Though I grew up in the US, I moved to Israel in 2012 and it became my second home. When it comes to beautiful places to see, Israel is certainly not short of them. Now split my time between the Middle East and the East coast, but no matter how many years I lived in there and how many times a year I go home, somehow there is always one more amazing place I haven’t seen. Taking into consideration the fact that most people will spend only a week or two sightseeing, here are the top 7 must sees destinations in Israel, the land of Milk and Honey:
Towering above the the Judean Desert, on a plateau that overlooks the Dead Sea, sits Masada. This ancient fortress that once housed 900 Jewish rebels is now a National Park. It’s accessible via cable car, or for the brave, the famous snake path. A must see at these ancient remains is the Northern Palace, which consists of three tiers, that seem almost as though they’re floating at the end of a cliff.
The Western Wall
Though it is considered the holiest site in Israel, the Western Wall is not just for prayer. Built by Herod, it is a small portion of what was once part of a grand structure that enclosed the Temple mount. One of the most amazing things to see while there are the tunnels below. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation offers underground tours, that are sure to leave you in awe.
The Dead Sea
This salty lake sits at 400m below sea level and is the lowest point on dry land. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors come to see this iconic dipping pool and enjoy Dead Sea mud, which is known for its health benefits and healing properties. Be careful of cuts or scrapes when you go for a dip, for the famously hypersaline water can sting. It will however, also make you float like you’re swimming in a cloud.
In one of Israel’s Northernmost cities, settled along the Mediterranean Sea, is the Baha’i Temple and Gardens in Haifa. The temple sits at the top of a landscaped hill, with the most beautiful symmetrical gardens cascading down the landscape. This striking landmark has been named UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though you cannot enter the Baha’i Shrine unless you are a member of the faith, the gardens are open to the public to be enjoyed.
Jaffa Port & Old City
Jutting out into the sea at the Southern tip of Tel Aviv is the port of Jaffa. It’s iconic silhouette is recognizable immediately and can be found on many vintage postcards and travel advertisements. With history spanning over three millennia, this port has been actively used for over 7,000 years. Today, the port is a vibrant marina and historic city, with cobblestone alleyways that wind through shops and jazz clubs. The port features cafes, restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife.
City of Safed
Pronounced in Hebrew as “Tsvat,” this city is known as one of the more mystical destinations in Israel. It’s not far from the Sea of Galilee and sits at an elevation of 900 meters. Hosting a vibrant artist community, gorgeous views, and unique things to see. Some of the finest jewelry in the world can be found here, and prices so cheap it’s hard to believe. Bargaining is essential though, as with most other places in Israel. This is one of the few locations where it’s possible to purchase jewelry made with Roman glass.
If there’s one thing Israel is famous for, it’s its beaches. Ranking among the top 3, 5, or 10 best beaches in the world for numerous publications each year, this sandy coastline is not something to be missed. Loaded with beach cafes, bars, night clubs, parks, historic sites, and nature preserves, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Whether you choose to go to Banana Beach, Gordon Beach, Beit Yannai Beach, Carmel Beach, Coral Reef Beach (Eilat), Mineral Beaches (Dead Sea), Dado Zamir Beach, Dolphin Reef Beach (Red Sea), Aqueduct Beach, or Palmachim Beach, you’re sure to enjoy.
No matter which of these incredible 7 must see destinations in Israel you choose to see, you’re sure to enjoy. Each one holds its very own significance and history—far more than could ever be conveyed in just words. So go have a look for yourself!