Israel is a state in the Middle East. This country of deeply revered religious shrines, eclectic culture, blooming cities and diverse natural landscapes, from high mountains to green valleys and arid deserts. It attracts a huge number of tourists, and the journey changes them as the Holy Land leaves no one indifferent.
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Israel, which stretches 423 kilometers from north to south and 114 kilometers at its widest from west to east, is a small country, but with an extremely diverse nature, from vast deserts in the south to fertile valleys in the north. A narrow strip of land along the Syrian-African rift, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, it lies at the crossroads of trade, at the junction of Africa and Asia.
For centuries the Holy Land has attracted pilgrims from all over the world with its numerous religious shrines, atmosphere of spirituality and mystery. Today, nothing has changed and Israel is rapidly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
On a narrow strip of land along the Syrian-African Rift between the plains of Europe in the north and the sultry deserts of the south, all the riches of these natural areas are concentrated. In the north of Israel, the Golan Heights and the Galilee you will find pine forests, rumbling waterfalls and high mountains with snow caps, while the region of the central plateau and the Lower Galilee are gentle hills with developed agriculture and blossoming cities.
The Old Streets of Jerusalem
Israel is a Mediterranean country and its long coastline has long been inhabited by people. Major cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre attract tourists with their warm climate and sandy beaches, and ancient structures that have stood the test of time, such as Caesarea, are unique archaeological sites. In the interior of the country, just an hour from Tel Aviv and the coast, is Jerusalem. Its heart is the Old City, a real treasure, which fascinates even the most unperturbed visitors.
Much of the country is desert, where steep rocky mountains and valleys alternate with fertile oases and small kibbutzim. At the edge of the desert, which opens the way to Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, stretches the Red Sea, whose reefs teeming with coral and tropical fish.
The short history of the state of Israel, proclaimed more than 60 years ago, was bright and turbulent; but the land on which it is located is unusually ancient and rich in a variety of events. Numerous remains of ancient civilizations have survived here, and the unique findings of archaeologists are displayed in the country’s first-class museums.
The influx of immigrants has resulted in a remarkably diverse and interesting culture with an abundance of languages, national cuisines, musical styles, and theaters. Despite the political difficulties thoroughly documented by the world media, modern Israel is a peaceful country whose citizens work hard, love their families, and greatly value their free time, nature, and fellowship.
Dome of the Rock Mosque – one of the symbols of Jerusalem Judean Desert
Many people dream of a trip to Israel, and for an increasing number of people their dream is becoming a reality. In the past, traveling to this country was considered interesting, but illogical and even dangerous. But these days, a four-hour flight from Europe has made a vacation, holiday or pilgrimage trip much more affordable.
Israel is a place where the question “Do you speak English?” you will hear the answer “of course”, where restaurants rival French restaurants, and the number of historical, archaeological and religious sites is unmatched.
Israel is geographically diverse. This green, forested north with snow-capped mountains, rivers and fertile valleys, Mount Hermon (2224 m), 250-km River Jordan, the Jezreel Valley and the Sea of Galilee. On the 270 km long Mediterranean coastline there are cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre, and, far from the sea, on the border of the vast waterless desert that occupies the south of the country, Jerusalem.
At the heart of the desert is the Dead Sea – the lowest place of land, a real geological miracle (433 meters below sea level) . The southern tip of Israel rests on the Red Sea, although the length of the coastline is only 14 km.
The political borders of this part of the Middle East are very complex and constantly changing. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured and continues to hold the Golan Heights, which belonged to Syria, although the area of 1790 km² is recognized by the UN as occupied territory.
Due to political tensions between Syria and Israel, the two countries are separated by a demilitarized zone under UN control. At the southern end of the Mediterranean coast, on the border with Egypt, there is Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip, and to the east of the Jordanian border, another Palestinian area, the West Bank.
Since the Six Day War, when Israel seized Jordan’s East Jerusalem and part of the West Bank, these territories have remained under Jewish control (which the UN and much of the international community considers illegal) and Israeli settlements remain in the West Bank.
The capital of Israel is Jerusalem, although for political reasons most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv. These two largest cities in the country are completely different from each other. Jerusalem – the tradition, ancient architecture, pious people, deep political and religious roots, while Tel Aviv – a young, fun, secular city with white sand beaches and boulevards, lined with numerous cafes. The third largest city in the country, Haifa is located in the north of the Mediterranean coast and the northern tip of the Carmel mountain range. This quiet and pleasant city is known for its large seaport, a naval base, a prestigious university and the headquarters of the Bahai religion.
There are other major cities in Israel, but they are mostly residential areas and are of little interest to tourists. The exceptions are Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, the holy Jewish city of Safed in the Upper Galilee, inhabited mostly by Christian Arabs, Nazareth in the Lower Galilee, the ancient port city of Acre north of Haifa, Be’er Sheva, considered the gateway to the Negev desert, and the Red Sea resort of Eilat.
