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          Best Places To Visit in Israel

 

 

 

  

Best Places To Visit in Israel

Overview

Map of Israel showing the major cities and the Palestinian Territories

 

A visit to Israel offers the traveler an opportunity to see  fabled places that have had a significant influence on the history of the world.

Many of the tourist attractions within Israel act as travel lodestones not only for the members of three of the world’s most prominent religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), but also to those with an avid interest in world history in general. 

Locations such as Jerusalem, the Dead Sea,  Bethlehem, Masada and the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) have much to offer all travelers. We have focused our guide to the best places to visit in Israel on its major cities,  as well as the area's leading tourism-related religious and historic sites. 

Travel in Israel can be dangerous and it is not our role to advise you to travel to Israel or to warn you away. Instead, we will assume that you have considered the situation and decided on your own to visit Israel.

Best Places to Visit in Israel

Jerusalem

See our Jerusalem Guide for complete coverage of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Without a doubt, Jerusalem is the magnet that attracts  visitors to Israel.  In fact, many visitors ignore the modern city of Jerusalem and flock to the compact, walled "Old City" to see monuments that are largely of religious and historic significance.  We have prepared a Guide the the Best Places to Visit in Jerusalem that is focused on the Old City and the Mount of Olives. Leading attractions include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Gardens of Gethsemane.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is the most modern city in Israel and, also, the most secular, although it is guided or, perhaps, constrained by the religious boundaries set by the laws of Israel.  Tel Aviv offers an active nightlife, a scenic beachfront on the Mediterranean and an open and relaxed atmosphere.  There is good quality dining, as well as some of the best falafel in the world.  By the way, the leading hotels are along the the shore, close to good restaurants, interesting shopping and Israel's leading nightlife.   For the Geeks among you, Tel Aviv is a global hotspot for technology companies.

        Tel Aviv from the south near Jafo Port

Tel Aviv has a number of quality museums, although the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, focused on 20th century art,  is the most well-known.  The museum's official website  provides information on  its collections, exhibitions and details on visiting.

Yafo is one of the world's oldest portsVisit  the Carmel Market, a daily open air/ street market located mid-city off Allenby Street for fruits, nuts, meats, clothes, jewelry and just about anything else you can imagine.  The market is the mixing pot of Tel Aviv and a great way to get a feeling for the life of the city.

Jaffo (Yafo), reputed to be the oldest port in the world, has a decidedly distinct flavor from Tel Aviv, due to  its Arabic heritage.  Unfortunately, its architecture reflects little of its important history, but it is a pleasant place for a walk, especially  in the modest Artisan Quarter.   We recommend  Yafo Port as a great place for a meal, especially if you choose a good quality restaurant with a view of the water.  The area is, also, something of a nightspot, as is much of Tel Aviv along the shore.

Looking down the slopes of Mount Carmel at Haifa and the Bahai World CenterHaifa

Haifa is the third largest in Israel and its history links back to Biblical times.  Today is it a working port, as well as an educational and technology center.

Haifa is often made fun of by the residents of Tel Aviv (and the other cities of Israel) because it is viewed as a boring, working city whose residents are too serious.  The saying in Israel is that Haifa works, Tel Aviv plays and Jerusalem prays.  We are not sure of the validity of that saying, but would point out that Haifa has a picturesque setting on the slopes of Mount Carmel. 

The Bahá'i Shrine of the Báb (the prophet of the Bahá'i faith) and the Bahá'i Gardens are spectacular sights to visit and part of the pilgrimage of the Baha'i faith that includes Haifa, Acre and Western Galilee. The Báb Shrine and Bahá'i Gardens are part of the Baha'i World Center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See this official website of the Bahá'i faith  for more information on their facility in Haifa.

Acre (Akko)

The Knights Hall, part of the Crusaders main fortress was built in the 12th century.Acre is a  port city that was originally settled by the Phoenicians.  It is another of Israel's historic cities with an extremely interesting history.  The city that exists today was shaped and  fortified by the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries and is a classic example of an Ottoman walled town including its citadel, mosques and baths.

Much of the  architecture that you can see today was built atop the preserved remains of buildings constructed by the Crusaders.  During the time of the Crusades,  Akko was the dominant trading port in the eastern Mediterranean. 

Acre was the last remaining capital of the Crusader state in the Holy Lands and was recaptured by the Mameluks at the end of the 13th century.   The Crusader history has been well preserved in Acre and the Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Be sure to see the main Crusader fortress and the Knights Hall (photo above).

Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias/Lake Kinneret )

The Sea of Galilee is also called Lake Kinneret, Lake Tiberias and the Sea of Tiberias.  Located in north-eastern Israel near the Golan Heights, the lake occupies a geologic structure called the Jordan Great Rift Valley. The lake is nearly seven hundred feet below sea level and  is approximately thirteen miles long, eight miles wide and  one hundred and forty feet deep.  The Jordan River is the main source of water for the Sea of Galilee, although underground springs are a secondary source.

        The Sea of Galilee is a popular vacation spot.

The Lake and the areas surrounding it provide popular vacation destinations for the Israelis and you will find many modern hotels and luxury destinations hugging the lake.  Water sports and  the lake itself  are the main attractions, although there are numerous good quality restaurants. 

 In addition, the surrounding area contains numerous locations mentioned in the New Testament related to the life of Christ.  Most of these locations are considered pilgrimage locations by devout Christians interested in the life of Jesus.  We cover several of these locations in the section of our Israel Guide titled Christian Sites outside of Jerusalem.

Tiberias is a flourishing tourist center famous for its hotels, spas, tombs of the Jewish sages and numerous lunch spots along that lake that feature the "type" fish that Christ fed to the thousands (as well as a local delicacy known as the St. Peter’s fish).  Tiberias, which dates from around the time of Christ, became an important religious center for the followers of Judaism, especially after the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem by the Romans.  The city became a Christian outpost in the Holy Lands during the Crusades (the 11th and 12th centuries).

Dead Sea

Occupying the rift valley between Jordan, Israel and the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories, the Dead Sea is a highly saline body of freshwater located over 1,300 feet below sea level, surrounded by mountains and hilly, arid terrain. Since the waters entering the lake from the Jordan and other rivers have no way to escape the rift, they are subject to rapid evaporation in the desert environment of the Judean Desert.  Evaporation of the water leaves behind salts, which are either absorbed into the remaining water or precipitated out to form salt deposits.

Salts precipitate out of the water in the Dead Sea and form unique landformsThe Dead Sea is approximately 50 miles long, 12 miles wide and over a thousand feet in depth. The water is approximately ten times as salty as ocean water, but valued for its therapeutic effects. Although it is difficult to swim in the water, floating requires little effort and can be quite comfortable. In addition, the Dead Sea’s black, saline, mud and its reputed restorative powers attracted Herod the Great (of biblical and historical infamy), Cleopatra and other well-known figures from history.

The Dead Sea area is known to readers of the Bible as the location of the towns of Sodom, Gomorrah and other important locations. In addition, the Dead Sea is on the way to Masada National Park and Avdat National Park, a beautiful canyon-lands in the desert. (See the official National Parks Website, available in English,  for information on all of the National Parks in Israel.)

Eilat/Elat

Elat is a resort area in the far south of Israel on the Gulf of Aqaba (Gulf of Elat) where the borders of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia come close together (but not quite touching).  Although extremely warm most of the year, Eilat is a popular sea-side resort known for its luxury hotels and dramatic Coral Nature Reserve, a 1200 meter long and beautiful coral reef.  For more information on the Coral Beach Nature Reserve, see this official website. 

          Eilat features great hotels and interesting diving.

Other Attractions of Interest

Archaeological Sites

This region of the world has had a long and interesting history that has involved several major civilizations who conquered, colonized and left their footprints while doing so.  We cover Israel's most interesting archaeological sites  (Caesarea, Masada, Herodium and Beit Shean) in our section on the Best Archaeological Sites in Israel.

Christian Religious Sites (outside of Jerusalem)

Many Christians visit Israel in order to see and explore the land where Jesus walked and lived.  We cover the important Christian religious sites in Nazareth, Bethlehem, Capernaum, Tabgha and the Mount of Beatitudes in our section Israel's Christian religious sites outside of Jerusalem.  In addition, we describe the Gospel Trail and Jesus Trail that can be used to visit towns and areas in the Galilee that are associated with Jesus.

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Best Places To Visit in Israel

Jerusalem Guide

On This Page

Tel Aviv
Haifa
Acre
Sea of Galilee
Tiberias
Dead Sea
Eilat

Page 2
Nazareth
Bethlehem
Capernaum
Tabgha
Mount of Beatitudes


Page 3
Caesarea
Masada
Beit Shean
Herodium

Israel Travel Tips

Israel Map
Jerusalem Map

Best Places to Visit in Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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