You’ve covered yourself in mud and floated on the Dead Sea, climbed Masada before the sun came up, explored the enchanting old city of Jerusalem and the vibrant beaches of Tel Aviv, devoured your bodyweight in hummus, and maybe even innocently fell victim to the charm of a beautifully bronzed Israeli. Now that all the ‘must-dos’ are out of the way, you ask yourself what is left to see in this tiny Middle-Eastern country. As it turns out, you’ve only just scratched the surface of things to do in Israel. From the northernmost border to the edges of the Red Sea in the south, there’s no lack of adventure to satisfy every kind of traveller.

1. Enjoy two seasons in a day

Skiing isn’t the first activity that comes to mind of things to do in Israel. Though the country is primarily desert, during the winter months you can hit the slopes on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, a mountain which straddles the borders of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. Since Israel is so small, you can spend your morning enjoying the winter wonderland and still have time to relax by a Mediterranean sunset on the beach as your après ski.

In Tel Aviv for the winter? Here are 8 cool things to do on your visit.

2. Kayak through the grottoes

On the border with Lebanon you’ll find Rosh Hanikra, a huge white cliff with impressive views of the Mediterranean coastline. The short cable-car ride to the foot of the cliff is the steepest in the world. It’ll bring you to a plateau where you can learn more about the history of the place and take a walk through caves overlooking picturesque turquoise grottoes. For a unique viewing point, you can organize an excursion to kayak to the grottoes and explore them from the sea.

3. Visit the fortified city of Acre

things to do in israel_acreAcre, or Akko, is unique within the country because it’s one of the few places that boasts a truly mixed population. It is home to Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Baha’i people. This makes it a diverse city full of culture and history perfect for a day trip. You can walk along parts of the old city walls for a panoramic view, stroll through the old town, and visit historic sites like the Hospitallers Fortress or the Templars’ Tunnels. Arguably the best part of the city is the classic Middle-Eastern food. The city’s diverse cultural background comes alive in the flavours on your plate, and many Israelis agree that the country’s best hummus can be eaten here.

4. Wind down with some wine tasting

Israel’s wine industry is some serious business. The northern region of the country boasts dozens of wineries that distribute internationally. A good place to begin your self-guided wine tour is at Tishbi Winery. It’s the first modern winery in Israel, where you can participate in a wine and chocolate tasting. At the Golan Heights Winery, you can take a tour of their vineyards and guzzle down some of their award winning selections.

5. Spend the day in the Garden of Eden

Gan Hashlosha, also known as Sachne, is one of the most beautiful places in the country. The local Israelis have dubbed it “The Garden of Eden.” This national park has natural pools that are constantly at 28 degrees, in other words, perfect for swimming year-round. Pack a picnic and spend your day among the lush greenery within this real-world paradise.

6. Stuff your face in Nazareth

A short stop in Nazareth is just enough time to load up on sweet Arabic delicacies. Though the city is a hot spot for religious tours, some could argue that Jesus of Nazareth is no longer the main event. Foodies love Nazareth for all the tasty street food, that stars of which are the honey-drizzled pastries. Be sure not to leave without trying some homemade baklava, knafeh, and awameh.

7. Take in some local art at Ein Hod’s artist village

Ein Hod is a small artist’s colony near Haifa. Israeli painters, sculptors, musicians, and writers call this eclectic little village home. In Ein Hod you’ll find multiple museums, galleries, and workshops. If you’re the type who prefers exploring on foot, you can wander through the town’s winding streets lined by the artists’ striking work.

What else do you need to know about traveling in Israel? Here’s our top tips.

8. Take a graffiti tour

things to do in israel_tel avivThe street art in Tel Aviv is abundant and part of what makes the city so colourful. You can either sign up for a guided tour, or easily put together a DIY version. While street art can be found almost anywhere in the city, it is a lot more common in the south, particularly in the Florentine neighbourhood.

9. Take a tour of Tel Aviv’s vegan cuisine

Israel has the most vegans per capita. It’s no surprise that Tel Aviv is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world. Not only does nearly every restaurant have vegetarian or vegan options, but Tel Aviv is home to some of the best vegan restaurants. It’s not just the falafel; you’ll find many adventurous vegan eats such as Ethiopian or Georgian restaurants.

10. Desert road trip

A few friends, a car, and a good playlist are all you really need for this one. Israel’s Negev desert begins about one hour away from Tel Aviv. It stretches all the way down to Eilat in the south. Route 40 is well paved and full of fun stops along the way, like the Mitzpe Ramon crater and Ben Gurion’s grave located in a desert oasis. The drive itself is scenic with endless sand and mountains as far as you can see. Pay attention to the signs and watch out for crossing military vehicles and camels!

