15 Places in Israel You Need to Tel(l) Aviv and All of Your Friends About
August 31, 2018
Shalom, ladies and gents! If you’ve ever been to Israel, you can 100% vouch for how beautiful of a country it is. But before we ever experienced the Middle Eastern country for ourselves, we
totally didn’t understand the hype. After all, it’s all desert, right? WRONG!
After visiting the country for ourselves (which is BARELY larger than the state of New Jersey, BTW), we learned that there is
so much to see, so much to learn and loads of hummus to eat! And, if you’re eligible for a Birthright trip, you can spend 10 days touring the country FOR FREE with a bunch of other young people!
Whether you’re planning on hitting up the Holy Land with a tour group, with your family or with a small group of friends, the truth of the matter is that there are some things you simply can’t miss! Ready for all of the
must-see places you’ve gotta check out when you get to Israel? YALLA! (It means “let’s go.”)
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Jerusalem's Old City
If you're making the trek out to Israel, there's no doubt you'll be hitting up one of the holiest cities in the world: Jerusalem. Jerusalem, and the Old City, in particular, is home to some of the most important sites for Islam, Christianity and Judaism, and TBH, you should take some time to get a feel for each of these religions, their practices and their holy sites!
In the Old City alone, you can experience places like the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Church of Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall, all considered to be some of the holiest sites in their respective religions. The city is also divided into four quarters: the Muslim quarter, the Armenian quarter, the Christian quarter and the Jewish quarter, so there's
a lot to explore. The whole time, you'll feel like you've traveled back in time thousands of years, but that's just because there's SO much history here! Go soak it all up!
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major stop on your trip is going to be the bustling city of Tel Aviv, and if you love the beach, this is the place for you. One of our favorite places in Tel Aviv, though, has to be Old Jaffa, and like the Old City in Jerusalem, you'll feel like you've been transported back in time.
Not only is this a super fun area to explore on your own, but at certain points, you'll even get a stellar view of the Mediterranean Sea. Then, hidden inside the stone alleyways are restaurants, art galleries and awesome sculptures, so definitely reserve a few hours to explore Old Jaffa and everything it has to offer.
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The Dead Sea
LBR, no one is going to Israel and passing up the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea. The breathtakingly beautiful body of water is one of the saltiest on earth, and it's also the lowest point on the whole planet at more than 430 meters below sea level.
Since the Dead Sea is so salty, you seriously have no other option than to float and let the sea do its thing. Near the shore, however, you'll be able to lather your body in the mineral-rich mud that you can pull straight from the ground. It's v relaxing, but just remember not to shave your legs the day before your Dead Sea excursion. Trust us... it burns.
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Masada National Park
If you're looking to see the best sunrise of your entire life, you should definitely make it a point to wake up super early and hike Masada. Masada is an ancient stone fortress located above the Dead Sea, so it offers some epic views of the surrounding desert and, of course, the sea below. If you get a guided tour, you'll also learn a ton of ancient history about the grounds, and even if history isn't your thing, we can't lie... it's still super interesting.
If you're not feeling like braving the extreme desert heat and hiking up to the fortress, don't worry, there are also cable cars available to take you up and down. Chances are, you'll be checking out Masada and the Dead Sea in the same day, so on your journey, don't forget to stop at Ein Gedi, which is a nature reserve with beautiful waterfalls. We told you there's a ton to see... even in the desert!
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If you keep going north of Tel Aviv, you'll eventually reach Haifa, which is another beautiful Israeli city located along the Mediterranean Sea. Like Tel Aviv, Haifa has a gorgeous beach and port, but still, one of our favorite spots in the city is definitely Bahai Gardens.
Bahai Gardens includes 19 terraces with a gold-domed Shrine of the Bab at the center, which is where the remains of the founder of the Bábí faith are located. Obviously, this is a very religious site for Bahá'í people, and the beautiful gardens are there for everyone to enjoy. Trust us, you don't want to miss it!
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Ben Yehuda Street
If you're anything like us, you
need to squeeze souvenir shopping into your itinerary. In Jerusalem, there's no better place to shop than the famous Ben Yehuda Street, where you'll find all kinds of fun things to buy!
After walking up and down Ben Yehuda, you should also take some time to explore the surrounding streets. The photo above, for example, was taken on Yoel Moshe Solomon Street, and look how pretty the colorful umbrellas are! Go snap a quick photo... we know you want to!
