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

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

Picture of Ben Jakob
Updated: 26 April 2017

Israel is the only country you can see in day and that caters to both devout Evangelicals and gay party seekers. Amazing nature, countless historic and religious sites, and the coolest city in the region…here are the reasons you should come to Israel at least once.

The Amazing Beaches

Israel’s most solid and constant border is its most beautiful: the Mediterranean Sea. From the shores of Tel Aviv to the cliffs of Acre in the north, almost all of Israel’s coastline is stunning and easily accessible. With fresh fish to eat and countless places from which to enjoy the sunset, Israel’s beaches are one of its most inviting features.

Tel Aviv’s amazing beaches are one of the best parts of the city | Tel Aviv Jaffa ©israeltourism, Flickr

The Region’s 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. The Old Cities of Jerusalem, Jaffa and Lod are among the oldest in the world, and visiting Israel allows you to visit sites as old as history itself. With everything from Roman ruins to Amish-like German “Templar” villages, visiting Israel allows you to experience history from the comforts of the modern world.

Holy Jerusalem

Holy to all three monotheistic faiths, Jerusalem is a city like no other. Its cobbled streets have seen some of the most momentous events in history. Its Old City is a melting pot of faiths and ethnicities, a nest of strange coexistence, and the city as a whole offers something for everyone, with everything from religious sites like the The Church of the Holy Sepulcher to the cool Mahne Yehuda market.

Orthodox Christian pilgrims commemorate the path Jesus carried his cross on the day of his crucifixion along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem| © Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock

Because Tel Aviv is One of the Coolest Cities in the World

With a booming foodie scene, vibrant night life, and enough style to make you reassess your fashion choices, Tel Aviv is arguably one of the coolest cities in the Middle East, if not the world, today. From great restaurants to amazing architecture, Israel’s cultural capital is everything you’d hope from a Western capital — but with Middle Eastern flair.

Tel Avivians drink coffee on a weekday at Cafe Yom Tov | Courtesy Cafe Yom Tov

The Food

From amazing street food like falafel or sabich to great local eats like hummus or shakshuka to the finest fine dining you can imagine — Israel has it all. Both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv offer countless amazing places to eat, from local Arab to fine Asian. Head to any Arab town to try some basbousa or another super-sweet Arabic dessert, or just go to Acre’s Old City and try some fresh fish straight out of the sea.

Notice the tabun on the left side of the edge of the bar? Tel Aviv’s Santa Katarina’s menu revolves around the ancient stone oven | Tamuz Rachman © courtesy of Santa Katarina

The Amazing Local Culture

From an artisan market in Tel Aviv to live shows on Jerusalem’s streets or a one-of-a-kind international design museum, Israel has a vibrant cultural scene catering to everyone. Tel Aviv has recently begun to host its own 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.

Colorful trinkets made by colorful folks at Tel Aviv’s Arts and Crafts Market on Nahalat Binyamin | Israel Tourism, Flickr

Because Israelis are the Funniest People in the World

An amazing and diverse group of people, Israelis come in all shapes and forms: Some are Jews whose grandparents migrated here from Europe or North Africa, others are Muslim or Christian Arabs who identify as Palestinians. Old or young, religious or secular, your average Israeli is kind and will help out with whatever you need, always ready with a recommendation.

Only the best cherries at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market | © Dana Friedlander for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism / Flickr

Its Diverse Landscape

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 end in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat.

The sun sets over the Negev Desert | Matthew Parker, Wikipedia

In Jerusalem you have greenery and mountains, and in Tel Aviv a humid beach city. In the north, the Golan Heights even offer skiing, and in between you have the Galilee and Carmel mountains, with picturesque forests. From swamps to lakes, craters to mountains, we’ve literally got it all.

Snow in northern Israel covers a vineyard | Carlos Hagadol, Wikipedia

You Can See it All in a Day

Israel is probably the only country in which you can visit tip to tip in less than a day. Driving from the Red Sea resort town of Eilat on the southernmost tip to Metula in the mountainous snow-capped Golan Heights in the north will only take you six hours. So even if you only have a day, come to Israel!

The desert mountains loom over Eilat in southern Israel | Zairon, Wikipedia

Because it has the Dead Sea, the Lowest Point on Earth

One site stands out above all others in Israel: the Dead Sea. The lowest point on the earth, literally, 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 surrounding it all make you feel like the first human on earth. The mud baths are also supposed to do wonders for you skin and are said to having healing powers.

Israel’s Dead Sea is well worth a day-trip, but plan ahead as public transportation can be a bummer | © Itamar Grinberg, Israel’s Tourism Ministry, Flickr

This is Where Jesus Walked

Regardless of whether you consider yourself secular or religious, the area now called Israel is the cradle of all three 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 area. In Jerusalem, you can even follow Jesus’ last steps by walking the Via Dolorosa.

Station IX on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem | Berthold Werner, Wikipedia

Because for All its Faults, it is an Island of Coexistence

Despite no lack in religious tensions, Israel is a beautiful example of coexistence between different faiths and ethnicities. Jews and Christians, Arabs and Israelis of European descent, and people from across the world call Israel home. From Jaffa to Acre, coexistence is part of daily life in Israel.

Few Things are as Beautiful as the Bahia’s Hanging Gardens of Haifa

Among the smaller and lesser-known faiths in Israel are the Bahia. They too call Israel their birthplace, and the country is home to their holy sites, the most splendid of which are the “Terraces of the Bahá’í Faith”, or the Hanging Gardens of Haifa. An aesthetic powerhouse overlooking Haifa’s beach, the gardens are a must see, and offer a great chance to learn about this secretive religion.

The gardens and Shrine of the Báb in Haifa | Zvi Roger, Haifa Municipality, Wikipedia

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 internet to mundane modern words like commute (in Hebrew, yomiyut, which combines the Hebrew words for day and moving to sound like the English word ‘commute’).

Liberal Tel Aviv is a Gay Capital

Israel is famously liberal, with Tel Aviv serving as the Middle East’s unofficial gay capital, a drawcard for LGBTQ people from across the nation. One of Israel’s most famous singers, Dana International, is a transgender women who has represented Israel in official competitions, evening winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998, long before Conchita Wurst. Just how liberal is Tel Aviv, you ask? It is so gay friendly that it does not even have gay bars anymore: there’s just no need for them.

Girl dances at Tel Aviv Pride 2015 © Hadas Parush/Flash90

Girl dances at Tel Aviv Pride 2015 © Hadas Parush/Flash90