Despite being merely a sliver of land about the equivalent size of the U.S. state of New Jersey, the vibrant, eccentric, and historical nation of Israel has no trouble showing off its best features. The seaside country is an amalgamation of all kinds of diverse landscapes, intertwined with world-class cities and peppered with stunning landmarks from end to end.
Whether it's shimmering oceanic views, rugged desert terrain or lush, colorful forest you're looking for, Israel has it all. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in, explore from corner to corner, and check out some of Israel’s most stunning locales. Don’t forget the camera!
10 Makhtesh Ramon
To kick off the list of stunning Israeli destinations, say hello to the world's largest erosion-formed crater - Makhtesh Ramon. The crater spans a whopping 40 km in length and varies between 2 and 10 km in width, shaped like a cute, stretched-out heart. The most impressive aspect, however, is its startling drop of 500 meters.
Apart from the crater itself, there isn’t a whole lot to see in the area. Mitzpe Ramon is the only local settlement, situated on the northern edge. If you’re willing to fork out a few bucks, the Beresheet Hotel built into the desert rock is one of the most revered in the entire nation.
9 The Dead Sea
There are no ways about it - the Dead Sea is one of the most stunning locales in Israel, if not the entire Middle East.
Despite it providing fantastic material for all our social media pages with its extreme salt concentration allowing visitors to float with ease, the Dead Sea actually has plenty more to boast than just its impressive aesthetics. With a shoreline sitting about 430 meters below sea level, nestled in between Israel and Jordan, this body of water has claims as being the one situated at the lowest elevation on Earth.
After floating around like a lilypad on the Dead Sea, it’s only a hop, skip and jump over to our next beautiful spot - the mountain of Masada, which is both historically significant and a provider of jaw-dropping views over the shimmering water below.
Those looking to ascend up the Judean Desert peak can do so in one of two ways: by a few-hour hike on foot, or by the far less strenuous cable car. Alternatively, you could always walk up and take the cable car down, or do the same thing in reverse.
7 The Old City of Jerusalem
Combining ancient history with a vibrant culture and marvelous facades, visitors can spend hours wandering around and snapping photo after photo in the Old City of Jerusalem. Of course, be mindful of the locals when taking pics, as not everyone is guaranteed to be appreciative of having their face posted on your IG feed.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights and most popular spots in the Old City is the Western Wall (locally known as the Kotel). This ancient limestone wall represents the most spiritual place in the world for the Jewish people, visited by many from near and far.
6 The Baha’i Gardens
The glistening beaches of Tel Aviv and the intriguing history of Jerusalem might be the Israeli elements that stand out most to tourists, but this next underrated locale gives them both a serious run for their money.
Over in the beautiful coastal city of Haifa, the impressive vistas on offer at the pristine Baha'i Gardens are second to none, so it’s easy to see why they’ve become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Israel. From its peak, visitors can catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean in the background, superimposed with vibrant, colorful gardens.
From Haifa in the northern part of the country, we’re heading all the way to the nation’s southernmost tip, where a mostly undiscovered gem of a city awaits. Due to the distance from the beaten-path areas across Israel’s central region, the tourist numbers down in Eilat aren’t too overwhelming.
Sitting on the cusp on the Red Sea, overlooking Jordan to the east and Egypt to the west, Eilat is a haven for water sports and provides a much-needed break for those who want the resort-style environment without having to leave the county.
4 Tel Aviv
We’ve given the more forgotten destinations a bit of love until this point; however, it’s about time that the vibrant, progressive, beautiful city that is Tel Aviv got the recognition and appreciation it deserves. Situated along the Mediterranean, Israel’s second-largest city is widely regarded as the nation’s cultural capital, offering countless festivities, parties, performances, and an eclectic nightlife to go alongside the stunning oceanside views.
During the summer months, the beaches become hot spots for tourists and locals alike, each looking to work on their tan and take in the unique ambiance.
Technically part of Tel Aviv, Yafo - an ancient port area - is the oldest part of the city. Onlookers can soak in great views of the area from the Tel Aviv Promenade, or they can stroll through the streets and see it from an immersive perspective instead.
From Jaffa's oldest existing mosque (the Al-Bahr Mosque) to the 1906-built Clock Square and the 17th-century St. Peter's Church, there’s plenty to see along a stroll through the area - so make sure that the camera batteries are charged.
2 The Golan Heights
No matter if it’s summer, fall, winter or spring, the Golan Heights in the north of the country always know how to put on a show. The mountainous area is chock-full of picturesque nature reserves, combining everything from river rapids to waterfalls and a vast variety of blooming flowers (providing you’re visiting during spring).
The best way to see the region is by taking a stroll on one of the many hiking trails that link up throughout the area. While they might not be as strenuous as something like Yam-l’Yam, the scenery along the way is just as impressive.
1 Sea of Galilee (Yam-l’Yam)
As the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake of all (behind the aforementioned Dead Sea), the so-called ‘hike’ to the Sea of Galilee is more of a steady descent.
A common route to reach the historic lake is to trek the beaten Yam-l’Yam path, which takes hikers across the entire country from the Meditteranean out west to the final destination in 3-5 days, depending on your pace. The hike itself is a popular tourist attraction offering splendid scenery throughout the journey, so why not kill two birds with one stone?