Israel is washed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It is adjacent to Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The total area is 20,770 sq. km. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The population of Israel: about 7.840 million people.
Tourist will discover thousands of years of history, opportunities for diving and surfing, as well as delicious Middle Eastern cuisine in Israel.
Israel is a country with a long and colorful past. As for the country, it is worth remembering that it is a country of contrasts. Tourists will find the country’s modern cities, as well as ancient history.
In Bethlehem, Jesus was born in what is now Israel. This event is due to the further development of culture and religion of Israel.
A country full of history.
Israel is a great place for cultural travel, and especially those who are interested in history and religion will find much to see and experience in the country. The Red Sea beaches have been popular with divers for decades and are well suited for beach vacations. Modern Tel Aviv is also a great beach and surfing destination, as well as opportunities to dive into the local nightlife.
The most famous destinations in Israel are Tel Aviv, the capital of the country, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea on the eastern border. Diving spots on the Red Sea, such as Eilat, are also popular.
Many foreign countries have not officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The state of Israel was established in a country inhabited by Palestinians in 1948, which led to conflicts with Palestinians in the region.
Culture and Religion
Today, Israel uses Judaism as the state religion, but there are also Christians and Muslims. Approximately 82% of those who practice Judaism live in the country, 15% practice Islam, and about 2% are Christians.
Although most Israelis are very religious, they also lead a secular life. The religious (especially men) are easy to recognize in a crowd. They usually wear dark clothing, with a puffy beard and curly sideburns (paisa), which have become part of the culture.
Culture and religion are closely intertwined, and have naturally influenced each other in the course of history. Israeli culture is a fusion of the cultures of local communities. The culture of modern Israel is also heterogeneous and diverse: in every city each cultural group has its own printed edition, newspapers are published in ten languages.
The musical tastes of the local population also vary: Yemenite and Hasidic tunes as well as Klezmer and Arab music are all heard in Israel, without forgetting good old rock and jazz. Israeli singers have repeatedly participated in Eurovision, and even won twice. Culture and religion, as mentioned above, influence each other very strongly, and this trend can also be seen in literature.
Most of the poetry and prose is in Hebrew, but books in other languages are not shunned by the locals. Moreover, there is a law requiring that two copies of any printed book be sent to the Hebrew National Library and to the Hebrew University Library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Israelis not only pray and read, as some might think, they also dance, usually a folk dance, the hora, which used to be very popular in the countryside, but is now performed during holidays in the big cities as well. Every year a dance festival is held in Karmiel, and people from all over the world come to Israel to take part in the festivities.
Do not underestimate the culture and religion of Israel, they honor the traditions, but also do not reject the trends of modernity. A trip to this country will give you the opportunity to learn more about culture and religion. Your journey will be very exciting!
Israel has always been a popular tourist destination, not least because the country has holy sites of three religions. Both Jews, Christians and Muslims have their own relationship with the land.
As a result of decades of conflict, Israel’s reputation as an unsafe country has been tarnished. It is a relatively safe country for tourists, but it is always worth keeping an eye on the travel news when traveling. By the time you arrive, it is good to consider the tensions, but they often do not harm the foreign tourist.
The tourist avoids difficulties by refraining from political talk and respecting the local culture.
Weather in Israel
The country is located in a subtropical climate zone, the weather is appropriate: it is hot and dry in summer, the temperature does not fall below +29 degrees, in winter in Israel, too, is not cold, about +15 degrees, rainfall is rare and uneven – in the city may be drifts, and the green grass grows out of town. The greatest amount of precipitation falls in December, January and February, which is generally quite natural.
In the north of the country there are rivers including the famous Jordan, in the south there are also small ponds, but in the summer they often dry up because of the hot winds – khamsin. So rest by the river you are unlikely to be lucky, although if you try …
In Israel, you can relax for a long time, there are many interesting places to visit, the weather is good all year round and the summer is very long – from April to October.
Advice – go to Israel on vacation. The weather is good, and there is something to see. You’ll get a tan here very quickly, but be careful – you can burn. The main thing is the right timing of the stay in the sun. After a couple of hours a day at the beach before or after dinner, your skin will get a bronze shade.
Cities and resorts in Israel
At least once a year, you need to rest and rest well. We advise you to look at the beach resorts of Israel: Eilat, Haifa, Tiberias, Natanya, Herzliya and Caesarea. Now about each in order.
Jerusalem – the holy city of three religions.
Jerusalem is the holy city of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which brings a huge amount of religious tourism to the city. The presence of the great religions cannot be overlooked, as numerous churches, synagogues and mosques, as well as other holy sites, color the street scene. In addition to religion, the thousand-year-old city of Jerusalem also offers tourists invaluable cultural history, art, museums, excellent stores, restaurants and a modern lifestyle. Jerusalem is by no means just an open-air museum, but a living and modern city.
