Israel is a complex country and often enough, visitors are treated to its varied politics which is inevitable no matter where you visit inside this small country. Nevertheless, the country also has much to offer its visitors, places to relax, delicious food to eat and a chance to enjoy a culture that seamlessly merges with the many different cultures within. Whether you’re here to have a relaxing time or to understand Israeli culture better, you can be rest assured that you will be a changed person by the time you return.
What’s striking about Israel is the effortless mix of the old and the new. Whether you’re in Tel Aviv or in Jerusalem, or any other city, there are historical sights that will stun you and glorious green gardens such as the Bahai Gardens in Haifa that will keep you enthralled. Religious architecture will also keep you hooked here, with views of churches and the very significant Dome of the Holy Rock. Israel’s many splendours await, so let’s take a look at what Israel tourism has on offer before we can explore it in person.
|Israel Tourism : A Quick Overview|
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To the uninitiated, it might come as a surprise to see the coexistence of the Orthodox Jews, the Muslims and the Christians in the same land. Every aspect of their lives crosses over to the others, sometimes wilfully, sometimes inadvertently. Many people come here as part of religious pilgrimages to the Western Wall or the Dome of the Holy Rock. There are various historical and biblical sites here that have continued to draw people throughout the ages. Most of these people come here to participate in religious pilgrimages but they are left stunned by the immensely diverse landscape here. There are some spectacular rock formations in the desert that are absolutely Instagram-able waterfalls, the awe-inspiring Makhtesh Ramon in Negev Desert and several such places that will keep you coming back for more. Gan HaShlosha is a beautiful national park where many people come to relax and spend some idyllic time swimming about in the natural springs. The Dead Sea itself is a huge draw. More a lake than a sea, it’s the world’s saltiest body and is considered to be among the world’s first health resorts, going all the way back to Herod the Great.
Although people might come to Israel for various reasons, being here in this unique country with its diverse landscape will make them want to explore all its aspects. There’s so much to see and do within this magnificent land. With its fantastic beaches perfectly suited for surfing to the exciting red sea reef that is just right for scuba diving, you won’t be lacking for activities to enjoy here. Since the Red Sea is counted amongst the top three locations in the world to go scuba diving with its safe warm waters, this is an experience that even beginners can partake of. Enthusiasts can even go swimming with dolphins at the Dolphin Reef in Eilat. Those who love mountains will find themselves drawn to the Mount Bental which is a dormant volcano, where you can go hiking. Apart from these, there are also extreme sports activities in Israel such as sand boarding, canyoning, windsurfing and kitesurfing, horse riding, kayaking and river rafting and even taking a ride on hot air balloons. Safe to say, no matter what you come to Israel for, you’ll surely end up enjoying what this country offers.
Israel has much to offer for shopaholics. With its diverse mix of culture and ethnicities, the shopping experience here can be quite interesting. Surely, while buying souvenirs for friends and family, you will certainly end up buying something for yourself as well. Tel Aviv’s Jaffa Flea Market for instance, is the best place to go if you want to buy authentic antiques. From vintage furniture to kilim rugs, you’ll find all sorts of delights here. There are also malls such as the Alrov Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem which is said to be one of the best shopping centres in the Israel. There’s also the Arena Mall in Herzliya which looks out to the sea. But for some really interesting things, head to the Old City Market in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter or go to the Flea Market in Haifa. Most of the markets feature products by local artisans and there’s much that will win your heart over and make you pull out your wallet gladly.
Thanks to the many diverse cultures that come together in Israel, the culinary experience is a tribute to this. Whether it’s the hearty shakshuka that’s spicy and delicious, or familiar Arabian delights such as falafel and shawarma, you’ll find yourself heartily. Leave some space for the Jachnun, a sweet pastry that’s served with boiled eggs and a tomato dip and eaten on Shabbat mornings and makes for an interesting experience. Another versatile dish that can be eaten sweet or savoury is the malawach, a sort of pancake that can be served as a wrap, with hummus or tomato or fried onions and pickles. Few people can resist the kunafa that oozes cheesy sugary goodness or the sabich, a pita that’s filled with eggs, hummus, pickles and sometimes, goat’s cheese. For an entirely traditional meal, try the cholent, a Jewish stew featuring beans, potatoes, beef, vegetables, and barley that’s simmered for 12 hours overnight! The intermingling of various cuisines works to everyone’s advantage here, as there’s something for everyone.
Israel is located near the Mediterranean Sea towards its Eastern end. It shares borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Despite being a narrow country, Israel has a range of interesting geographical features such as the Negev desert, mountain ranges and coastal plains. One of the unique geographical features of Israel are the erosion cirques, also known as makhtesh and the largest one in the world is the Ramon Crater in Negev.
The winter months from December till early spring in April are the best months to visit Israel. During the cold months, the Dead Sea is beautifully tranquil and as there are winter rains, the country turns verdant and lush. There’s a profusion of wildflowers everywhere and the weather is pleasant and wonderful.
By Air: Reaching Israel by air is the fastest and best way to travel. Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is the main airport in the country. Located a little outside the city and around 40kms from Jerusalem, the airport’s national carriers are Israir, El Air and Arkia Air. From the airport, it’s quite easy to reach the city by way of bus, train or taxi.
By Bus: One can travel from Amman to Tel Aviv by bus via the King Hussein bridge. It’s also possible to travel to Israel from Cairo by bus.
By Road: Travelling to Israel by road is filled with as many as five border crossings. There are two on the Egyptian border and three on the Jordanian border. Although there’s a border crossing across Gaza, it’s best avoided as there’s huge military presence and checking which can be quite time consuming.
By Sea: Although there are a few cruises, reaching Israel by water is not a popular choice for travel.
Israel is one of the few countries that has an ancient biblical history as well as a contemporary history, shaped by modern events. In the ancient days, it was considered the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity. In 1948, the State of Israel as it is known today, came into being. Despite being a contentious site, Israel is still a land that welcomes visitors who come here to learn more about this wonderful country.
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