From history to nightlife, food to scenery, Israel can’t be beat for experiencing so much in such a small country.
Feeling like you’ve caught the travel bug this winter? If you’re looking for somewhere to travel and haven’t considered Israel yet, it’s time to start. Here are eight reasons for you to join a record-breaking number of incoming tourists looking to experience Israel and all it has to offer.
1. Israel is small but mighty
At just 8,630 square miles, Israel is a considerably small country. Driving from the northern tip to the southern tip takes just six hours! And in that time, you can experience diverse climates, cities, cultures and more. Even on a quick trip, Israel offers a lot in just a short amount of time.
2. Year-round travel weather
For the most part, in major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel’s climate is temperate year-round. You can visit anytime of year and not be bogged down by extreme highs or lows. Of course, desert cities like Eilat do get extremely hot in the summer, but you can always head to the coast and take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. So, if you’re looking for a travel destination with little rain and lots of sun, add Israel to your list.
3. See diverse landscapes
Israel has just about every type of terrain for you to experience.
You can explore miles of sandy beaches along the warm, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea— or dip your toes in the Red Sea, brimming with colorful fish and coral, in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat.
Inland, the famous Dead Sea, the lowest elevation point on the planet, offers beaches and skin-nourishing mud frequented by tourists and locals alike.
If you feel like venturing higher into the atmosphere, Israel has plenty of mountains with beautiful views and trails. Heading north, you can access the Golan Heights, home to Mount Hermon or the Upper Galilee, where you can find Mount Meron. There’s plenty to do at either of these locations, including mountain biking, hiking, and even snowboarding and skiing at Mount Hermon and wine tasting at Mount Meron.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Israel without a visit to the desert. Although home to several, the most well-known desert in Israel is the Negev. Located in the southern region of Israel, the Negev offers many recreational ways to see the land including biking, jeep tours, bus tours, and perhaps most excitingly, camel rides.
4. Experience historic sites
With such a staggering and rich history, it’s no surprise Israel is home to countless historically significant sites. If you’re interested in religious history, you can go across the border to see the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, or in Israel there’s the City of David, Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall in Jerusalem. For Nabatean, Roman and Crusader history buffs in Israel, there’s the Belvoir Fortress, the Templars’ Tunnel,Shivta, the Roman ruins of Caesarea, and Masada, among numerous other options.
5. Live the Tel Aviv nightlife
Known as “the non-stop city” and named “the Mediterranean Capital of Cool” by The New York Times, Tel Aviv is the center of Israel’s nightlife. But be prepared to stay up late: most nightclubs in Tel Aviv don’t start to fill up until after midnight—more like 2 or 3 in the morning. You can find fun bars and clubs just about anywhere in the city, but some of the most legendary include The Block, The Breakfast Club, and Haoman 17.
6. Immerse yourself in the arts and culture
Israel is home to a thriving arts and culture scene. You can almost always find some sort of festival or event going on that suits your fancy. If you’re into classical music, head to the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv to attend an Israel Philharmonic Orchestra concert; if you want to watch films, there are international film festivals in Haifa and Jerusalem; or if you’re in the mood for world-class museums, check out the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Design Museum Holon, MadaTech, and The Israel Museum.
7. Enjoy the food scene
After exploring all the landscapes, landmarks, arts, and nightlife Israel has to offer, you’ll probably have worked up quite an appetite. Lucky for you, Israel’s food scene is first-rate.
Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Israeli food or modern hipster fare, you can always find what you’re looking for in Israel. And you can eat out without worrying about your bank account. Israel has some of the world’s greatest street food, along with its higher-end fine dining experiences like Messa in Tel Aviv or Herbert Samuel in Herzliya. Not only that, Israel also features wonderful cafes and bakeries to satisfy even the smallest of appetites. In Tel Aviv alone, you can find micro-roastery and café Nahat, American café NOLA, Café XoHo and many more.
8. Get acquainted with the people
Part of the beauty of Israel is its diversity. Not just in its landscapes or art or cuisine, but in its residents. You can find all kinds of different people coexisting in this one small country –Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze – many of them immigrants from nations across the globe.
Keep in mind: native Israelis are called “Sabras” (Hebrew for cactus) because while they may be prickly and tough on the outside, inside they are soft and sweet. Take some time getting to know the locals, and you will not be disappointed by their charm, humor, and thoughtfulness.
Shelley Zuckerman is a Masa alum and the Masa Social Media and Content Manager.
Reprinted from Israel 21c