There are many beautiful places to visit in Israel.
I have to Israel many times – this is a country I truly love and I go any time I have a chance. While I have my favorite places that I keep going back to, I also love discovering new, less visited ones. That’s the beauty of visiting a place more than once, and getting to know it really well.
Israel is home to some world famous tourist attraction – places you have surely heard about on the news, or saw in documentaries etc. With Jerusalem being a Holy City to the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – many tourists go there on pilgrimage to visit the temples and other religious sites.
But what if religion is not the purpose of your trip? Good news! Not only you can visit religious sites (because trust me, they are fabulous!). But you will also find some other incredible places to visit in Israel: beautiful archeological sites such as the Masada or Caesarea; the Dead Sea; the Galilee and the Golan Heights and the Negev Desert are just a few.
Here is my list of places to visit in Israel – but I warn you, it is absolutely non-exhaustive! I am also including a few destinations in Palestine, as many people traveling to Israel usually take the chance to cross the border and explore there as well.
21 Fantastic Places To Visit In Israel
There’s no other way to put it: Jerusalem is one of the best places to visit in Israel, one of the most beautiful Israel tourist attractions, and it’d be pure madness to skip it.
Visiting Jerusalem will allow you to get a basic understanding of the country’s culture and history; to appreciate how multicultural it is; and to unveil some of its mystery. Besides, it is simply gorgeous and photogenic.
Not nearly as big as other capitals, Jerusalem is a fantastic city of contrasts: trendy and modern on one site; traditional and religious on the other. This timeless city has an incredible concentration of places of interest, and it will take you a few days to explore it and take in all its swiping views, narrow alleys, markets, churches and museum.
Among the many landmarks in Jerusalem, make sure not to miss the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock are open daily, except on Fridays (when Muslims go there to pray) from 7:00 to 10:30 am and from 12:00 to 1:30 pm. Access is free but you will have to go through airport style security. Make sure to read my post What You Must Know Before Visiting Temple Mount And Dome Of The Rock for more information.
The Tower of David and the City of David are two excellent archaeological sites that will help you get a better understanding of the history of Jerusalem, from its foundation to modern times. Both of them offer incredible light shows. I recommend joining a guided tour of the City of David and underground Jerusalem such as this one to make the most of it.
For incredible views of the city head over to Mount of Olives, a historic cemetery in East Jerusalem, right before sunset. You may even want to join this Mount of Olives tour for a deeper experience. On the way there, make sure to stop at the Garden of Gethsemane – the site where Jesus prayed with his disciples.
Among the best museums in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum are both a must for if you are a first timer in Israel, as they give insights into the history of the holocaust as well as into that of the country. No wonder they are among the most famous Israel tourist attractions.
If you enjoy markets, make sure to get lost inside the Old City Suq and – in the modern city – Mahane Yehuda. The latter one is particularly lively on Friday mornings, when people are shopping right before the start of Shabbat. You may even want to join this Shabbat experience tour
Make sure to read my post What You Need To Know About Shabbat In Jerusalem.
To discover more amazing things to do in Jerusalem, read my posts:
- 24 Things To Do In Jerusalem You Can’t Miss
- 9 Fantastic Day Trips From Jerusalem
- 15 Great Bars In Jerusalem
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of Jerusalem
- My Jerusalem: places I love in this timeless city
Guided tours of Jerusalem
To make the most of Jerusalem, you may want to join one (or more) guided tours. Here are some I wholeheartedly recommend:
- Jerusalem Old and New city tour from Tel Aviv
- Holy City tour
- Jerusalem and Bethlehem full day trip from Tel Aviv
- Jerusalem small group full day tour
- Jerusalem like a local
GOOD TO KNOW: Jerusalem is an excellent starting point to visit Bethlehem, where you can see the Church and the Grotto of the Nativity, the Chapel of the Milk Grotto, the Separation Wall with its many murals (including Banksy) and Herodion Palace; Hebron, one of the most fought over cities in the region home of the Abraham Avinu Synagogue and the Sanctuary of Abraham and other places in the West Bank.
Check out my posts Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit Palestine and What You Should Know Before Doing A Hebron Tour for more information.
The following are some good guided tours departing from Jerusalem to the West Bank:
- Full day Bethlehem and Dead Sea tour
- Bethlehem Old City and Jericho guided tour
- Bethlehem and Jericho day tour
- Bethlehem, Jericho and Jordan river tour
- Bethlehem half day tour
- Dual narrative tour of Hebron
Tel Aviv is a fantastic, lively, open minded city that has a lot to offer to its visitors and definitely one of the most fun places to visit in Israel. Blessed with fantastic weather pretty much year round, Tel Aviv has a wonderful beach with a waterfront that attracts visitors – locals and tourists alike. On any day, you can spot people playing volleyball, matkot (a popular padel ball game), surfing or just hanging with friends.
