Imagine hiking through the desert and exploring fascinating archeological sites, then switching it up to pulsating nightlife in Tel Aviv. Israel is a land of contrasts, seamlessly blending the ancient with the contemporary. Waiting for you are innovative cuisine, luscious wines, and new delicacies to tantalize your taste buds.
Tel Aviv – Trendiest City in the Mid-East
Tel Aviv, a city of gorgeous beaches is considered both the “vegan capital of the world” and one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world. With a booming foodie scene, vibrant nightlife, and cool things to check out, you’ll chill from morning to night. Move over NYC, Tel Aviv is also known as the “city that never sleeps.”
Lush Rothschild Boulevard beckons you to stop for a cup of coffee and a pastry while admiring 1930s Bauhaus architecture. Tote a large shopping bag when you visit the Carmel Market and fill it with fragrant spices, aromatic coffee, sweet candies, crunchy nuts, and fresh bread to take home and impress your friends.
Hang out in Old Jaffa, the ancient port city, now packed with restaurants, art galleries, and historic stone buildings. Explore the Flea Market area and discover fabulous restaurants like Puaa, a retro, eccentric restaurant.
When the sun goes down, get ready for an awesome night out with D-TLV. Hang out with your pals or meet new ones on a pub crawl through the best bars in the city. Get VIP entry into four bars/clubs without having to wait in line.
Dig the Desert
Mitzpe Ramon is located in the heart of the Negev and you can indulge in unique desert experiences like stargazing or sleeping in a Bedouin camp. Considered the largest erosion crater in the world, Mitzpe Ramon is not just one crater, it’s hundreds of moon-like craters lining the dry, desert terrain. At night, sit quietly around a fire as your guide points out the constellations and zodiac signs. If you’re lucky, you can see Saturn, rings and all, through his high-powered telescope.
Check out a Bedouin Camp, Kfar Hanokdim, a desert resort and enjoy a taste of Bedouin life, savor Turkish coffee, and ride a camel. Here, in the quiet of the desert, you’ll relax and share the moment.
The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth and the saltiest body of water in the world. You can’t actually swim in it, so just lay back, relax, and voila, you’re floating! Part of the fun is packing the mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea all over your body. Rinse off and your skin will feel soft and supple.
Masada, the ancient fortress in the Judean desert, served as a refuge for the Jewish people after the destruction of the Temple. Holding the Romans off for almost three years, the remaining zealots chose to kill each other, rather than submit to capture. Be sure to stop at the Masada Museum to watch a video and get a better understanding of its history. Climbing Masada is best done early in the morning before the heat gets too intense. Take the 1.2-mile-long Snake Path or head for the cable car. Explore remnants of the Northern Palace built by King Herod as well as ritual baths, an ancient synagogue, and a cistern.
Jerusalem, Holiest City on the Planet
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Admire the beautiful churches, and historic mosques, along with the Western Wall, the last remnant from the Second Temple, destroyed in 70 A.D. Worshippers come from across the globe to pray at this sacred site. Many write notes and place them in the crevices of the Wall, asking for answers to their prayers.
Beneath the Western Wall are the famous tunnels where excavation continues to unearth new discoveries. Take a tour and listen to an archeologist share fascinating stories of Jerusalem’s past. Then go deeper underground and be amazed by the public baths, cisterns, and artifacts that reveal mysteries from Biblical times.
Ancient times take on modern technology with the virtual-reality tour of the Second Temple at the Western Wall Plaza. Put on special goggles and all of a sudden, you’re back 2000 years with a 360-degree perspective of the Temple as it stood, filled with worshippers.
Plan to see the amazing Sound & Light Show, set against the backdrop of the Tower of David. Powerful images, original music, and video take viewers on a remarkable journey through Jewish history.
Check out the only winery in the city, Jerusalem Vintage Winery and relax over a glass of wine and cheese platter.
Recommended Hotel: American Colony has a Chicago connection, founded by the Spaffords, a religious Christian family in the 19th century. This premier boutique hotel takes you back in time with classic dining, exquisite rooms, and stunning Ottoman architecture.
Recommended Dining – Kikar Hamusica (Music Square) is a glorious place to dine with five restaurant options. Check out Andalusia, a kosher tapas restaurant with traditional Spanish cuisine and modern Israeli influence.
For an unusual way to see Jerusalem, hop on an EZ Rider, a cross between a bicycle and a golf cart. Pick up the 1 ½ hour tour at the historic First Station and ride through the neighborhoods and the Old City. Our guide, Eli told us about the history of the area as we glided through Jerusalem.
Israel is more than just a destination. Like the solid walls of Jerusalem stone, the memories and experiences will stay with you for a lifetime. Visit Israel.
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