By Time Out Israel WritersPosted: Wednesday January 11 2017, 3:52pm
Israel’s “chill” is a winter dream to most visitors seeking refuge from their snowed-in locales. Aside from some pansy rainy days, the local cold front neither lasts long nor prevents locals from getting out and doing a host of winter-friendly activities. Here are forty-three things to do when the forecast reads blistery, but you’re itching with cabin fever.
1. Work up a sexy sweat
At a pole dancing class. In Jerusalem. Yes, you read that right. The religious Ayelet Finkelstein opened her own women's-only studio, Jerusalem Pole and Fitness to empower females and help them firm up in a non-judgy, not at all sleazy atmosphere. The confidence-boosting classes attract everyone from wig-wearing haredim to Jerusalem U students and even bachelorette parties. Go out of curiosity, continue for the pure fun. (jpolefitness.com)
2. Slurp some soup
The healing liquid will warm you right up and the tasty varieties at Market will make you a die-hard regular. Hearty Moroccan spices with slow cooked veggies, flavorful lentil stew and Indian coconut curry are all served daily alongside a rotating menu of home cooked meals - just like at Safta's (that is, if safta was vegan). (31 King George St, Tel Aviv)
3. Glide along the ice
While Israelis dream of skating on real frozen lakes, Eilat’s Ice Park and Mall is the next best thing. The enormous glass-domed structure contains a tax-free mall and a skating ring so you can shop for knit sweaters and mittens, then bundle up on the ice.
4. Watch the records spin
Merging music, coffee and bikes, Gordon Bennet is a locally-loved shop playing and selling rare vinyl by Auerbach Record Saloon, where neighborhood folk talk shop over cups o’ Joe and while away the afternoons. Join in on the community vibes and get your caffeine fix all in one. (3 Nitsanan St, Florentine, gordon-bennett.co.il)
5. Get in touch with nature
The wonderful thing about Israel is that hiking and the great outdoors aren’t limited to a few short summer months. Though conditions can be a little wet at times, there are plenty of clear days to explore Israel’s incredible trails.
6. Wish upon a star
There is nothing more magical than a midnight stargaze from Ramon Crater’s ledge. Throw on those layers and brand new knitwear and head to the scenic Camel lookout (Mitzpe Ramon) for an unforgettable experience. ‘Star light, stare bright, first star I see tonight…’
7.Warm up in a centuries-old hamam
Akko’s Hamam al-Basha was built at the end of the 18th century and to this day attracts visitors from all over Israel and the world with its luxurious steam room, heated pool and steam bath, which include traditional scrubs, soaps and massages. For 150 years, the ancient bath house served as the central place for social activity and remains a focal landmark of the famed port city. (akko.org.il/en/Hamam-al—Basha)
8.Dip in the Mediterranean
Despite the Israeli sea’s much-noticeable drop in temperature during the winter months, there’s nothing more ‘refreshing’ than running along Banana Beach into Tel Aviv’s crisp waters. Plus, you’ll gain bragging rights for life among your friends. Take the Polar Bear Plunge today.
9.Get your woodworking on
Sometimes a little carpentry does a lot to warm up them bones. Bloom Field, a sprawling concept store featuring local designers and interior design, also houses pop up classes, so you can build everything from your own planters and shelves to benches and tables. (3 Nahum Goldman St, Jaffa, 03-6348359)
10.Splurge on a new winter scent
It's easy to slump into those cowl neck sweaters and infinity scarves without noticing your scent needs a little refresher. Individual Cabinet du Parfums hits all the sweet notes with a supremely chic variety of floral, fruity, musky and more. The challenging part is in the choosing. (40 Shabazi St, Neve Tzedek, individual-parfum.com)
Plan an indulgent day at Spa Akuyoe’s hot springs, with a series of couple’s treatments, jacuzzis, saunas and a relaxing candle treatment that includes aromatic candle wax, shea and cocoa butter with different massage techniques. (Between Kiryat Gat and Ashkelon, on Highway 35, 08-6705608)
Nothing is better than discovering a new indie fashion label that gets your style on point. Head to the bottom of Dizengoff Center, in the “hidden” corridor to the left of Toys 'R Us and you will uncover a host of local labels hawking hand bags, jewelry and apparel every Friday morning through to the early afternoon.
13.Watch the bats fly through the trees
For a free and enchanting moment, mosey on over to the middle of King George by nightfall, where the street hits Gan Meir Park. In those lofty trees above, you'll hear the creepy-cool dialogue between the local bats soaring with abandon through the branches.
