Israel is a destination like no other. Apart from being a small but powerful country, it’s packed with tourist attractions to keep any traveler busy. Among the best places to visit in Israel, you will find exciting cities with a thriving nightlife, religious sites important for the three major monotheistic religions, desert landscapes, diving sites, and even great local wine.
The Best Places To Visit in Israel
Despite its small territory, there are a lot of amazing and cool attractions in Israel for every type of traveler. Here I will show you some of the must-see places in Israel that you should include in your trip. I’m sure that among the Israel tourist spots below, you will find at least a handful of places that ticks your fancy.
Tel Aviv – The Most Vibrant City in Israel
by Tal Bright of Bright Nomad
It’s no wonder that Tel Aviv is one of the best places to visit in Israel. The city has a lot going for it. It’s a super vibrant city with good weather all year round that’s very easy to fall in love with. Being the largest city, it is one of those must-see places in Israel.
It’s a relatively small city in size, but it feels like a much bigger city because there’s so much going on.
Tel Aviv is famous for its fantastic nightlife: you can go out any night of the week and there’s always a good range of things to do, from parties to concerts to just hanging out in bars, and everything is open late.
It is even more famous for its beaches that are perfect for an active holiday if you like water sports, but also for lying in the sun, relaxing and enjoying the sea breeze.
In the past decade or so, Tel Aviv has transformed itself into a foodie paradise with a rich restaurant and coffee culture.
If it’s your first time in Tel Aviv, you’ll notice that English is spoken by just about everyone, making it an even more welcoming place for tourists.
Some of the places not to be missed when you visit Tel Aviv are the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, an impressive building with a beautiful art collection; HaYarkon Park, the largest green space in the city; and Tel Aviv’s unique food markets, especially the Lewinsky Spice Market and the Carmel Market in the city center.
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Eilat – One of The Must-See Places in Israel
By Sanne Wesselman of Spend Life Traveling
Eilat is the southernmost town in Israel, isolated from the rest of the country by the Negev desert.
Eilat feels different from the rest of Israel, far removed from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It’s a coastal resort on the Red Sea, located between the borders of Egypt and Jordan, with beautiful views of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Eilat boasts beautiful beaches, lively bars, restaurants, shops, great water sports, and an impressive coral reef.
But, Eilat being on the edge of the desert means you also have easy access to desert activities such as jeep tours and camel safaris. And, you can even take a trip to Petra from here.
There are two distinct beach areas in Eilat, which are both worth visiting. The 2-kilometer (1.2 miles) North Beach area is lively and full of hotels. The Tayelet promenade runs along the beachfront and hosts numerous stalls, street artists, restaurants, and shops. The promenade has great views of the bay, and especially in the evening, you’ll find it full of strolling tourists.
The southern beach is much more unspoiled, has beautiful coral reefs, and is protected by the Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve, to make sure these reefs remain in good shape. If you’re into scuba diving this is a great place for diving, but otherwise snorkeling above the reef is absolutely beautiful as well!
Eilat is popular with both Israelis as an easy holiday getaway, and with European sun-seekers especially during the winter months.
By Rasika of Bae Area and Beyond
Located in southern Israel, Timna Park is a desert park with a rich history and many attractions to do in the park. This 15,000-acre park is attractive with its deep cliffs around the horseshoe-shaped Timna Valley and its historic mineshafts.
The biggest attraction here is Mount Timna, the world’s first copper mine. In the park, you’ll see copper mining remains as this place is copious with copper ore and has been an important mining site since around 5000 BC.
So what makes Timna Park special? Apart from its gorgeous landscape, the park conducts various tours from daytime to nighttime. Through these tours, you’ll learn the archeology and geology of Timna Park. During the day, check out the 12 Tribes tour or the Sunset Walk tour and during the night, book the Lantern tour or the Star tour to admire its beauty at night.
Timna Park is a great place for kids with tons of hiking trails of different intensity levels spread out throughout the park. Visit the visitor center to learn more about the trails.
You can also rent bicycles to ride around the park. If you’re a pro rock climber, try out one of the 85 rock climbing routes. Plus there is Lake Timna at the center of this desert park where you can go pedal boating on boats shaped as white swans or pink flamingos.
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Caesarea National Park
By Or of My Path in the World
A mix of nature and history, the coastal Caesarea National Park is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in Israel.
