If Israel isn’t already on your list of places to see, then it needs to be put on immediately. Over four trips, I’ve spent a total of 10 months in this tiny country, and I keep discovering new and amazing things that make me love Israel even more. From the rich history of Jerusalem to the night life in Tel Aviv, you will definitely not be bored! Here are just a few of my favorite things about Israel. Click here to see all of my individual posts from my most recent trip (September 2014–February 2015)!
The Dead Sea
The lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea is located about a two-hour drive from Jerusalem. In Hebrew, its name is “Yam HaMelach,” which literally means “The Salty Sea,” due to its extreme saltiness. A trip to the Dead Sea is on almost every single basic tour to Israel, but if you’re heading to the Holy Land alone, make this a definite stop. Because it’s so salty, you can easily float on top of the water (just be careful not to get any water in your eyes!). The rich minerals make your skin feel silky soft, and the mud (used to make many beauty products in Israel – ever heard of Ahava?) will leave you feeling even more radiant. Click here to read about my most recent experience at the Dead Sea!
The Old City of Jerusalem
While I wouldn’t choose to live in Jerusalem, the Old City of Jerusalem has always had a soft spot in my heart. If you are part of any of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, or Islam), there is a lot of meaning packed into this walled city. The Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchur, the Dome of the Rock–really, something meaningful for everyone. One of those places that every tour group stops at, I think you’ll just have to go and experience the city for yourself to feel its magic.
Mahane Yehuda Shuk (Jerusalem)
While we’re on the topic of Jerusalem, my next must see is in the new city: the Mahane Yehuda Shuk. Bustling with probably thousands of Israelis every day, there is a reason this place is always packed. From the freshly fried falafel balls, to the sweet halva, there is nothing you can’t find here. My personal favorite is the chocolate rugelach from a store called Marzipan–unbelievable. Once again, this is a pretty popular stop on a tour. Click here to read about my full day in Jerusalem!
Tulip Winery (Kfar Tikvah)
On to the more hidden gems that I’ve come to know and love, my favorite winery in Israel is Tulip Winery, located right outside of Zikhron Yaakov in the small town of Kfar Tikvah. Although the wines at Tulip are incredible, the reason I love this winery so much is because of the story. Kfar Tikvah, which means Village of Hope, is home to 200 adults with developmental and emotional disabilities. The residents spend their workdays contributing to not just their own community but to Israel as a whole as well, working at the winery itself, or at other onsite locations such as the candle factory and craft workshops. The story was so touching that I had to put this on my list. Looking to buy some of their wines? Check out my favorite U.S. wine retailer, D-Cantor.com, which features many of their wines!
Na Laga’at’s “Blackout” (Jaffa)
Another place that I love for its meaning as much as its food, Na Laga’at’s “Blackout” Restaurant in Jaffa is an experience you won’t soon forget. The center itself is a unique, nonprofit center of culture and arts, but most unique of all is that it is a meeting place for deaf, blind, deaf-blind and the general public. While Na Laga’at offers many interesting events and performances, it’s probably most well-known for its restaurant, where you have a “dining in the dark” experience. Not just that, but your servers are very visually impaired or completely blind. The food was good, but again, it is all about the experience. I was very impressed that I didn’t spill food on myself or get water all over the table by missing my glass! A must go-to if you’re looking for interesting things to do in Israel.
HaTachana (Tel Aviv/Jaffa)
HaTachana means “The Station,” and it refers to the old train station in South Tel Aviv (close to Jaffa). This place is home to lots of great restaurants, fun shops, and hosts many cool events (I attended a wine tasting event with over 20 wineries giving out samples–oh yes!). I explored this fun little area quite a few times on my most recent Israel adventure, and I definitely suggest everyone check it out! Vicky Cristina is my restaurant of choice.
The Namal (Tel Aviv)
My favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Tel Aviv is walking along the Namal, meaning “Port” in English. Home to many delicious restaurants and shops, I’ve had so many great memories exploring this perfect people-watching spot. From Max Brenner (the chocolate restaurant), to Mul Yam (an amazing seafood restaurant), to quirky stores, this just has to be on your list!
Messa (Tel Aviv)
The best meal I had in Tel Aviv was at the restaurant Messa. This upscale place has dozens of decadent dishes, from homemade creamy burrata, to foie gras and sweetbreads. Make sure to ask their very knowledeageble sommelier for a pairing suggestion from their extensive wine list. A must for foodies!
See anything you like? Or maybe something you would like to add? Let me know in the comments or submit it on my contact page!
-Girl Traveling the World 🙂