Ten awesome reasons to visit Israel in 2012

If you’ve not yet visited Israel, or haven’t been back for some time, 2012 should be the year that entices you over! Just continue reading and you’ll be on the phone to your travel agent or searching online within seconds – guaranteed!

2012 really does look set to be another cracking year, and we’ve compiled a list of some very good reasons why you should be on your way to the Holy Land…

Legendary Holy Land attractions

Tourists floating in the Dead SeaWith such an amazing collection of top tourist attractions (check out our top ten must-sees in Israel) in such a small country, you can pack in so much sight-seeing, if that’s what tickles your fancy. And let’s face it, whatever your budget or faith, how could you contemplate a visit to the Holy Land without stopping by at Jerusalem’s Old City, having a float in the Dead Sea, or tasting some of Tel Aviv’s awesome culture, beaches and nightlife…and then there’s the beauty of the Galilee, the rugged and magnificent Golan Heights, the majestic deserts of the south…shall we go on?

Top class entertainment, art & culture

Fuerza Bruta IsraelWith Israel getting ever more popular, international artists are flocking to the Holy Land like never before (for music concerts, see below). For pure entertainment you might want to try and catch either the Fuerza Bruta shows (in February) or the delightful Cirque du Soleil (in August). Or how about the world’s most popular opera Carmen performed by international opera stars at the foot of Masada in the Dead Sea? Alternatively, we’d highly recommend some of the amazing Israeli festivals and shows that happen throughout the year, including the alternative theater of the magical Akko Festival, and the annual Klezmer festival in Safed. Just click through to our art and culture section to see what you’re missing…

Mediterranean sunshine

It's hot in Israel!What can we say about the weather that hasn’t been said before? With roughly 300 days of sunshine every year, the chances of you catching some decent weather are very good. The winters in Israel aren’t really winters (though the locals will try and convince you otherwise!), at least for those of us from colder climes, though the summers can be extremely hot and humid. Click here to see a breakdown of the temperatures in Israel throughout the year – and start getting jealous…

Yummylicious food

Dr Shakshuka Tel AvivIsrael has turned into a gastronomic wonder, and the pure range of options available in Israel these days is enough to satisfy the hungriest and pickiest of souls. We’d highly recommend trying some of the local delicacies (here are the five top Israeli foods you MUST try), and of course, some legendary felafel and hummus has to be on your menu! If you prefer your food a little refined, here are the best restaurants, pubs and cafes in Tel Aviv of 2011, all of which are well worth checking out. Yep, hungry is certainly one thing you won’t be when returning home from a trip to Israel.

Music concerts

Bruce Springsteen coming to Israel2012 looks like being another star-packed year of international names hitting the stages of Israel. Last year saw, among others, Justin Bieber, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon, while this year it looks like a flood of big names will be appearing; the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Scorpions have already confirmed, and there are strong rumors that Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Lady Gaga will be popping over. There are also a huge selection of Israeli music festivals in exotic locations throughout the year, including the Red Sea Jazz Festival (in January and August), the Tamar Festival near the Dead Sea, and the Desert Moon Nights Festival. Your ears will be well fed.

Super GLBT-friendly

Tel Aviv - the next world gay capital?Recently voted the Best Gay City in the world, Tel Aviv is without doubt the most liberal and accepting city in the Middle East. Pretty much anything goes in Tel Aviv (though it’s not exactly “in your face”), and while it’s definitely NOT the same for Jerusalem, a much more modest and spiritual city, you have to admire a country that accepts so easily others of a different sexual persuasion, especially considering its location in the world…

The Locals

IsraelisWe’ll be honest, it often takes time to get used to the prickly, somewhat aggressive behavior of locals. The slapping down of your change on the counter when buying something can be a little disconcerting, especially when coupled with a distinct lack of a please or thank you. But underneath that prickly exterior lies a generous and warm soul (usually!), and an inbuilt desire for hospitality that may well tug hard at your heart. Give ’em a chance and you might just like ’em!

The Shopping

Shopping in Tel AvivWith an ever-growing array of Israeli designers and boutique shops to browse, some of the streets in Israel have truly become a shopper’s delight. Shopping in Israel has definitely taken a step in the right direction, with a collection of modern shopping malls  and big name international brands, including H&M, Benetton, Burberry and Gap arriving in the last couple of years. We recommend you check out our friends at DreedTea for some very cool updates on the fashion scene and shops in Tel Aviv. Alternatively, if designer price tags and air-conditioning aren’t for you, you could always head off to some of the Middle East’s coolest street markets to try out your haggling skills.

Breathtaking vistas

Old City viewThe Holy Land is absolutely one place you don’t want to forget your camera, or run short of batteries. Some of the views you can see will simply take your breath away – and leave you thanking the stars for digital cameras (no more film to run out of!). From the vistas of the north, including amazing views of the Golan Heights from places like the magical Nimrod Fortress, to rooftop views of the Old City from the ramparts of the Tower of David in Jerusalem, to the lunar-type landscapes of the Dead Sea region best seen from the mountain top remains of the legendary Masada fortress, you won’t fail to be impressed!

Sports galore

Paragliding in IsraelIf you love your sports, you’ll love some of the things you can experience in the Holy Land. If you’re a runner you could take part in the Jerusalem Marathon, one of the most inspiring runs in the world, or the Tel Aviv Marathon or 10km Night Run, or even the Sea of Galilee Marathon. And with the in-built Israeli penchant for excitement, you might be surprised to hear of some of the more extreme sports readily available: paragliding in the Galilee, kite-surfing in Tel Aviv, rappelling down the Ramon Crater, and even snow-boarding down Mount Hermon. Thrill-seekers should be more than thrilled with that little lot!

So, what are you waiting for??

OK, OK, if you’ve got four minutes and still need convincing this video is definitely worth a watch…and might just be the clincher!

Looking forward to seeing you in Israel!

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