The park is basically one huge archeological site, located off the coast of the Mediterranean, right between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It is where you can see the remains of an ancient thriving port city built by Herod the Great, the Roman king who ruled Judea more than 2000 years ago.
There are quite a few visit-worthy spots in the park, so be sure to get a map at the entrance. From the Roman Theater (which today hosts music concerts) and the Hippodrome to the Reef Palace and beautiful mosaics, you’ll find plenty of points of interest that will fill up your itinerary.
If you love to dive, it’s worth knowing that the park is also home to the only underwater museum in the world, where you can see even more of the remains of the ancient city.
The park is open every day and costs 39 NIS (about 12 USD) to visit, but you need to reserve your spot as daily visits are limited. Near the entrance, you’ll also find a few shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Even if you don’t plan to go to other places in the north of the country, it’s worth making a detour to see Caesarea, which is one of the most important places to visit in Israel.
Jerusalem – Top Places To Visit in Israel
by Alanna from Periodic Adventures
Jerusalem is one of the most ancient cities in the Middle East and the world with a history dating back over 5,000 years. That alone already makes it one of the top places to visit in Israel. Located in the middle of the country, Jerusalem was first occupied by nomadic shepherds and was slowly built into a major city that has significant religious ties to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Throughout its history, Jerusalem has been raided, destroyed, captured, and attacked many times, but now it stands as a highly populated city that sees many visitors each year.
When visiting Jerusalem, be sure to visit Old Jerusalem, which has historical buildings, mosaics, trees, and descriptive signs to help you learn about the city.
Nearby is the Western Wall where, if desired, you can write and place a prayer into the wall. Note that appropriate attire is required and the Wall is separated into men’s and women’s sections.
Beyond the Western Wall is the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine with beautiful blue mosaics and a gold paneled roof that is one of the top landmarks and best places to visit in Jerusalem.
Visit Yad Vashem, the incredibly well-curated Holocaust Remembrance Center and Museum. The exhibits and architecture are striking and the memorials are a somber, yet beautiful tribute to all who were killed, as well as their future generations that were robbed from existence.
Lastly, don’t miss Mahane Yehuda Market where you can shop for local foods, tea, spices, and try one of the many restaurants. The best spot is Marzipan Bakery where you have to try the rugelach, one of Israel’s best foods! So delicious!
Mount of Olives
By Sarah Wilson of Life Part 2 and Beyond
The Mount of Olives is a small mountain located close to the old city of Jerusalem. It was named after the olive groves that once grew here. For over 3000 years, the mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery and bears more than 150,000 gravesites.
The Mount of Olives is also a popular pilgrimage site for Christians. The site is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments as the spot where Jesus prayed before his crucifixion and ascended to Heaven. But you don’t need to follow religion to enjoy the walk from the top of the mount to Old Jerusalem.
The view from the top overlooking the old city and Temple Mount is spectacular. And as you make your way down the hill, there are many fascinating sites to visit – from the Chapel of the Ascension where there’s a stone imprinted with Jesus’ footprints to the stunning Russian Orthodox Church – the Church of St Mary Magdalene.
See plaques of the Lord’s Prayer written in more than 170 different languages at the Church of the Pater Noster. Enter the private garden next door, where beneath the ground lie the tombs of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah in a dark cave.
Follow the crowds as you walk down to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus is said to have gone with his disciples to pray. Admire the mosaics at the Church of all Nations before descending to visit the tomb of the Virgin Mary. It’s a fascinating walk steeped in history. Allow at least two hours to complete and see for yourself why it is one of the most popular places to visit in Jerusalem.
By Cecily of Groovy Mashed Potatoes
In the outskirts of Jerusalem, you will find Ein Karem, an ancient village famed for its holy sites such as Mary’s Spring, the Church of the Visitation, and the Church of St. John the Baptist. In fact, it’s known as the birthplace of St. John himself.
You don’t want to miss adding this hidden gem to your Israel itinerary. The hillside village is known as one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Jerusalem, although it’s often overlooked by tourists.
After visiting Jerusalem’s busy city center, make your way to the scenic neighborhood for a peaceful nature escape. Stay at the luxurious Alegra Boutique Hotel, a design-led hotel in an 1850s Arabesque building that is nestled in the hills. Enjoy a massage at their intimate spa and unwind at the pool and sauna.
