Visiting the Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount (Jerusalem)
Built by the early Islamic rulers of Jerusalem in A.D. 691 on the site of the Temple of Solomon, the Dome of the Rock is one of the most beautiful structures ever created. It is the crown upon a 4,000-year tradition of Western monotheistic belief. One can spend hours on the Temple Mount soaking up the atmosphere and the dazzling views. You might first visit the Temple Mount on a tour, but come back and experience the power of this extraordinary place on your own.
Journeying into the Past at Mea Shearim
Mea Shearim is the Hassidic Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, little more than a century old, but in the dress and customs of its inhabitants and in its tangle of courtyards and alleyways, it is a miraculously surviving fragment of the world of Eastern European Jewry that disappeared forever into the Holocaust. A visitor to Mea Shearim may feel like a dreamer wandering the past. Many visitors will revere the strict discipline and religious devotion evident in Mea Shearim; others will be troubled by its many constraints. But a walk through these streets will give you insight into the powerful traditions that continue to make Israel unique.
An Evening Stroll through Old Jaffa
The beautifully restored Casbah of Old Jaffa is probably the most romantic urban spot in the country, filled with galleries, shops, cafes, restaurants, and vistas of minarets and Crusader ruins set against the sunset and the sea.
Exploring the Eastern Shore of the Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is Israel's greatest natural treasure, and its lyrical shores were the birthplace of Christianity. It is also almost miraculous in its loveliness -- a sapphire/turquoise freshwater lake surrounded by the mountains of the Galilee and the Golan. The eastern shore is less developed and gives you a better chance to feel the lake's poetry. There are eucalyptus-shaded beaches where you can have a late afternoon swim and picnic and watch the silver-and-lavender twilight descend behind the mountains on the western shore of the lake, which sparkles with the lights of farm settlements and kibbutzim.
Freewheeling in the Galilee
This is the place to rent a car for a few days and explore Israel's most beautiful countryside -- forested mountains, rushing streams, waterfalls, and oceans of wildflowers in late winter and early spring. Among the region's treasures are ruined Roman-era synagogues, Crusader castles, ancient churches, and the walled Casbah of Akko beside the Mediterranean. There are also the warm, sparkling waters of the Sea of Galilee to swim in from April to early November.
Touching the Desert
These are not just endless sandy wastes; the deserts of Israel encompass the unworldly and ethereal Dead Sea; the mysterious, abandoned Nabatean cities of Avdat and Shivta; the haunting fortress of Masada; canyon oases; and vast erosion craters that are geological encyclopedias of past eons. These landscapes were the crucible in which monotheism was born. Don't let the desert be just a 45-minute ride to The Dead Sea on a tour bus from Jerusalem. If you can, spend the night at the guesthouse at the base of Masada before you make the ascent at dawn. Camp overnight in the dramatic Ramon Crater, or visit one of the inventive, idealistic Negev/Arava Valley kibbutzim.
Snorkeling in the Red Sea
The Red Sea, with its coral reefs, is an awe-inspiring natural aquarium. Rich with tropical marine life, it's one of the best places on earth for scuba diving and snorkeling. At the Coral Beach Nature Reserve just south of Eilat, there's enough to fascinate experts, yet wonders are accessible to all levels of swimmers -- dazzling fish abound even in waist-deep water. Experienced divers can scuba dive at the Coral Island, a few miles down the coast from Eilat, or make an excursion into the Egyptian Sinai to the even more extraordinary reefs off Nuweiba, Dahab, and the legendary Ras Mohamed at Sharm el Sheik.
Sampling the Music Scene
Israel has an oversupply of magnificent musicians; even suburbs of Tel Aviv and small cities such as Beersheva are home to orchestras that would be the envy of many world capitals. You may find the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performing at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium, or the acclaimed Rishon-Le-Zion Symphony Orchestra giving a visiting concert at the Haifa Auditorium. But also look out for an outdoor performance of Carmen in the Valley of the Sultan's Pool, just at the foot of the walls of Jerusalem; a night of Mozart at the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater beside the sea at Caesarea; Yemenite wedding singers or Arabic oudists performing at free municipal concerts inside Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate; Israeli African-American blues and jazz musicians at clubs in Tel Aviv; or festivals such as the Chamber Music Days at Kibbutz Kfar Blum, the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, or the Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival held each summer in the Galilee.
Travel page content provided by Zagat © 2013, Google.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.