The Top Things to Do in Israel on Vacation

If you’re fascinated by ancient and religious history, enjoy eating vegetarian food, and love sunbathing, snorkeling, or surfing, you won’t have a shortage of things to do in Israel!

That’s because this piece of land boasts everything from bustling cityscapes and picturesque farmland to sand-filled deserts and Mediterranean coastlines. There are also bucket list tourist spots in Israel—think the Dead Sea, the Old City in Jerusalem, and the thousand-year-old fortress of Masada.

Read on to find out why Israel attracts over 4 million tourists annually, and start planning your Israel vacation!

Spend a Few Days in Tel Aviv

No Israel vacation would be complete without some time spent in the country’s bustling capital.

With a population of around 4 million, this Mediterranean metropolis also boasts two international airports. There are a dozen or so beaches, bazaars, eateries showcasing the best of food in Israel, craft breweries, museums, theatres, and, of course, shopping!

The city is a favorite with vegans and vegetarians. There are hundreds of veggie-focused restaurants—so much so that it’s regularly dubbed the “most vegan-friendly city in the world.”

You can also catch international entertainers performing while in Tel Aviv. Organizations like Creative Community for Peace ensure musicians, artists, and other creatives feel welcome in this vibrant country.

Sun, Sand, and Surf

Since Isreal borders the Mediterranean coastline, there’s an almost endless supply of beaches to sunbathe, swim, surf, or dive at.

The best beaches in central and northern Israel include:

  • Banana Beach for watersports
  • Frishman Beach for the pristine white sand
  • Alma Beach to avoid the crowds
  • Hilton Beach for safe family fun
  • Caesarea Aqueduct Beach boasts an ancient Roman aqueduct

If you’re heading south, check out Eilat’s beaches for the mountainous backdrop and warm weather and the Dead Sea—a bucket list item for most travelers.

Just be sure to swim only at designated beaches and learn the local beach flag system (for example, a white flag means it’s safe to get in the water).

Visit Ancient and Historical Sites

Humans have occupied the land on which Israel sits for millennia. And as such, the country is home to some of the world’s oldest and most intriguing sites. Many sites are religious—pilgrim sites for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

When it comes to ancient Israel destinations, few can compete with the Old City in Jerusalem. Walk the streets, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Visit the Western Wall and walk in the footsteps of Jesus at Via Dolorosa. If you’re brave enough, book a tour to explore the underground city—a series of ancient tunnels.

Masada is an imposing fortress that was constructed between 37 and 31 BCE. It sits atop a rugged rock plateau at the edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Get there early to watch the sunrise over the dramatic desert landscape.

If you’re keen to explore more about how people lived in ancient history, schedule a visit to Megiddo. Located at the north entrance to the Wadi Ara, this city has been occupied in one way or another since the Neolithic period. Today, you can see temple ruins, stables, and archeological artifacts (at the museum).

Get Out Into Nature

When it comes to the wilderness, Israel sightseeing is unrivaled.

The enormous Negev Desert, which covers much of southern Israel, is over 13,000 square kilometers in size. And it’s packed with natural wonders.

Visit the Florence and George Wise Observatory to learn about the stars. Head to Timna Park to admire the strange and colorful geological formations—crafted by the wind and rain from sandstone. Visit during fall to catch the hot air balloon festival or scale the cliffs of the Ramon Crater.

Another geological wonder is Rosh Hanikra, this time located in the north of Israel. This coastal area boasts a host of caves and grottoes, a cliff-face cable car ride, and hiking trails.

For those keen on discovering more about Israel’s flora and fauna, we recommend a trip to the Bahai Gardens—a uniquely terraced garden full of native plants—and Safari Park Ramat Gan—where you can see animals found in the region up close.

Explore Israel’s Underwater World

Avid scuba divers won’t be short of underwater locales to traverse in Israel. Since the country borders the Mediterranean and Red seas, you can tick off two coastlines.

Israel is warm, so dive spots here feature colorful coral reefs and sea life like nudibranchs, stingrays, starfish, and even dolphins. Eliat alone is home to over 200 coral species and more than a thousand kinds of fish! If you’re not keen to get into the water, you can still experience Israel’s fascinating underwater world at Eliat’s Underwater Observatory Marine Park.

Are you fascinated by ocean archeology? Dive submerged ancient Roman ruins and authentic shipwrecks at the Underwater Archaeological Park at Caesarea.

Peruse the Museums

Summer in Israel can reach temperatures into the high 80s.

But thankfully, if the weather’s too hot outside, this learning-obsessed country has a host of top-quality museums.

Some must-see museums include:

  • Steinhardt Museum of Natural History (Tel Aviv)
  • The Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem (Jerusalem)
  • The Tel Aviv Museum of Art
  • The Israel Museum (Jerusalem)
  • The historical Eretz Israel Museum (Ramat Aviv)
  • The world-renowned Design Museum Holon

Visit to cool off and stay out of the sun while engaging your brain.

Craft Your Bucket List of Things to Do in Israel

Whether you’re a dedicated history buff, like to hit the hiking trails, or prefer to lounge around on a perfectly manicured beach with a cocktail in hand, Israel has something for you. You can sample vegan street eats in Tel Aviv, ramble around ancient ruins in the desert, or float on your back in the salty Dead Sea. Don’t hesitate; get those flights booked today!

For more tips on things to do in Israel and other countries worldwide, browse all the articles on our website.

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