So many places to visit, so many things to do! A few Good Reasons to Visit Israel
The Galilee & Golan Heights
The Sea of Galilee, or the Kinneret, is Israel’s largest body of freshwater and serves as the country’s primary water source. In the surrounding area, the majestic mountains of the Golan Heights provide a beautiful view of the Galilee and northern Israel as well as a strategic outlook over Syria and Lebanon. A hike in the Golan Heights is one of the most exhilarating experiences Israel has to offer. In addition, if you are a skier, Israel prides itself on having not only beautiful beaches but also a wonderful ski resort on Mount Hermon, Israel’s highest mountain.
Tzfat, Akko, Nazareth, and Cesarea
The north of Israel, both along the Mediterranean Sea as well as farther inland, is dotted with ancient historic cities. Tzfat, located in the northeast of Israel in the Golan Heights, is an ancient Jewish city, the legendary home of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Tzfat is full of historic synagogues, beautiful views of the Golan, and is also the home of the incredible outdoor market of the Artists’ Colony that the people here are so proud of.
Akko, in the northwest of Israel, is an ancient port on the Mediterranean Sea. Notably used by the Crusaders, Akko is home to the Crusader Vaults and Halls, a Turkish Bathhouse, and the El-Jazzar Mosque. In addition, any trip to Akko should include a stop at some of the amazing seafood restaurants and bars with beautiful views of the Mediterranean.
Nazareth, the Galilee town where Jesus grew up, is both a legendary ancient Christian site and also a modern city. The Basilica of the Annunciation, the largest church in the Middle East, can be found here. And if you plan on visiting Israel this summer, be wise and start planning now!
Finally, Cesarea, located farther south on the coast of the Mediterranean, is home to 2,000-year-old ruins from the time of King Herod, the Roman Theater, Herodian Amphitheater, and the famous Roman aqueduct. In particular, there are beautiful views of the sea through the Roman aqueduct.
Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa is Israel’s third largest city. This beautiful port city is marked by its breathtaking views of the ocean, notably from Yefe Nof Street, and by the famous Baha’i Gardens, a definite must-see. Other highlights of Haifa include the Haifa Museum of Art, the National Maritime Museum, and the National Museum of Science and Technology. Even if you’d be here for a year, you wouldn’t get bored…
Jerusalem, the capital and largest city in Israel, is regarded by many as the most important and holy city in the world. Jerusalem is an important holy city in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and has been the center of Judaism for thousands of years. Most trips to Jerusalem begin with a view from the Haas Promenade, which enables travelers to see the full spectacular city before entering. In addition, taking a walk on the ramparts of the Old City provides fantastic views and a true perspective and feel for the layout of the ancient walled city.
The Old City of Jerusalem, divided into the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters, is the location of many famous and significant sites. Each of the three Abrahamic religions have very important religious sites in the Old City: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Room of the Last Supper are holy sites for Christians; the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, and the remains of the Second Temple are holy sites for Jews; and the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are holy sites for Muslims. Where is it now exactly that Trump plans to set up the U.S. Embassy?
The Kotel (Western Wall) Tunnels and the area of the southern excavation around the Temple Mount are fascinating archeological and holy sites to Jews as well, and additionally, the Herodian Quarter and Wahl Archaeological Museum are very interesting to explore. The Arab Shuk (market) in the Arab Quarter and the Cardo market in the Jewish Quarter are also popular stops. In addition, the City of David, located inside the Old City, is believed to be the oldest settled area in Jerusalem and is a fascinating archeological site, including the Tower of David Museum and Hezekiah’s Tunnel.
Outside of the Old City, there is even more that Jerusalem has to offer. As all three branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, it is interesting to visit the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), the residences of the Prime Minister and the President, and the Israeli Supreme Court. In addition, the famous Israel Museum is located in Jerusalem and includes the highlight of the Shrine of the Book which contains the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Other important places in Jerusalem to visit are Yad Vashem, the extremely moving world center for documentation, research, education, and commemoration of the Holocaust, as well as the Mount Herzl National Memorial Park, which commemorates the heroic sacrifices of many individuals to defend the State of Israel since it’s founding in 1948. Finally, other popular destinations in Jerusalem include Ben-Yehuda Street (also known as the Midrachov), a vibrant downtown pedestrian mall, the food market of Machaneh Yehuda, and the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.