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.
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 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.
Netanya’s top attractions
Netanya, the capital of the surrounding Sharon plain, is a northern 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.
Areas to discover in Israel
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 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.
Biking in the Negev
The Negev accounts for over half of Israel’s land area and is located in the southern region. Despite its scenery, it is sparsely populated due to its harsh desert landscape. This makes the Negev the perfect place for someone seeking a quiet excursion into nature. It was favored by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, who lived on a kibbutz in Sde Boker following his retirement. One popular way for both tourists and Israelis to see the Negev Desert in southern Israel is by biking. In recent years, trails for all levels have been developing, allowing beginners and more experienced bikers alike to enjoy exploring the Negev. Biking is the perfect way to discover the tranquility of the desert, allowing more freedom than is afforded while driving a car. The Negev contains rich landscapes and varied terrain; a picturesque vision of beauty any nature lover will enjoy. As biking through the Negev rises in popularity, more and more services are being provided in order to assist travelers. Bike centers provide rental bikes for those who do not have a bike appropriate for the terrain, and can also make repairs when needed. In addition, companies now offer tours through the Negev, which include bike and helmet use, or guides are available for hire. If camping isn’t your thing, accommodations along the trails are offered for respite. Trails are clearly marked and groomed, and maps are available in English. Here are our top picks for biking tours down south: Geofun Desert
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 top attractions in Tel Aviv
An institution in Tel Aviv, Gordon Pool is an Olympic-size swimming pool located on the boardwalk right by the marina with the seascape in the background. If you like the atmosphere, but want a clean and organized place to do some serious swimming, this is the perfect place to strap on your goggles and join the locals as they breaststroke their way through the day. Dating back to 1956, this legendary pool underwent thorough renovations a few years ago and the facility now includes pools for children and toddlers as well as a modern wooden deck with sun beds, chairs and large parasols for when you want to rest a little or soak up the sun.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Gracing the walls of this museum are Israel’s most comprehensive collections of modern, contemporary, and Israeli art. The museum boasts an impressive collection of the old masters, diverse temporary exhibitions, displays of photography, design & architecture, a performance hall, and a beautiful, calming sculpture garden to wander around or relax in. When visiting, don’t miss the newest addition to the museum, the Herta and Paul Amir Building, which was designed by professor Preston Scott Cohen. Built around a spiraling, 90-foot high atrium, the Herta and Paul Amir Building is an architectural wonder. The interior space provides a unique setting for the display of contemporary art, a center for architecture, and a gallery.
Along with the gay scene, Hilton Beach has also captured the niche water-sports market. The Sea Centre Club offers windsurfing and kayaking classes, with special lessons for beginners and children. With a host of restaurants offering varied beach food, Hilton beach is perfect for a day or night-time chill-out, summer or winter.
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.
Sights and attractions in Jerusalem
Menachem Begin Heritage Center
Located on the Hinnom Ridge overlooking Mount Zion and the walls of the Old City, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem is a stunning property to visit to take in all of Jerusalem. Through multimedia exhibits, documentary exhibits, as well as touchscreen exhibits, the historical center is an impressive and entertaining attraction. Recently, archaeological discoveries have been excavated dating back to the First Temple period, making this property an even more unique experience.
The Jerusalem Archeological Park - Davidson Center
Dive into Jerusalem's fascinating past through a high-tech virtual reconstruction. Located in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, this center offers an in-depth, three-dimensional reconstruction of the Temple, based on excavations and ancient writings.
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
A 62-acre zoo with a lake at its center, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo encompasses two levels, interconnecting pools and waterfalls. The zoo is surrounded by green hills and has grassy lawns with plenty of shade inside, and includes multiple research laboratories dedicated to wildlife conservation. Kids love the Noah’s Ark visitor center, a boat-shaped wooden structure with information and games pertaining to all the animals mentioned in the Bible.
Church of All Nations
The church itself is Catholic and contains multiple mosaics representing the 12 nations that helped fund it. The church’s location in the tranquil Garden of Gethsemane - another significant reason to visit. Thought to have been an olive tree garden even during Christ’s day, the venue is known for its eight beautiful olive trees – dated to be around 2,000 years old. Approach the garden and church from a path down the Mount of Olives and stop by at the Dominus Flevit Church, where Jesus is said to have wept over the future of Jerusalem.
The National Library of Israel
Housing the world's largest collections of Hebraica and Judaica, the library holds copies of all materials published in Israel and all publications on the subject of Israel and Judaism published in any language. Replete with ancient and rare manuscripts, it’s a bookworm’s paradise.
Teddy Kollek Park
Teddy Park tells the story of Jerusalem’s development during Teddy Kollek’s tenure as Mayor of Jerusalem. The special featured attraction, the Hassenfeld Family Fountain, has computerized water performances set to light and specially composed music. The fountain’s performances integrate 256 water hoses, 1,500 light bulbs and original music created by the New Jerusalem Orchestra.