12. Visit the desert inhabitants

things to do in israel_hai barThe desert is home for many different animals, and there are a couple great places to observe them. The Hai-Bar Nature Reserve aims to preserve and breed endangered species. Here you can drive through the park and see different breeds of oryx, wild donkeys, large felines, and curious ostriches that like to poke their beaks into cars. Another option is an alpaca farm near Mitzpe Ramon. Here you’ll be able to feed crooked-toothed alpacas as well as camels and horses.

11. Spend a night in the desert

If you’re looking to escape the constant commotion of Tel Aviv, spending a night in the desert is the perfect way to reenergize. Picture this: a calm night spent under a starry sky surrounded by friends and a hookah where the only sound is the crackling fire. There are a few designated campsites and even some rustic accommodations that allow you to take in the incredible spectacle that is the desert at night.

13. Swim with the fish in the Red Sea

The Red Sea is known for it’s spectacular underwater life and diving conditions. The waters are shallow and the visibility is clear. You don’t even need to put on your scuba gear to get up close and personal with the corals and sea life. At the Coral Reef Nature Reserve in Eilat, you can spend your day snorkelling and admiring the colourful world under the sea.

Check out our picks for the best beaches all over the country.

14. Explore the desert highs and lows

things to do in israel_timnaWhen looking for things to do in Israel, it’s a no-brainer to visit the expansive desert. Not far from Eilat there are several great hikes to do. Aside from gorgeous scenic views, Timna Valley Park holds a number of geological and archaeological sites. There are hiking trails to suit different levels and you’ll be able to observe stunning nature and wildlife along the way. The Red Canyon hike is not to be missed. You’ll be running to get your photo-op when the sun hits the red canyon walls to create an eye-catching mix of lights and shadows.

15. Watch the sunrise over 4 countries

Mount Tzfachot is about as south as you can get in Israel. It’s undeniably worth waking up in the pitch black to take in one of the most unforgettable sunrises. A short hike up this mountain will reward you with an incredible peaceful view over four countries. With your feet planted in Israel, you’ll be able to see the sun come up over Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

As you can see, there are no shortage of things to do in Israel. Did we miss something that’s an absolute “must do?” Let us know in the comments below!

If you find yourself visiting during the month of December, there are plenty of ways you can celebrate Christmas in Israel. Despite the fact that the majority of the country is Jewish, there are still very unique ways in which you can celebrate the holiday. In fact, the Christmas you spend in the Holy Land might become your most memorable Christmas of all! Take a look at all the amazing events happening around the country, and feel free to reach out to us if you need help planning your own special Christmas tour in Israel.

Christmas in Israel_chrismas in jerusalemChristmas in Jerusalem

Israel’s capital city is magical year round. However, tourists agree that during the holiday season, there’s just an extra spark that makes visiting there even more special. Here are some things to see while you’re celebrating Christmas in Jerusalem:

  • Wander around the Christian Quarter of the Old City and visit the iconic Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where you can enjoy a beautiful midnight mass.
  • The Jerusalem YMCA usually puts on Christmas events, such as a youth choir concert which will be happening this year on December 24th.
  • Stroll down the Via Dolorosa, where visitors reenact Jesus Christ’s famous route with a cross on his back. To make this even more special, experience it with hundreds of others on Christmas Eve.
  • Also at the YMCA between December 15-18, you’ll find an exciting Christmas market with something fun for everyone. Children can enjoy clowns and visit Santa Claus, and there are live shows, music, Christmas lights, and food and drink stalls for the whole family.

Christmas in Israel_Christmas in tel aviv and jaffaChristmas in Tel Aviv & Jaffa

Chances are you’ll find yourself spending some time in Israel’s most metropolitan city when you visit. Though Tel Aviv doesn’t have as much Christmas cheer as many other cities, it’s still possible to get into the holiday spirit while you’re here.

  • Go for a stroll in Old Jaffa. On your way, admire the gigantic Christmas tree by the clocktower that is gorgeously lit up.
  • Also in Jaffa, you’ll find a winter market on December 22nd and 23rd. You can enjoy some warm winter treats, an exciting fair, and even an ice-skating rink! Bring your whole family for what’s sure to be a fun day.
  • While you’re wandering around Jaffa admiring the sparkling lights around you, you can also find Christmas events happening at different churches in the area. Check out the Franciscan St. Peter’s Church, Immanuel Letheran Church, or the Armenian St. Nicholas Monastary, all of which are opened for visitors.

Christmas in Israel_christmas in NazarethChristmas in Nazareth

If you’re spending your Christmas in Israel, visiting Nazareth is a no-brainer. As the birthplace of Jesus Christ, Nazareth is a fantastic place to get into the holiday spirit.

  • The city will officially light its Christmas tree on December 17th.
  • Visit the Christmas fair & market, where everyone can enjoy different stalls of food, drinks, and crafts. The fair takes place between December 17th-22nd.
  • Nazareth’s annual Christmas parade will be held on December 23rd and begins at 3:30pm. It’s advised to go early so you can get a good spot!
  • All the churches in Nazareth will have a Christmas mass. The most popular one is at the Basilica of the Annunciation, and it begins at 7:00pm. There will also be a festive mass at 10:00pm.

