Reasons Why You Should Visit Israel at Least Once in Your Lifetime

Golden sands and cool beachside cafes are just some of the reasons Tel Aviv is worth visiting
Golden sands and cool beachside cafes are just some of the reasons Tel Aviv is worth visiting | © Zoonar GmbH / Alamy
Photo of Ben Jakob
13 October 2021

With dramatic landscapes, countless historic sites and the coolest city in the region, Israel presents a world-class tourism destination. Here are the top reasons to visit at least once.

Itching to explore? Join Culture Trip on our expertly curated seven-day trip to Israel. You’ll join our Local Insider who will show you the highlights of the country, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea.

The amazing beaches

From the shores of Tel Aviv to the cliffs of Acre in the north, almost all of the Israeli coastline is stunning and easily accessible. With fresh fish to eat and countless places from which to enjoy the sunset, the beaches of Israel are one of its most inviting features.

Tel Aviv beach stretches for miles along the whole western edge of the city | © Nick Brundle / Alamy

Rich history

From the Bible to the Crusaders to the Ottoman Empire, the land on which modern-day Israel was founded has seen it all. Jerusalem, Jaffa and Lod are among the oldest cities in the world and visiting Israel allows you to tour sites as old as history itself. With everything from Roman ruins to Amish-like German Templar villages, Israel offers history within the comforts of the modern world.

Holy Jerusalem

Holy to three monotheistic faiths, Jerusalem is a city like no other – and you can visit with Culture Trip on our action-packed seven-day Israel adventure, led by our Local Insider. The cobbled streets here have seen some of the most momentous events in history. Its Old City is a melting pot of faiths and ethnicities, a nest of coexistence and a city with something for everyone, with everything from religious sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the cool Mahne Yehuda market.

Orthodox Christian pilgrims commemorate the path Jesus took to his crucifixion along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem | © Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock

Tel Aviv

With a booming foodie scene, vibrant nightlife and enough style to make you reassess your fashion choices, Tel Aviv is one of the coolest cities in the Middle East, if not the world. From great restaurants to amazing architecture, the cultural capital of Israel is everything you’d expect from a Western capital with plenty of Middle Eastern flair. Explore the city by bike and sample delicious street food as part of our specially curated small-group Israel tour.

Tel Aviv has a vibrant cafe culture | Courtesy

The food

From amazing street food, such falafel or sabich, to great local eats, including hummus or shakshuka, and the finest fine-dining imaginable — Israel has it all. Both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv offer countless amazing places to eat. Head to any Arab town to try basbousa or any other super-sweet Arabic desserts, while in the Old City of Acre you can enjoy fresh fish.

Santa Katarina in Tel Aviv has a menu that revolves around the ancient stone oven | ©,courtesy of Santa Katarina

The amazing local culture

From an artisan market in Tel Aviv to live shows on the streets of Jerusalem or a one-of-a-kind international design museum, the vibrant cultural scene in Israel caters to all visitors. Tel Aviv has a fashion week, which joins numerous film festivals and cultural events throughout the city. Whether it’s dance or street art you’re after, Israel has it all.

Pick up arts and crafts at the weekly fair at the Greek Market in Jaffa | © PhotoStock-Israel / Alamy

Israeli hospitality

Old or young, religious or secular, your average Israeli is kind and will help out with whatever you need, always ready with a recommendation.

The people of Israel will provide a warm welcome | © Israel by Blake-Ezra Cole / Alamy

The diverse landscapes

Like the food and the people, Israel is also extremely geographically diverse. In the south you have the Negev Desert and the barren Arava, home to the Dead Sea, which ends in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat.

Timna National Park, in the Negev Desert, offers dramatic landscapes | © Wojtkowski Cezary / Alamy

In Jerusalem, there is greenery and mountains, while Tel Aviv is more of a humid beach city. In the north, the Golan Heights offer skiing and in between the two sit the Galilee and Carmel mountains with their picturesque forests.

Hermon Mountain offers quality skiing opportunities | © Yagil Henkin - Images of Israel / Alamy

You can see it all in a day

From the Red Sea resort town of Eilat on the southernmost tip to Metula in the mountainous snow-capped Golan Heights, it is possible to travel the length of Israel in just six hours. So even if you only have a day, a trip to Israel could still be on the cards.

The Red Sea resort town of Eilat sits in the south of Israel | © Aliaksandr Mazurkevich / Alamy

To visit the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth

One site stands out above all others in Israel: the Dead Sea. The lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea is probably the most spiritual place a secular person can visit. The vast emptiness of its salt beds and the arid mountains can have a profound effect. The mud baths are also supposed to do wonders for your skin and are said to having healing powers.

Rich in sulphur, the water of the Dead Sea is believed to be beneficial in the treatment of diseases and allergies | © Rafael Ben-Ari / Alamy

This is where Jesus walked

The area now called Israel is the cradle of all three main monotheistic faiths. Pilgrims from across the world flock here and for Christians this is especially enticing as everything from Bethlehem in the West Bank to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee in the north (where Christians believe Jesus walked on the water) are all easily accessible areas. In Jerusalem, you can even follow Jesus’s last steps by walking the Via Dolorosa.

You can follow the last steps of Jesus by taking the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem | © Holy Land Travel / Alamy

The Hanging Gardens of Haifa

Among the smaller and lesser-known faiths in Israel is the Bahá’í. Followers of this religion also call Israel home and the country is the location for all their holy sites, the most splendid of which is the Terraces of the Bahá’í Faith, or the Hanging Gardens of Haifa. An aesthetic feast overlooking Haifa beach, the gardens are a must-see and offer a great chance to learn about this secretive religion.

The Hanging Gardens of Haifa is a great place to learn more about the Bahá’í faith | © Jui-Chi Chan / Alamy

It’s the only country where Hebrew is spoken

You may not understand much of it, but Israel is the only country where Hebrew is spoken as an actual living language. This is pretty amazing as the language was dormant and out of non-religious use for almost 2,000 years. In the past century, wise Israelis have toiled to create new words for everything from television and the internet to mundane modern words that are nonetheless essential.

Tel Aviv is the LGBTQ capital

Tel Aviv serves as the Middle East’s unofficial LGBTQ capital, a drawcard for people from across the nation. One of the most famous Israeli singers, Dana International, is a transgender woman who has represented Israel in official competitions, evening winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998.

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