Must-see cultural and historic stops for first time visitors to Israel
A wedding is always a whirlwind, a destination wedding is surely that and more, and a destination wedding in Israel takes the cake. Being part of a marriage celebration in a place so far-flung and rife with cultural, historic and leisurely activities merits some serious scheduling. Whether you have just a couple of days or more (hopefully!) to explore, these are the must-visit spots for first-time travelers to the Motherland.
The Dead Sea
You’ve seen the pictures of its seemingly otherworldly landscapes: pillars of crystallized salt, people floating in still, azure waters or lathering nutrient-rich mud all over their bodies and faces. The lowest place on earth is one of the first spots you must tick off your Israeli itinerary. It’s a novel experience that is unlike anything else – and sharing it with a group of people you know and love makes it all the more memorable.
Jerusalem’s Old City
Its own, distinct bubble to its core, Jerusalem is completely different from the rest of Israel and the air is palpable with emotion, serendipitous coincidences, and spirituality. Be sure to head to the Old City, in particular, the Wailing Wall (also known as the Western Wall) and stick a note into one of its crevices. Typically people write a wish, prayer or thought on the note and leave it there, at undoubtedly one of the holiest site in the whole world.
Eilat’s Red Sea
The southernmost city in Israel is known for plenty of resort hotels, partying hard, sunbathing, and a slew of water sports. It’s like the Vegas of Israel, but with the added relief of the beach. And what a stretch of coastline it is! Scuba diving the Red Sea is a must, with its pristine coral reefs teeming with fish, Green Sea Turtles and even the possibility to swim with dolphins. Eilat, while scorching in the summer months, enjoys temperate weather throughout the Israeli autumn and winter months. Timna Park, just north of Eilat, is also a geological wonder, boasting an outstanding variety of archaeological sites.
This quaint town boasts a thriving wine industry and is peppered with some of Israel’s most prized vineyards, including the Carmel Winery, Tishbi Winery, Somek Estate, Amphorae Winery and the nearby Binyamina Winery. If wine tasting is your passion, this is the place to do it. Then walk around the charming streets, lined with local designer boutiques, bistros and gelaterias.
With its ancient, yet well-preserved, architecture dating back to the Ottoman Era and its sweeping views of the Mediterranean, Akko is one of the country’s most famous and infamous port cities, laden with history and intrigue. Indulge in a delectable fish and seafood feast Uri Buri and relax at the Hamam al-Basha, an 18th century Turkish bathhouse.