By Briana Seftel
Regardless of religious beliefs, all visitors to Israel are deeply moved by this holy land. All people of faith can enjoy touring Israel’s holy landmarks and discover the ancient religious connections from the Western Wall and Old City of Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
Frishman Beach, Tel Aviv
The first impression when you disembark at the airport in Tel Aviv is the warm air from the Mediterranean Sea. You may not think of Tel Aviv as a beach destination, but the city has plenty of beaches to enjoy, like Frishman Beach. Enjoy an ice cream, watch volleyball and relax at some of the many bars, cafes and restaurants along Frishman Beach.
Travel Tip: Arrive early to secure free sunshades along the whole beach. Don’t worry if you sleep in as there are chaises, lounges and umbrellas for rental too! Frishman Beach is popular with the locals and a great way to enjoy the relaxing lifestyle of Tel Aviv.
An Art & Architect Lover’s City
Tel Aviv is home to the Diaspora Museum, a wonderful first stop when visiting Tel Aviv. Take a deep dive on all things that make up the amazing fabric of the Jewish identity. Follow the story of the Jewish people, their struggles and strengths, all expressed in artworks and exhibitions.
Lunch anyone? Look no further than two miles south of downtown Tel Aviv in the port city of Jaffa. Apart from the beautiful architecture dating back to the Roman and Ottoman civilizations, the cosmopolitan shopping, restaurants, cafes and scrumptious range of Mediterranean seafood platters can also be found in this lovely port city.
Start your walking tour after lunch from the Clock tower square in the heart of the city and check to see if the Jaffa Flea Market is open or go big and splash out at one of the many chic fashion boutiques.
Old City of Jerusalem
A vacation to Israel is not complete without a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is located 50 miles from Tel Aviv and is a perfect day trip for shorter vacations. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of sneakers as the cobblestone streets of the Old City are thousands of years old, literally! A visit to the Western Wall, Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are must-see sites in Jerusalem. The historical significance of the Old City is truly intriguing and a day spent here will give you an understanding why this city is sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews. Stroll through the alleyways and winding narrow streets on your vacation to the Old City of Jerusalem, soaking up the feeling from thousands of years from when Herod the Great ruled in 19BC.
Float in the Dead Sea
You’ve come all this way to Israel and it is definitely worthwhile continuing on to visit the Dead Sea. Famous for dense concentration of salt that allows objects, particularly humans, to float effortlessly. It’s an out-of-this-world experience feeling almost perfect weightlessness. Bring your favorite book and read while floating or just enjoy the surreal feeling! Be sure not to taste the water as the hypersalinity can cause sickness and limit your swim to 10 to 15 minutes.
And yes, it has become popular to scoop up some of the mud from the Dead Sea and rub it onto your skin as an exfoliant. Our suggestion is to buy a pack from one of the sellers along the shore of the Dead Sea and paint yourself and friends before taking lots of selfies and posting them to Instagram! And if you’re looking for a fun fact to post, the Dead Sea is actually a lake linked to the River Jordan!
But first coffee!
Coffee houses in Israel are serious business. Barristas take great pride in serving up the perfect coffee as a wonderful past time for Israelis is to meet for coffee. The dense living in parts of inner cities across Israel make the local cafe a perfect meeting place for friends and doing business. Along with a beautiful selection of Middle Eastern-inspired cakes and pastries, you won’t have to look far to find a cafe to enjoy street life in Israel. Popular among American travelers to Israel are these franchises coffee shop chains: Aroma, Cup O’ Joe, Arcaffe and Café Hillel. A must try is the Israeli cappuccino known as a Café Afuch which is also known as an upside down coffee!