Israel - The Holy Land in the Middle East
The Holy Land of Israel is not only one of the world's most important pilgrimage sites but also a hotspot for relaxation at the Dead Sea and long party nights Tel Aviv at the Mediterranean Sea. The inhabitants fo Eilat at the Red Sea know how to party.
Geography - At the eastern Mediterranean Sea
Israel is one of the Mediterranean countries but it lies in the Middle East between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Besides the six districts, the mehozot, there are two Palestine territories in the West Jordan Land and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, Israel has access to the Red Sea in the south and a beautiful shoreline at the Dead Sea. Significant cities are the cultural centre of Jerusalem, the economic metropolis of Tel Aviv and the seaport city of Haifa. The bathing resort of Eilat and the ancient city of Caesarea are of interest to tourists as well. The climate is mostly temperate and warm. There is hardly any precipitation. However, the north of the country differs from the south. While the weather is perfect for going bathing throughout the year at the Red Sea in the south, it can get considerably colder in the fertile north in winter.
Nature - Between desert sand and salty water
Israel's scenery is astonishingly diverse and can be divided into four regions. The Mediterranean coast in the west is fertile and warm, especially the northern part impresses with its Mediterranean charm created by almond trees and citrus fruit. In the north, you see the mountains and hills of Galilee. The highest peak is Mount Meron with a height of 1,200 metres. The country's centre is very hilly and its fauna is influenced by both Europe and Africa. You see deer and otters as well as antelopes, leopards and hyenas here. About half of the country's area and the entire south is taken up by the Negev Desert ("negev" meaning "dry"). The most significant river is the Jordan River, which is about 300 kilometres long and flows to the sacred Sea of Galilee (also "Lake of Gennesaret") and into the Dead Sea.
Natural sights - Bizarre rocks and sacred lakes
About a fifth of Israel's area is protected and the country has over 100 nature reserves. Beautiful examples are Hula Lake Park and the Ein Afek Nature Reserve. Timna-Park in the Negev is also worth a visit. You reach the bizarre red rocks, which resemble a Mars landscape, by Jeep. Despite the desert's size, Jerusalem is rich in magical coastal areas. Altogether the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea is over 270 kilometres long. You find long sandy beaches near Haifa. The south of the Mediterranean coast is appealing too. Visitors find white sandy beaches and azure blue water near Caesarea as well as vast reef systems in front of Tel Aviv. The coastal city of Eilat offers everything holidaymakers could wish for during their summer holidays. The Sea of Galilee is not only suited for going bathing but it is also of religious significance. Furthermore, it is the deepest freshwater lake on earth. Nearby you see hot sulphur springs, which are indicative of the region's volcanic past. One of the most important tourist locations is the Dead Sea. It is a dammed up lake, which has an extremely high salt content because of its increased humidification.
Culture - Traditions and customs
Israel is the only non-Muslim country in the Middle East. Almost 80 percent of all Israelis are Jewish. There is no other country in which the Jewish religion and its traditions and customs are as widespread as in Israel. A few cities are dominated by Arabs, for example Nazareth. Israel is the ideal destination for a spiritual trip or to follow the traces of the bible and Jesus. You can experience numerous locations which are mentioned in the Bible at first hand here. Besides Nazareth, examples are Bethlehem, the Mount of Beatitudes, the Sea of Galilee and many more. Museums and archaeological excavations are also dedicated to religion and provide a lot of information on the topic.
Cultural sights - From ancient to modern times
If you think that the only thing Israel has to offer are a couple of ruins, you are completely wrong. Of course, there are ancient sites like that in Caesarea with Roman aqueducts and ruins but you also find the holiday paradise of Eilat at the Red Sea and the economic centre of Tel Aviv at the Mediterranean Sea. Tel Aviv is a tourist metropolis which offers everything holidaymakers could wish for and has a lively party scene. Its historical old town with the winding alleys and the old harbour give the city a special charm. Haifa's seaport in the north of the country is also worth seeing. It is a popular stopping point for cruisers during their Mediterranean cruises. The country's most significant city is, of course, Jerusalem - the holy city. The Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount are the most visited sights in the city and attract visitors from all over the world.
Experience - Partying and relaxing in Israel
If you are looking for a party metropolis, you are right in Tel Aviv. The city is the ideal location for partying until the early morning hours. International music mixes with current Israeli hits and creates a vibrant nightlife. Whether you are partying at the beach, in the desert or in a disco - the Israelis know how to have a good time. Their cuisine is also worth mentioning. Many restaurants offer kosher dishes, which follow the strict rules of the Jewish faith. Meat and dairy products, for example, are not to be prepared together. One delicious and internationally famous dish are falafel, fried chickpea balls, which are served in a pita. The Arab cuisine is common too. You find great shopping centres in all bigger cities but the best-known ones are located in Tel Aviv. Travellers can buy traditional souvenirs on the Bedouin and camel markets. Relaxation is offered by the spa resorts at the Dead Sea. Beauty and health are priorities here.
Activities - Dolphins in the Red Sea
Israel has several exciting bathing locations. Both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea offer opportunities for going swimming and doing water sports. Divers find entrances to lively reefs and a colourful underwater world. A special feature at the Red Sea is the Dolphin Reef near the city of Eilat. Visitors can get close to dolphins in their natural habitat here. The Sea of Galilee attracts numerous holidaymakers with its beaches. Another highlight is the Dead Sea. Bathers float on the water's surface here because the high salt content creates buoyancy. Israel has a well-developed network of hiking trails. Beautiful and exciting trails are the musical Gospel Trail, the Spring Valley Trail, the culturally worthwhile Jerusalem Trail and the magical Israel National Trail (INT). The latter is over 960 kilometres long, runs from north to south and takes several months to complete.
During peak season, from July to August, the tourist centres Tel Aviv, Eilat and Jerusalem are crowded. It is considerably more tranquil and the climate is more pleasant in spring and autumn. It is still very warm in these months.
Jerusalem is a dream destination for many travellers. Spiritual and sustainable trips as well as cultural tourism are becoming increasingly popular here. Younger people are captivated by the magical city of Tel Aviv.