Nestled beside the magnificent Dead Sea lies the Jordanian neighbor of Israel; a grand country packed with sacred sites, majestic architecture, beaches and cosmopolitan cities. With so many places to see, valleys to explore and accommodation that ranges from hostels to luxury five-star hotels, it is safe to say that Israel is a traveler’s paradise.
Within Israel, the city of Jerusalem is brimming with religious structures many of which can be found on The Temple Mount, deemed one of the world’s holiest sites. Beyond the world famous sites, Israel is also host to some incredible scenic hiking trails and mountain walks on the Israel National Trail. And, if you still have time remaining on your schedule, other favorite destinations in Israel include Acre, Nazareth, Tel Aviv and the wondrous Dead Sea.
History of Israel
When writing about the history of such a sacred nation, it is difficult not to write an entire history. The history of Israel is detailed and complex which why so many people choose to visit. The people of Israel can trace their heritage all the way back to Abraham who, along with his son and grandson, is referred to as the Patriarchs of the Bible.
Jerusalem became the capital city sometime between 1010-970 BCE under the rule of King David. Before World War II, Israel was part of Palestine and it wasn’t until 1948, when Britain split the land into two separate countries, that Israel became the nation we now know.
Israel forms part of the continent of Asia and borders Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. The country is located at the east of the Mediterranean Sea. It is also positioned beside the world famous salt lake, the Dead Sea.
What to do in Israel
Any visit to Israel should include a trip to the city of Jerusalem. This ancient city dates all the way back to 3000 BC and is world famous for its significant role in many pivotal religious and historical accounts. With such a vast history, this city certainly does not disappoint when it comes to important places to visit.
The Old City is surrounded by a large city wall built in 1538. It is split into four different religious and cultural quarters which each have their own unique charm. You will need an entire day just to explore the Old City and to take in its magnificent sites which include Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Dome of the Rock.
For those who like to get out into the great outdoors, the Israel National Trail is perfect. This picturesque hiking trail takes visitors through a plethora of flora and fauna crossing from south to north and stretching as far as the border of Lebanon. The trail really does uncover the diverse natural landscape of Israel and has been voted one of the best hiking trails in the world.
Tel Aviv is a colorful city packed with amazing street food stalls, restaurants, shops and markets. This city is an ideal place to test out those bargaining skills and sample the best of Israeli cuisine. From homemade family recipes served on local markets to fine cuisine at award-winning restaurants, Tel Aviv is also an ideal foodie destination.
Discover the coral reef and exotic marine life that live below the water in the Red Sea. Learn how to scuba dive or don some snorkels and take a peek into this incredible ocean. There is also an Underwater Observatory in the coastal town of Eilat which is a perfect way for families to witness the tropical life below. Admission to the observatory is 99NIS (30USD) and it is open daily from 8.30am until 4.00pm.
How to visit Israel
If you wish to visit more than one location in Israel then it is best to allow at least 10-14 days. Tour packages are available to help visitors cover as many locations as possible whilst independent travelers will find the country easy to navigate. For hiking, February is the best time to visit and also a great time for finding cheap hotel deals.
From April the weather becomes drier and is more pleasant particularly for trips to the beach. May is an ideal time to visit as it is before the school summer holidays begin. You can easily visit Israel from Jordan with a tour from Israel to Petra or vice versa, for example by joining a public tour from Jordan to Israel.
Israel is a great destination for families with plenty of fun things to do. The larger cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offer excellent sightseeing opportunities and the public transport is easy to use. Locals are friendly and will show their appreciation when tourists attempt to speak their language.