14 Best Things to Do in Israel You Will Never Forget

Israel is a unique country. Yes, every country is unique in some way, but Israel is exclusive. Its history, its geography, its culture, all of this is so special, that it is no wonder why this tiny piece of land draws attention from the whole world, more than any other country on the planet. This makes Israel a place where you can do many things, not less unique and special than the country itself. Let’s make a journey to the best things to do in Israel, enjoying some really unique moments of our life. You can also check this article about practical tips for Israel.

Basic facts about Israel

Israel is a small country in the Middle East, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Its land is small but extremely significant. On its eastern side is the lowest flowing river on the Earth - Jordan River. There is also the lowest freshwater lake on the planet - the Sea of Galilee, and finally, the lowest dry spot on the Earth’s crust- the Dead Sea.

This is a very special land, chosen by God to be His „Holy Land”, according to the Bible, and the Jews as the land’s owners. During its several thousand years of history, this fact has been challenged by endless wars and invaders, pretending for this tiny territory. This is a history, which doesn’t „rest” in museums, sites, and books, but is active today. Now Israel is a modern country, with one of the highest standards of living in the world, attracting a lot of visitors from everywhere.

So, although Israel is small, if you are one of these visitors, you have a lot of things that you can do there. But here I would write only about those things that you can do there and only there, and nowhere else in the world.

15 Best Things to do in Israel

0) Read the Bible - for Israel, it is your travel guide!

„What? But I am not religious!” Who said that the Bible is only for religious people? „But I want to know what things to do in Israel!” Yes, but before you do all these things in Israel, I would recommend you to read the Bible first. Not in Israel, but before your trip. That’s why it is No.0. Why? Because I promise you, there is a big difference in doing these things, depending on whether you have read the Bible or not.

Outside of Israel, for some people, the Bible may look like a „religious book”, but when you enter the country, you will discover how the events from the Bible are real and alive. You can see them, you can touch them. In fact, you can see how exploring the country is like a journey inside the Bible. At the same time, here in Israel, the Bible literally turns into a travel guide. So, find a Bible and read it - just for information, what, when, where, how. Then you are ready to do the following 14 things to do in Israel. Let’s start with the first one.

1) Visit the holiest spot on the planet Earth - the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Dome of Rock in Jerusalem, Israel
Dome of Rock in Jerusalem

Whether you believe in God or not, the fact is that there is a special spot on our planet - a spot chosen by God, where He presents Himself to the humans. And this spot is located exactly at 31°46′40.7″N 35°14′8.9″E geographical coordinates. It is a small place, not larger than a football playground, on the top of a small hill. Small place, but what an influence it spreads to the whole world! There is no other place like this! And this spot, the God’s spot, is located in Israel. No wonder that this makes it a must to visit place.

Temple Mount is the place, where first Abraham, the father of Israel and all the believers in God have been challenged to sacrifice his son Isaac as a symbol of God sacrificing His Son. Then, about a thousand years later, it was the place where the First Temple was built, and God’s presence directly dwelled there. Later the First Temple was destroyed, then the Second Temple was built, and destroyed in 70 AD. From that moment on, various invaders have raised various constructions on it. Today, there is the Dome of Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque, and according to the prophecies from the Bible, a Third Temple will be raised.

So, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, which is the most important city in the country, must be a mandatory part of your Israel itinerary. And when you visit it, go to the Old City, to the Western (Wailing) Wall. From there, you have to enter the Temple Mount. But be warned that there are certain days and hours when you can do it - only from Monday to Thursday, in the morning from 7:30 to 11:00 am, and afternoon, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. And you will be required to wear something that covers most of your body. No entrance fee.

2) Make a journey back in time in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Things to do in Israel - Jerusalem- Shrine of the Book
Shrine of the Book

This is another experience in Israel that I highly recommend - the Israel Museum. This is the largest museum in the country and it has a high educational value. Definitely one of the best things to do in Israel. Remember, Israel is a country with a history that can be seen everywhere. If you don’t know the history and culture of this country, you literally don’t know where are you going and what are you seeing. And this museum can give you priceless information. After you visit it, you will have a different view and a deeper understanding of this land.

