Israel, without a doubt, is one of the most fascinating countries I’ve been to. The places to visit in Israel make you feel like you are in the capital of human history.
The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) find their origins here. And even if you are not from one of those religions, everyone has heard of Jesus, and our calendar system is divided by His birth. I’m sure you want to see the place where it all started! As a person who is not affiliated with any religion, I found the holy sites utterly captivating, and you will too.
Explore the rich history and cultural diversity of Israel through its must-see places to visit. From the ancient holy sites of Jerusalem, where the Abrahamic religions first took root, to the bustling streets of Tel Aviv, Israel offers a unique and captivating experience for all visitors. Whether you’re a history buff, a spiritual seeker, or simply looking to immerse yourself in a new culture, the places to visit in Israel will leave a lasting impression.
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Best Places to Visit in Israel
With a population from all around the world, the country is a hub for innovation and entrepreneurialism. Plus, it offers a lively nightlife and a laid-back beach lifestyle. It definitely stands out from the rest of the region.
If you are thinking of taking a trip to the holy land, continue reading to learn about the best sites to visit in Israel.
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Places to Visit in Israel: Tel-Aviv
Tel Aviv, also known as Tel Aviv-Yafo, is a vibrant city renowned for its picturesque beaches, lively nightlife and diverse population of immigrants.
It is a perfect destination to experience the contemporary lifestyle of modern Israelis. The city boasts a range of upscale options, such as the chic restaurants, cafes and bars on Rothschild Boulevard, as well as more laid-back and bohemian neighbourhoods like those found in Florentine.
Additionally, Tel Aviv’s conjoined old city of Jaffa (or Yafo) is a must-see destination.
One of the oldest cities in the world, it is rich in historical sites, religious landmarks, and art galleries and offers breathtaking panoramic views. The contrast between the ancient world of Jaffa and the modern city of Tel Aviv is striking, making it feel like stepping into another world entirely.
Places to Visit in Israel: The Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea is a major bucket list item! You must experience it to know what I’m talking about. The sensation you have while floating (or trying not to) is unique. It is disappearing because it’s evaporating, so more of a reason to get yourself here soon.
The salinity level is 34%, which makes it impossible for animals to live in it, hence the name the Dead Sea. It is located 423 meters (1388 ft) below sea level, making it the lowest point on dry land. How cool is that?
You are probably familiar with the great number of beauty products that come from the shores of the Dead Sea. Basically, what this means is that you will have your own open-air spa to enjoy during your visit. Look for soft black mud and cover yourself for about 30 minutes. After that, I swear your entire skin feels baby smooth!
Here are a few suggestions you should keep in mind before going:
- Bring an old bathing suit. The combination of mud and salt water can be rough on the fabric.
- Don’t shave that day or the day prior. The salty water would make your skin burn.
- Wear some sort of water shoes. The seafloor has many sharp salt crystals, and it might be unbearable to walk on it without any protection. I like this one on Amazon that has many designs to choose from:
- Never put your head under the water. Let me just write that again. NEVER put your head under the water. Even with your eyes closed, water will touch your eyes, and the burning will be intense.
Places to Visit in Israel: Masada
The ancient fortress of Masada is situated in the Negev Desert overlooking the Dead Sea, and it remains as a symbol of freedom and courage in Jewish history.
Learn about how Herod the Great built his extravagant palace on this towering plateau and used it later as a fortress for the last remaining Jews in Israel. They chose to die free rather than live as slaves to the Romans. The story is fascinating, and the views are stunning.
Masada is located on top of an isolated rock plateau, so you only have two options to get there. One, the easiest, is with a cable car. The second is through the Snake Path, a walk up the mountain through stairs. They say it takes about an hour, but I would’ve probably taken 3 (if not dying on the way up). If you are up for a challenge, this option is for you!
The history of Masada is fascinating, so you can benefit a lot from going on a guided tour. You can have a day trip that also includes transportation to the Dead Sea. Not every area of the Dead Sea is open to visitors, so you save a lot of time. Here are some good options:
Places to Visit in Israel: The Holocaust Museum
While you are in Israel, it’s important to learn about the harsh past of Jewish people. While it may not be the most enjoyable aspect of a vacation, visiting the Holocaust Museum, also known as Yad Vashem, is a crucial way to learn about this dark chapter in history.
The exhibits at Yad Vashem are deeply moving and provide a powerful reminder of the devastating consequences of intolerance and extremism. The museum offers a wide range of exhibits, including photographs, films, letters, art, and personal artefacts found in concentration camps and ghettos, all of which help to tell the story of the Holocaust.
Places to Visit in Israel: Nazareth
It might not be the Nazareth you imagined every time you got a Christmas card, but you won’t regret coming!
The main attraction of the city is the Basilica of the Annunciation. It is believed that this is the exact place where the angel Gabriel announced Virgin Mary about her pregnancy. It is also supposed to be built over the remains of the cave house where the Virgin Mary lived during her childhood. Throughout the complex, you can find many mosaics with Marian representations of different countries.
Next to the Basilica is the Church of St. Joseph, popularly believed to be built on the site of Joseph’s carpentry shop. A few minutes from there is St Gabriel’s Church, famous for its bubbling spring contained in a crypt that supplies the church’s well.