14.Bone broth remedy
Tel Aviv's Yemenite Quarter may have the most underrated and undiscovered cold remedy in all the city: bone broth soup. While celebs are only recently swearing by its healing properties, Zicharaya and Rina’s restaurant has been brewing signature stews for years, nourishing all the locals to health. (22 Hakovshim St, 03-5177612)
15.Beach days are for winter, too
Sandy situations are not only reserved for Summer. Eat breakfast with a pristine view at Manta Ray. But be sure to make reservations for the weekend. Their morning mezze platter has Tel Avivians whipped. (Alma Beach, 03-5174773)
Florentine's brightly-colored Ink Donkey will have you tatted up in no-time with their cleanliness, professionalism and inspiring walls of art. Just forgo the tramp stamp for something that you'll actually want to show off come summertime. (4 Yedidia Frankel St, 03-6097229)
Urban Shaman's albeit intense cleanses of organic, cold-pressed juices combine detox infusions, coco-aloe elixirs and potent produce delivered straight to your door.You'll be smugly patting yourself on the back while everyone else falls ill during cold and flu season. (urbanshaman.co.il)
19. An indulgent sesame seed massage will do the trick
If you just can’t seem to warm up those toes, head to Sheva Spa in the Hilton Hotel for a traditional Thai experience. Several of the massage therapists hail from Thailand and offer authentic treatments. From warm sesame seed oil penetrating your third eye to expert techniques using bamboo sticks to ease out those sore spots, you’ll leave the spa entirely rejuvenated. (sheva-spa.co.il)
20.Take shelter in a salt room
It sounds really random, but there is an actual salt room in Nazareth. Mama Salt Room & Cafe was started by Lin Mansour years ago to relieve her young daughter's asthma. It has since turned into a salt center with even the walls and roof crystallized with the healing mineral. (Across from the Greek Orthodox Church/04-6377807)
21.Get hot with Bikram
It may be a no-brainer but hot yoga is pretty much the easiest way to kill two birds with one stone: get your exercise in and beat the Winter blues. Studio Sol offers a host of English classes and even special events like 'Glow Flow' with black lights, glow sticks and kickass DJ sets. (18 Gruzenberg St, Tel Aviv, soltlv.com)
22.Soak up that Viatmin D
Visit the Solarium–400, on the Dead Sea’s shore, for optimal therapeutic properties.This health spa offers a beach site that was carefully situated to absorb the sun's rays. Take advantage of the natural wonder's annual 330 days of sunshine. (einbokek.com/solarium)
23.Escape to an escape room
If you think a night of escape room shenanigans is not for you, try it out anyway. From augmented realities using avatars in space to themed rooms like the adrenaline-inducing Prison Break, you’ll be totally surprised to find yourself geeking out. We hear Gravity at Cyber Quest is the latest obsession.
24.Instead of letting the winter blues get to you, embrace them!
Slip away into the Pasaz for their weekly Blues&Booz jam, every week this winter. The warming vibes, soulful sets and strong drinks will have you forgetting the cold in no time. Or at least until you step back outside.
25.Sip simmering sachlav
Sachlav is Israel’s answer to hot chocolate. This sweet, thick and creamy drink made from ground orchid bulbs can be found all over the place during the 'Israeli Winter' and is the perfect way to warm up when it gets chilly outside. Warm up on a cold Jerusalem morning with some sachlav at Mifgash HaSheikh in Mahane Yehuda.
Sometimes some warm, buttery popcorn and a watery fountain soda is the perfect cure for those cold fingers. Nestled on the top level of Dizengoff Center is a quaint little cinema screening the newest in Hollywood and International films. Catch a classic like 'White Christmas'.
27.Warm your soul with a piping hot pan of homey shakshuka
There's nothing like this tomato-egg dish to get that extra fill of protein and energy revving spices to help you brave the colder weather. Rip, dip, and lick your lips with this heart-warming house specialty. For a true local experience, swing by Shukshuka in the Carmel Market.
28.Get that blood flowing at the Red Sea Winter Jazz festival
Warm up those feet this February by tapping along to some outstanding Jazz. The Red Sea Winter Jazz festival will have your whole body movin' and groovin', plus the weather down south is wonderfully sunny year-round; not quite like those chilly Jerusalem winters.
29. Spruce up your space
Bring the outdoors in with succulents, air plants, cacti and more that will refresh your digs without all the fussiness (i.e. these guys don’t need to be watered daily or even weekly, given the plant). Stop into the Urban Nursery (at the bottom of Shuk HaCarmel, 03-5163707) for expert advice and a wide variety of options to choose from.
