18 Tourist Destinations in Israel: A Guide for Travelers

Aron Hirt-Manheimer

Israel may be a small country, but there are so many sites to see and issues about which to learn. You could spend months touring the country and still feel like you need more time. If you’re visiting for only a week or two, consider adding some of these 18 cultural, religious, historical, and natural sites to your itinerary.

  1. The Western Wall (the Kotel) is considered by many to be the most sacred place in Jewish tradition. People from around the world come to pray at this holy site, often placing handwritten notes in crevices in the ancient stones. Recently, the Western Wall has been at the center of an ongoing struggle for religious equality and egalitarianism in Israel.

  2. The Tower of David, situated near the Jaffa Gate, represents 2,000 years of history as revealed through multiple archaeological excavations. Today, a sound and light show is projected at night onto the citadel’s walls.

  3. Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter of the Old City contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christianity. It is where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and is said to have been buried and resurrected.

  4. Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It is dedicated to preserving the memory of the dead. The museum honors Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors and people from other communities who are known as “the righteous among the nations” because they selflessly aided Jews in need. Researchers there also study the Holocaust in particular and genocide in general, with the aim of preventing such events in the future.

  5. Israel Museum, located in Jerusalem and adjacent to the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University, is home to the Shrine of the Book and a world-class collection of Judaica, archaeological treasures, and art from around the world.

  6. Kfar Hanokdim, located in Arad, just south of Jerusalem, allows visitors to experience firsthand the Bedouins' world-famous hospitality. Guests are invited to relax in a traditional Bedouin tent while they sip on tea, eat fresh baked pita, and watch the ancient coffee making ceremony.

  7. Masada is best known for the story of the Jewish zealots who defended this fortress against the Romans in 73 BCE; rather than surrender, they chose to die by suicide and become martyrs. In recent years, various problematic aspects of this story have been examined, but this story was key in the early years of the State and even featured prominently in military training.

  8. Kibbutz Lotan, a Reform kibbutz, offers visitors a tour of the Center for Creative Ecology, where you can see first-hand a prototype neighborhood for sustainable living and an education park, which includes a kids’ playground built from recycled materials and earth plaster. Kibbutz Lotan also offers bird watching and biking tours.

  9. Mahtesh Ramon is a geological landform unique to the Negev region of Israel. Visitors can take a jeep tour of this giant crater that is 25 miles long, 1,640 feet deep, and four miles wide.

  10. Independence Hall in Tel Aviv is the location of the signing of Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. The building houses Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s history museum.

  11. The Old Jaffa Flea Market (Shuk haPishpishim) is a great place to spend the day sifting through antiques and vintage clothing and enjoying the diversity of this historically Arab neighborhood, as well as the diversity of delicacies in the quarter’s many eateries.

  12. The Na Laga’at Center in Jaffa is home of the Israel’s famous Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble. Visitors can enjoy a performance at the theater and experience dining in total darkness at the Blackout Restaurant, where all the waiters are blind.

  13. Caesarea, the ancient port built by King Herod, conveniently located midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, is an ideal destination. It has great historic sites, picturesque seaside cafés, boating, museums, luxury accommodations, and Israel's only 18-hole golf course.

  14. Ein Hod is a charming hilltop artists’ village right in the Carmel Forest. It was established by one of the founders of the Dadaist art movement and is the home of the Janco-Dada Museum.

  15. Isfiya, located in the Haifa District, is a Druze village in the Carmel Region, where local residents host tourist groups in their homes, serving authentic Druze foods and sharing stories about their heritage. In the same area, is a Hand in Hand school. One of six in the country, it is dedicated to creating a strong, inclusive, shared society in Israel through Jewish-Arab integrated bilingual schools and organized communities.

  16. Agamon Hula Lake Ornithological and Nature Park is a bird and animal sanctuary encompassing a 247-acre lake bordered by papyrus bushes and various species of indigenous flowers and trees. You can rent electric golf carts or bikes or hop on the tractor-drawn "Safari Wagon" to travel the 5.28-mile waterside path around the lake.

  17. Safed, located in Israel’s Northern District, is the historic center of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, and, today is the home of many of the nation’s leading artists.

  18. The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, located in the bustling Neve Sha’anan neighborhood in Tel Aviv, offers tours of this underserved area that also is home to the eclectic labyrinth known as the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. Among the many other activist organizations fighting for the rights of asylum seekers and migrants in Israel is The Consortium for Israel and the Asylum-Seekers, a forum that coordinates efforts and shares information about the situations of these individuals and families.

Even this short list would be exhausting to complete in a short visit, so take in the sites at your own pace and return to Israel again and again for more adventures. Happy travels.

Considering a future trip to Israel? Consider ARZA World, a full-service tour operator that provides complete travel packages to Israel year-round and curates unique experiences tailored to reflect the interests and values of the Reform Movement.