There aren’t many places in the world where you can visit the beach, a port, a historical town and the main city in just one day. Yet Israel has it all wrapped up in one.
Take in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv has been called “the Mediterranean Capital of Cool”, and anybody who has visited will know how easy it is to fall in love with the buzz. You’re met with a warm and welcoming vibe, and if you want to be culturally enriched, then look no further as Tel Aviv is both modern and full of history.
There’s so much to do and see in this thriving city. If you’re into the arts, we’d recommend taking a tour of the area’s graffiti or visiting the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Tickets.tamuseum.org.il/en). The old port city of Jaffa is host to beautiful architectural attractions, ranging from mosques and churches to sculptures and the ancient clock tower. A visit to the neighbourhood of Sarona is also a must – its indoor market has foods from all over the world, and there’s also a lovely landscaped grass area for relaxing. But nothing beats walking, cycling or scooting along the beachside promenade while enjoying the breathtaking views and catching some sun on the sandy shores.
There’s no point in visiting Tel Aviv without experiencing its nightlife, which could give Ibiza a run for its money. From sophisticated clubs to cool bars and discos, you’ll be sure to find somewhere to suit your needs. The fun centres around the underground clubs of Rothschild Boulevard, the bars of chic Neve Tzedek, and alternative spots in the bohemian quarter of Florentin and Jaffa are worth exploring, too.
Tel Aviv is home to some of the greatest food in the world and is known as the vegan capital. Its colourful culinary scene features a range of celebrated restaurants, such as Vicky Cristina tapas and wine bar, and Manta Ray, one of Tel Aviv’s best restaurants specialising in fresh fish. You’ll want to explore the spice and pastry stalls of Tel Aviv’s Levinsky market and sample the exotic sweets at the large Carmel Market. Don’t miss the bourekas – a freshly baked filo pastry with goat’s cheese or potato, often served with boiled egg and a chopped tomato and onion sauce.
You could spend all your time in Tel Aviv, but one of the main reasons to visit Israel has to be Jerusalem, the home of holy sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Wailing Wall and the Via Dolorosa – the route Jesus is said to have walked on the way to his crucifixion. There is an air of serenity as you walk through the city and the history is palpable.
A visit to the Dead Sea should also be a priority as it’s only an hour’s drive away. The sea is famous for its buoyancy due to high salt content – so you can float with ease – and has mineral-enriched mud at the bottom of its waters. Taking a dip and applying the mud to your skin is said to have amazing benefits for a range of skin ailments. Heading back to Jerusalem, stop off at Masada, an ancient fortress and the symbol of the last stand of Jewish patriots against the Roman army in 73 AD. The site itself is compelling, but the views across the Dead Sea are unbelievable.
Purim, usually celebrated in March, is a Jewish festival that everyone can enjoy. Described by locals as a Halloween for adults, Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people from Haman’s plot to destroy all the Jews in one day. The festival lasts three days, but is celebrated citywide over a period of two weeks. Traditionally, Purim is marked by giving to the needy, exchanging gifts, masquerading, feasting and recapping on the book of Esther.
Need to know
• We stayed at the Savoy Tel Aviv Sea Side (Savoyhotels.co.il/savoy-hotel-tel-aviv/), less than five minutes’ walk from the beach. The hotel offers a daily buffet breakfast with hot and cold options, and a daily happy hour on the rooftop bar. Prices from £1,257 for a room for seven nights, including breakfast.
• In Jerusalem, we stayed at the Ibis Jerusalem (Ibisjerusalem.com) located in the heart of the city and just a ten-minute walk from the Old City. Prices from £895 for a room for seven nights, including breakfast.
• For more info on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, visit Goisrael.com
Please check Gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus for travelling advice following the outbreak of the coronavirus