Religious sites throughout the country
In the case of Israel, it is impossible to avoid mentioning religious sites because they also have cultural and historical significance. The most important holy sites are located in Jerusalem: the Temple Mount, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Rock Mosque, the Wailing Wall, the Via Dolorosa, Calvary, the Mount of Olives, the Temple of the Holy Sepulcher and many other places.
In addition to Jerusalem, important biblical sites include Lake Gennesaret and Nazareth. Bethlehem is located in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, so those planning a trip there should be prepared to answer additional questions at the airport about the purpose of the trip.
Eilat has been one of the most popular tourist destinations for decades for many. Gorgeous beaches, great diving opportunities, coral reefs, a relaxing atmosphere, and sunshine continue to draw visitors to the Red Sea resort city.
Eilat has a very mild climate with constant sunshine and only clouds for about seven days a year. Here is a popular diving, because here is the Coral Reserve. Also here there are a lot of clubs, bars and stores. In addition, you can always get out on a camel safari or a jeep and go to the Timna National Park.
Eilat – one of the safest resorts in Israel, which is also good for families. From Eilat, among other things, you can hike in the nearby Negev desert.
The resort of Haifa is loved by those who prefer to vacation sightseeing combined with shopping. Despite the small number of hotels, the quality of service is very high. Both the sea and the beaches of Haifa are very clean. In the city itself and in its vicinity a lot of attractions.
On Lake Kinneret is a resort Tiberias, which has a lot of attractions, particularly Christian shrines. People often come to Tiberias to relax in the waters of the mineral springs and to walk through the coniferous forests.
Another popular resort in Israel is Natanya, sandy and well-equipped modern beaches which stretch for 11 km along the coast. Lovers of outdoor activities can always find something to do in Natanya, there is a riding school, a bowling club, several tennis courts and a go-kart center.
The resort of Gertzia is located near Tel Aviv. This resort is visited by VIPs: there are luxurious hotels and villas, as well as many great yacht clubs.
The resort of Caesarea is visited by lovers of antiquities, because it is an open-air archaeological museum. Here are preserved walls of the Crusader fort, an ancient Roman amphitheater, a hippodrome, the ruins of the Herod the Great Palace and much more.
Ski Resort – Hermon
In Israel, there is even a ski resort – Hermon, which is located on the highest mountain in the country, it was opened in the early twentieth century and is still operating. The total length of its tracks is about 8 km, there are pistes of varying difficulty, as well as rental center for skiing equipment.
Resorts Israel is a place where every year people want to go back again, and many do. With a place to rest you have to decide for yourself, I hope the above information will help you.
If you go to Israel for less than 90 calendar days without the purpose of making a profit in the country, you, as a citizen of Russia, do not need a visa.
Duty free to bring into Israel can only those items that are designed for personal use.
It is strictly forbidden to bring:
- counterfeit money and documents;
- Gambling equipment;
- Pornographic material.
Importing items such as animals, fresh meat, weapons, plants and medicines requires special permission.
The Israeli shekel is the official currency. Most banks are open Sunday to Thursday: from 8:30 to 12:00, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 16:00 to 18:00. Money can also be exchanged at exchange offices. Most stores only accept shekels as payment.
In most cases in Israel, normal precautions are sufficient. It is safe to travel alone in most parts of the country, but travel to conflict areas should be avoided. According to the instructions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all travel to Gaza should be avoided. Caution should also be exercised in the West Bank.
Because of religions, for example in the Old City of Jerusalem and other religious areas, restrained clothing should be worn. Israeli authorities accept registered same-sex marriages and, for example, the attitude in Tel Aviv is very liberal. However, it is worth remembering that extremist religious circles still do not accept homosexuality.
You should be prepared for periodic security checks and always have your passport with you. Going back to security checks at the airport, you should also allow a little more time, especially if you are traveling with a group.
Lots of Accommodation Options
Israel has many diverse accommodations. Tourists usually stay in hotels or hostels, but alternatives can also be found in camping hotels and Bedouin tents in the desert. The price level is suitable for all wallets.
However, during peak travel times be prepared for the fact that there may not be enough beds in Jerusalem. The most popular time to travel in Jerusalem is October, when there are a lot of tourists and a limited number of beds, because in Jerusalem you can not build such tall buildings, such as in Tel Aviv.
To travel around Israel is easiest by public transport, which is also affordable. This is a small country, so the distances are usually short. Well developed rail and bus network, but you can also rent a car.
Cabs are a good way to get around in the cities, but they are more expensive than public transport. At the beach resorts and in the cities, especially in Tel Aviv, you can rent a bike.
I am the author of many articles on this site and a travel blogger. In 2011, I quit my corporate job and started traveling. I have been to 36 countries on 6 continents and don’t want to stop anytime soon!