Israel Museum is divided into several sections. And it is big. To explore it in detail, you would need at least 4-5 hours. But if you don’t have such a long time, at least focus on its historical section. It is a really impressive journey back to the past, from thousands of years ago until today.

Beside the main building, you will notice another amazing construction - a white conical-shaped construction with a fountain over it. This is the Shrine of the Book. In its underground halls, you can see some of the original manuscripts from the Bible dated from the 1st century BC exposed. And besides the Shrine you can see a large model of the ancient Jerusalem, exactly how it has looked like in the 1st century AD.

If you are in Jerusalem on Tuesday, I would recommend you to dedicate this day to this museum, because its opening hours are longer on Tuesday - until 9:30 pm.

3) Explore the secrets of the Western (Wailing) Wall

Things to do in Israel - Jerusalem- Western wall
Western (Wailing) Wall

Everybody knows the famous Western Wall of Jerusalem. It is one of the most popular landmarks of Israel, and needless to say, you must visit it too. It is a remnant of the original wall from the Second Temple (during the Roman era). Or actually, only its lowest and largest stones are dated from this era. In the middle are the smaller stones from the early Arab era, and on its top - the smallest stones from the Ottoman era.

Every day thousands of Jewish worshippers and many other visitors go to the Western Wall for prayer, or just for a visit and taking photos. But what you see from this wall is only a small part of something much bigger. Yes, the Western Wall keeps many secrets and mysteries that are waiting to be explored.

When going to the Western Wall, turn right. There is another part of the same wall - the Southern Wall. And in front of it, there is a magnificent place, full of remnants from various eras during the last 2000 and more years. This is Davidson Center - an archaeological site, where you can hear a lot of stories from various points in the timeline by professional guides, and see how, where exactly, and why they have happened.

Entrance fee: 30 NIS for adults, 16 NIS for children and 16 NIS for a guide (don’t skip the guide, trust me!).

But that’s not all. There is another even more mysterious part of the wall, this time deep underground - the Tunnels of the Western Wall, at its northern side. The wall itself and the other constructions attached to it have many historical layers, and there are many empty spaces between these layers. They form the hidden Tunnels. There you can see some phenomenons like a giant monolith that nobody explains how it has been put there. Finally, the tunnels go even earlier in time - to the 7th century BC, turning into the water canals of King Hezekiah.

4) Dive into the colorful culture of the Old City in Jerusalem

Jerusalem Old Street, Israel
Jerusalem Old Street

The Old City of Jerusalem is a whole fairy tale word, which must be a part of every Israel itinerary. And yes, it is colorful and full of life. You can walk for hours on its narrow streets, besides its old houses, small souvenir shops, cafes, and historical spots. A large part of it is covered by joined roofs, so the narrow streets are hidden under the roofs.

However, this Old City, which is now in Jerusalem, is not thousands of years old. A large part of it has been built up during the Ottoman era, including the wall that surrounds it. But at least the Ottomans have tried to design it as it has been during the time of Jesus. Today this place is divided into four quarters- Jewish, Christian, Armenian and Muslim. And you can feel the different atmosphere in the different quarters while you explore them.

There are some popular places to visit in the Old City. The most famous is the Church of Holy Sepulchre, built on the place traditionally considered as the spot where Jesus has been buried for 3 days. Although it doesn’t correspond to the story from the Bible (because the Golgotha and the tomb have been out of the city according to the Bible), it is still an important place to visit. Another spot is the Tower of David. It is again new, built during the Ottoman era, but is very educational. There is also another historical museum with halls presenting the eras of the Jerusalem timeline.

5) Descend to the lowest point on the planet Earth - Dead Sea, and play in its thick waters

Dead Sea, Israel
Dead Sea

This is one of the extremes on our planet, one of its poles - the lowest dry spot on the Earth. Or, not a spot, but the coastline of the Dead Sea. Its altitude is around 430 m below the sea level, with some slight changes depending on the weather, climate or other factors. The water of the Dead Sea is one of the most saline waters on the planet. It is so saline, that there is almost no life in it. The only life consists of some microorganisms like extremophilae or archaea. That’s why it is called the Dead Sea.

