Israel has always been an alluring destination. From the days of prophets to the modern day nomad this tiny slice of land at the far end of the eastern Mediterranean has long attracted visitors. Throughout the centuries this dramatic stretch of land poised between Africa and Asia has seen its fair share of turmoil, where battles for its control have ensued and conquests occurred.
Today Israel is a politically sensitive country, yet its appeal for visitors is simply enormous, and the day-to-day issues facing its residents have little effect on those coming to appreciate its astounding historic relics, impressive religious sites or breath-taking natural beauty.
Israel is a small country with great appeal, and while some arrive in the Holy Land on a spiritual quest, others arrive in search of cultural enlightenment, sunny white-sand beaches or becoming one with nature. From the barren, rocky deserts of the south, dotted with oases, ancient ruins and the great Dead Sea in its midst, to the green, rolling hills and valleys of the north steeped in Biblical history, Israel offers a variety like nowhere else. The old cities of Nazareth, Akko and Tzfat are a step back in time, while modern Haifa and Eilat, and the vibrant seaside city of Tel Aviv represent the secular, cosmopolitan side of the country. The Dead Sea, Red Sea, Sea of Galilee and Mediterranean Sea each emanate their own character, their appeals ranging from unique geological phenomena to tranquil spirituality or vibrant holiday resort.
And then there’s Jerusalem. Few cities in the world can attest to the life that Jerusalem has experienced. As the meeting point for three world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam - it is a fascinating living museum of ancient buildings, cobbled alleys and fervent worship. Market streets weave through the jumble of ecclesiastical buildings, each of the four quarters as different in its architecture as they are in the beliefs of their inhabitants. At the core of the Old City are three of the most significant religious buildings on the planet – the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock.
Israel is a modern country with excellent facilities for tourists. High class hotels, well-equipped budget hostels, charming guesthouses or desert eco-kibbutz are all represented, while those looking for something tasty to eat will find the country is positively bursting with good food. From the street snacks such as falafel and hummus to gourmet restaurants and trendy cafes, the choice is enormous. Public transport is efficient, the locals are welcoming and the weather idyllic.
There are crumbling temples, ruined cities, abandoned forts and hundreds of Biblical sites. There are extreme sports, cultural tours, nature and wildlife experiences, hiking and cycling opportunities and relaxing sea- or lakeside retreats. Most of all however, Israel is an incredibly diverse country with an eclectic population that will provide a wealth of unique experiences to entertain, challenge and move every visitor.