Top 10 Recommended Experiences When Touring Israel
Aside from very diverse culinary experiences Israel has to offer (see our list of the top 10 Restaurants, Street food, Wineries and Breweries in Israel), here is our personal list of the top 10 recommended experiences you should try to achieve while touring Israel:
1. Explore the Old City of Jerusalem
Touring the Old City of Jerusalem will probably be at top of any bucket list for a tour of Israel. The combination of 3 religions, four quarters, so many holy sites, and endless souvenir shops make this one square kilometer a MUST for any tourist of Israel. A full day tour is our best recommendation for proper appreciation of this magical destination!
2. Visit Masada and Float in the Dead Sea
The fortress of Masada, located on an isolated rock plateau above the Dead Sea, witnessed a great drama some 2000 years ago when Jewish refugees and rebels had to make the gloomy choice of suicide or to be captured by the Romans. The wealth of remains is exceptional, as well as the majestic views of the desert and the Dead Sea, from the top of the mountain. But the experience is not complete if you don’t try to float in the Dead Sea as well, one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world!
3. Stroll in Tel-Aviv Markets
The bustling metropolis of Tel-Aviv is a great place to explore (day and night), and it’s markets are a great place to feel the real rhythm of the city and the Israelis. Stroll along the Carmel market to get local fruits and vegetables or authentic local street food. Parallel to it is Nahalat Binyamin arts and Crafts Fair where you can buy a wide variety of unique and creative and locally made souvenirs. In Sarona the indoor food market is a great place for good food tasting. Lastly, the flea market near Jaffa is the ultimate place to practice your bargaining skills on an item you never really needed in the first place 🙂
- And while in Tel-Aviv, make also go to the beach! Its THE place to see and be seen (with minimal clothing), as well as swim or surf. Try also the ultimate Israeli national beach game – “Matkot“, a popular ball game where the main purpose is not to drop the ball!
4. Fly above it all!
A scenic flight above Israel provides truly one of the most amazing and unforgettable experiences while touring Israel! The best is a helicopter flight, starting at USD$1200. A remarkably less costly option is a powered parachute flight above the Sharon area, near Caesarea, which costs $200 per flyer. Another virtual option is a high-end F16 flight simulator. Either way, it will take a few days for the smile to get off your face!
5. Drive around Gaza Strip
In 2005 Israel withdrew from all of the Gaza strip hoping to end the conflict with the Palestinians living in Gaza. Sadly, the Hammas rule in Gaza only considers that to be the first step to their claim of all of Israel. As a result, they attempt to terrorize Israel, especially near the border. A tour around Gaza strip is an extreme and disturbing experience, learning how Israelis living in Sderot and smaller farms live in constant threat of rockets, terror balloons and tunnels.
6. Scuba Dive or Snorkel in the Red Sea
Eilat’s Coral beach at Red Sea is the northernmost shallow water coral reef in the world and is a popular attraction if touring the south of Israel. Inexpensive snorkeling gear is enough for a great experience of swimming among the colored fish and by the corals. It is highly recommended to do an introductory dive with a personal instructor (no experience needed!) reaching a depth of 20 feet. A truly magical experience!
7. Join a Krav Maga Session – Live Shooting Included!
“Krav Maga” (Hebrew for “contact combat”) is an Israeli military developed combat system that combines simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers. A special anti-terror training center near Jerusalem offers a unique and extreme experience for learning basic Krav Maga moves. It’s combined with reflex live shooting, in response to a terrorist attack.
8. View the Golan Heights at Mount Bental
The Golan Heights is a basaltic plateau in northern Israel. It was used by the Syrians to attack Israel in the 1950’s through early 1960’s and has been under Israeli control since 1967. The combination of Druze villages with mixed identities, ruins of Syrian villages, and war memorials among blooming apple orchards and vineyards make touring the Golan Heights a very special experience. And best spot to see it all is the top of Mount Bental, opposite the “Purple Line”. Here one can see deep into Syria and discuss past and current affairs.
9. Join a Religious Procession
Israel is also known as “The Holy Land,” and for a good reason. It is holy for Jews, Christian, Muslims, Druze, Samaritans and Baha’i. Therefore, a wide variety of religious ceremonies take place at the different times and places, which are fascinating to watch. From the daily procession at the Holy Sepulchre, to the annual animal sacrifice of the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim. Especially popular are the Friday afternoon Catholic processions along the “Via Dolorosa,” and on Friday evening the Jewish prayers and celebrations at the Western Wall.
10. Join a Tour of the Independence Hall in Tel-Aviv
Although not sacred by any religion, a visit to the “Independence Hall” in Tel-Aviv feels like visiting a holy place. On May 14th 1948, at this very location, the history of the Jewish Zionist movement culminated to the declaration of the state of Israel. A guided tour of the site and a proper appreciation of the site will make you shed a tear. It will also help you picture the exhilarating moment when the Jews, after 2000 years in exile, have declared, finally, a Jewish state, to be called – “The State of Israel“!
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