Its water is transparent but thick. When you walk in it, you feel like you walk in oil. At the same time, you can feel like stinging on all the sensitive parts of your body like lips, genitals or wounds, especially if you expose them longer time. But what you must protect most is your eyes. If a drop from the Dead Sea falls on your eye, you have to endure a severe suffering for around several hours! Anyway, if you have in mind all of it, you can do what most of the Dead Sea visitors do - get a newspaper and read it lying on the water.

There are several beaches where you can try the waters of the Dead Sea. The most popular of them is Ein Bokek. You can also enjoy stunning views to the lake sea from the road along its western coastline. But I would recommend, to make a stop on two spots on the road. The first is Qumran in the wilderness, where many of the ancient Bible manuscripts have been found. And the second place is Ein Gedi - a natural reserve with beautiful waterfalls and small coves. Finally, there is a third place, which is more special. This is Masada, and its visit is one of the best things to do in Israel.

6) Ascend to Masada for some of the most breathtaking views in the Middle East

Things to do in Israel - Masada
Masada

The mountains west of the Dead Sea are not high in altitude above the sea level, but rise magnificently comparing to the level of the lowest place on Earth. And on one of the mountain plateau-shaped peaks is Masada - an ancient fortress with breathtaking views to the Dead Sea and the whole landscape around it - definitely one of the best things to do in Israel.

Masada takes us back in time to the 1st century BC, the time of Herod the Great. He established the fortress and it was an important military spot. Then, it is related to the First Jewish-Roman War from 66-70 AD. It was conquered by Jewish rebels called Sicarii. But after the war, somewhere around 73 or 74 AD, the Roman army sieged the fortress, entered inside, but discovered that most of its inhabitants have committed mass suicide. Later a small Byzantine church was built there.

You can reach Masada by bus (line 486) from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Other ways are by cable car from the „Snake Path” at the foot of the mountain, or just by hiking.

Entrance Fee: If you arrive in Masada on foot - 29 NIS, and if you use cable car - 76 NIS.    

7) Feel „the end of the world” in Tel Megiddo - the Biblical Armageddon

Things to do in Israel - Armageddon
Armageddon

Armageddon is a word that everybody knows. It comes from the last book of the Bible - „Revelation”, and it is related to the end of the world, a special future event causing fear. People imagine deadly asteroids, horrible earthquake-volcano-tsunami-ice age disasters, nuclear war, or zombie apocalypse. But what the Bible tells us is that it is a place, a certain geographical spot, where the army of the wicked will gather for the last war (you can read about it in Revelation 16:16). The name „Armageddon” means „Mount of Assembly” or „Mount of Defeat”.

Its current name is Tel Megiddo - an ancient fortress on a small hill, established about 4000 years ago, in the northern part of Israel. In history, it is related to many battles, and the death of two kings. The most famous battle is in the 15th century BC between the Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt and the Canaanites. And the two kings that died there are Ahaziah and Josiah, kings of Judah Kingdom.

Today it is a place with silent ruins, turned into a tourist attraction. But you can feel remoteness, loneliness there. It is a place without life. It is surrounded by life - fertile plains, towns, villages, but it stays in the middle of it like an island standing still in time, waiting for its moment at the end of the world.

Entrance fee: 27 NIS for adults and 14 NIS for children.

8) Watch the sunset while you swim in the beaches of Tel Aviv

Things to do in Israel - Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is the second-largest city in Israel, a beautiful pearl at the Mediterranean Coast. It is a modern face of the country, with skyscrapers, colorful streets, boulevards, malls, parks, and attractions. But the ancient can still be found there, in Yafo (Jaffa), another old town guiding us thousands of years ago. And all this is situated along the gorgeous coast of the Mediterranean Sea. So, there are a lot of things that you can do in this city, but in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Tel Aviv is to spend an exciting time on the beaches.

A long section of this coast consists of beaches. The water of the Mediterranean Sea is clean, sometimes calm, sometimes with big waves. And the sand beaches on the coast are some of the best ones in this part of the world. The sea is on the west, so every day the sun goes down beyond the water horizon. And if you are there in summer, you can enjoy the sunset while you swim, surf or just relax on the sand.

