Last updated: April 19, 2019
Coined throughout history as the Holy Land, Israel is probably one of the first countries that children would learn in Sunday school. Besides the stories and rich culture, it offers a unique middle east experience and sites. It is home to 8.6 million people of which 80% are Jews. It is also strategically located by the Mediterranean Sea, making it abundant with resources it needs. In the modern age, it has been called the “Startup Nation” because of its vibrant tech startup community. It also has one of the most well-equipped and advanced militaries. Young people are treated with the excitement in Tel Aviv while the young at heart can relax at the Dead Sea. Together, let’s explore Israel through this guide.
WHY I LOVE ISRAEL
In August 2016, I was invited here for a media trip by Vibe Israel. There is something different about the energy in Israel — something relatable; something real. After deep thinking and creative nights in Tel Aviv, I decided to stay. I lived in Tel Aviv for one full year and this Israel travel guide is the fruit of that stay! Hope you enjoy!
ISRAEL QUICK INFO
THINGS NOT TO MISS
The Dead Sea
Fancy floating at the beach? Do this effortless in one of the must-visit sites in Israel, the Dead Sea. Known as the earth’s lowest place, it is also the world’s saltiest body of water. Due to the harsh conditions, no living organism grows here. However, it is also famous for its healing and therapeutic powers, so never hesitate to soak in.
Divided into four quarters– Muslim, Christian, Armenian, Jewish and Moroccan, this archeological wonder is the heart of diversity in Jerusalem. Guests will be treated with various flavors, culture, and history all at the same place. Its walls hold the most important stories of the world. It is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Probably one of the most prominent places mentioned in religious literature, the Golan Heights is an abundant agricultural area with its own unique stories. Artifacts dating back 700,000 BCE can be found in this area. The popular activity for guests is to soak into the rich wine experience. Israel has some of the most delicious wines that should be tested by the world.
Acre or commonly called Akko, is a city in Northern Israel with its own personality as well, being located by the Mediterranean Sea. Also popular for pilgrims, the city offers a good balance of history, ruins, and nature. Get yourself a treat of authentic local food at the Akko Market.
The lovely and lively coastal city of Israel surprises its guests with unique people, ecstatic nightlife and a breath of fresh air. Biking around is must do for first timers, as well as letting the time pass by the beach. A walking tour in Tel Aviv is also a must! Being one of the most important financial cities in the world, Tel Aviv represents a non-stop, 24-hour lifestyle of work and fun. It has been tagged as the city that never sleeps.
Jaffa Flea Market
Famous for its multiple mentions in various religious literature, Jaffa is the oldest part of Tel Aviv. There are museums, lighthouses, churches, and mosques that can be visited in a small town. Above all, the must visit is the flea market! Open six days a week, this shopping haven for flea market fans has some of the finest pieces for your souvenir hunt. Bring some change and haggle well.
For more information on specific destinations, check out the city guides below:
- Tel Aviv Travel Guide
- Jerusalem Travel Guide
Daily budget in Israel (est)
WHERE TO STAY IN ISRAEL
- Florentin Backpackers Hostel (Tel Aviv)
- Abraham Hostel (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Nazareth)
- Dead Sea Adventure Hostel (Arad)
- Fauzi Azar Inn (Nazareth)
- Port Inn (Haifa)
- The Green Backpackers (Mizpeh Ramon)
- Golan Heights Hostel (Golan)
Cucu Hotel (Tel Aviv)
- Fabric Hotel (Tel Aviv)
- Cinema Hotel (Tel Aviv)
WHAT TO EAT IN ISRAEL
The most common food found in an Israeli home. When I lived in Tel Aviv, I always made sure there is hummus on the table. The hummus tubs they sell at the supermarket are cheap and good, too. I recommend (and highly insist) that Abu Hassan is the best hummus place in Tel Aviv. You will see more options later in this article.
It’s an essential part in making hummus but you can have it as it is, too. Tahini is made of sesame. You can eat it with bread, put it on a salad as a dressing – you can do whatever you want!
Originally from Iraq, sabich is a sandwich composed of pita bread, eggplant and hard-boiled egg.
Very common to have this, especially in the Middle East. Originally from Egypt and the Levant, these balls of goodness are a big part of the Israeli “street food.” You won’t see it in a food stall like in Asia but it’s in every corner of the country!
I love Israel’s shawarma because of the unlimited sides of chili, pickled onions and tahini. In most countries, you will not have as much side dishes but in Israel, you will enjoy the experience of putting your own toppings! My favorite shawarma joint is in Shderot Yerushalayim, Jaffa.
A tasty but spicy condiment which is part of the Israeli food culture. For spicy food lovers, you can put this to all your Israeli meals. Charif is originally from the Yemenis.
I probably have eaten (and cooked) schnitzel almost every week when I was living in Tel Aviv! Flat chicken meat breaded and deep fried which goes with fries/chips. You can eat it with rice, too!
Originally from the Ottoman Empire, burekas is a dough of bread with cheese inside. I normally have it for breakfast but you can find it in the bakeries all day!
Another breakfast favorite, shakshuka is made from a lot of tomatoes, garlic, onion, topped with eggs. This should be the first thing you should try in Israel!