You don’t always need to venture on a two-hour car ride to the Sea of Galilee or a flight down south to Eilat to slip away from the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv. Located just around its perimeter are a wealth of suburban and metropolitan areas, filled with Israeli art galleries, shopping malls, some of the swankiest hotels in Israel (like the Herzliya Ritz Carlton) and more luxurious beaches than Tel Aviv. With plenty to do in these four locations, you won’t know where to start.
Cities to discover in Israel
Exploring Nazareth: the cradle of Christianity
Israel has many ancient landmarks that bear significance to many different religions. While there are some stunning churches in and around Jerusalem, the ancient town of Nazareth boasts a heavy hand of captivating Christian sites. From religious attractions like St. Gabriel's Church and the International Center Mary of Nazareth to the intricate weave of stalls in the Old Market, Nazareth promises an enlightening day of activities. Nazareth is especially known for its Christmas Market and an incredibly popular destination around Christmas time. Come visit the city of religion and faith, of spirituality and holiness, but also a city enrobed in contemporary culture and Middle Eastern magic.
The top things to do in Herzliya
On the surface, Herzliya is all manicured beaches, taken captive year-round by well-heeled locals who have tasted the good life. Adorned with luxury shopping malls, the Herzliya Marina is often misunderstand as being culturally and historically shallow. But digging deeper, not only does the port city boast a prime sailing and maritime community from its lively marina, which houses over 800 yachts and boats, it is also home to historic, ancient ruins and a stellar contemporary art museum. For even more exceptional sites spanning the country, see our top things to do in Israel, or for art connoisseurs seeking even more modern art outside of Herzliya, check out our top Israeli art galleries.
Netanya’s top attractions
Netanya, the capital of the surrounding Sharon plain, is a town not too far from Herzliya filled with fun things to do and sites to see. Not only do they have some of the most luxurious beaches in Israel, the area is filled with family-fun activities like movie theatres, arcades, bowling alleys, and malls – not to mention, some of the best frozen yogurt in the country. And don't forget to visit the Museum of Yemenite Jewish Heritage for a unique history lesson. So come for the beaches, stay for the bites at our mentioned Netanya restaurants, then spend the night at the city’s most hospitable hotels.
A tourist’s guide to Akko: where to eat, explore and sleep
Nestled on Israel's northern coast, Akko is an up-and-coming port city rich with Jewish history, sights and fantastic food. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Israeli treasure is a unique cross between east and west, modern and ancient Israel, beauty and ruins. Its rich history is palpable in its alleyways, underground passages and picturesque architecture, whose character reflects the legacy left behind by the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders and Arabs. But what has transformed this hidden gem from a pit stop to a destination is its recent emergence as a culinary force in the north, with some of the best hummus on the eastern Mediterranean (some say it’s better than the Jaffa street food offerings) and some of the best seafood restaurants in Israel.
The best of Bat Yam
With the recent focus shifted towards Bat Yam, and the fate of the city’s independence hanging in the balance, we figured it was a good time to highlight Bat Yam’s best features. Just a half hour or so away from the White City, Bat Yam hosts one of the more impressive malls in Israel, not to mention some stellar contributions to Israeli culture like its performing arts center. Throw in one of the grandest museums in Israel – the three-building complex MoBY – and beautiful Israeli beaches, some must-visit restaurants and an exquisite Israeli wine shop and you’ve got a perfect weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv.
The Sea of Galilee: the best beaches and sites
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem may get most of the glory, but the Sea of Galilee (aka “the Kinneret”) should not be overlooked. Offering a unique mix of Jewish holy sites and dazzling beaches – both sandy and rocky – this unique spot is both breathtakingly beautiful and historically rich. We know it can be hard to tear yourself away from the markets in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv coastline, but with places like the Tiberias Promenade and Bora Bora Beach, you won't need extra convincing. Here’s a look at all of the beaches and sites that make the Sea of Galilee such a worthy destination.
The best things to do in the Negev
Easily one of the most overlooked treasures in Israel, the Negev desert is home to some truly jaw-dropping geological wonders. Vineyards, hiking trails, nature reserves and even camel rides make it as appealing for families as it is for couples or those traveling on a budget. The Negev is also the area to which Israelis regularly flock for festivals, yoga retreats and other special events. Here’s to getting lost in the desert as you check out our curated list of the best things to do in the Negev.
The best attractions in the Golan Heights
The Golan Heights is one of the most popular destination spots in Israel – and for good reason. Take a break from the non-stop pace of Tel Aviv and enjoy tranquil parks, gardens, museums, galleries, vineyards and so much more as you explore the many sites scattered throughout the Golan Heights. Wine lover? Make it an overnight stay because the area’s vineyards are some of the best in Israel.
The Galilee - top attractions
Located in the north of Israel, the Galilee is as popular with tourists as it is with locals who flock to the area to enjoy sea, sand and sun (well, technically, the sea of the Galilee is a lake…). In between working on your tan, there’s a seemingly never-ending treasure chest of historical and archeological wonders to ogle – no Instagram filter needed. Plus, the Galilee boasts a handful of incredible restaurants, vineyards and family-fun recreational activities like rafting down the Jordan River. We’ve rounded up the absolute best sites in the Galilee that you won't want to miss.
