A COUNTRY WITH LIMITLESS OUTDOOR TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES, A CUTTING EDGE CULINARY SCENE & A FLOURISHING DYNAMIC BETWEEN TWO CONTRASTING CITIES, SEES ISRAEL CLIMB UP THE BUCKET LIST FOR WHEN TRAVEL RETURNS
Whilst travel is off the table for now, there are plenty of reasons to put Israel at the top of your travel list for when borders open up again. Steeped in rich history, culture, beautiful outdoor scenery and not to mention an exciting culinary scene, Israel is making its way onto Brits’ 2021 travel wish lists for as soon as travel returns. And with Israel currently leading the way in the vaccine roll-out, the country has set its sights on opening borders for international travel by Spring 2021.
From the beautiful coast of Tel Aviv, the rich history of Jerusalem, the must-visit archaeological sites, the wonder of The Dead Sea, the ample outdoor and sustainable travel opportunities, the superb culinary scene, and the LGBTQ friendly city of Tel Aviv, these are just some of the many reasons for travel wishers to visit Israel in 2021.
VISIT ISRAEL – Two Cities, One Break
The two remarkable and beautifully different cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, merely an hour apart, are must visit locations in Israel. Famous for its religious and historical significance, Jerusalem is Israel’s ancient capital, the Holy City. Within the confines of the Old City, Jerusalem is overflowing with historical sites including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and the Tower of David – which is currently undergoing ground-breaking multi-million pound renewal and conservation plans.
By contrast, Tel Aviv, dubbed ‘the City that never sleeps’ a cosmopolitan hub at the heart of Israel’s nightlife, cultural and culinary scene, lined with golden Sandy beaches and glistening boardwalks. The city is blessed with beautiful beach life, a vibrant art scene, quirky boutiques, buzzing bars and home to the ancient port of Jaffa. Any trip to Israel is incomplete without a trip to each city, both of which have something fantastic to offer, whether soaking up the sun in Tel Aviv or the history in Jerusalem.
VISIT ISRAEL – Outdoor Travel
The pandemic has changed the way people would like to travel, with many travellers keen to explore nature, the great outdoors and take advantage of the open space. With sunny weather almost all year around, Israel is the perfect destination to enjoy outdoors. The Negev Desert, just a 90-minute drive south of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is an adventurer’s playground with countless natural wonders, outdoor activities, history and culture to explore, while Eilat, Israel’s window onto the Red Sea, is a tourism hub and a great base for outdoor excursions.
Hiking in Israel is one of the most popular activities. The country has one of the best networks of trails in the world, with more than 9000 km (5500 miles) of well-marked trails for hiking, biking or jeep driving, or even horse and camel ride, that cover most of the country. The Jewish National Fund has a number of cycling routes that stretch over 1,300 km, suitable for all levels and ages.
Head to The Red Canyon in the Eilat Mountains, which is one of country’s most beautiful yet accessible hikes. Just a twenty-minute drive from Eilat, it offers a real desert experience which is also perfect for beginners. The Ein-Gedi Reserve, located in the Judean Desert next to the Dead Sea, is a hiker’s paradise and one of the most visited reserves in Israel. The park offers a variety of trails that can be ‘mixed and matched’ to accommodate all kinds of hikers and visitors, and is great for family strolls too. Or, for a truly unforgettable experience, hike to the summit of Masada and watch the sunrise over the Dead Sea.
VISIT ISRAEL – Stylish Self-Catered Accommodation
For those keen to maintain social distancing wherever possible, tourists can book to stay in a Zimmer during their trip. Zimmers are unique to Israel and are self-stay chalet style accommodation located in beautiful rural areas of the country. Zimmers are usually self-contained accommodation units, and whilst the exact offering varies from place to place, are often self-catering, quiet, romantic, and luxurious. Zimmers can be found across Israel, however there are large numbers of zimmers in north and some in Negev regions (the more rural corners of the country) and is the perfect accommodation for the post-covid traveller.
VISIT ISRAEL – Sustainable Travel
Israel as a country has roots in sustainable living. The kibbutz is a phenomenon found only in Israel and is central to the fabric of society. The kibbutz movement started in 1905 as a collective way of living. The word “Kibbutz” means group/collective in Hebrew, which is the basic ideology of these communities. Joining one is voluntary and they run on a democratic system, where people work together collectively and pool their resources, sharing them equally with everyone living on the kibbutz.
Kibbutzim are responsible for 30% of Israel’s agricultural output. However, they’ve diversified over the years to focus on everything from art to technology! Many of them, regardless of their choice of main income, now offer tourism options, be it a small guest house to a full-service hotel. Just as there has been a recent revival for people wanting to live in a kibbutz, there is also the revival of people wanting to visit and have a taste of kibbutz life and sustainable living.
