25 Reasons Why Travelers Love Israel

PHOTO: View towards Jerusalem.(photo courtesy of silverjohn/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Michelle Rae Uy
by Michelle Rae Uy
Last updated: 9:00 AM ET, Wed April 18, 2018


From the rocky Martian desert landscapes of the south, past golden beaches and salt-rich waters to the fecund rolling hills of the north, Israel's irresistibility is hard to argue. Its appeal is rooted deep, radiating from its history, its people, its food, and its unexpected air of tolerance that rarely makes it to the headlines.

So many travelers who have had the opportunity to experience Israel's offerings talk about this effervescent destination in breathless tones. Here are 25 reasons why.

The Food is Fit for the Gods

Food is an integral part of the Israeli culture so it's hardly a surprise that the gastronomy scene is nothing short of amazing. Incorporating the best elements of Jewish, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, Israeli food is rich and comforting yet also incredibly healthy. You will be spoiled rotten during your visit.

Meat-Eaters Might Just Happily Go Vegan

Israeli cuisine is intrinsically veggie-heavy and delicious. So much so that even hardcore meat eaters might happily go vegan or at least vegetarian. A traditional meal begins with an appetizer spread of Israeli salad, eggplants, tabbouleh, roasted artichoke and cherry tomatoes, alongside hefty helpings of hummus, tahini and pita bread.

The Coffee is Great Too

While Israel doesn't grow its own coffee beans; its caffeine game is undeniably strong. You need not seek out a proper café to get a good cup. Even its version of Starbucks, called Aroma, makes great coffee. To refuel on a particularly hot day, be sure to order iced coffee-a blended coffee concoction similar to our Frappuccino but light years better.

The Wine is Heaven-Sent

Though Israeli wine, which can be traced back to biblical times, might not be world-famous, the country actually boasts several wine-producing regions that make excellent reds and whites. The most popular of them are Golan Heights in the north and Jerusalem in central Israel. Indulge, because all that good food needs great wine.

Everything Seems Familiar.

With its desert landscapes, sparkling beaches, sidewalks paved with hip, al fresco restaurants and LGBT-friendliness, it's hard not to draw comparisons. Tel Aviv especially looks and feels very much like Los Angeles so while you are in a different country immersed in an entirely different culture, it never really feels too foreign and strange, which is comforting.

Everything Seems to be Made in Israel

Many of the things we utilize in our daily lives are made or invented in Israel. The country is home to brilliant scientists and innovators as well as more than 7,000 start-ups. Among these products are cherry tomatoes, USB flash drive, the Waze app, Wix.com, Max Brenner and Amazon Kindle.

The Weather is Blessed

While the most comfortable months to visit Israel are March, April and May, it's worth noting that the weather in this country is generally pleasant year-round. It's why many restaurants and bars have outside seating-who doesn't want to enjoy that glorious weather-and why it's a great destination to visit throughout the year.

The Landscape is Surprisingly Diverse

Just because Israel is located in the arid Middle East, doesn't mean it's all desert. Surprisingly, the destination boasts a diverse landscape, with the south hosting rocky deserts and towering cliffs made of salt while the fertile north looking a bit like the Irish countryside. To round it out, the country is also dotted with lovely beaches in the west, east and very south.

It's Incredibly Safe

Contrary to what is typically reported in the papers, Israel is an incredibly safe place to live in, let alone visit, and perfect for female solo travelers. No one besides those in the military, owns and carries guns, the men are generally respectful of women, and everyone tends to be considerate of one another's beliefs and culture.

Getting Around is a Breeze

It takes less than five hours to drive from Eilat in the south to Kiryat Shmona in the north. That means that every single town, city or attraction in the country is within a few minutes to a few hours' drive of one another. You need only hop on a bus or rent a car. Plus, they're also launching a train line that will connect Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, cutting short the travel between the two cities from 2 hours to 30 minutes.

You Can Visit the Places in the Bible

Most of us are familiar with at least one story from the Bible, and a trip to Israel will definitely feel like a step back in time. The Holy Land is home to a host of places that served as settings for many stories in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. Opportunities, therefore, to visit familiar biblical places you might have read about abound.