There are many unique things to do in Ein Karem other than visiting its prominent holy sites. The charming village is also known for its music, art, and culinary scene. Walk through the tiny streets to discover art galleries, eateries, and shops. For music, check out the Eden-Tamir Music Centre for live concerts.
To get to Ein Karem from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, it’s about a 20-minute taxi or 30-minute transit. For transit, take Bus 39 to the Yaffe Nof Light Rail Station and then Bus 28 to En Kerem/KaMa’ayan.
James Ian from Travel Collecting
Masada, which literally means “fortress” in Hebrew, is a UNESCO World Heritage Center fortress perched atop a 400-meter high mesa in the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Today, it is mostly ruins, but one of the most interesting – and popular – places in Israel to visit.
Its history is fascinating. King Herod The Great built a fortress with two palaces there in 31CE, with a wall surrounding the entire plateau.
Masada is perhaps most famous, however, for a legendary siege by the Romans in 73CE. They built an enormous ramp from the desert floor to the top of the plateau and ten used a battering ramp to breach the fortress walls. When they entered, they discovered that the entire place was ablaze and all 960 Jewish residents had committed mass suicide to avoid capture. Although this account has been called into question by modern historians, it makes a great story.
Masada is open daily. It’s a 1.5-hour drive from Jerusalem or a 2-hour drive from Tel Aviv. On arrival, there are three ways to get to the top of the plateau. The easiest is to take a cable car. However, if you prefer to hike, you can take the easier assault ramp or the winding snake path.
Once there, places to visit include the northern and western palaces, the bathhouse, synagogue, and Byzantine church. Don’t miss the interesting on-site museum. In peak season (March-October), there is a sound and light show on Tuesday and Thursday that is worth seeing.
Zichron Yaakov, One of The Beautiful Places in Israel
By Dave from Silverbackpacker
The historic small town of Zikhron Ya’akov (meaning In Memory of Jacob), lies midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It was founded in December 1882 by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and named after his father. Jewish pioneers from Moldova were the first inhabitants of “Zichron” as it is now affectionately known.
As one of the most beautiful places in Israel, the town attracts many tourists to its picturesque setting and historical center. The main street (Derek Hayayin) was restored in the 1990s to reflect its original French-influenced architecture and is full of cafes, boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
Zichron is a good place to visit for all the family. Some interesting landmarks to explore are the Ohel Ya’akov Synagogue opened in 1886 and has conducted daily prayer services continuously to this day.
The first winery in Israel, Carmel-Mizrahi Winery, was established there in 1885 and still produces wine today. There are daily tours where you can enjoy some wine tasting too.
Ganei HaNadiv (Ramat HaNadiv) whose gardens have an abundance of stunning vegetation, rest areas, and picnic areas. Suitable for a trip with children. There are spectacular views of mountains in the east and on the west views to the sea. The gardens are a memorial site to Baron Edmund de Rothschild and his wife, whose remains were brought to Israel in 1954.
Tut Neyar, a paper mill making handmade paper. You can even participate in one of the galleries’ paper-making workshops.
Beit Aharonson or NILI Museum was the base for a First World War spy ring. The museum is well worth a visit.
Zichron Yaacov still retains the same charm it had 140 years ago despite an increased population. The best time to visit is during weekdays as weekends do tend to become busy with a large influx of visitors to the town.
By Victoria Heinz of Guide Your Travel
Haifa is a port city in the north of Israel, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Tel-Aviv. Considered one of the best cities to visit in Israel, it is known for its perfectly landscaped Hanging Gardens of Baha’i and the Shrine of the Bab with its golden dome in its center.
At the foot of the Hanging Gardens is the German Colony with many stores, pubs, and restaurants in 19th-century buildings. The cable car in Haifa is the best way to go up the steep hill to the Carmelite monastery Stella Maris and admire the panoramic view of the city at the same time.
The monastery, built in 1836, cannot be visited, but a viewing platform highlights photographers at the top of the hill. In Haifa, there are two main beaches that invite you to whine. Bat Galim Beach is especially popular with windsurfers or kiteboarders. Also, for not-so-experienced water sports fans, courses and equipment are offered.
At Hof HaCarmel beach, you will find many families spending a relaxing day with their children. Umbrellas and sunbeds are available for rent at both beaches for a small fee. You should also not miss exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site Beit Shearim. Most of the excavated ruins date back to the 2nd century BC. It is located about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) outside Haifa but is easily accessible by car or cab.
