Gil Travel

The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

For such a small country, Israel has a lot packed into it. From the blue Mediterranean Sea all the way to the wide expanses of the Negev Desert, the possibilities in Israel are endless. There’s something for everyone there, whether you’re interested in museums, natural springs, or vibrant neighborhoods filled with shopping and art. If you don’t know where to start planning, we’ve picked out our favorite locations in the country. From an ancient port city built by Herod to the best view of the Old City in Jerusalem, these stops can’t be missed. They’re some of the best places to go in Israel. Are you ready for the trip of a lifetime? Why not start here? Here are some of my favorite places in the country, from cities to museums to national parks. Happy exploring! Ride beneath the stars by jeep and search for wildlife on a nighttime safari in the Negev Desert An animal behavioral expert takes you on a jeep tour as you search for desert foxes, wolves, hyenas, porcupines, owls, bats, ibex, and rare Arabian leopards. Learn how to track animals with footprints and other hints, drink tea, and get to know Israel from a new perspective. You can even choose to have a meal cooked over coals on a bonfire. The Negev desert is full of interesting adventures. Whether you want to go sandboarding or ATVing, it’s sure to fulfill your adrenaline needs. Row a boat inside a 1,200 year old underground reservoir at The Pool of Arches Slip into a rowboat, pass huge stone pillars, and glide under the high ceiling of elegant arches. This reservoir from 789 was originally built as a water supply for the residents of Ramla. There’s also an exhibit on the history of the building and the reservoir at the exit to the cavern. Take the world’s steepest cable car and explore the Rosh Hanikra Grottoes Explore blue water inside natural caves. For thousands of years, waves hit against the soft chalk cliffs of the Mediterranean sea, creating the caverns that now dot the landscape. This amazing site was once only available to divers, but is now accessible to anyone by cable car. It’s a must for an adventurous Israel tour. Explore the underground world beneath Jerusalem in Zedekiah’s Cave If you like history, Jerusalem is the best city to explore in Israel. What if you could also see it from below? Take a trip back in time as you walk around the limestome rock quarry underneath the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Legend says the stones from the quarry were used by King Solomon to build the First Temple. The cave is also said to be the final resting place of Zorah, a rebel against Moses who was swallowed up by the earth. Biblical King Zedekiah allegedly fled a besieged Jerusalem for Jericho through the same cave. He was captured, tortured, and spent the rest of his life blind and imprisoned. The drops of water trickling through the cave's ceiling are known as “Zedekiah’s tears.” See the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world at The Israel Museum There’s plenty to learn in Israel, but one of the best places to go for a deeper understanding of the country’s history is this museum in Jerusalem. The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the country and might just be the best museum to go to for an overview of the country. Founded in 1956, it’s one of the world’s leading art and archaeology museums and houses everything from fine arts to Jewish historical artifacts. If you love archaeology, it features the most extensive collection of biblical and holy land archaeology in the world. With nearly 500,000 objects on a 20-acre campus, you could easily spend a whole day here. Some of the highlights of the museum include The Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with other rare early medieval biblical manuscripts. For the art lovers in your group, there are works by famous artists like Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin. Explore a giant crater at Mitzpe Ramon Mitzpe Ramon is one of the most unique experiences in Israel. Located in the Negev desert, it’s a town that sits on the northern cliffs of the Ramon Crater. It’s a great place for hiking or biking, along with exploring wildlife. You can even take a jeep tour of the crater or repel from the edge. With its strange colors and otherworldly feel, The Ramon Crater is about the closest most of us will ever get to seeing Mars. There’s also a recently opened Mitzpe Ramon Visitor Center if you’re interested in learning about the geological story of the crater, the largest landform of its type in the world. Get a great view of the Old City of Jerusalem from the Austrian Hospice If you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the Old City but want a better view of the area, this is the place to go. The Austrian Hospice is a 19th century guesthouse that used to cater to German and Austrian visitors to the city. The Dome of the Rock, the Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm, the Mount of Olives, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are all visible from the roof of the hospice. The rest of the building is worth a visit, too. There’s a Viennese-style cafe where you can sit in burgundy upholstered chairs and admire the chandelier. An unlikely experience in Jerusalem, enjoy an apfelstrudel and an iced coffee with a heaping of whipped cream before you reenter the holy city. Read about the Jewish story at Anu Museum of the Jewish People ANU Museum of the Jewish People is a celebration of Jewish faith, culture, and purpose, and highlights the contributions of world Jewry to humanity. It was just reopened to the public in 2021, and tells the story of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present. Children can learn about trailblazers of the Jewish People in the Heroes exhibit, and the family can also explore the Hallelujah! exhibit about synagogues all over the world. Visit the 11th wonder of the world at Kibbutz Ein Gedi A kibbutz is a typically agricultural-based collective settlement unique to Israel. The first was built in 1910, and there are currently 270 in the country. While there are plenty of interesting kibbutzim to explore in Israel, Kibbutz Ein Gedi is one of the best options. This kibbutz is located at the edge of the Judean Desert on the west coast of the Dead Sea. There’s a 100-dunham botanical garden inside with over 900 plant species including tropical trees, biblical flora, and many desert plants. Home to 500 people, It’s the only populated botanical garden in the world and is recognized by the National Geographical Society as “the 11th wonder of the world.” Visit a harbor from the 1st century BCE at Caesarea National Park If you’re into beautiful beaches, ancient harbor ruins, and archaeology, this park halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa is for you. It was named the best tourist spot in the Middle East by Travel & Leisure in 2020, and has lived up to its title ever since. Dating back to King Herod, It was built in the 1st century BCE and includes a well-preserved Roman theater, mosaics, columns, and sea views. Throughout the summer, the restored amphitheater hosts modern day concerts, and the Old City within is a great place to find cute boutiques and delicious restaurants. With so many great options in Israel, it can seem overwhelming to choose what to do. An Israel travel agency is a great place to start to narrow down your search and start planning the trip of a lifetime. Written By Iris Hami is President of Gil Travel Group, the largest travel management firm sending people to Israel. She has over 40 years of experience in the travel industry, and uses that knowledge to craft unique Jewish journeys around the world. Her company has won multiple awards, including one from State of Israel Bonds for Extraordinary Achievements Promoting the State of Israel. They send over 40,000 travelers to Israel and other international locations each year and their clients include well-known Jewish organizations such as Birthright, Maccabi USA, Israel Bonds and many more.
Posted: Nov 2, 2022
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