Israel is on the bucket list for many curious explorers and travellers with a keen interest in history but a lot of people have the miss-conception that the country isn’t safe to visit, luckily we can tell you this isn’t true. In fact, travellers return from their visit to Israel telling quite the opposite story. But everything has a silver lining and it does mean that Israel is still less travelled in comparison to other up an coming destinations in the region, making now the perfect time to visit Israel.
The country is so rich in history and is home to some of the world’s most striking natural sights that it can be difficult to know what to include on your Israel tour. To make things easier for you we have summarised our 8 favourite experiences you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Israel.
1. Go for a float in the Dead Sea
Did you know that the Hebrew name for the Dead Sea translates as “Sea of Salt”? The “Sea of Salt” is probably one of the first things that come to mind when you think about going on an Israel tour, it might actually be the very reason you’re looking to take a trip to Israel. It’s not only the lowest body of water on earth and surrounded by breath-taking landscapes, but the water and mud is also rich in minerals. This combination makes the Dead Sea the perfect spot to go for a float, detox your skin with the mineral-rich mud and escape the world for a few hours.
2. Visit Bethlehem
Bethlehem is located a short drive from Jerusalem and can easily be integrated into your Israel visit as a day trip. The small town outside of Jerusalem is known across the globe as the birthplace of Jesus Christ and as a result is a popular pilgrimage destination. Make sure you head to the UNESCO site “The Church of Nativity”, it’s one of the oldest churches in the world. Or, if you’re the curious type, visit the Old Bethlehem Museum to learn about traditional 19th-century households in Bethlehem.
3. Take a day trip to Nazareth
Nazareth is a town in the Galilee region and is believed to be a place where many biblical events have taken place, making it of great historical and cultural importance. Explore the town known as Jesus Christ’s childhood home, visit the domed Basilica of the Annunciation where Gabriel told Mary she would bear a child and make a stop at the St Joseph Church which is said to be the very place of Joseph’s carpentry workshop.
Nazareth is a 2-3 hour drive from Jerusalem but can still be done as a day trip. Make a stop at Mount Tabor to break up the drive. Not only will you be rewarded with magnificent views but the mount is also believed to be the place of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
4. Wine tasting
Israel is famous for its culture, history and natural beauty but it’s also well known for its wine. Take a break from your historical adventure and book a wine tasting to kick back, relax and try some of Israel’s best. You’re on holiday after all.
5. Explore Jerusalem’s old city
You haven’t truly been to Israel if you haven’t been to Jerusalem’s old city. It’s well-established that Jerusalem is home to many important religious and political sites. It’s the reason many travellers choose the city as a base on their trip to Israel.
The old city of Jerusalem is a treasure trove for religious and cultural sites, making it a mandatory stop on every traveller’s Israel visit. Take a day to explore the old city and find important sites, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where many believe Jesus was crucified, the stunning Dome of the Rock and of course one of the most religiously significant sites, the Western Wall. You can easily spend hours appreciating the view of the wall and observe Orthodox Jews pray with inspiring dedication – it’s a sight you won’t easily forget.
If you have time we recommend taking a tour of the Western Wall tunnels, there’s a lot more to the Wall than what you can see from above the surface. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
6. Mount of Olives
If you’ve explored the old city of Jerusalem and wondered how beautiful it would look from a higher view point then look no further. Mount of Olives is only a short hike from the old city and offers magnificent views of Jerusalem. As you’re walking up the mount you will come across the Garden of Gethsemane which is meant to be the place where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion. You’ll also find lush olive trees that have been growing here for centuries.
7. West Bank, Jerusalem
The West Bank is a landlocked area and is the home of 2.7 million Palestinians. You can find a section of the big, graffiti covered concrete wall in Jerusalem. On your visit to Israel you will come across so much history and natural wonders that it’s easy to forget the contemporary issues of the country. Take a guided tour to gain an understanding of the Palestinians, their lives, West Bank’s history and the conflicts that still affect Israel today.
8. Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee has had many names over the centuries, often changing with major historical events. Nowadays the sea goes by the name of Lake Kinneret and is the lowest fresh water lake on earth. Yes, you’ve heard right, you can tick off floating in the lowest body of water on earth and standing in the lowest fresh water lake on earth on the very same trip. If that wasn’t enough reason to go, the Sea of Galilee is also believed to be the place where Jesus has walked on water.
If you’re a raging outdoor enthusiast you might want to consider making the Sea of Galilee a full day trip which will give you time to go on one of the many hikes around the area to appreciate the magnificent views of Lake Kinneret from exhilarating heights.
Anna is on the marketing team at Tucan Travel. From a young age Anna has travelled solo and on group tours through Europe, Africa, the Americas and Southeast Asia.