Israel is completely different to my fear-fuelled pre-conceptions I had.
It is beautiful and clean, the people were welcoming and friendly and there was no one walking around with massive guns like I thought they would be! I had an amazing time travelling around the country, soaking up the culture and history.
- Israel really is the holy land! It’s filled with historical, biblical sights and religious or not, there is no place like it. For me, I could feel strong energies in different places. The main ones being in Nazareth and Bethlehem.
- Similar to Egypt and Turkey, for me visiting Israel was another lesson in dismissing what is portrayed in the media and experiencing a country first hand to form my own beliefs.
- It was amazing to hear and see Muslim, Christian, Armenian and Jewish people living in peace and harmony. It was even more special visiting during December and seeing all faiths celebrating each other’s traditions.
- Palestine was such an eye opener for me and I highly recommend a visit there. I have written a blog about my trip there.
- 💰 Israeli currency is New Israeli Shekels (NIS). £1 = 4.49 NIS. 10-15% tipping is expected.
- 🚌 The transport system is called Egged. It’s frequent and affordable except on Friday and Saturdays due to the Sabbath. Similar to an Oyster card, you need to top up a Rav Kav card at a train or bus station.
- 🚕 You can hail a cab or use the app Gett to order taxis. Gett is similar to Uber and is metered.
- 🚗 We hired a car for the majority of our trip except no hire cars are covered in the West Bank which includes Bethlehem if you intend to visit there (which I strongly recommend you do).
Haifa (recommended 1-2 nights)
North of Israel, Haifa was my favourite place to visit. Not much to do, a few nice sights but the beaches were amazing. In November we swam in the water and shared the main beach with 2-3 other people.
- Sderot Ben Gurion (street) there are heaps of great restaurants. I highly recommend Shtroudl for amazing local food.
- Beachfront cafes along Carmel Beach
- Bahá’í Gardens
- Carmel Beach
Nazareth (day trip)
Known for the annunciation, Nazareth is a very holy place. Apart from the gorgeous church, there isn’t too much to see here. Lots of pilgrimages are taking place and it has great energy about it.
- Alreda (voted best food in Israel)
- Church of The Annunciation (where Angel Gabriel told Mary she would birth Jesus)
- Mary’s Well (also thought to be where The Annunciation took place)
- Nazareth Village
Jerusalem (2-3 nights minimum)
A must visit location with so much to see and do. The old town has great markets and of course a lot of history. We did a free walking tour around the old city to learn about the four quarters.
- Deja bu
- Karma (outside city centre, a car is needed)
- Old City, entering in Jaffa Gate (there are 5 gates)
- Visit all 4 quarters in the old city (Muslim, Christian, Armenian and Jewish)
- Walk the stations of the cross on Via Dolorosa (30 mins needed)
- Church of John the Baptist
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- Church of Mary Magdalene
- Mount of Olives (great lookout over Jerusalem)
- Cenacle (where the last supper was held)
- The Garden Tomb
Bethlehem, Nazareth (day trip from Jerusalem)
Known as the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem is in the middle of the West Bank, Palestine. Tourists are warned not to enter the West Bank due to ongoing conflict with Israel and Palestine but I felt safe the whole time I was there. We were unable to drive our rental car there (uninsured for that area) and I thought it was because it wasn’t safe. I then learnt (and saw) it’s all just politics. People in Palestine were friendly and welcoming, they were polite and respectful. No guns, no violence, no signs of war. However, seeing the wall of separation was the most heartbreaking thing I experienced on this trip. Mostly because I was naive and didn’t know it existed. If you visit Bethlehem, please place your hands on the wall and pray for it’s removal.
I have written a blog about my experiences in Palestine here.
- Church of the Nativity (Jesus birthplace)
- Milk Grotto
- Manger Square
- Wall of Separation
Tel Aviv (2-3 nights)
Tel Aviv is where the airport is. It’s a modern city with great markets, food and beaches. It has a great nightlife too.
Restaurants & Nightlife:
- Cafe Puaa
- Cafe Yaffo
- The alphabet
- Old city
- Jaffa Flea Market
- Carmel Market
- Aviv or Jerusalem Beach (or any of the beaches close by)
- Old Port
If you are considering travelling to Israel and Jordan, I have written some tips about crossing the border here.