This is a toughie, narrowing down Israel’s top attractions to a top ten “must do” list. But, here it is, our attempt at bringing you the best of the Holy Land in one ultimate checklist – these are things that you really should see and do in Israel, no matter if you’re here for a long weekend or a month.
In no particular order…
The Lowest Point on Earth is one special place to visit. If you need to chill out, and especially if you’re feeling rundown, the Dead Sea is the ideal place in Israel to visit. Bring your newspaper along for that picture opportunity, smother some of that mineral rich Dead Sea mud on and then float on your back in the warm, salty sea. Just avoid diving in! For more, see our guide to the Dead Sea.
The Old City of Jerusalem is a real must-see, being home to sites of key religious significance, including the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock. You can easily spend a full day here: place a prayer between the cracks of the huge stones that make up the Western Wall, browse the stalls in the narrow streets of the Old City bazaar, and visit the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Read our full guide to the amazing Old City.
The Carmel market in central Tel Aviv gives you the opportunity to hone your bargaining skills and get a taste of the real Israel. Starting at the Allenby Street end, wander past the many clothes stalls before you hit the market’s epicenter; the food and spices. Amazing colors, amazing smells…listen to the stall vendors hawk their goods and taunt each other over space, prices, quality, or sports teams. A great day out.
Eilat is the place to go if you want to see amazing coral reef, beautiful fish, and crystal-clear water. What with great weather practically all-year round, this is the place to dust off your snorkel and/or scuba. Alternatively, for the less adventurous there’s always Eilat’s impressive Underwater Observatory and nice beaches. Eilat has its own airport so is easy to get to, and is a short drive from the amazing dives of Sinai.
A more sombre spot to visit, but an important place to visit in order to get a deeper understanding of Israel, this is Israel’s memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Located on the Western outskirts of Jerusalem, the large complex of museums, monuments, exhibition halls with major archives, library and other resource centers extends over 45 acres. Take your time, and be prepared to be deeply moved. Read more here.
An amazing geological feature of Israel’s mainly desert south, located about an hour south of Beersheva. The crater is 40 km long and 2-10 km wide, almost heart shaped, and naturally carved out by water and climate erosion. The largest crater in the world, it sinks some 500m at its deepest point. Get an amazing view of the Ramon crater from the Mitzpeh Ramon visitor center, where yes, you can stand at the edge of the world’s largest crater! Read our full guide…
The gorgeous sandy beach of Tel Aviv is the perfect spot to catch a sunset. Accompanied by a beer or wine or whatever you prefer, kick off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as the Mediterranean laps gently at the shore just meters away. You could also wind down the day at one of the many beachside cafes, the choice is yours. Don’t miss our guide to the Top 10 things to see in Tel Aviv!
The mountain fortress of Masada stands on an isolated rock plateau in the south east of Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea. The tale of Masada is one of Jewish heroics, 1000 inhabitants committing mass suicide rather than surrendering to their Roman enemies. Take a walk up the Snake Path to the top of Masada if you’re feeling adventurous, otherwise take the cable car (see pic). Read more here.
The magical terraces of Baha’i in Haifa are possibly just off the primary tourist track. But they really should be added to your visit to Israel. The Baha’i gardens must be one of the most beautiful gardens in the world and are a memorial to the founders of the Baha’i Faith, attracting pilgrims from around the world. Free to enter though you should dress modestly. Read our full guide here.
In Tel Aviv the nightlife is legendary, you can find pretty much anything you need for a good night out. There are countless bars (see our top 10 Tel Aviv bars) and clubs, as well as museums, theaters, galleries, dance centers, and concert halls for the more cultured evening. If you have the energy, Tel Aviv can keep you occupied until the early hours, including the many restaurants and cafes throughout the city. During the summer months, try a night out at one of the beach-side cafes and bars.