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The Golan Heights
As you can tell by now, Israel has views on views on views on views, and the Golan Heights in the North might just offer the most magnificent views of all. If you're interested in hiking, the Golan has many different trails with varying levels of difficulty, and no matter when you go, there's always something breathtaking to see (and yes, photograph).
If you go to the Golan Heights in the spring, you'll catch green fields and blooming flowers, but if you go during the winter, Mount Hermon, which is located in the Golan, turns into the only ski destination in all of Israel, so why not hit the slopes?
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Mahane Yehuda Market
In both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, there are markets you absolutely
need to go to, also known as shuks. The shuk in Jerusalem is called Mahane Yehuda, and it's one of the most vibrant places in all of Israel.
During the day, you can walk through Mahane Yehuda, grab some falafel for lunch, and you can top off your meal with some chocolate rugalach for dessert. If you go back to The Shuk at night, though, the market turns into some of the liveliest nightlife in all of Jerusalem, making it an awesome place to hang out with your BFFs.
In Tel Aviv, the Shuk HaCarmel is the place to be. Make sure to bring a lot of shekels (the Israeli currency), because when you walk up and down the market there are a
ton of things to buy. Looking to bring back bracelets for your besties from the Holy Land? The Carmel Market has you covered!
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The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is another body of water you need to visit on your trip to Israel. The Galilee, which is Israel's major water source, is the largest freshwater lake in the region. Aside from being a water source, though, there's a ton of history behind the Galilee that simply needs to be acknowledged.
That's right, you guys! The Galilee is known historically as the place that Jesus walked on water. NGL, it's kind of amazing being in a place that's attached to so many miracles, and with the golden sky in the morning, it makes for a perfect photo opp. Enjoy!
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The Beaches of Tel Aviv
If you're in Tel Aviv, there's simply no avoiding the beach. We mean... it's literally EVERYWHERE. If you're down for a game of beach volleyball, some sunbathing or a dip in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the many beaches in Tel Aviv will satisfy your needs.
When you're done with your day at the beach, take a short walk to Rothschild Boulevard and Allenby Street for some
amazing grub and, of course, even more photo opps. They're some of the prettiest streets in the whole city!
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Rosh HaNikra Grottoes
If you're looking to get that Insta on your trip to Israel (and, LBR, who isn't?), you should definitely hit up the Rosh HaNikra grottoes because they'll do
wonders for your feed. Not only will you have an awesome time swimming in the crystal clear waters, but you'll feel like a real-life mermaid while doing so!
All it takes is a short cable car ride down the face of the cliff, and then you'll be able to explore the caves and rock formations to your heart's content. Still think Israel is just a desert? Think again!
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The Israel Museum
We know that sometimes history can be boring, but The Israel Museum in Jerusalem offers much more than just the history of the country. For example, there are fashion exhibits, large sculptures and religious documents that date back centuries!
This particular sculpture was
definitely our favorite. It translates to "ahava," which means "love" in English. In the background, there's a beautiful view of Jerusalem, making this one of our favorite photo spots from the whole trip!
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Anyone that's been to Israel will tell you that it's a
very emotional trip, and many people will agree that one of the most emotional places to visit is Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, also known as the Holocaust Remembrance Center.
Of course, no one wants to be sad on vacation, but Yad Vashem is an important place to visit for so many reasons! First, it's important to acknowledge how the Jewish people suffered under Hitler's control. It's also important to see how they've returned to their ancestral homeland and turned Israel into the beautiful, innovative country it is today. Seriously, go! You'll regret it if you don't.12
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Okay, so now that we've proven that Israel isn't
all desert, there's no getting around the fact that the desert is a big part of Israel's diverse landscape. That being said, when you get the chance, go take a trip to the Negev, and if you're feeling adventurous, you can even spend a night or two in a Bedouin tent!
Even if a tent in the middle of the desert doesn't sound like the kind of accommodations you're used to, we'll be honest... we've never seen a more crystal clear view of the night sky in our entire lives! Then, you can wake up early and go for a camel ride! Plus, if you ride a camel on a Wednesday, you can take advantage of all those hump day captions. You're welcome!
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Last, but certainly not least, there's no better way to end your trip to Israel than in Eilat, a city located in the southernmost part of Israel. Eilat is Israel's resort town, so you can stay in a luxurious hotel, go scuba diving, parasailing and pretty much any other watersport you can think of!
After soaking up so much interesting information in cities like Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth, etc., you're going to need to take some time to soak up the sun, so hit up Israel's top vacation destination and enjoy!