Akko, One of The Most Beautiful Places in Israel
By Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Akko is a picturesque coastal city situated 90 minutes drive north of Tel Aviv and is one of the most beautiful places in Israel. The city of Akko is famous for its rich heritage and interesting history dating back all the way to the Early Bronze Age with significant influences from the Romans, Ottomans, Crusaders, and the British.
History enthusiasts will be delighted to explore Akko’s old town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll along the city walls, take in some fantastic views over the Mediterranean Sea, and watch the local fishermen going about their daily life. Don’t forget to see the famous spot where the local kids jump into the sea.
You can also take a boat tour to see the city from a different perspective. Follow the underground secret templar tunnel built during the Crusades. It connects the fortress and leads to the beach.
A visit to Akko would not be complete without exploring the Old Bazar that is teaming with life, colors, and scents of different foods. Try some local food, including the yummy hummus with warm pitta bread at the famous Hummus Said and various homemade treats! And to end the day well, gorge on fresh seafood in one of the local restaurants.
By Jonny of Guide To Castles
Nimrod Castle is one of the oldest fortresses in Israel and is scenically located by Mount Hermon with views onto the spectacular Golan Heights.
It was a very strategically placed castle of the Crusades time period, although it was not a Crusaders castle, as it guarded an important route from the west to Damascus. In fact, it is the largest castle in Israel from medieval times.
Today it’s in a ruined state as after being abandoned during the 16th-century it fell into disrepair. However, some reconstruction work has been done and when visiting you can see those areas as well as other excavated places.
The history and architecture of the castle make it worth a visit but the location also makes it a great place for a walk and to enjoy the surrounding nature. Banias forest is just below the castle and has rivers and waterfalls to explore.
You can drive nearby to the castle and then walk up from the main road. Plan at least a half-day trip to enjoy the castle and the forest. This is one of the more remote and beautiful parts of Israel to visit. Bring a picnic and drinks to enjoy by the castle or in the forest area when there.
The Dead Sea
By Haley of Haley Blackall Travels
Running north to south between the Jordan and Israel border is the Dead Sea. This lake is the lower point on earth and is surrounded by the expansive Negev Desert. It’s one of the most popular and best places to visit in Israel, receiving millions of tourists every year.
Named after the Hebrew word Yam Ha-Melakh, meaning the Sea of Salt, the Dead Sea boasts high salt levels, known to have many healing and medicinal properties. Due to the salty waters, fish and marine life cannot survive, resulting in its name, the Dead Sea.
Originally a long bay of the Mediterranean Sea, the Dead Sea was formed by lifts in the tectonic plates to the west about 3 million years ago, separating the lake from the Mediterranean.
Due to its popularity with locals and foreigners alike, the Dead Sea is visited year-round for a very special experience. Applying a body mask with the mineral mud of the lake is considered healing. Because of salt content is so high, visitors can also float very easily in its waters.
Beaches, such as Ein Gedi Beach line the coastline with resorts and hotels on offer for relaxing stays. If adventure is more to your liking, climb the hill or take the cable car to the ancient fortress and UNESCO world heritage site, Masada. Here you will find epic views of the Dead Sea at sunrise.
Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
by Shelley of Travel To Merida
For anyone planning to visit Jerusalem, Masada or the Dead Sea, don’t pass up the chance to stop at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve in the city of Ein Gedi, Israel. This is one of the most visited and most beautiful natural places in all of Israel.
Ein Gedi, which means “spirit of the kid,” is a picturesque desert oasis, complete with waterfalls, hiking trails, botanical gardens, and more. It is very popular with locals, especially on weekends, and definitely one of the best kept secrets for visitors.
Among the best things to do in Ein Gedi, you won’t want to miss the Dry Fall Window, which offers a nice view to the Dead Sea from the inside of a slot canyon. The David Waterfall is another nice spot to relax, though the water is often quite cold to swim in, but you can get in if you’d like.
The Ein Gedi Kibbutz keeps up with the botanical gardens, so they are always worth visiting to see the beautiful desert flowers and plants. The hiking trails are divided into the Upper Section and Lower Section, and if you head to the upper part, you’ll probably see some of the Nubian Ibex herd that call Ein Gedi home.
After visiting the park, you can head to the Ein Gedi Spa and Hot Springs and Ein Gedi Beach. Both are located not far from the nature reserve, as well as the Qumran Caves in Qumran National Park.