Retrace Jesus' Steps

A pilgrimage through the holy sites relating to Jesus is a must if only to experience first hand the energy that seems to emanate from them. A good place to start is Jerusalem where you can trace the Stations of the Cross along Via Dolorosa and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which stands over Calvary where he was crucified.

Visit Historical Sites

Historical sites and archaeological ruins are numerous as well. Visit Herod's famous Masada, perched atop a plateau. Explore the ancient streets of the Old City of Jerusalem and the City of David. Take on the buzzing market streets of the ancient port city of Jaffa and see the burial grounds on the Mount of Olives.

Explore Bustling Cities

Go on a Segway tour of Jerusalem, a bike tour of Tel Aviv, or utilize your God-given mode of transport (since most places in Israel are pedestrian-friendly). There are no better ways to get to know every nook and cranny of Israel's bustling cities. You will be delighted with what you'll find.

Shop 'til You Drop

Carve out some time to shop. Israelis love their boutique stores, which you'll find aplenty in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In the White City, the narrow streets of hip neighborhoods like Jaffa and Neve Tzedek, where actress Gal Gadot is from, are lined with fantastic clothing and accessories shops as well as home furnishing stores.

Bargain at the Markets

You cannot miss out on the markets where you'll be rubbing elbows with locals and feasting your eyes on colorful piles of produce, baked goods, candies, flowers, spices and dry goods. In Jerusalem, Mahane Yehuda must be ticked off the list. In Tel Aviv, it's the Carmel Market and the spice-laden strip of Levinsky.

Party the Night Away

There's little doubt that you've heard of Tel Aviv's lively party and bar scene. But places like Jerusalem and the resort town of Eilat have their share of live music venues, great bars and pulsating festivities as well. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a night on the town. And have a couple of shots of arak while you're at it.

Take to the Heavens

Seeing Israel from a hot air balloon might not be as popular, but watching the plains of Jezreel Valley and Galilee in the north or the Negev desert and the Bedouin camps in the south from above can be an unforgettable experience. Or if you're feeling more adventurous, try your hand at paragliding over the coastal cliffs of Netanya.

Stay Grounded

Soft adventures on land are plentiful, not just in the deserts but also in the hilly north. Hiking in the Ein Gedi Oasis where David hid from King Saul, off-roading in the Judean Desert, rappelling down canyons, going on a jeep tour and bird-watching in the north, and taking a desert camel tour are among the many land-based adventures in which you can partake.

Float Around at Sea

No one will fault you if you just opt to go slow and laze around, floating in the Dead Sea. The salt and mud will do wonders for your skin, and you need time to digest all that good food anyway.

Reconnect with Your Spirituality

Whether you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim or spiritual with no religious affiliations, reconnecting with your spiritual side is easy especially in Jerusalem, a city believed to be one of the holiest places for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A prayer at the Western Wall is almost an ethereal experience; so is visiting the crucifixion site in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Immerse Yourself in Other Cultures

Enjoy a stay at Kfar Hanokdim, a desert resort that mixes the Bedouin traditions and way of life with glamping, great food and desert activities. Here, you can choose your type of accommodation-from tents to beautiful sukkahs or desert-style lodges-and complete your experience with a package that includes a desert feast, traditional Bedouin hospitality with a Bedouin host, a camel trek, a bonfire, and relaxing in a roofed zula.

Celebrate All Sexual Orientations

Tel Aviv is one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world, a glorious and surprising fact considering that Israel is in the Middle East and it is a fairly conservative country. In fact, it's known for having one of the biggest Pride Parades in the world.

Everyone Speaks English

You need not speak in tongues when you're traveling through Israel. That's because most of its denizens, especially in the cities but also in smaller towns, speak English well enough that you'd be able to get by swimmingly without having to learn Hebrew.

People are Lovely, Welcoming and Tolerant

The most pleasant surprise of all is that you'll find Israel a tolerant country and Israelis friendly, open and hospitable if a little frank and feisty bunch. Regardless of your skin color, nationality or religion, you'll feel welcome here.

Israel's appeal is deep-rooted, stemming from its history, its people and its food.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me