10 Awesome Must-See Attractions in Israel & Palestine

10 Awesome Must-See Attractions in Israel & Palestine

Banish your perception that the Levant region is just all rocks and sand with these 10 breathtaking attractions in Israel & Palestine.

Try this experiment: tell your loved ones that you are going to Israel. Watch as at least half of them shriek and demand the reason for your apparent insanity. Then watch the other half provide general suggestions to “stay safe” and recommend travel insurance policies.

Contrary to popular belief, travel to and around Israel & the West Bank is generally safe, especially for tourists. Frequent flights from various cities, including Bangkok, to Israel can attest to that. It is also a myth that the region is all desert and grim solders. Wondrous cities, lush forests and beautiful coasts are aplenty.

One of TripZilla’s writers, Dominic Low, spent four months in both Israel & Palestine, and absolutely loved his time there. Here is a peek of his attempts to demystify the region through his camera lenses.

1. Dead Sea, Jordan Rift Valley

Yes, you float naturally in the Dead Sea. No, it is not advisable to pee in it. Straddling the border between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is a must to swim in. The extremely salty water is surprisingly clear, and I found it pleasant to simply lie back and let myself drift. “Mud baths”, which are apparently beneficial for the skin, are even available at several beaches.  

Due to a number of hydraulic projects, the level of water in the Dead Sea has been dropping, and at present it has split into two visible portions. Fortunately, there are numerous resorts on the Israeli side on both portions of the Dead Sea, all which are accessible by car or bus from the various cities in Israel.

2. The Hanging Gardens of Haifa, Haifa

It is impossible to visit Haifa and not visit its Hanging Gardens. Also known as the Terraces of the Baha’i Faith, these garden terraces are one of the most holiest sites of the Baha’i religion. Through a complicated irrigation system, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is impeccably maintained, which allows it to continuously draw awe-stricken visitors from all around the world. Getting to the top of the Gardens is no mean feat (there were numerous slopes), but extremely rewarding when I was presented with an unparallelled view of the city and its coast. After visiting the Gardens, you can pamper yourself with the unique cuisine offered by the restaurants in the city, or stroll along the beach. Haifa is accessible by train or bus from most cities in Israel.

3. Old City of Acre, Akko

Hear the words “Templar” and “Crusade”, and you will think of knights, battles and ancient castles. The Old City of Acre has all of these, being the capital of the medieval Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. From the Citadel museum offering an immersive experience into Crusader history, to the quaint Old Town Souk (marketplace) full of cheap eats and souvenirs, my time in Acre was well-spent. If you desire a break from all the medieval attractions, you can enjoy an excellent view of the Mediterranean Sea on the seaside battlements, or even have a meal in one of the port-side cafes. Acre is accessible by train from many of Israel’s coastal cities, notably Haifa and Tel Aviv.

4. Mar Saba, West Bank

Never had my impression of living in the desert been so thoroughly upended. Also known as the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, Mar Saba is one of the oldest still-inhabited monasteries in the world. This monastery has remarkably survived numerous wars and earthquakes in its 1,500-year-old history. While only men can enter the monastery’s main premises, anyone can view the breathtaking scenery from its watchtower. Due to the narrow desert roads, Mar Saba is only accessible by car (which I did from Bethlehem). Fortunately, there are many tours, priests or local guides that would be happy to bring you there.  

5. Lower Galilee, Northern Israel

Hiking enthusiasts will love this. Situated next to the Sea of Galilee, the Lower Galilee region is filled with rolling hills, lush forests, and vast farmlands. Two famous trails can be found in this region: the Israel National Trail, for hardcore hikers, and the Jesus Trail, a walking path which connects the various biblical towns together. Since most of the region’s towns are situated within a day’s walk from each other, hotels and inns are readily available for casual hikers intending to spend the nights on a snug bed. I attempted the Jesus Trail, and managed to finish it at a comfortable pace after 12 days. Nazareth, the most famous town in the region, is accessible by bus from various cities, including Jerusalem.

6. Roman Aqueduct, Caesarea

Caesarea will delight both history buffs and those looking to bolster their repertoire of Instagram photographs alike. Combining both sea-kissed buffs and preserved Roman architecture, the Roman ruins is a perfect candidate for scenic photographs. The Roman Aqueduct lies a distance away from the main portion of the ruins, but yet remain a favourite spot for picnic-goers and photographers alike. This ancient technological marvel served as a pipeline to the city before it was destroyed. Viewing the remarkably picturesque structure, with the Mediterranean Sea at the background, literally took my breath away. Located north of the populous city of Tel Aviv, Caesarea is accessible by car.

7. Pancakes at Dewan al-Saraya, Nazareth

Aside from the awe-inspiring Basilica of the Annunciation, another place that you must visit in Nazareth is Dewan al-Saraya. I discovered this cafe while exploring Nazareth, and was immediately attracted to its quaint crockery-filled interior. Owned and run by the friendly Abu Ashraf, the cafe serves excellent pancakes. You can even watch as he makes them. Nibbling at pancakes and gazing out at the bustling streets of Nazareth is the perfect way to take a break in between visiting the other attractions in the city. Dewan al-Saraya is a short walk away from most hostels in the Old City district of Nazareth.

8. Old City, Jerusalem

If you have ever wondered how is it like to stroll down the streets of an ancient city, look no further than Jerusalem. As one of the oldest cities in the world, and a holy city for three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), Jerusalem is a kaleidoscope of culture and tradition. This is most evident in the Old City of Jerusalem, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated at East Jerusalem, the Old City houses numerous sites of religious significance, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, and the Western Wall.

Besides visiting the religious sites and appreciating the marvellous ancient architecture, you can also catch an exquisite view of the surrounding mountains from the top of the centuries-old walls that border the city. I even stumbled across a hostel that offered a unique rooftop stay, allowing travellers a chance to view the star-filled sky from the comfort of their beds. The Old City is accessible by tram or bus from various locations within Jerusalem.

9. Ramon Crater, Negev Desert

For those dreaming of hiking in the desert, the Ramon Crater is a perfect place to start. This crater is approximately 500m deep, and is part of Israel’s largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve. There are a variety of hiking trails at the base of the crater, which lead to various spots offering a scenic view of the entire Ramon Crater. I got to the bottom of the crater by car via a dirt road, though access from the nearby town of Mitzpe Ramon is also possible. If you are intending to hike on your own, do inform a ranger at the Mitzpe Ramon Visitor Centre.

10. Banias Waterfalls, Golan Heights

Israel is definitely not just desert and ancient cities. In the northernmost region of the Golan Heights, lush, dense forests and huge streams are common. Banias Waterfall is a perfect representation of the beautiful scenery in the area. Situated at the heart of the Banias Nature Reserve, this waterfall is the perfect end destination for a hike in the forested reserve. The stream on the top of the waterfall flows from the base of Mount Hermon, Israel’s tallest mountain, and meets the nearby Jordan River further downstream. The water is not just for appreciating – I tried my hand at rafting in the Jordan River after my hike. Banias Waterfalls, as with the entire Golan Heights, is accessible by car.

Of course, there are more of such amazing sights that await you, such as the Red Sea and the Roman fortress of Masada. So gather your courage, banish all your doubts, and take the leap of faith. Your flight to Israel will be the start of an experience that you will never forget.

About Author

Dominic Low
Dominic Low

Dominic has seen many weird things in his travels, and aspires to see more. He is extremely fascinated by culture, ancient civilisations, and awe-inspiring scenery. When not planning imaginary trips to esoteric parts of the world, he runs obsessively and attempts to capture photos of lightning.


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