I went on a 10 day tour of Israel a few years ago, and it was one of the most magical trips I have ever taken. Not only was the country filled with culture, but the people were also incredibly happy.
Let’s not forget about the food. It was absolutely sensational.
Although I packed a lot of activities into one trip, I suggest going to the following places, and trying the following foods.
All photos are are my own and property of © The Baking Tour Guide. All rights reserved.
Where to Go:
You have to check out the Mediterranean Sea while you’re in Israel. You will have a prime view of gorgeous beaches and water. The stretch of land along the Mediterranean is called the Israeli coastal plain. It spans almost 120 miles, and is divided into different regions based on its surrounding cities.
I took a jeep tour through the Golan Heights. Israel took claim of this plateau region from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967. The Golan Heights allow Israel to keep track of Syrian movements, with a distinct armistice line placed between the two regions. The heights also provide the primary water source for the area. Its volcanic soil helps the land of many farmers thrive.
The Banias River is set within the Golan Heights, and leads to a beautiful waterfall. The river starts as a spring, and rises from Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is the tallest mountain in Israel, and serves as one of the country’s main water sources.
Proceed to Mount Scopus, one of the seven hills of the city of Jerusalem. It provides an impressive view of the Old City. It’s a nice spot to take pictures. More importantly, it’s a place to say welcome to the city of culture that’s likely to be your next stop.
Walk through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem. Visit the impressive and historical Western Wall. Appreciate its beauty and grace. You can write a personal message and leave it in the wall. Visit the Herodian Mansions, and the Southern Wall excavations. Finally, experience the smells and tastes of Jerusalem while walking through the Machaneh Yehuda Market.
Swing by Tel Aviv, a city along the Mediterranean coast. The landscape of Tel Aviv is modern, yet historical. Tel Aviv spans along the beach, and it’s swimming with lounges, bars, cafes, and nightlife.
Plan a visit at the Holocaust History Museum in Yad Vashem. Its amazingly long structure is jutted through a mountain, with a skylight through the entire walkway. I’m not sure if they changed the layout since I’ve been there, but when I walked into the museum, there was a beautiful scene of European Jews set on a projector at the beginning of the hallway. The museum was set on a long hallway, and I was led to each exhibit on my right or left. As I proceeded down the hallway, I saw less and less of the happy scene from the beginning. By the end of the museum, I could no longer see the projection. Instead, I was led to the Hall of Names of the millions of victims. I left the museum in the mountainside with a panorama view of Jerusalem. Talk about a tear-jerker!
Make your way to the South of Israel towards the Negev Desert. Beersheba, the region’s biggest city, is north of the arid land. I rode a camel around this desert. I never realized that you’re supposed to get on a camel when they are sitting on the ground. Once you’re ready to go, they stand up!
Try heading the Massada for a sunrise hike. You will find it on top of a mountain overlooking the desert and the Dead Sea. The fortress of Massada was built in 30 BCE. The Romans had been trying to capture the site from Jewish zealots for years, but the Jews decided to commit suicide instead of giving up the land. Massada is therefore a site that embraces martyrdom and courage. Check out King Herod’s northern palace while you’re at the top of the mountain.
Speaking of the Dead Sea– You have to swim in it. The Dead Sea surrounds Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. It’s famous for its high salt content. There is so much salt in the water that if you tilt yourself backwards for even the slightest second, you will likely start to float. You hardly need to use your ab muscles to remain above water. Some groups cover themselves with mud before they go into the water. Don’t worry, the mud of the Dead Sea is filled with minerals, and soothes broken skin that might start to sting from the salty sea.
I think I gave you enough sites to explore on your next trip to Israel. What do you think?
I wasn’t yet a foodie during the time I went on this trip, so my food pictures are few and far between. However, I did snap a picture of shawarma.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are ready to eat!
What to Eat:
Falafel: Falafel is a fried ball made of chickpeas and/or fava beans. It’s usually served in a pita, and topped with tahini (sesame-based sauce). You can find falafel almost anywhere in Israel, and the patties come in a variety of flavors.
Shawarma: Shawarma is meat (lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, or veal) that is placed on a spit and grilled throughout the day. The vendor shaves off slices of meat from the spit., and then serves it plain or in a pita wrap. I suggest trying shawarma in a pita wrap with tabbouleh or hummus.
Shakshouka: Shakshouka was hands down my favorite Israeli dish. It consists of poached eggs in a tomato sauce that’s spiced with chili peppers, onions, and cumin. Shakshouka is served in the pan used to cook it. Your mouth will water as you break into the poached egg and it oozes its gooey filling throughout the spicy tomato sauce. I had Shakshouka at almost every restaurant after I discovered it.
Halva: Halva is a confection made from sesame. It’s served as a snack or dessert. It is always fresh in Israel, so I would make sure to find a vendor who sells it!