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Travel Guide: Israel Highlights

22nd Jul 2015 12:00am | By Editor

From holy Jerusalem to bustling Tel Aviv, check out Israel.

Jerusalem

Holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, Jerusalem is a city like no other.

The four-quartered Old City is where you'll find the main attractions, including (but not limited to) Judaism's most important site, the Western Wall; Islam's third most important mosque, the Dome of the Rock; and Christianity's Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Get away from the main tourist sites and you'll discover there's even more to Jerusalem - you'll get a taste for it downtown where ultra-Orthodox Jews rub shoulders with Russian immigrants, young soldiers and seminary students. As with all travel in Israel, it's best to exercise common sense and follow up-to-date travel advice from your home government.

 

Dead Sea

Here's where you get to have your photograph taken lying back on the water, legs up in the air, reading a newspaper.

The Dead Sea is a massive salt lake and its shores are the lowest place on earth.

The saltiness accounts for it's incredible buoyancy (just don't mistakenly stick your head under - salt stings!) and its high mineral content (water and mud) is celebrated for its health giving properties. There are dozens of beaches and resorts dotted along its coast where you can take a dip. It's baking here in summer.

 

Masada

Combine your excursion to the Dead Sea with a trip to the astounding fortress of Masada, which has become one of the Jewish people's most important symbols.

Masada is an isolated sheer-sided rock plateau into which Roman ruler Herod the Great built a small city in order to serve as fortress in times of trouble.

But in 66 AD a group of Jewish rebels captured Masada from the Romans and managed to resist a two-year siege by Roman forces. This group took the decision to commit mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans. What's left at Masada today is an astounding series of ruins that point to this extraordinary chapter of history.

Open: 8am-5pm April to September, 8am-4pm October to March

Cable Car: 8am-4pm Saturday to Thursday, 8am-2pm Friday and Holiday eves, Yom Kippur eve 8am-12pm

Tickets: Dead Sea side plus cable car 2 ways Adult 76ILS, Eastern side and Snake Path climb Adult 29ILS, Masada National Park plus cable car one way Adult 76ILS, Cable car one way Adult 29ILS, Cable car round trip 47ILS.

 

Tel Aviv

Bustling, colourful and mainly secular, Tel Aviv - to some extent - is what you'd expect from Israel's main commercial town. Throw in stunning Mediterranean beaches, the quirky and laid-back Shenkin Street, proximity to the artistic Old Jaffa sea port, and a thumping nightlife and gay scene and you just might start to get the picture.

 

The Galilee

Accounting for the northern third of Israel, the Galilee is generally considered the lush, green part of the country, thanks to its higher than average rainfall and lower (but not by that much) temperatures. It's a diverse area that includes some unique flora and fauna and is a great place for bush walks.

The Galilee is also home to Lake Kinneret, sometimes called the Sea of Galilee, Israel's largest fresh water lake and the area around the here is the birthplace of the modern Kibbutz movement.

The Galilee was also where Jesus was born (Nazareth) and he spent at least 30 years of his life ministering in the area. Other highlights here are the town of Safed - an ancient centre of Jewish mysticism - and Akko - a coastal town with a strong Ottoman, Arab and Jewish heritage.