Israel is one of the countries that might surprise you with how many are there to see. Most of the people would come to visit the historical sights in Jerusalem but there is much more than this amazing city. Except for a lot of historical sights across the country, there is also a lot of nature to see. Also many different cities than just Jerusalem. Here are my ideas for the Israel bucket list, just to give you an idea of what can you visit in this country.
Israel bucket list
This country in the middle east is relatively small so it is easy to travel around it. Besides that, there is a lot of places to visit, so it is easy to see a lot in a relatively short time. By that I mean you don’t need a whole month or even full two weeks like you would in Peru for example. At the same time, Israel has excellent infrastructure, so that you can get by by public transport almost everywhere.
One of the pearls of Israel. In fact, if you don’t have Jerusalem on your Israel bucket list, it is like you have never visited the country. It is an absolutely gorgeous place with a lot of history and it is an important place for a lot of religions. All Jews, Muslims, and Christians have important sights here.
Jerusalem is a place where it is possible to stay for a somewhat longer time. Perhaps even a weekend or longer. In the city, you can see the famous Western Wall and even wish for something when you put a little paper to it. There is also a Church of Holy Sepulchre which is the holiest place for Christian pilgrims for it is built close to the place where Christ was crucified. From Muslim buildings – you can also see here the Temple mount, which is also located in the old part of Jerusalem.
The city itself doesn’t have an airport but it is possible to get here by train or busses. The location is great for trips to Palestinian territories or to the Dead sea. There is also a lot of hotels and hostels, so the location is suitable both for backpackers and for luxury travelers.
About 45 minutes from Jerusalem is another big city. Tel Aviv is very different from Jerusalem though. Even though it has some old parts, generally you can see that it is rather a modern city with Bauhaus architecture.
You get to see there a lot of new buildings. Among them is also the Tel Aviv Museum of Art which collects both modern and classical pieces. If you are more interested in history, there is the old port, with a beautiful view, gorgeous mosque and cultural center. Other than that, Tel Aviv is also good for buying souvenirs. There is a place called Carmel Market, where you can find anything you would like – street art, spices, t-shirts, tacky and original souvenirs as well.
Tel Aviv is very close to the international airport, so it is easy to get to the city. You can also find a connection to Tel Aviv by train or busses from different parts of the country. Even though the city is a bit more expensive (similarly to Jerusalem though), it is not difficult to find a backpacker-friendly hostel.
Another big city in Israel. Haifa has a little bit of both. You can find here both modern places and historical pearls. The main thing you cannot miss though is the gardens. Bahai gardens are probably the most dominant thing you can visit in Haifa and for a very good reason. Without a doubt, they are one of the most beautiful things you can see in this city. Once you are there, you can also visit the Shire of Bab, which is all the way to the top, making a specific landscape for this city.
You can also see here the Stela Maris monastery, which has a very unique architecture. It is a relatively new building but at the same time, it manages to fit in the old vibe of the city. If you are looking for a beach vacation or even a place to try surfing, Haifa can be the place for you. There is a gorgeous beach with the possibility of surfing.
Haifa has all the infrastructure you need for getting here. There are busses both from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to get to the city center. The city itself has a really nice tram system and the stops are next to all the important sights.
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This town has something special. Close to the pristine beaches, you can also find one of the most iconic historic places. Acre used to be a port where all the knights gathered to fight for Jerusalem during the crusades in the middle ages.
So it is no surprise that you can find there a Knight hall with an exhibition about the crusades. It is in the fort from these times. There is also the Templar tunnel which used to be a secret route to the harbor mainly built and used by templar knights. There is also a medieval citadel and mosque from the 18th century.
An acre is easy to reach from Haifa. There is a train or bus that comes and goes from here relatively often. You can stay here over the night since the town is not the biggest it is much cheaper than Jerusalem for example. But it is a place that can be visited just as a one day trip.
Another historical monument that is a must on the bucket list for Israel. Prepare for a one-lifetime view while being surrounded by history. Masada in general is a national park in Israel. The park consists of an Israeli desert and a big plateau on which there was build a King Herolds palace.
This palace is now possible to visit, it consists of a couple of rock terraces, a Roman-style bathhouse with a mosaic floor. There is also a museum of Masada where you can get to know all about this place and its history.
After all these easy-to-reach places there is a place that is a little bit more difficult to reach. There is a direct bus from and to Jerusalem but the schedule is more difficult to get around. Besides the best thing to do here is to watch the sunrise over the dead sea. For that, you would need either a driver, a tour, or your own car. All possible though!
