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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tsaiproject/8298557641/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dead Sea, Israel | © tsaiproject / Flickr</a>
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20 Must-Visit Attractions in Israel

Picture of Ben Jakob
Updated: 24 October 2018
Israel offers a rare mix of good food, great people and an endlessly diverse list of sites. So no matter if its culture, faith or curiosity that brought you here, here are the attractions you just must see once you’ve arrived.

Acre’s Old City

A rarely visited site in Israel, this amazing old city offers the best of the old and new world: great restaurants perched on its seaside cliffs and even a world-class hotel alongside all the fun of a classic Arabic market.

The old port of Acre (Akko) in northern Israel | © Yigal Dekel / Wikimedia Commons
The old port of Acre (Akko) in northern Israel | © Yigal Dekel / Wikimedia Commons

Masada

This mountaintop fortress in the Israeli desert was once the last holdout for the members of the Jewish revolt against the Roman empire. Their fate was a bitter one – after a lengthy siege they decided to take their own lives rather than surrender – but visiting the site is anything but bitter. Wake up extra early and hike or just take the tram and enjoy this amazing historical site.

Masada is a quite the sight when the sun sets over the Judea desert | Avinoam Michaeli / Wikimedia Commons
Masada is a quite the sight when the sun sets over the Judea desert | Avinoam Michaeli, Wikipedia
At the top of Masada | Berthold Werner / Wikimedia Commons
At the top of Masada | Berthold Werner, Wikipedia

Bahá’í Gardens

The Hanging Gardens of Haifa are an absolute beauty. Holy to the adherents of the not-widely known Bahá’í faith, the gardens are a temple to their god Bah. Come for the view, or come to learn about the faith – just don’t miss it.

The gardens and Shrine of the Báb in Haifa | © Zvi Roger, Haifa Municipality / Wikimedia Commons
The gardens and Shrine of the Báb in Haifa | Zvi Roger, Haifa Municipality, Wikipedia
Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel | © Evgenii Klebanov / Flickr
Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel | ©Evgenii Klebanov

Jerusalem’s Old City

One square kilometer of winding streets and alleys and home to the holy sites of the three main monotheistic faiths, Jerusalem’s Old City is the place where history has happened and is the only place priests and monks commonly have fist fights. It also has amazing food and countless secrets for those willing to brave its maze of shaded streets.

Western Wall

The exterior wall of the long-destroyed Jewish Temple, the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) is one of Judaism’s most holy sites, so holy that ultra-Orthodox Jews won’t even step beyond the wall to where the temple actually sat for fear of desecrating the land. Its open plaza accommodates both women and men for prayer, and regardless of faith, follow the local custom and put a note in the wall.

Skyline of the Old City at he Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel I | © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Skyline of the Old City at he Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel I | © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Via Dolorosa

Follow in the steps of Jesus by walking the Via Dolorosa, or head to his final resting place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The tomb itself has recently been renovated and is a popular site for pilgrims and tourists alike.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City in 1941 as seen from its dome | Matson Photo Service / Wikimedia Commons
Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City in 1941 as seen from its dome | Matson Photo Service / Wikimedia Commons
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
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

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock, next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque within the Temple Mount complex, is one of Islam’s most holiest sites. Though a flashpoint for tensions between Jews and Arabs, it is safe for tourists per a few caveats: don’t go on Friday, Israelis might be barred from entering, and women are required to dress modestly (i.e. long skirts extending below the knee and no cleavage or exposed shoulders).

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem | © israeltourism / Flickr
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem | © Israeltourism/Flickr

Tel Aviv’s Port

Tel Aviv’s Port, recently revamped, is now an urban powerhouse of cafés and restaurants. It’s a great place to see the sea without having to pass through a beach, and its farmer’s market offers great local food with its produce and restaurants.

Port of Tel Aviv, Israel | © Ted Eytan / Flickr
Port of Tel Aviv, Israel | © Ted Eytan / Flickr

Jaffa’s Old City and Old Port

One of the world’s oldest port cities, Jaffa is one of the best parts of Israel. Head to its port for great sea breezes and fresh fish.

A hidden old door in Jaffa's Old City's port | © bachmont / Flickr
A hidden old door in Jaffa’s Old City’s port | bachmont, Flickr
View of the old port in Tel Aviv at sunset, Old City of Jaffa | © Badahos / Shutterstock
View of the old port in Tel Aviv at sunset, Old City of Jaffa | © Badahos / Shutterstock

Tel Aviv’s White City

Home to an internationally acclaimed collection of International Style houses (sometimes also called Bauhaus) the so-called White City is actually part of Tel Aviv’s central Lev Ha’ir district. The homes are beautiful even for those usually not interested in architecture, and we’ve even put together a great walking tour to explore them for you.

Tel Aviv offers a wide array of architectural styles from Bauhaus to eclectic
Tel Aviv offers a wide array of architectural styles from Bauhaus to eclectic | Amos Gil via PikiWiki

Jaffa’s Flea Market

Trendy and stylish, Jaffa’s Flea Market is home to strange antique stores alongside new restaurants and cafés, a symbol of how Jaffa’s old meets Tel Aviv’s new to create something amazing.

