There are literally hundreds of great places to visit when traveling to Israel. Israel is one of the most amazing places, rich with history, ancient or modern, and rich with culture. But narrowing down where to visit is a hard thing to do. Here are the 10 best places to visit when traveling to Israel.
Tel Aviv is an exciting, new and historic city. Closest to the airport, Tel Aviv should not be looked over and deserves at least a couple of days. Spend the day shopping and going to different cafes. The shopping that cannot be missed are Carmel Market, Sarona Market, Nachlat Binyamin Pedestrian Mall, and the Jaffa Flea Market, There are many museums, the historical Old Jaffa Port, the UNESCO Bauhaus movement buildings and historical sights related to the start of the State of Israel. The biggest draw of Tel Aviv is the beach by far is the beach, which is one best beaches in the world.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and birthplace of three major religions, just sights related to religion could keep you busy for days in Old Jerusalem. The modern city of Jerusalem has just as many sights. Things that can't be missed is the Old City of Jerusalem which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The modern city has Mount of Olives, Yad Vashem the holocaust memorial and museum, the Israel Museum where the Dead Sea Scrolls are located and the Mahane Yehuda Market. Every place you look at in Jerusalem is historic. They can't build anything in Jerusalem with out calling an archeologist!
The Dead Sea
Most people visit the Dead Sea on a day trip from Jerusalem but I recommend spending the night in the resort town of Ein Bokek. Not only is the obligatory float in the Dead Sea a necessity, but there are many ancient historic sights that line the Dead Sea. The ancient ruins of Masada are a must as well as going to Qumran and hiking up to the caves where the Dad Sea Scrolls were found.
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee or the Kinneret, is mostly associated with the life and times of Jesus but also has a rich Jewish history. One of the most interesting sights is the Kibbutz Ginosar where they have a boat from the time of Jesus that was preserved in the mud and found in 1986. The story about how they preserved is pretty amazing. The Jesus sights are numerous and wonderful and a visit the baptism site on the River Jordan at Yardenit is amazing to see. The city of Tiberias is a great base in the area and is one of the four holy cities in Israel for Judaism and the burial place of many Jewish sages.
Israel's wine country is also an area of disputed territory. Taken from Syria after a Syrian attack Israel in the Six-Day-War, the Golan Heights was annexed as a buffer zone from Syria's attacks. It was settled by Israel and is beautiful country with wineries. I recommend visiting the Golan Heights Winery. There is a travel warning from the US State Department due to security issues with it being on the boarder of Syria, if you are concerned about security, there are tours to the Golan Heights from both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Acre or Akko is only twenty minutes away from Haifa and 1,000 years ago was the capital of the crusaders. What they left behind is the old city of Acre. It is a mixed city of Jews and Muslims and has a fun market that runs in the middle of the old city. The walls that surround the city originate from the crusades and there is a crusade city with underground tunnels. The city of Acre is unique in Israel is a must see sight in Israel.
It is important to remember that Israel is a very small country because the next one is off the beaten path. Tzfat is a beautiful mountain top city in the North of Israel. It is the home of Kabbalah, and has a mix of Hasidic Jews, artists and and Jews looking for a mystical life. It is a wonderful place to stroll around the old city where artist display and sell their work. This beautiful place has some of the most wonderful galleries with the artist displaying their own work.
Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and the largest city in the north. It is a sea port and is located on the slope of Mount Carmel. The main sight in Haifa is the Baha’i Gardens. Baha’i Gardens are terraced gardens that follow the slope of the mountain. It is worth the drive from Tel Aviv just to see the gardens if you do not have time to visit Haifa.
Caesarea is an ancient ruin from the time around Jesus. It is a national park, but is a little strange. Close to Israel's only regulation golf course, the area surrounding Caearea reminds me of Boca, rather than Israel. The ancient national park is unlike any other national park in Israel, meaning it is set up for tourism more than restoring the ancient port. The amphitheater has been restored for modern concerts, and the ancient old town has been restored and holds boutiques and restaurants. The actual ruins are impressive, especially if you have an interest in biblical archeology as the apostle Paul was held at Caesarea.
Off the beaten track, the city of Beer Sheva is the capital of the Negev region of Israel and is also an easy place to visit driving back from the Dead Sea. Beer Sheva is home to a bedouin market on Thursdays and the Israeli Air force Museum is just outside of the city. The biggest draw in Beer Sheva is Tel Be'er Sheba which is an ancient ruin from biblical times. Known as Beersheba in the Old Testament and mentioned 33 times in the Bible, this is one of the better ancient ruins to visit.