9) Research the childhood of Jesus in Nazareth Village

Nazareth Village
Nazareth Village

More than 2000 years ago, the most unique person in the world - Jesus, spent His childhood in a small town, around 20 km north of Armageddon. This town was Nazareth, a settlement established on a hilly area. Its houses were raised on the hill’s slope. It was a poor town with mainly the Jewish population during the Roman era.

Two millennia have passed since then, and the settlement still remained but passed through many changes. Today, it is a bigger city with mainly the Arab population, and a lot of church buildings from various Christian denominations, some mosques, shops, and restaurants. Although some of these are popular tourist attractions, like the Basilica of the Annunciation, they actually hide the real historical value of this city.

But there is still a place, where you can travel back in time, to the Roman era in the beginning of the 1st century AD, and get an impression of how the life has looked like. How Jesus has grown, how He spent His childhood, helping his family’s business, playing on the hill’s slopes with the other children, and how all the people spent their daily life. This place is called Nazareth Village- an open-air museum. It presents the life in the ancient Nazareth during the time of Jesus, thus, in my opinion, it has a much higher value than all other pompous religious constructions in the city.

Entrance fee: 50 NIS for adults, 30 NIS for children.

10) Observe a baptism in Jordan River

Jordan River
Jordan River

Jordan River is the lowest flowing river on the Earth. Although its source is high in the mountains of Syria and Lebanon, it quickly descends and most of its length is below the sea level. It crosses the Sea of Galilee and finally flows into the Dead Sea. This specific features make Jordan River a unique geographical place. But it also has a high historical value.

Today Jordan River is a narrow lazy and warm murky-watered stream, not wider than 10 m during the most of its length. But it is discovered that thousands of years ago it has been a large and much wider river. It forms the „Holy Land”’s eastern border, according to the Bible. And it has been crossed many times by many people, armies and invaders.

But what makes it most famous is the work of John the Baptist. He was a member of the Essenes, a Jewish sect dedicated to preserve the original scripts from the Bible, and to preach purity. John was sent by God to announce the coming of Jesus to the whole nation of Israel, which requires baptizing in the waters of Jordan River for repentance.

Today, the border between Israel and Jordan runs on the river, and there are at least two spots where you can visit the river itself. The best spot is near Jericho. You can reach the river for free. There are people who come there for baptism today too. Some of them do it because they really believe it, while others do it just as a tourist attraction. But at least this can take you back in time, 2000 years ago, into another picture of that era.

11) Explore Haifa and Mount Carmel

View from Mount Carmel, Israel
View from Mount Carmel

Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel, beautifully situated at the Mediterranean Coast. And straight from its southern suburbs, there is a low, but steep mountain. This is Mount Carmel, again related to ancient history, at the same time offering breathtaking views to the surrounding plains and the sea.

One of the most gorgeous views that you can see in Haifa is the Baha’i Gardens, an iconic landmark, established on the slopes of Carmel. It is beautiful and really worth to visit place. But the mountain hides more secrets, from many ancient times.

Mount Carmel is related to the work of an ancient prophet Elijah. His life and ministry are dated from the first half of the 9th century BC, during the reign of Ahab, a wicked king in the Northern Israel Kingdom. This king, manipulated by his evil wife Queen Jezebel, established a dictatorship of Baal religion. But Elijah, with his miracles proving the real God over the lies and false „miracles” from Baal, drew many people from this foreign religion.

There is a well-known event in which more than 400 false „Baal prophets” were massacred by Elijah after the people saw their lies. This event happened in a certain place on the mountain, where today is Muhraka Monastery. No wonder that Elijah was the most dangerous and wanted man in Ahab’s kingdom. He was persecuted, and he has hidden in a small cave near today’s Haifa, which you can visit too. Finally, they couldn’t catch him, but he appointed his follower Elisha, then he was taken to heaven.

So, you can explore Mount Carmel and see the scenes where these events happened almost 3000 years ago. And don’t skip the Haifa University and its museum, giving precious information and artifacts from the ancient times.

12) Make a circle around the Sea of Galilee, the land of Jesus’ ministry

Sea of Galilee, Israel
Sea of Galilee

As I mentioned above, the Sea of Galilee is the lowest freshwater lake on the Earth, with an altitude of about 210 to 215 m below the sea level. There are beautiful views, everywhere around the lake. But it is most famous for its history, especially the events around the ministry of Jesus in 27-30 AD.

