Israel is home to some of the world’s most renowned religious sites, and its territory and major attractions are sacred to millions of people of many religions. The gold-plated Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the al-Aqsa Mosque are all located inside the fortified Old City of the country’s magnificent but contested capital Jerusalem. The renowned Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological treasures as well as masterpieces by Picasso, Rodin, and Matisse, is also located in the city. Despite its somber subject, Yad Vashem, the world’s biggest Holocaust museum, is equally stunning. Bethlehem, the renowned Biblical birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, is administratively part of the Palestinian Territories but is just a short drive away.
Tel Aviv, which is vibrant and contemporary, has a totally different vibe. Although the city’s vibrant nightlife and youthful vibe are its primary draws, it also has a number of excellent museums. If you go south down the Tel Aviv promenade, you’ll arrive at old Jaffa, which is now a suburb but was once a major port city. The beautiful verdant Bahá’ Gardens and the World Center with the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb are not to be missed in Haifa.
Israel’s many attractions are not confined to its contemporary cities. Consider going to Masada, a hilltop stronghold in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea that is a draw in and of itself. Allow time to stop at Caesarea National Park on your route to Haifa to see the Roman archaeological ruins and beautiful sea vistas. Allow time in the north to visit the lush regions of Galilee, which have beautiful scenery and a plethora of historically significant sites. Visit Nazareth, as well as the biblical and brilliant blue Sea of Galilee, which divides the contested Golan Heights from delightful places such as Tiberias, which offers beautiful vistas and ancient sites. The well-preserved Roman remains of Beth Shean are also in Galilee and well worth a visit. The seaside village of Akko, another World Heritage Site, beautiful Zikhron Ya’akov, the oasis of Ein Gedi, and the Timna Valley are just a few of the many additional locations you may wish to see.