VISIT ISRAEL – Home to Culinary Delights and The Vegan Capital of the World
Tel Aviv’s culinary charm is hard to deny – the city has been dubbed the “vegan capital of the world”. With over 400 vegan and vegetarian eateries throughout the city, meat-free dishes with fresh fruit and veg are easy to come by. Tel Aviv’s vegan chefs take pride in using the freshest of vegetables, and often meander through “shuks” (markets) for seasonal menu inspiration.
Whilst staple Israeli foods hummus and falafel are innately vegan, the culinary scene in the city has seen the explosion of dynamic and flavourful green dishes, making ethical eating both delicious and exciting. From hummus joints like Hummus Abu Dabi, to vegan bistros such as Sultana, an exciting vegan BBQ bonanza, to high end restaurants including OPA, the work of renowned vegan chef Shirel Berger, Tel Aviv is bursting with the most delicious plant-based eateries the world has to offer.
VISIT ISRAEL –LGBT Heaven
Thanks to an abundance of LGBTQ bars, hotels and beaches, not to mention Tel Aviv Pride, the city has become a popular holiday destination for LGBTQ travellers. The Tel Aviv Pride parade is one of Israel’s biggest and most vibrant celebrations, and takes place during Tel Aviv Pride week, which unites the city’s LGBTQ community. Several cultural events, lectures, exhibitions, parties and conferences for the LGBT community take place over course of the week, including the first national conference of the gay community which took place in 2019.
International tourists too, are invited to join in the celebrations in one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world – in 2019, over 250,000 people flocked to the city for the annual parade, which concludes with a beach party on Tel Aviv’s stunning coastline. The city is an LGBT friendly destination all year round, and one which supports equal rights for all.
VISIT ISRAEL – Step into the lowest place on earth
No trip to Israel is complete without a visit to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. The Dead Sea is a hyper-saline lake that is eight times saltier than any ocean; naturally, this makes bodies more buoyant and floating comes at ease. Once finished bathing, visitors to the Dead Sea should try lathering themselves in the rich, black mud found on the seabed, which is high in minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium and is known to be great for your skin. Having been around for over 3 million years, The Dead Sea is also rich with history – legend has it that Cleopatra discovered its black mud and was a promoter of its benefits.
VISIT ISRAEL – Israel’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Scene
As well as a bustling nightlife scene, a robust spirits, beer and wine scene is emerging in Israel. Winemaking and craft brewers have been on the rise, and Israeli winemaking has attracted global attention. In Israel, winemaking goes back to biblical times, and today there are over 300 wineries within the country. Winemakers in the country have even sought out a way to grow grapes in the desert – the first country to do so. The craft beer industry is also on the up, and brewpub BeerBazaar is a great spot to visit, serving exclusively Israeli beers, with locations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israel’s first artisan distillery, Jullius Distillery in Galiliee, produced the first gin in the world to be made only from local Israeli plants, named Akko. The wild aromatic gin is made from 12 botanicals that grow in the Galilee and has a round and velvety texture.
VISIT ISRAEL – Accessibility in the spiritual old city of Jerusalem
Another reason to visit the spectacular city of Jerusalem is its accessibility. For the first time in history, Jerusalem is now accessible to people with disabilities. The Old City of Jerusalem is the most-visited place in Israel, culminating in 10 million visitors each year, and has undergone a ground-breaking project that allows the everyone to experience the historical sites of the city. As part of the project, four kilometres of streets in the Muslim, Armenian and Christian quarters were made accessible, and roughly two kilometres of handrails were installed alongside staircases in the Old City. This unique access project allows even more visitors to the country to enjoy the cultural wealth of Jerusalem.
VISIT ISRAEL – UNESCO Heritage Sites
Besides the wonderful cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, there are incredible archaeological sites to be seen elsewhere in Israel. Located on a flat plateau above the Dead Sea in the south of Israel, Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a desert fortress with breath-taking views of the ruins. The ancient fortification is steeped in history too, originally built by Herod the Great in 30 BCE to protect himself from enemy threats and later occupied by a group of Jewish zealots attempting to fend off the Ancient Romans, Masada is one of Israel’s true gems.
Israel boasts several other UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Old City of Acre, the walled port-city, where the remains of the Crusader town lie both above and below street level and date back to 1104 to 1291. One of the main attractions at Acre are the Knights’ Halls, built 800 years ago by the Knights Hospitaller and made up of giant halls, a dungeon, a large hall supported by massive pillars and the Beautiful Hall.
Elsewhere, the Bahai’ Gardens in Haifa reach close to a kilometre in length. The Terraces of the Baháʼí Faith, also known as the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, are garden terraces around the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel. The Bahai Holy Sites were listed on the World Heritage List in 2008.
All these iconic experiences are awaiting you on your next visit and we look forward to welcoming you back when travel resumes.