The top attractions in Tel Aviv
The ultimate Jaffa area guide
With so much hustle and bustle going on in its White City neighbor, sometimes people forget the beautiful gem of Israeli culture that exists on the southern port. From attractions that backtrack through years of ancient Israeli history to the most hopping bars and clubs for dancing in Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s older sister knows where it’s at. The sheer range of attractions in Old Jaffa is startling, from mosques and churches to ancient clock towers, wishing bridges, sculptures, yoga classes, museums, Israeli art galleries, trendy restaurants and the list of things to do in this new-old city is never ending. Throw in an impressive spread of authentic Jaffa street food establishments and a precious flea market and you’ve got enough things to do in Israel for a lifetime.
Tel Aviv Port
In 2001 the Tel Aviv Port, known locally by its Hebrew name Namal Tel Aviv, was completely revamped to the tune of NIS 100 million, becoming one of the biggest attractions in Tel Aviv. The wooden wave-shaped deck is replete with stores, cafes, bars and leisure centers. Even if you don’t fancy dining, shopping or drinking, just walking around to soak up the atmosphere and ocean spray is well worth the time. There’s an indoor market at Hangar 12 which offers the freshest and finest of Israeli food – but prepare for boutique prices. There is also plenty to keep the little ones occupied. With three playgrounds spanning over 9,000 meters, the Namal’s Yarid HaMizrach aims to cater to kids of all ages – including those in their forties! The playground equipment, designed in England and Germany, is outstanding – both from the perspective of childs-play and visually – and includes slides, climbing ropes, a boat swing, a cable pyramid with hammocks and a 30 meter long zip-line.
Park Hayarkon Boat Rentals
Get your legs moving or start your engines and enjoy this special spot on the river in Park Hayarkon. With two offerings, visitors can choose the more active route and paddle their pedal boat manually, or go the motor boat route, allowing for a more casual way to explore the river. Park Hayarkon Paddle / Motor Boat Rentals is perfect for all ages, so don’t be shy. It’s worth a detour from the salty ocean to explore the sweet water. So grab your lifejackets, get ready to get your tan on, and spend a calming morning paddling downstream.
Sarona Compound, a 140-year-old former Templar colony, is the first culinary center of its kind in Israel. An 8,700-square-meter market houses dozens of specialty food shops from all around the world. Inside the market, you’ll find everything imaginable from Dutch cheese to waffle towers and even Asian buns. Just outside the indoor market, dozens of clothing, book and shoe stores line its lanes, interspersed with lily ponds and grassy areas to relax.
Gordon Beach boasts volleyball courts and a lovely saltwater swimming pool, surrounded by lawns to lounge on. On the boardwalk you’ll find a myriad of restaurants serving huge portions of classics like Israeli breakfast, fresh fish, sandwiches and a huge array of salads. After sundown, various outdoor beach bars provide sun-burnt partiers with some afterhours fun with DJs, drinks and dancing.
10 relationship arguments you'll have at least once in Israel this summer
It's hot. You're bothered. The insatiable Middle Eastern heat has not only put a damper on your style, it has put a damper on your relationship as well. While these may not be relationship deal breakers, you're puppy love is bound to be interrupted by casual 'tiffs while braving Israel's long, drawn-out summer. Don't ditch your partner just yet. Buckle up, and take a deep breath because you're in it for the long haul. Just remember: what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. The Clammy Palm Predicament. There's nothing more romantic than walking hand-in-hand along the beach with the Mediterranean sunset as your backdrop, right? Wrong. Trying to hold onto your partner's sweaty, moist palm is more cringe-worthy than the word 'moist' itself. What did I do to deserve this? The 'Bussing It' Battle. One of you has had enough of the broiling heat, the other refuses to spend NIS 5.90 on a five-minute bus ride. No one will win. The Sunscreen Squabble. One is positive they won't burn, even if it's Eilat and the sun is ten times stronger. The other insists on a coat of spray, a thick layer of SPF-50, and 30 minutes of waiting for it to soak in before leaving the hotel room. The Ice Cream Standoff. While one partner desperately wants Anitas gelato, the other just can't will themselves to cross the line of fire...aka screaming children + stick chocolaty fingers = a white T-shirt's worst enemy. The Florentin Fight. One of you wants to hit the tourist-packed beaches, the
7 Israeli struggles that are actually blessings in disguise
The Holy Land can be a tough place to live, especially if you did not grow up here. While Israelis love to complain, sometimes, the everyday struggles turn out to actually be blessings in disguise. The overcrowded buses encourage you to meet new people. Don't let the lack of CO2 cramp your style. Take the opportunity to start a conversation with the cute Florentin boy whose face is literally centimeters from yours, heck, you can even go in for the kiss if you're feeling confident. Chaos becomes the norm. No matter how organized you claim to be, the 'balagan' of Israeli society is inescapable. At first, the lack of lines at coffee shops and hoards of screaming mothers at the Shuk on Fridays will drive you crazy. However, it is only a matter of time before you learn the most valuable lesson to surviving Israeli clusterf***s: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Your obnoxiously successful friends are actually inspirational. They don't call it the Start-Up Nation for nothing. With an endless amount of career opportunities and a constant stream of new ones surfacing every day, don't hate on those overachieving go-getter friends...they are the ones doing it right. Follow suit. If it doesn't exist, create it. If it does, advocate for yourself until you get it. The limited public transportation, closed stores, and decreased wifi on Shabbat forces you to spend time with yourself. Even if you don't shut your phone off completely for Shabbat, there is a decreased need to
