If you want to surprise yourself and experience one of a kind feeling choose Israel because it is so much more than just a pilgrimage destination
Wanna experience a melange of ancient history and the Sunkissed Mediterranean breeze – Israel will unexpectedly wrap you in to that mixed feeling as soon as you land to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites, beach resorts, natural sites, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism, adventure tourism and ecotourism.
Tel Aviv – One of the world’s ten best beach cities
Upon landing dive into Tel Aviv first because it is so surprisingly European with Miami charm. Imagine that! With 2.3 million tourist visits in 2013 Tel Aviv is Israel’s second-largest city and a cosmopolitan, cultural and financial global city. Tel Aviv exhibits also a UNESCO world heritage area of Bauhaus architecture. In 2010, National Geographic ranked Tel Aviv as one of the world’s ten best beach cities. The nearby historical city of Jaffa is an amazing experience for tourists because it is so close to Tel Aviv yet the walk in Jaffa streets will take you back in to the past just few minutes away from the Telavivian modern and vibrant Miami feeling. It is here you will experience a first, priceless leap from now to history, but get ready there is more of that in Israel. Jaffa provides an old-world style respite from the modern thrum of Tel Aviv next door. Tel Aviv is called the “city that never sleeps” by the locals because of its vibrant nightlife scene. Tel Aviv was named “the gay capital of the Middle East” by the Out magazine and it is famous by its Pride that has become one of the biggest events of the year in Tel Aviv. Visitors from all over Israel and the world come out in full force to celebrate. The city lights up in colour and energy, proving its reputation as the Gay Capital of the Middle East and perhaps even one of the Gay Capitals of the World. Tel Aviv Gay Pride Week takes place every June, with a surge of gay-friendly events taking place across the city, culminating on the Friday with the famed pride parade.
It is first in Tel Aviv and Jaffa that you will experience a first, priceless “leap from now to back in history” but get ready – there is much more of that “time machine travelling” feeling in Israel
To continue the exploration of Israel, for example, make Jerusalem, the eternal city, the holiest of all your next stop. Take the tour of the four quarters and “inhale” the magic tales of the fascinating citadel of Jerusalem’s Old City, holy to Jews, to Christians and to Muslims. Jerusalem is the most-visited city with 3.5 million tourist arrivals annually. One of the oldest cities in the world and it hosts many historical, archaeological, religious and other attractions.
Masada is a site not to be missed on any trip to Israel. It means fortress in Hebrew is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, similar to a mesa which is an isolated, flat-topped elevation, ridge or hill, which is bounded from all sides by steep escarpments and stands distinctly above a surrounding plain. It is located on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built two palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the siege of Masada by Roman troops from 73 to 74 CE, at the end of the First Jewish–Roman War, ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Sicarii rebels who were hiding there. Most archaeologists have estimated the siege lasted between four and seven months and the story goes that the rebels were hiding in the fortress and were doing okay until the food stock lasted and until they were able to resist the Roman attacks but when they realised that they will be defeated the rebels first killed their wives and then their children and then committed suicide themselves not to captured by the Romans. The story might give you creeps but it is very powerful message of the resistance the amazing cable car ride from the bottom of the rock to the top, will prepare you for this heart-rending saga and the breath-taking view that awaits at the top of the plateau.
Haifa is a lovely northern city and its main highlight is the Baha’i Gardens, which tumble down the hillside towards the sea in a series of immaculate green terraces. Haifa is the perfect base to explore the north of Israel: for example, the city of Akko wrapped up in Crusader history which has a mellow harbour full of colourful, bobbing fishing boats, a vibrant bazaar crammed with spice, produce and interesting artisan products. One of the must -visits in Akko is the restaurant Uri Buri widely considered one of the finest fish restaurants in Israel famous for sea food and the unique persona, Head chef, Uri Jeremias, a legendary figure in Israel’s culinary scene. The word Uri is for owner Uri Jeremias, while the Buri is for fish. Uri Buri is located on a spot in Akko overlooking the Mediterranean and inside of a stone Ottoman-era building. It serves fresh fish and creative seafood dishes along with over 100 different kinds of fine Israeli wine. While in this part of the country visit also Mount Carmel and Caesarea who are right on the doorstep of Haifa.
Make sure that your Israel journey includes the trip to the Dead Sea where you can take some time to relax in the muds and float in these special waters which have puzzled mankind for thousands of years. Remember – The Dead Sea is a bizarre natural wonder where you can’t sink.
And just to mention the unforgettable tours in the Negev Desert that will take you far from the beaten track, into the depths of this magical landscape which is full of the unexpected. Life time memories will be created during a hike in Timna Park and the Red Canyon, two of the region’s most beautiful areas or on a Jeep tour through the sand dunes including the stargaze experience in the clear night sky.
After two thousand years, the sacrifice made on Masada remains a heartfelt reminder of the commitment and exorbitant cost freedom often requires.