cuisines — Baba Ghanoush being one of the favorites. For dessert, don’t miss Kanafeh — a Levantine Arabic dish to sample.
( For more authentic local experience, check out the website eatwith.com and join the locals as they share their meal with you. )
– Beauty Everywhere –
Israel is bestowed with beautiful beaches and picturesque landscapes that will captivate your mind and soul equally. No doubt these places are every photographer’s delight.
Golan Heights offers some breathtaking views of the mountainous landscape with a backdrop of the sea. There are many nature reserves which could be explored by the inquisitive traveler. It is also famous as a ski destination during the winters.
Haifa is a port city and is a great place for surfers. You can also explore the famous Bahai garden at Haifa or spend time mingling with the multicultural crowd in the city.
Tel Aviv is one of the favorite destinations among tourists, all thanks to the diverse and open-minded society, a vibrant nightlife, amazing food scene, and laid-back beaches.
From street art to museums, from street food to expensive restaurants the city has something for every type of traveler.
Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, is one of the oldest cities in the world with a history dating back close to 4000 years.
Get lost in the cobblestone alleyways or give into the urge of being Indiana Jones and explore the old city which is accessible 24/7 in Jerusalem.
Occupying more than half of Israel’s land area, the Negev desert is a beautiful and magical place that one should not miss. The desert is home to some of the largest craters on earth that were formed by extreme water erosion, the most famous of the craters being the Ramon Crater.
Here you can take in the sweeping views of the landscapes or just rappel down the crater. An amazing place to capture the Milky Way as the desert is thinly populated making it devoid of light pollution.
Let yourself loose while sand-boarding on the sand dunes of the desert or sample some wine in one of the many wineries in the desert.
Imagine this – reading a newspaper floating in the sea or reading your favorite book on a Kindle while floating 🙂
If you do fancy doing any of these, then the Dead Sea is the place to be. At 427 meters below sea level, Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth. It has the saltiest water in the world which makes drowning impossible due to natural buoyancy. The water and the mud also have healing properties.
No doubt the Dead Sea is one of the Seven Wonders of the world.
– Adventure Awaits –
Be it skydiving to floating in the dead sea, rappelling in Nachal Rachaf to camel safari. Israel offers a plethora of activities to keep your adrenaline pumped up.
And wait, if you had always considered Israel as a hot and a humid country like the Middle East then it is time to change your notion and head to Mount Hermon for skiing.
Love water and everything related to it then just grab your swimwear, snorkel gear and hop on a sailing trip or a Catamaran Tour along Israel’s Mediterranean Coast.
You can also dive and snorkel in the Red Sea which offers an amazing marine world or Kayak on the Jordan river. If caving or spelunking interests you then don’t forget to add it to your itinerary as well. There are various caves offering spectacular stalactites and stalagmites to marvel at.
For us, it has to be glamping in the Negev Desert, spending a night beneath millions of stars shining bright and hot-air ballooning in the Jezreel Valley that tops our list.
– Night Life –
( Source )
If you had your share of culture, adventure, and food, then it is time to embrace yourself to the most happening and vibrant nightlife scene of Tel Aviv – the party capital of the Middle East that houses the best of pubs, bars and dance clubs. As the sun sets the beachy town of Tel Aviv morphs into Israel’s – CITY that never sleeps. It is sprinkled with enough entertainment spots to keep you occupied all night long.
We recommend to gobble down a sundowner at any of the beach bars while your feet are busy playing with the sand or scrub up and hit the dance floor tapping to the tunes of a DJ at a hippie bar or a live band’s performance. Venture on a bar hopping spree at the southern end of Rothschild Boulevard and explore the surrounding streets or head to Wine Sory and Jajo Vino for a wine fix.
Or just call it a day sampling one of the best brews of Israel. The three great brews are Alexander Brewery’s IPA, the Dancing Camel’s Olde Papa, and Jem’s 8.8, as recommended by none other than Lonely Planet.
– Shopping in Israel –
The markets are loaded with trinkets and souvenirs to carry back home and you cannot resist from picking one or two as you amble the streets of Israel. We share few must pick or keepsake items to bring back from the holy land.
Israeli Olive Oil – Olive Oil from company Eretz Gshur is one of the best olive oils in the world.
Bedouin – Woven Rugs and Cushions
Home Décor Items – Ceramics or hand painted paintings
Metalace – Lace fabrics patterns in the form of metal
Ahava Skin Care products or Dead Sea mineral products for your home spa
( Note: Don’t forget to claim your value added Tax rebate at the airport for purchases over a $100 from the participating stores. )
If you are still not able to make up your mind, then watch this amazing video and take a call for yourself, we are pretty sure Israel will amaze you.
Note: One can travel to Gulf Countries after having Israel visa stamp on their passport.
Do let us know by commenting below if Israel is on your bucket list too?
PS: This post is written in collaboration with Israel Tourism India.
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