Even though technically it is a lake it is still a very unique place to visit. There are several places where you can access the lowest point on Earth (yes it is!). A lot of hotel resorts offer private beaches, but there are also some public ones.
In the dead sea, you can generally enjoy the view (you can see on the other side – so, say Hi to Jordan). It is also said that the minerals from the sea would help with your skin. There are so many minerals that you can float in the water and it is generally very difficult to swim in it.
The buses from Jerusalem offers several stops on the shore of the Dead sea, so depending on your accommodation, it can be quite easy to come here. The main problem here is that not every village offers beaches or generally swimming, so make sure that you find a place with a beach nearby.
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A natural oasis in the desert. Who would not want to see more of these? Located very close to the Dead sea, it is very easy to visit this reserve from nearby hotels.
Besides natural beauty and a waterfall it also has a history that goes back to ancient times. This place was several times mentioned in the bible. Mainly in the old testament. Much much later on in 2016, it was the most popular place to visit in the country. So there you go!
To get here you can use one of the stops around the Dead sea. Generally, it is not difficult and perhaps it can be made as a long day trip from Jerusalem. On the other hand, if you are spending some time at the Dead Sea, you can probably just visit it from your hotel.
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So after the oasis and fancy places at the Dead sea, it is time to go back to the Mediterranean sea. Caesarea is another historic city. It has also a lot to do with Christianity, but unlike other places, you will get to see here more of roman history.
The city was populated since the first century, at the beginning mostly by Romans. So you can see here a huge Roman amphitheater or historic port. The city was built by Herold the Great, which was a Roman king in this area. In the first century, it was one of the places of hiding for early Christians.
Caesarea lies between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It is much closer to Haifa though. The town itself isn’t too big so if you are into day trips or half-day trips, this would be an ideal place to visit from Haifa.
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One of the biggest cities in the northern part of Israel. Some people call it the Arab capital of Israel due to the population ethnicity. But that is of course not the main reason why visit the city.
Nazareth is one of the places that you might hear from the Bible. In the new testament, it is described as the childhood home of Jesus Christ. Because of that, it is one of the main places for pilgrimage with a lot of shrines. The main thing to see there is the local Basilica. But if you like hiking, there are two biblical trails on the hills around that can offer a really nice view of the local scenery.
Since Nazareth is one of the bigger cities, you can get there quite easily by bus from Haifa. It would be recommended to stay there probably for a couple of days to see all of the city and its surroundings.
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Another city on a shore. But this one is located close to the sea of Galilee. It is in the north of Israel and similarly to other places it is also one of the cities that is crucial for Christianity.
But don’t worry this place is not all just history and museums. I mean, you can come and see some important sights, but you can also take the opportunity to go hiking or see the local national park. There are a couple of mountains that are completely safe to hike and really beautiful.
As a bigger city, it has a nice infrastructure that you can use. It is easy to come here from both Haifa and from Nazareth. The town is a little bit less expensive than bigger cities as it is not the most visited place in Israel.
Israel bucket list – practical info
Is Israel safe to visit?
It is, very in fact! I traveled to Israel as a solo female and I never felt threatened. Even though you are basically flying to the war zone, all the hotels and hostels are secured and there is a very detailed security check in the airport. You will probably see a lot of soldiers – also on the beaches – but there is nothing wrong with that. If you come and visit in the Ramadan month, the security is even higher than usual.
When to go
The best time to go is probably when it is not too hot. Meaning that if you come in the middle of summer, the temperatures are usually reaching even 40 degrees in the shadow. So perhaps it would be better to come when it is not just that warm yet. Spring months (April and May) or some time in the autumn (September and October) can be ideal to visit. If you feel like visiting in the winter, you might be surprised that it can be actually very cold and temperatures can go below zero. Sometimes you can even see snow in Jerusalem. So these shoulder seasons are probably the best.
What to pack
The main thing is a passport. If you can have more than one passport and already had some stamps from some Arabic countries, you should probably use the new one, it is just easier to get in.
Also, make sure you take a swimsuit with you – there is plenty of opportunities to swim on different seas.
Another thing that is important would be summer hiking shoes. Especially if you have some hiking places on your Israel bucket list. While there is a lot of cities to see, there are also amazing hiking places to conquer.
Definitely take a bug spray with you, when it becomes hot, there is a lot of mosquitos. There are no diseases that come from them in Israel but they are annoying.
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