Places to Visit in Israel: The Dome of the Rock
It’s the most iconic landmark in Jerusalem. This building is the third holiest site for Muslims, and it stands at the top of the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock can be seen from many spots in the city, so whenever I got lost, I just had to look for the shiny golden dome to find my way.
This is believed to be the place where Abraham (or Ibrahim) almost offered his son on God’s command but sacrificed a goat instead. Also, according to Muslim Tradition, the prophet Mohammed ascended to Heaven from here.
Sadly, it is also a place where a lot of confrontation has happened, so it is not always open to visitors for safety reasons. Don’t get me wrong, Israel and Jerusalem are very safe to visit, but that is because there are always security measures operating. Make sure you visit this site as soon as possible when arriving in Jerusalem so you don’t miss the chance.
Places to Visit in Israel: The Western Wall
The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest of Jewish sites, but an absolute must-visit regardless of your religion. It is a very powerful experience to see so many people praying and connecting with this mystical Wall.
The reason why this Wall is so special is that this is where Solomon’s Temple was built. It was part of the expansion of Temple Mount (the Second Temple) by Herod the Great. Solomon’s Temple was then destroyed by the Babylonians, then rebuilt and then destroyed again by the Romans.
Don’t miss the walking tour through the tunnel. You need to be wearing ‘modest’ clothes (that means no visible shoulders or legs). They didn’t have something you could borrow to cover yourself the first time I went, so you may want to plan your outfit.
Places to Visit in Israel: Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Christian Quarter of Jerusalem is centred around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a sacred site for Christians worldwide as it is believed to be the location of Golgotha Hill, where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected.
The church is a popular destination for pilgrims, but its large size allows visitors to explore its beautiful and ornate architecture easily.
Visitors can admire the impressive dome and the intricate golden decorations on the walls, which are illuminated by natural light streaming through the arches.
For those looking to avoid crowds, the church opens early at 5 am, providing the opportunity to visit and experience the sacred site in a more peaceful setting.
Places to Visit in Israel: Mount of Olives
Another site from Jerusalem because this city is a never-ending treasure hunt. The name comes from the olive trees that formerly encircled its slopes. The Mountain served as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and has around 150,000 graves. Surprisingly, the areas are very green and energetic.
The Mount of Olives has one of the best views of the Old City, especially next to the Church of Ascension.
By the way, it’s supposed to be the place where God will resurrect all the dead after the Messiah comes back for the day of Judgement. That’s only one of the many biblical references to this site.
Once you are there, remember to explore the Garden of Gethsemane. Apparently, some of the ancient olive trees are so old that they might have seen Jesus in person.
Places to Visit in Israel: The Negev Desert
The Negev Desert is a vast and diverse region in southern Israel known for its unique landscapes and rich history.
Visitors can explore the desert’s natural beauty through a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, camel riding, 4×4 tours, and even flying on a hot air balloon.
One of the most popular attractions in the Negev is the Ramon Crater, also known as Makhtesh Ramon, which is the largest erosion crater in the world and offers stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape. The crater is a unique geological formation and a popular spot for hiking and stargazing.
These are popular tours that you can take to explore the Negev mountains:
The Negev also offers a glimpse into the Bedouin culture, an Arab ethnic group traditionally associated with the desert.
Visitors can visit Bedouin settlements and learn about their traditional way of life, including their customs, crafts, and food. The Bedouin experience is one of the most traditional and authentic experiences in Israel.
The Negev Desert is also home to several historical and archaeological sites, such as the ancient city of Avdat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the remains of a Nabatean fortress at Shivta.
Places to Visit in Israel: Eilat
Eilat is a great place to visit for sun, sea and fun! This southernmost city of Israel is located on the Red Sea and offers a variety of activities, such as swimming, snorkelling, diving and water sports. The Red Sea is a must-see, famous for its clear waters and diverse marine life.
If you’re into the outdoors, there are plenty of options like desert hikes, camel rides, and jeep tours to explore the unique desert landscape and nature reserves.
The city also has a good selection of museums and cultural centres, and for shopping and souvenirs, you’ll find a variety of shops and markets.
Eilat is also a great spot for nightlife and entertainment, with a wide range of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from.
Tell me about your plans for your trip to Israel! Do you know someone who is going? Share this article with them 🙂
Pinspiration for your travels!
Richard Schatz says
Lived in Israel for a year 1976-1977 near the Jordanian border. Really enjoyed it but can’t go east, can’t go west, can’t go north and the south was limited to the Sinai before they gave it back to Egypt.
Thankyou for writing this – I would love to travel to Israel for the religious and historic significance of the region, though I am very aware of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and I do not support the government of Israel in the slightest.
I’ve never been a fan of boycotting a country because of their political beliefs, as I agree with you that traveling to experience a culture and country first hand and to open respectful dialogue with it’s people is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of a situation and start to promote change. Or at least know how to promote change moving forward. However the situation here appalls me so much that Israel is one country I would consider a boycott of until the issue with Palestine is resolved.
That said I do very firmly believe as you have stated that there is a huge difference between government and people, and it’s very unlikely that the people of Israel hold the same views or would take the same action if they could as their government has. That said, they need to stand up and somehow influence their government to make the right decision. But for that, we need to travel and speak to them and smash stereotypes and dissolve the propaganda.
So yes, I probably would travel to Israel. Though safety wouldn’t be my concern.Transporation services in Isreal