Jaffa Flea Market, Tel Aviv | © Israeltourism, by Dana Friedlander / Flickr
Jaffa Flea Market, Tel Aviv | © Photo Gallery Israeli Ministry of Tourism

Mahne Yehuda (Jerusalem Markets)

Jerusalem’s central market is a bustling middle eastern bazaar offering the best local delicacies, for those who know how to find them. Take a chance and get lost in this great market, which has even inspired a fancy restaurant hidden within its allies bearing its name.

Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem | © Brian Holsclaw / Flickr
Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem | Brian Holsclaw, Flickr

Hipster central at the Big Synagogue in Tel Aviv

The epicenter of the hipster side of Tel Aviv, the Big Synagogue plaza on Allenby Street, is home to a bar, a restaurant and two places that fall somewhere in between. The Port Said and Santa Catarina are the places to eat contemporary Tel Avivi cuisine, and the Otzar is the place to get a drink if you’re young and in style. So head there to meet the city’s younger and more attractive scene.

©,courtesy of Santa Katarina

Tel Aviv's Great Synagogue, today one of the hippest areas in the city | © Yair Haklai / Wikimedia Commons
Tel Aviv’s Great Synagogue, today one of the hippest areas in the city | © Yair Haklai / Wikimedia Commons

Tel Aviv’s beaches

The multitude of beautiful beaches in Tel Aviv need no introduction and remain some of Israel’s most famed and most popular tourist attractions.

Tel Aviv's beach with Jaffa's port in the background | © israeltourism / Flickr
Tel Aviv’s beach with Jaffa’s port in the background | ©israeltourism

Eilat’s barrier reefs

In the southernmost tip of Israel sits the resort town of Eilat. Perched on the head of the Red Sea peninsula, its waters open up to Egypt to the south and Jordan to the west, and on good days, Saudi Arabia is visible in between them and across the water. Eilat has great coral reefs, a few dolphins and even a bird festival, so go south and enjoy the dry, warm sun.

The coral reef in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea | David Darom / Wikimedia Commons
The coral reef in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea | David Darom, Wikipedia
Diving with a dolphin in the Red Sea at Eilat's Dolphin Reef | © Tony Malkevist for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism / Flickr
Diving with a dolphin in the Red Sea at Eilat’s Dolphin Reef | © Tony Malkevist / Flickr

Arava Desert

The arid desert’s tall stone towers and dry landscape, reminiscent of Nevada’s, offers something ethereal and beautiful as well as a special kind of quiet within it. Check out the amazing cabins at Bamidbara to spend the night.

Wildlife in Israel's Arava desert | © Zachi Evenor / Flickr
Wildlife in Israel’s Arava desert | Zach Evenor, Flickr

Dead Sea

The lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea is said to have healing powers, and its mud is supposed to help reinvigorate your skin. So take a splash in the murky, mineral-rich waters and dip yourself in some high-grade mud (mud-faced selfies are mandatory).

Dead Sea, Israel | © Israeltourism, by Itamar Grinberg / Flickr
Dead Sea, Israel | © Itamar Grinberg

Sea of Galilee (Kinneret)

Called the Sea of Galilee by Israelis, Lake Kinneret is the site where Jesus is said to have walked on water. It’s also Israel’s main reservoir and a favorite tourist attraction for locals, who can regularly be found basking along its beaches.

Panoramic view of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), Israel | © Zachi Evenor / Flickr
Panoramic view of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), Israel | Zachi Evenor, Flickr

Golan Heights

The Golan Heights, on Israel’s northernmost tip, offers some respite from Israel’s famous heat. There is a ski site and a local café called Cafe Anan – a play on words on the name of former UN Chief Kofi Annan and the Hebrew word for ‘cloud’ (‘anan’) due to its height – but the Golan Heights have recently become popular for all the wrong reasons as some ‘war tourists’ flock here to safely see the fighting in Syria raging just across the border.

Old fort on Nimrod in the Golan Heights | © Kyle Taylor / Flickr
Old fort on Nimrod in the Golan Heights | Kayle Taylor, Flickr
The ski site at Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights | Amit Moscovich / Wikimedia Commons
The ski site at Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights | Amit Moscovich / Wikimedia Commons

Roman ruins in Caesarea

Caesarea is one of Israel’s most affluent community, but the adjacent national park offers some of the most exciting ruins in Israel. Built by Herod the Great at around 25 BC, the remains of the Caesarea Maritima port city include a the ruins of a hippodrome, a Roman theatre, an impressive collection of Crusader-era fortifications, a temple and an impressive aqueduct. It also offers an amazing view of the old harbour, which was once the largest on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.

The Roman theatre at Caesarea Maritima in Israel | Berthold Werner / Wikimedia Commons
The Roman theatre at Caesarea Maritima in Israel | Berthold Werner, Wikipedia