Christmas in Israel_christmas in bethlehemChristmas in Bethlehem

Christmas in Israel isn’t complete with a visit to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. This city is known for it’s incredible and spiritual celebration, which is attended by many people every year.

  • Wander around Bethlehem, where you’ll find Churches with many different holiday events going on. Admire the stunning lights and decorations around the city, and nativity scenes adorning the streets of Bethlehem.
  • The most popular Christmas event in Bethlehem is the midnight mass on December 24th. Thousands of people, Christians and Muslims alike, gather at Manger Square for this special day. Many people attend and it can be difficult to get into the Church of the Nativity, so it is best to leave it to the professionals to organize. Contact us to plan your visit to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Haifa

It’s also possible to celebrate Christmas in Israel in the north of the country. Jews, Muslims, and Christians living together in harmony in this unique city. If you’re in Haifa for Christmas, there are a number of interesting things to do:

  • There are events happening nightly on the streets of Haifa, where you can enjoy a lit up Christmas tree, arts & crafts displays, and live music. The area around the German Colony is particularly known for its Christmas decorations and events.
  • The yearly Holiday of Holidays festival celebrates the holidays of the three major religions found in the city: Hanukkah, Christmas, and Eid-al-Adha. For an especially unique way to celebrate the holiday this year, head to Haifa and learn about different cultures and traditions. The event runs between December 6th-22nd.
  • The Stella Maris Monastery hosts a Christmas mass as well as a Christmas morning mass. Visitors can also go here to enjoy singing Christmas carols.

Wherever you may be for the holidays this year, whether you are spending Christmas in Israel, at home, or somewhere else, all of us at Mazada Tours wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! If you need help on making your holiday tour in Israel even more special, contact us today and let us help you plan a perfect Christmas.

Thanks to a mild winter, Israel doesn’t experience the holiday season like other countries. Christmas is never white and you won’t find massive lighting decorating the main streets. However, this doesn’t mean that the holiday season in Israel is any less exciting. With Hanukkah and Christmas usually falling within the same couple of weeks in December, there are multiple events around the country to please even the most hardened Grinch.

Unlike Christmas, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the miraculous burning of oil on the ancient temple’s menorah for eight days when there was only enough oil for one. Therefore, you will find exciting events happening on all nights of the holiday.

shutterstock_563453890 (1)

The Old City of Jerusalem is always spectacular to visit, but the festival of lights makes it an even more special experience with all the lit Menorahs around the city. Visit the Western Wall on any night of Hanukkah to take part in the lighting of the 2-meter-high bronzed Menorah. Lighting takes place every night of the holiday at 4:30pm, except for Friday at 3:30pm and Saturday at 7:00pm.

If you’re in the north, make sure to stop by Haifa for any of the Holiday of Holidays events taking place throughout the month of December. Go to discover different cultural events surrounding the major holidays of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Ramadan. There are different concerts, exhibits, shows, and antique fairs to keep you busy for even longer than eight days! Even farther north in the scenic city of Safed, you will find events for the whole family during Hanukkah, many of them focusing on artistic, historical, and religious activities. Check out their calendar of events for more details.

shutterstock_345906695

Make sure to stop by any of the bakeries around the country to sample some mouth-watering sufganiot (donuts). Get the classic jelly-stuffed donut or opt for a fancier version topped with chocolates, nuts, candy, or anything else the master bakers have come up with this season! If you’re in Tel Aviv and want to get into the spirit of the holiday, you don’t need to trek all the way to the capital; celebrate Hanukkah like a local and light the menorah in Gan Ha’atzmaut (Independence Park).

For those wishing to experience Christmas in Israel, there are still many unique options for you too! Head over to Bethlehem for the famous Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity. Get the full experience of the birthplace of Jesus by joining our Christmas Eve tour, which includes an unforgettable Christmas Feast!

shutterstock_540515407

If you’re in Nazareth, there will be special events all month in preparation for Christmas. Stop by the Christmas Market for a street fair and the lighting of the Christmas tree between December 17th – 22nd. You can also go and watch the Christmas Parade on December 23rd, starting at 3:00pm. Take part in a special Christmas Mass at the Basilica of Annunciation on December 24th, or visit any of the Catholic churches during the evening of December 25th.

While Jaffa is magical year round, it is even more of a special visit around Christmas time. Since Jaffa is home to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, the meandering alleyways of this old city are decked out with lights, menorahs, and Christmas trees. The official lighting of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Christmas tree is on December 17th and 6:00pm at the Clock Tower.

Interested in celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land? Don’t miss out on our exclusive Christmas Eve tour!