“Israel has its attractions. It’s the most dramatic country in the world. Everybody’s engaged. Everybody argues. When I leave Israel, I get a little bit bored, you know?” – Shimon Peres
If you want to see the country which will invigorate, inspire, amaze and surprise you, go to Israel. We found Israelis being energetic, outgoing, and happy people.
In Tel Aviv, you will see high-rise buildings occupied by high tech companies. Many tree-lined boulevards have small playgrounds for kids. The streets are spotless. The shops and restaurants offer a large selection of goods and international foods.
There are lots of restaurants and cafes where people enjoy a good meal and a friendly conversation. Residents of all ages walk, jog, ride bicycles and roller skate on the Tel Aviv waterfront.
The highlight of Jerusalem is the Old City. Walk through one of the ancient gates, follow the signs, and you will arrive at the Western Wall. Observe the religious Jews praying in front of the Wall. The area is divided by the low fence into the men’s and women’s sections.
After a short walk from the Western Wall, you can visit The Church of Sepulchre which is shared by the Armenian, Catholic, Coptic, Ethiopian, Greek Orthodox, and Syrian Orthodox churches. It is usually very crowded. Be patient if you want to see all the sacred objects preserved inside.
It is fun to go through the narrow winding streets of the Old City. There are many helpful signs for tourists with the arrows pointing to the sights of interest. Don’t ignore these signs or you will get lost.
We walked on our own on the first day of our stay in Jerusalem and enjoyed the Old City tremendously. The very next day we joined the walking tour of the Old City provided by our guide and learned many interesting facts about it.
It is also fun to see the modern part of Jerusalem. Walk from centuries-old Jaffa Gate to the Mahane Yehuda Market. You will pass the contemporary pedestrian area. Visit the boutique shops and art galleries lining up both sides of the street. There is a large choice of international restaurants too.
After you reach the Mahane Yehuda Market, you can shop with the locals for fruits, sweets, snacks, and spices. In a small spice shop, we bought hyssop, the favorite herb in Israel since ancient times.
On the river Jordan, you can see the Christian pilgrims been baptized once more. Anyone could join them. We saw many groups from the US that came to this holy area with their own pastors. After a dip in the river Jordan, the pilgrims looked joyful despite the cold, drizzly weather we had that day. Coming from warm Florida, we didn’t dare to follow their example.
The Sea of Galilee is another fascinating area that you must visit. Technically, it is the largest lake in Israel and not a sea at all. If you look across the vast expanse of water, it is possible to see the hills on the opposite shore.
A short drive (about an hour) from the Sea of Galilee, and you stand on the top of the Golan Heights. Look east to see Syria.
The food in Israel deserves a separate chapter. It is incredibly fresh, tasty and healthy. If you ever wanted to go on the Mediterranean diet, Israel’s food will be the best cuisine to follow.
What to see in Israel (top trips & tours)
Jerusalem – the city of tradition, religion, and history
The Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth
Masada – ancient stone fortress located above the Dead Sea
Sea of Galilee – full-day Christian Tour of Galilee
Caesarea – ancient Herodian port city on Mediterranean Coast
Where to sleep in Israel
(select accommodation from the best hotel booking sites)
- HotelsCombined.com (Compare all the top travel sites in one simple search)
- Trivago.com (Find your ideal hotel and compare prices from different websites)
- Booking.com (Over 2,119,000 hotels online. Hostels. Apartments. Motels)
- Priceline.com (Find a lower price, you’ll get a refund 100% of the difference)
- Hotels.com (Book now, pay when you stay)
- Travelocity.com (The price match guarantee. Free changes & cancellations)
- Expedia.com (Sign up for member prices and you could save 10% or more)
- Agoda.com (Guaranteed lowest price on hotels, resorts,
hostels, homes & more)
- HostelWorld.com (Stay in a hostel and meet the real world, not the tourist brochure)
Book your flight to Israel
Best time to visit Israel
Best time to visit Israel – spring (April, May) and autumn (September, October). During these periods, it’s not hot; temperatures are pleasantly mild.
We were surprised by how expensive Israel was. Make sure to plan your budget in advance, especially if you plan to eat and drink out a lot. When we checked the prices for the hotels, we couldn’t find anything cheaper than $130 for a modest room. Even the youth hostels were charging high fees.
We ended up buying a group tour at a reasonable price. It included flights, hotels, sightseeing, and almost half of the meals.
When we had to eat on our own, we stopped at the falafel and shawarma stands for an inexpensive and delicious snack or lunch. In Jerusalem, we went to a nearby supermarket to buy some food for dinner. Near Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem, we had a wonderful meal at the Kurdish restaurant. The soups there were delicious and cheap.