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 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.
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 50 attractions in Israel, or for art connoisseurs seeking even more modern art outside of Herzliya, check out our top Israeli art galleries.
Escape to Eilat: best activities in Israel’s top resort town
On top of their crazy nightlife and quality restaurants, Eilat—Israel's ultimate tourism city—offers a multitude of attractions for visitors of all ages and tastes: from laid-back beaches and soothing spas that give the Dead Sea a run for its money to non-stop activities both in and out of the crystal clear waters, world-class shows, and even two ice centers for the ultimate escape from the heat. And as if that isn’t enough, Israel’s largest jazz festival comes to town twice a year at winter and in the summer time. To make your utopic getaway to Eilat even better, we’ve rounded up a list of things to do in the area - here are our picks.
Areas to discover in Israel
Haifa and Mount Carmel - must-see sites
Perched above the Mediterranean shoreline, Haifa and Mount Carmel in northern Israel are teeming with sites to see and places to discover. Not only is the area home to the infamous Baha'i Gardens and historic landmarks dating back to Ancient Israel, there are also a host of family-friendly, action-packed places to visit, including a number of options in our round up of the top attractions in Israel. And at the end of the day, when all you want to do is settle in for a nice meal and throw back a cold one, the best restaurants and bars in Haifa are at your service.
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.
Gush Dan: an area guide to Tel Aviv's perimeter
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.
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 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 top attractions in Tel Aviv
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.
Bialik House is the home of Israel’s beloved Hebrew national poet, Haim Nachman Bialik. Even though the poetry is in Hebrew, the house is an architectural paradise highly influenced by Islamic style. Along with archives of Bialik’s original work, the house features ceramic art depicting biblical scenes.
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.
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.