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Israel see + do

Sightseeing in Israel mixes ancient with modern, hip with historic, even sacred with profane. Barely six decades old—but with five millennia of history—Israel is a cultural and technological marvel, but one with an edge that's authentic, sometimes unsettling, and yet always remarkable.

In Jerusalem, visitors see Biblical passages come to life in the Old City at sites like the iconic Dome of the Rock, Western Wall, and Via Dolorosa. At the Dead Sea, salt-rich waters and mineral-packed mud help transform the world's lowest point into its largest natural spa. In Nazareth and Galilee, you can follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples through tiny monasteries and centuries-old pilgrimage spots. And at Caesarea, you can stroll between a Roman-era hippodrome on one side and Crusades-era forts on the other—before teeing off at Israel's only golf course.

Yet in cities such as Tel Aviv and Eilat, there's a 21st-century Israel that's almost as eclectic and innovative as Europe or America. Tel Aviv is Israel's cultural and commercial powerhouse, where 12 miles of beachfront separate the Mediterranean from the world's largest collection of Bauhaus buildings; restaurants serving world-class cuisine; and fashion, art, and design scenes that are just beginning to be discovered by the outside world. Southern Tel Aviv neighborhoods such as Noga, Florentine, and Neve Tzedek are Israel's buzzing centers of creativity. Best of all, with its compact size and near-flat topography, Tel Aviv is the ultimate walking or biking town, with easy-to-follow urban treks past its most compelling aesthetic offerings.

At Israel's southern tip, on the Red Sea coast, the town of Eilat is a warm-weather playground with contemporary waterfront hotels, a Technicolor coral reef, and the promise of desert adventures amid towering sand dunes. At the opposite extreme, Israel's northern Mount Hermon region is a snowcapped surprise, with ski lifts, 14 slopes, and 28 miles of runs from December to April. In between, in this country of only 8,000 square miles, visitors can hike past Byzantine churches and along orchard-filled trails in the Jerusalem Hills and experience Israel's burgeoning artisanal cheese, wine, and organic food scene.

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Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

After ten years and $100 million, Jerusalem's Yad Vashem holocaust memorial (created in 1953) was reborn in March 2005. Designed by Israeli–Canadian...more

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Wine Tours

Grapes have been grown in Israel since before Biblical times, but only in the past 20 years has the country emerged as a serious player on the international...more

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Tsfat, Tsfat

About 500 years before Madonna started wearing a red string on her wrist and answering to the name Esther, Kabbalah was widely practiced in the Holy Land. The...more

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Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv

Like Israel itself, Tel Aviv is compact and easy to navigate. Most of its main hotels are spread along its central seafront strip—close to Dizengoff...more

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Rosh Pina, Rosh Pina

Founded in 1882 by Romanian immigrants, the Galilee village of Rosh Pina predates the establishment of Israel by 66 years. Recently, it has quietly emerged as a...more

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Mini Israel, Latrun

It may be touristy, but Mini Israel makes an ideal kid-friendly pit stop en route from Tel Aviv to either Jerusalem or the Dead Sea. Like a biblical Legoland,...more

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Masada and the Dead Sea

Even for the most jaded traveler, a day in the Judean desert is not easy to forget. There are two ways to see Masada: For the fit, wake up early and climb to...more

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Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Considering that it's more than 2,000 years old, Jerusalem has been ripe for a mini-makeover—at least in its modern, Western half. And at long last, it is...more

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Jaffa, Tel Aviv

One of the oldest cities in the world, Jaffa was reputed to be the port from which Jonah set sail for his fateful meeting with a whale. It has since been...more

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Haifa, Haifa

Despite its bad rap among locals, Haifa—Israel's third-largest city (about 60 miles north of Tel Aviv) and one of the few with a mixed Arab–Jewish...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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