Tourists are drawn to Israel for many reasons. Some come for a religious experience, visiting biblical and historical sites, others come to enjoy the vibrant culture of the country, the nightlife of Tel Aviv, and to soak up the sun on the famed beaches. Whatever the reason, there is something for everyone, and we’ve chosen five spots that deserve their place on your itinerary.
The Holiest of Lakes
The Sea of Galilee shouldn’t be missed for those seeking a religious mecca experience. This is the area where most of Jesus’ ministry transpired, where the Sermon on the Mount was delivered, and where many of the miracles referred to in the New Testament took place, including Jesus’ walk on the waters. The Jordan River, which feeds into the Sea of Galilee, also holds great significance for both Christians and Jews. It is the site where Joshua led ancient Israelites near Jericho, where the miracles of Elisha and Elijah as well as Naaman the Leper occurred, and where Jesus was baptized.
From Promenades to Hot Springs
Tiberias with its Old City also holds essential religious significance and is considered one of the country’s four holy cities. In the city, you can explore the Abulafia Synagogue and Tomb of Maimonides. Take a walk along the waterfront with its fish market and marina and eat at one of the many restaurants specializing in fresh seafood. The marina and lake is also the place to take boat trips and enjoy water sports. If you need some downtime, spoil yourself with a relaxing treatment at the famed hot springs in the Hamat Tiberias National Park that date back to the Roman times, while enjoying the stunning views of the Seas of Galilee.
Mount Hermon for Ski Enthusiasts
Travel just two hours from the desert, and you’ll find yourself at Mount Hermon, Israel’s only ski and snowboard resort. The resort runs all year long and is the ideal destination for tourists and locals who relish in winter sports — there are 5 chair lifts and 14 ski runs. For the rest of the year, the site offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking through the fantastic landscape and topography.
A trip to Israel is not complete without a visit to the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site of Masada. A journey by foot or cable car up to the flat plateau above the Dead Sea will bring you to the ancient fortress where a group of Jewish zealots held their own against the Romans from their stronghold. Eventually, in 73 BCE they chose to commit suicide rather than surrender, making their story one of heroism, martyrdom, and courage that still intrigues and draws visitors to the site. It has become a tradition to take in the sunrise atop Masada while gazing out at the Moab Mountains and the Dead Sea.
Quaint Winemaking Town
Another historically-imbued city is the town of Zichron Yaakov that sits on Mount Carmel providing stunning Mediterranean views. This picture-perfect town attracts tourists to its main street, which is a pedestrianized zone lined with historic buildings, boutique art stores, and quaint cafes. The city is also a drawcard for its famous wineries. Just outside the city do visit the Ramat HaNadiv memorial gardens for the French Jewish philanthropist Baron de Rothschild who established Zichron Yaakov as a winemaking settlement.
While Israel is a small country, it has much to offer tourists, ensuring that your visit will be one you remember for many years to come.