I’m retired now, but still active. And I’m using the opportunity of an “empty nest” to engage in some far-flung adventures and become a “world traveler.” Most recently, I toured the land of Israel – something I’ve been wanting to do for decades!
If you are considering a trip to the Holy Land as well, I can give you a few initial pieces of advice and then recommend what I consider the top 5 Israeli tourist stops.
And third, be willing to strike out on your own and create your own itinerary rather than just stick with the pre-set tour schemes like so many of the other 3 million annual tourists do. It makes it a much bigger adventure and lets you prioritize the sites you want to see most!
Stop One: Jerusalem
“Next year in Jerusalem” was the annual Passover prayer of the Jewish people for some 1,800 years; and this city has long been a pilgrimage point for followers of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths.
Holy sites huddled around the Temple Mount area in the Old City, such as the Wailing Wall (last remains of the temple of Solomon), the 4th-Century Church of the Holy Sepulchre (thought to be the site of Jesus’ empty tomb), and the 7th-Century Dome of the Rock (said by Muslims to be the spot Abraham offered Ishmael) are must-sees.
But also consider the Mount of Olives, walking the City Walls, exploring Hezekiah’s underground tunnel, and a visit to the Yad Vasham Museum for a somber reminder of the events of the Holocaust.
Stop Two: Tel Aviv
Don’t overlook Tel Aviv in your haste to see Jerusalem, for this largest of Israeli cities also has much to offer the tourist.
The 16 beaches that line its Mediterranean coast are the single biggest attraction, and walking the mile-long Telayet beach boardwalk is well worthwhile. Meanwhile, ancient Jaffa just south of town, the old port facility in town, and the original Tel Aviv settlement neighborhood of Neve Tzedek are of great historic interest.
And don’t neglect the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Diaspora Museum, the Palmach (military history) museum, or the many bustling markets scattered throughout the metropolis.
Stop Three: Galilee
Israel’s north is also a tourist hot spot, and for good reason. Lake Galilee, the northern reaches of the Jordan River, the ancient ruins of Bethsaida, Nazareth, and the Roman ruins at Caesarea by the sea are exciting attractions.
And the nearby Golan Heights are also full of both natural beauty and ancient historic sites of interest.
Stop Four: Port Eilat
On the south extreme of Israel is the Red Sea situated Port Eilat. From here, many go on cruises of the Gulf of Aqaba, explore the desert dunes on camel tours, scuba dive, swim, and sun themselves at area beaches, and interact with dolphins at Dolphin Reef.
Eilat is also the scene of numerous luxurious resorts, so if you’re into luxury travel, this is a must-do tourist stop!
Stop Five: Masada
Last but far from least, consider seeing the ancient Roman fortress of Masada in the wilderness of Judea near the Dead Sea. You can ascend the plateau on which it sits by foot or by cable car, and there’s a museum inside to peruse.
In the same area, many float in the salty Dead Sea or mask themselves with its therapeutic mud. And desert oases like the famed En Gedi also deserve a place on your list.
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