Five things you’ll (have to) learn to love when living in Israel
From the outside looking in, Israel is all sandy beaches, sensational sunsets and floatable lakes disguised as seas. But, once you pop the birthright bubble (usually somewhere between falafel #7 and rooftop sunset #13, but not before iced coffee #26), you’ll have to face some hard truths. And so, to help guide you through the post-honeymoon adjustment period, we’ve created a list of things you’ll (have to) learn to love when living in Israel. Give them time…they grow on you (eventually). You’ll learn to love… Being late While in other countries, promptness can be an important indicator of professionalism or courtesy, it is neither here. Israelis run on what we like to call ‘Israel time’. This could mean anything from arriving for a coffee date half an hour late to rescheduling dinner plans five minutes past the reservation. It’s not a sign of rudeness, it’s just a sign of living in the moment…and sometimes that moment turns into two moments then three then an hour then a day. Balagan Whether ordering a sandwich or trying to get through security at the airport, in Israel, the ‘first come, first serve’ rules do not apply. Israelis love ‘balagan’ (Hebrew for ‘disorder’ or ‘chaos’), so waiting in line to order while tuning out the world via smartphone is simply not an option. Expect a hostile mission to the front counter – elbows will be swung, words will be exchanged, basic training may be used, but don't think of it as aggression; we prefer the word: assertiveness
7 tips to enjoy Tel Aviv like a local
Eat an Israeli breakfastStart your Tel Aviv day at Manta Ray, a stone’s throw from the sea. Locals visit for the stellar house-made meze—mosaics of Israeli salads plus fresh seafood. 7 Kolfman St (+972-3-517-4773, mantaray.co.il) Manta Ray© Avi Ganor Find the best hummus Ok, we found it for you. Abu Hassan wins our vote for the best hummus in town— super-creamy and as authentic as it gets. By 3pm, everything is gone—all gone. 1 Ha-Dolfin St, Jaffa Abu Hassan © PR Sit in a fabulous café Lounging in cafés is part of the Tel Aviv scene, and Rothschild 12 masters the combination of cozy and hip. Ideal for observing the colorful characters of the city. 12 Rothschild Blvd (+972-3-510- 6430) Anatoli Michaelo Party...hard Tel Aviv's hot spot Kuli Alma is so much more than a night club or a bar. A hub for music, food, art and culture, this all encompassing experience features DJs pumping out electric beats, house, hiphop and live musical acts. 10 Mikveh Israel St (+972-3-656- 5155, kulialma.com) Kuli Alma© Ben Palhov Play matkot This trendy paddleball game has been the country’s quintessential beach pastime since the 1920s. Give it a shot at one of the beautiful Tel Aviv Beaches. Playing Matkot© Sutterstock Drink Arak Sip this popular anise flavored drink at Haminzr bar, just off the Carmel market. Known for its chill vibe and energy, Haminzar is the perfe
Sights and attractions in Jerusalem
The Shrine of the Book
One of greatest archaeological finds of the last century was accidently discovered in the remote caves overlooking Qumran by a passing Bedouin shepherd. The Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book offers a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the oldest Bible manuscripts in existence, also known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Wailing Wall - The Kotel
No visit to Jerusalem is complete without a visit to the Kotel. Considered to be the holiest place for the Jewish faith, a short walk through the Old City of Jerusalem will lead you to this sacred site. Be sure to write a wish or personal note on a scrap of paper and slit it in the cracks of wall as visitors have for years. The Kotel is the pulsing center of the historically amazing Old City of Jerusalem.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Built on the site revered by Christians as the location of Jesus' resurrection, the church has been a location of pilgrimage since the 4th century. Christians of all denominations and people from around the world can be seen visiting its various frankincense laden vestibules and chambers.
Dome of the Rock
Built in 691 CE, The Dome of the Rock is one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture. Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, this spot is considered to be one of Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmarks. A masterpiece of Islamic architecture, the shrine is said to be where Mohammed ascended to heaven. Located at the edge of the Old City in Jerusalem, a walk through the ancient alleyways will lead you to this special monument.
Jerusalem House of Quality
Jerusalem House of Quality has been showcasing Jerusalem artists and art for over 50 years. Located in a historic building, it features a vast collection of ancient and contemporary art in a wide range of mediums. Visitors are welcome to participate in tours focusing on the history of Jerusalem, the city’s unique art, and more. The gallery also hosts conferences, lectures, cultural, and musical events. The Jerusalem House of Quality aims to keep artists in Jerusalem in order to maintain a vibrant cultural scene in the city.