For a country that’s not much larger than the state of New Jersey, Israel offers travelers a plethora of sights, food, and culture. From gorgeous coastlines to rugged deserts, the small nation of Israel encompasses many climates familiar to those that have been to Southern California.
The small size of the country enables travelers to enjoy all that it has to offer without ever hopping on an airplane. It almost pains us to limit Israel to 10 "musts," but for the sake of time, let’s focus on these 10 best things to do in Israel!
1. Stay in a kibbutz
In the Golan Heights you’ll definitely want to enjoy a cultural stay in a kibbutz (which is a collective community based on agriculture). This traditional offering enables you to enjoy traditional Israeli cuisine, but also to enjoy the lush green scenery surrounding the kibbutz. If you like to stay healthy and fit while traveling like we do, you’re in luck! The Golan Heights has plenty of hiking trails so definitely check some of them out!
2. Take a swim at a waterfall
One of the most gorgeous hikes in the Golan Heights was one that led to the waterfall pictured above. The Golan Heights is so lush and filled with vegetation, so the hikes are absolutely breathtaking.
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3. Sleep in Bedouin Tents in the Negev Desert
Challenge modern travel here a bit and continue your cultural experience by spending a night or two in a Bedouin Tent in the Negev Desert. The experience is unlike anything you’ll find. The traditional Bedouin dinner you’ll enjoy is one of the most delicious Israel has to offer! To top off the traditional experience take a sunrise ride on a camel!
4. Continue to deprive yourself of sleep and take a sunrise hike to Masada
The history of Masada is rich and the views that it offers are incredible! The hike to Masada provided endless views of the Dead Sea. The hike is quite flexible as well, as you can make it a short hike that would last about 20 minutes or a long hike that would take you about two hours.
Masada makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time into an ancient civilization. In the pinnacle of its history, Masada had a glorious bath house and even a steam room! Quite incredible for being on top of a mountain in the middle of the desert.
Watching the sunrise over the lowest crevice on Earth was honestly one of the most remarkable moments of the trip. You can even yell and hear your echo bounce off the surrounding cliffs!
5. Go float in the Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea has to be one of the more perplexing things you’ll ever experience. No, not floating on a raft, or laying on your back to become buoyant. The amount of salt in the Dead Sea will literally cause you to float! Without effort you’ll be floating and soaking up the sun in one of the most historic seas on Earth.
6. Soak at Hamei Tveria Hot Springs
Aside from the obvious benefit of extreme relaxation, the Hamei Tveria Hot Springs offer a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee!
7. Visiting Tel Aviv is a must
It’s only fitting the "Manhattan of Israel" gets recognized properly. Tel Aviv offers everything. From beautiful coastal beaches to high rises, and of course, to the rich history of Israel. Tel Aviv has many gorgeous hikes which you’ll want to get to… that’s if you can muster up the energy to leave the beach! The "Manhattan" aspect of Tel Aviv is really noticeable when walking through the city center. The nightlife is another key aspect that has travelers referring to Tel Aviv as Israel’s Manhattan. Bars on the beaches and night clubs in the city prove that Israel knows how to have a good time. Tel Aviv also offers beautiful street art which has been made famous by Rami Mieri. Jaffa (the seaport pictured above) is the last must see for Tel Aviv. Jaffa is an artist colony with views of the sea and the city.
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8. Jerusalem and the Old City
Jerusalem might arguably be the most historic city in the world. Jerusalem is also known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, al-Asqa Mosque, and the Temple Mount are most notable among the religious sites that Jerusalem boasts. Make sure to adventure through the Old City when you’re in Jerusalem. The Old City has been divided into four religious quarters (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian) and offers a very rich history. The city is encompassed by trees and many of the buildings are made of white limestone. You’ll see plenty of fancy store fronts and beautiful main streets which are almost reminiscent of Rome.
There is no other way to put it than to say bluntly that the food of Israel is delicious. Rich, and full of flavors, Israeli food offers something for everyone. Many Israelis have indulged in the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, so Falafel and Israeli salads are very common. Hot hummus and eggplant dishes are also very prevalent. So if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, do not worry! You’ll be well accommodated. If you prefer to indulge in meat, however, shawarma in a laffa or chicken curry are the way to go!
10. Shopping at the Shooks
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv both have many places you can shop, but the most notable are the Shooks. Here you’ll find tons of food, spices, jewelry, and clothes.