30.Chase the chills away at these hot springs
Near the Sea of Galilee are natural thermo-mineral springs whose tropical environment houses over 200 reptiles. Catch an African Nile crocodile or marvel at an alligator at Hamat Gader Park.
31. Spice up your meals
Adding a little exotic heat to your stir-fry will raise that body temperature right up and clear out those stuffy noses. Treat your tastebuds to a little siracha or thai chili sauce from East West Market this season. It’s worth every drop. East and West Market (Sarona Market, Shuk HaCarmel, Shuk Tzafon, Jerusalem and Haifa).
32.Sip on herbal tea infusions that even please the Brits
In Israel's Galilee region, founder and owner of 'The Spicy Way' is stirring up herbal teas based on dried fruits to give them that 'fruity taste'. And, you can even eat the fruit after you finish drinking for some added vitamin C during the dreaded cold season. (derech-hatavlinim.co.il)
33.Treat your feet
After keeping your nails pristine and your feet clean all through sandal season, why neglect them now? Head to Yullia nail salon for the royal treatment. Your feet will thank you later. Yulia (101 Dizengoff St, Tel Aviv)
Rich, silky, melt-in-your-mouth (and on your fingers, hands, lap and all over your face) chocolate fondue. Max Brenner lets you choose two of three delicious options: milk, dark or white chocolate to dip fruits, muffin bites, and marshmallowy goodness in. It may be messy, it won't be pretty, but it sure will warm you right up. (max-brenner.co.il)
35.Slip on those fluffy socks
Local brand Zohara tights has a special winter collection of diverse and colourful socks and leggings to keep those toes from getting froze. With tons of funky patterns and a variety of materials like nylon, cotton and the all-time warmest wool, you’ll never want to take them off. (zoharatights.com)
36. Warm up on whiskey
When it comes to handling the damp weather, the Scots know best: drink Hot Toddy’s until you forget it’s raining. The Whiskey Bar & Museum has the cream of the crop in their whiskey selection. The impressive wall of whiskeys showcases over one thousand varieties of ‘water of life’ from classic locations like Scotland and Ireland, to the most eclectic like Taiwanese and Indian. Take in everything whiskey while enjoying one of their alcohol-infused desserts and let the soothing golden liquid heat you up from tongue to toe. Whiskey Bar & Museum (Sarona, 27 Rav Aluf David Elazar St, Tel Aviv, 03-9551105)
37. Run away from the cold weather, literally.
The winter season seems to bring in more than just the flu; from the months of January to March, Israelis suffer from a bad case of marathon mania. Join in on the fun and take part in one of these marathons: Ein Gedi Experience, Israman (Eilat) or the Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon…or if running isn’t your thing, dress up in your finest Zombie attire and walk in the White City’s Zombie Walk.
Whether you feel like picking out a new book and sipping a hot drink while page flipping in one of Tel Aviv’s cozy bookstore cafés – The Little Prince or Bookworm – or revisiting a classic in the comfort of your own home, there’s nothing more satisfying on a cold winter’s day than a good read. The Little Prince(19 King George St); Bookworm (7 Maze St; 9 Rabin Sq)
39.Frolic through the flowers
While plants lie in their beds underneath mounds of snow elsewhere in the world, the winter wildflowers are just starting to bud on Jerusalem’s hills. Reds, purples, and yellows paint the Ella Valley and especially the Lupine Hill, where the vibrant purple lupine grows.
40."I’m singin’ in the rain, just singin’ in the rain"
Don’t let the wet weather get you down. Take advantage of the pedestrian-fled roads. Throw on some Billy boots and a raincoat and splish-splash down the charming streets of Neve Tzedek. ‘What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again.’
41.Get to know your local libraries
Stocked with a never-ending supply of books, movies, music and magazines for every type of reader. Beit Ariela Library next to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is a perfect spot to sneak away to when your artsy friend is taking up too much time at the museum's newest 'Regarding Africa' contemporary exhibit.
42.Stock up for the winter at Shuk Tzafon
Shuk Tzafon's indoor market boasts 30 restaurants and specialty shops - from cheese- oozing pizza at Pronto Kiosko to tasty halva and more - you'll leave the market satiated and satisfied, ready to sleep through the winter. North Market (20 Raoul Wallenberg St, 03-6432000)
43.Hibernate. Hibernate. Hibernate.
Some weekends, it's just better to stay in. Boil the kum kum, throw on the fluffy socks, snuggle under the cozy blanket you bought at the shuk and binge on Netflix's new hit (Israeli) T.V. show, 'Fauda'. And don't come out until you've a) finished the season or b) it's spring.