Around 2000 years ago, there were several small cities on the coast of the lake, most of them at its western and northern coast. All of them, along with many other spots in the area are mentioned in the New Testament in the Bible, with certain events happened on them.

Today its main city is Tiberias - one of the ancient cities at the lake, again mentioned in the Bible. But this city is alive today, while the other cities are abandoned a long time ago, and only ruins have remained from them. And here the four Gospels in the Bible are your guide - you can read the stories inside, then see these places in reality - Capernaum, Bethesda, the Mount of Beatitude, Chorazin, the Galilean Boat Museum, Tabha, and many others. Start from Tiberias, and follow the coast of the lake on the road. You can do it for one day.

13) Research the mysteries of Timna

Things to do in Israel - Timna
Timna

In the far south of Israel, the land is extremely dry and deserted. The landscape is like on Mars. And it has its own unique beauty. But there, in the middle of nowhere, you can find a place with interesting rock formations. This place is Timna, an area with fantastic views and mysteries. And again, it has some ancient history.

Timna is known for its ancient copper mines, dated from the earliest historic times, from more than 4000 years ago. The discoveries include a lot of traces from the ancient Horites and Edomites, people who were often in war with the Jews. In the 10th century BC, there were mines related to the King Solomon of Israel, known as the „King Solomon’s Mines”.

All of this makes Timna a place for mystery researchers. And the landscape as a whole adds to this atmosphere. Certainly one of the best things to do in Israel.

Entrance fee: 44 NIS for adults, and 36 NIS for children.

14) Reach the tropics in Eilat

Eilat - Red Sea
Eilat - Red Sea

Finally, we reach the southernmost point of Israel. This is Eilat, a very „different” Israel, located on the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. At this point, you reach the tropics. Eilat is a beautiful city resort, located between the borders of neighboring Egypt and Jordan, as well as nearby Saudi Arabia.

What is most attractive in Eilat is not the luxury hotels, not the city itself, not the parties and restaurants, but the sea itself. The Red Sea here is incredibly beautiful. Its waters are crystal clear, with corals and colorful fish. It is a totally „different style” of beaches, compared with Tel Aviv. There are no big waves and large sand beaches, but there is so much beauty underwater and in the surrounding landscapes.

Israel Travel Tips

There are also many other things to do in Israel, but these 14 are the best. To enjoy them, you have to plan your Israel itinerary, so that you can visit the places of these things to do. You have to plan your transportation and accommodation.

Accommodation

Accommodation is easy to arrange because all these places are enough touristy. We recommend using Booking.com. Just the problem is that most of the hotels are expensive. But you still can find a bit cheaper options, especially by Airbnb.

Transportation

Israel is small. It is so small, that traveling between Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee is like traveling within a large mega city like New York or London. The only area that is relatively far and remote is Eilat and the nearby Timna. Anyway, you can travel all these places and do all these activities for just 10 days or at least a week. I would recommend renting a car. It is not expensive and it is very convenient. By car, you can easily visit every corner of the country.

So, if you travel to Israel, be prepared for amazing adventures. Look for these things to do in Israel that are unique for this small country, and you can’t do anywhere else on the Earth!


Author's Bio:

The author of this extensive guide to the best things to do in Israel is Krasen. Check his travel blog Journey Beyond the Horizon.


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14 Best Things to Do in Israel You Will Never Forget 2

Things to do in Israel - FAQ:

What are the best things to do in Israel?

Read this extensive guide to the best things to do in Israel.

How to book accommodation in Israel?

Accommodation is easy to arrange because all these places are enough touristy. We recommend using Booking.com. Just the problem is that most of the hotels are expensive. But you still can find a bit cheaper options, especially by Airbnb.

How does transportation work in Israel?

Israel is small. It is so small, that traveling between Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee is like traveling within a large mega city like New York or London. The only area that is relatively far and remote is Eilat and the nearby Timna. Anyway, you can travel all these places and do all these activities for just 10 days or at least a week. I would recommend renting a car. It is not expensive and it is very convenient. By car, you can easily visit every corner of the country.

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