Want sun, beach, desert, culture and scenery? Head to Israel for a road trip!
Tel Aviv is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest from May 14 – 18. Like the rest of its surroundings, Tel Aviv combines history and modernity, offering visitors a seemingly endless plethora of activities.
Israel is indeed one of the few countries that can tout such complete and varied things to see and do: history, the arts, the sea, entertainment, desert, nature, and modernity, not to mention the incredible gastronomic offerings. To help you find your way around, Musement has put together a list of seven essential stops during any visit. You can hit them all up on a road trip, or pick and choose.
1. Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a young city in both senses of the word. Indeed, the city was founded only in the last century, but also the population is relatively young as well as dynamic and cosmopolitan. You’ll be surprised by how much this city’s chaotic and aesthetically questionable architecture (it must be said) can enchant you. Tel Aviv exudes urbanism and modernity while revealing a more old-school side in the markets or in the Old City of Jaffa. Between stretches of beach bordered by long bike paths, trendy bars, shops and restaurants, Tel Aviv is a great place to start!
Jerusalem, or “Jeru” for locals, is located at the crossroads of the three monotheistic religions symbolized by the Mount of Olives—from where you can enjoy a breathtaking urbanscape—as well as the Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem isn’t just a sacred city. It’s also a lively college town where you can party and relax in the evening after a day dedicated to your studies. We strongly advise visiting the Western Wall, where the spiritual and emotional load is palpable. If you also want to leave a little note or prayer in the walls of the Kotel, remember that when leaving, you shouldn’t turn your back to it.
Safed, or Tsaft, also known as “the blue city of the kabbalists,” is the gem of a city you imagined in your childhood fantasies. A visit to this city perched in the hills of Galilee is a true journey into Jewish mysticism. The roofs, gates, tombs, and interior of the blue synagogues make Tsaft even more charming. Feel free to visit the synagogues, enter the art boutiques and take the stairs up to the secret rooftops. If you want to have lunch on the fly, sample a delicious Yemeni sandwich prepared before your eyes, in joy and good humor, at the Lahuhe Original Yemenite food bar.
4. The Markets
The “shuk” or marketplace is the ideal place to find perfect souvenirs, explore the country’s gastronomy or simply soak up the atmosphere by diving into the heart of the local civilization. We particularly recommend Shuk Ha’Carmel in Tel Aviv and Shuk Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem.
A visit to Israel would not complete without a trip to the desert. The Masada fortress is, in our opinion, not to be missed. Once you reach this magnificent archaeological site, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert. We strongly recommend accessing the fortress on foot, before dawn to avoid the heat, but especially to admire the sunrise over the Dead Sea. If possible, use a guide who can tell you the incredible story of the last survivors of the revolt of the Jewish patriots against the Roman army.
6. The Dead Sea
After Masada, a swim in the Dead Sea will be duly merited, but be careful as the water can get quite hot! Once there, get some clay and spread it all over your body before immersing yourself … you’ll come out with skin as smooth as a baby’s!
Above all, don’t shave anywhere on your body at least three days before going to the Dead Sea or you’ll be in for a real sting!
Caesarea, another archaeological site of great historical importance, is a port city built by Herod the Great in 29 BCE. The many ancient vestiges of the era include the aqueduct, the Hippodrome (race course) and the Roman amphitheater where concerts are held every summer. In Caesarea, antiquity, history and modernity mingle for a distinctly particular result. The beach of the new city of Caesarea is one of the country’s most beautiful and exclusive. Right next to the natural park of the ancient Roman city lies a complex as luxurious as the new town that makes for an exceptional wedding location.