Israel is an amazing country to visit and it mesmerizes many of the most traveled of tourists. Israel boasts ancient history, dramatic landscapes, and rich and diverse cultures. Here one can truly see the ancient meet the modern in this land. For the purposes of this article, we will include East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank as they are functionally part of Israel from a traveling tourist point of view.
Israel may be a small country but there is just something for everyone. Nightlife, snorkeling, Dead Sea resorts, massive rock fortresses, holy sites, and lots and lots of archeological sites.
When To Go: Year Round (Winter May Be A Little Chilly, Summer A Little Hot)
Visa: Visa-Free For Western Passports
Number Of UNESCO Sites: 11 (9 Israel And 2 Palestine)
Jerusalem is just amazing, it is diverse and dynamic. Here you see the modern city of Jerusalem and the old city of Jerusalem side by side. It was here that Jesus once walked and here that the British, Turk, Roman, Greek, Persian, and Babylonian empires all came and occupied the city. Jerusalem is a city with deep significance to Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike. Today there is so much to see and do in Jerusalem. The Medieval Turkish city is very well preserved. And here we can still see the ruins of Herold's Second Temple, of parts of Hezekiah's Wall, and even the old palace of King David (ironically the oldest part of the city (the City Of David) is actually outside the "Old City".
Some things everyone should see and do while in Jerusalem include:
Temple Mount: This Is The Site Of The Ancient Jewish Temple Destroyed By The Romans - This Is The Holiest Site To The Jewish People
The Western Wall: Here You Will See Devout Jews Praying - But Go On Friday Evening (the Sabbath) And You Will See Them Dancing And Singing
The Dome Of The Rock: One Of The Most Iconic Symbols Of Jerusalem And The Third Holiest Islamic Site (The Palestinians Call The Temple Mount "Haram esh-Sharif")
Western Wall Tunnel: A Tunnel To See The Remains Of The Second Temple Built By King Herod Now Underground
City Of David: While The City Of David's Ruins May Not Look Impressive, They Are The Oldest Part Of The City
Red Sea City Of Eilat
The southern coastal city of Eilat is as stark a contrast to Jerusalem as anyone would ever hope to find. Eilat sits on the shores of the Red Sea and it borders Jordan on the one side, Egpyt on the other, and then looks down the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia
Eilat is a very progressive city and there isn't the strong religious vibe of Jerusalem and other cities here. It is both a port and a popular resort. It is very recommended to go snorkeling and scuba diving here. The beaches are stunning and the Red Sea is sheltered.
- Population: 52,000
Day Trip: To Timna National Park
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is utterly amazing. Famously the saltiest lake in the world and you don't need to swim. Here you will just float. The water level in the Dead Sea is continuously dropping and now the southern end of it has largely ceased to exist. The Dead Sea can be accessed from both Israel and Jordan. It is the lowest point below sea level on earth so you can expect it to be hot. The Dead Sea has been a tourist destination for thousands of years.
- Visit: The Numerous Dead Sea Health Resorts
- Buy: Dead Sea Mud To Plaster Yourself With
- World Record: Lowest Point In The World -430 meters or -1,412 feet
Tel Aviv is the economic and technological heart of Israel and it sits on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This is a very modern and developed city and here you can enjoy the nightlife, subcultures, and parties that you can find in any major city around the world. Tel Aviv is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site inscribed as the "White City of Tel Aviv." Tel Aviv is also home to the country's main airport, so you are likely to visit this city while in Israel.
- Population: 460,000 (City Proper), 3.8 Million (Metro Area)
Fortress of Masada
Masada is an ancient and storied fortress in the desert overlooking the Dead Sea. This was the site of the final battle between the Jewish uprising and the Romans and it has huge nationalist importance to the Jewish people. Here you can see the massive fortifications, the old Roman camps (yes they are still visible) and the massive Roman rampart the Romans built in order to get their battering ram up high enough to break into the fort. It is of course also UNESCO listed.
There is a cable car for the tourists to get to the top (it's about 300 meters or 980 feet to the top). Alternatively, you can hike the Snake Trail to the top. This is in the desert and it can get very hot, sometimes they will close the Snake Trail because too many tourists will get sunstroke.
These are just a couple of the treasures and pretty destinations in Israel that impress every visitor to this stunning country.