The center of Tel Aviv is packed with interesting sights, beautiful historic quarters (I am a big fan of Neve Tzedek) and historical landmarks, such as Habima Square and the Rabin Memorial. Make sure to go on a city tour of Tel Aviv such as this one, which will give you some insights on its history as well as its uniqueness, such as the Bauhaus buildings – definitely among the best known Israel tourist attractions.
TIP: Tel Aviv is very bike friendly so go ahead and rent one of the city bikes or join a bike tour such as this one.
TIP: Don’t forget to make the most of Tel Aviv nightlife! Make sure to check out my post The Best Bars In Tel Aviv For The Best Tel Aviv Nightlife.
If you are a fan of festivals, try to visit Tel Aviv during Purim (Israeli Carnival) or the Gay Pride week. It’s a lot of fun!
Make sure to check out my posts about Tel Aviv:
- 21 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Tel Aviv
- The 13 Best Day Trips From Tel Aviv
- Tel Aviv loves life
- 15 Great Tel Aviv Beaches
- Where To Stay In Tel Aviv: Recommendations By An Almost Local
- Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv: A Complete Review
- Tel Aviv Vegan Food Guide: The Best Vegan Restaurants In Tel Aviv
Jaffa, the oldest side of Tel Aviv is one of the unmissable places to visit in Israel. It’s a very scenic part of the city, with narrow cobbled alleys, small art galleries and souvenir shops, and lots of history. Make sure not to miss the Flee Market (one of the nicest in the country) and the Bridge of Wishes!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Free walking tours of Jaffa depart daily at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm from the Clock Tower. Although they are free, you must book your tour – do so here – and you may be asked to leave a small tip.
GOOD TO KNOW: 15 Km south of Jaffa, Bat Yam is another nice town with a lovely beach and where you can enjoy plenty of water sports. It has a nice promenade, a well curated museum of contemporary art and the Havayedda science center.
One of the lesser known places to visit in Israel, Ashdod is a very pleasant city on the shores of the Mediterranean, at little over 30 minutes drive south of Tel Aviv. It’s highlights include Ashdod Yam Park, the fortress at Metzuda Beach and Gil Beach. If you like shopping, you will have plenty of opportunities to do so as well. Don’t miss the Eye of the Sun, a massive statue which is beautifully illuminated at night.
The Masada is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Israel. This archeological site is an old fortress built around 30 B.C. and which overlooks the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert. The views from up there are simply breathtaking.
TIP: If you enjoy hiking, wake up before sunrise and walk the snake path to the Masada to admire an incredible sunrise. Make sure to read my post “Masada Sunrise Guide: Hiking The Masada Snake Path.”
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Masada is open Saturdays to Thursdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (4:00 pm in the winter); and on Fridays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (3:00 pm in the winter). Ticket prices vary depending on whether you ride the cable car or not. The most basic option (just the entry fee) is 31 NIS (Israeli Sheckels) (little over $9 USD).
Ein Gedi Reserve
At a short driving distance from the Masada, Ein Gedi Reserve is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Israel. Home to various species of animals and of a bunch of beautiful waterfalls, you will find various hiking trails inside and plenty of shade, making it incredibly pleasant place to get a bit of respite from the chaos of the cities.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from April to September; and from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm from October to March. Admission fee is NIS 28 (little over $8 USD).
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is among the most popular places to visit in Israel. This is the lowest place on earth, and the heat is strong, even during the winter months.
You will find several beaches, offering different experiences. Some have the famous mud pools, where you can cover yourself in the mud that has great benefits for the skin and the body. Other beaches are more traditional, with clear waters.
Either way, floating in the Dead Sea is a fun experience and it’s no wonder it is one of the most famous Israel tourist attractions.
GOOD TO KNOW: The water is incredibly salty. Don’t get it into your eyes or mouth!
Guided tours of the Masada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea
The Masada, Ein Gedi Reserve and the Dead Sea can be visited on guided tours departing daily from either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Here are the best tours:
- Masada and the Dead Sea full day tour from Tel Aviv
- Masada, Ein Gedi and Dead Sea full day tour from Tel Aviv
- Masada sunrise, Ein Gedi and Dead Sea full day tour from Tel Aviv
- Masada and Dead Sea tour from Jerusalem
- Masada sunrise, Ein Gedi and Dead Sea full day tour from Jerusalem
If you have a thing for Roman ruins, Caesarea National Park is easily one of the best places to visit in Israel. At about one hour from Tel Aviv, the city and harbor of Caesarea were founded by Herod the Great during the first century BC. Clearly visible are still the thermal baths, the amphitheater, the hippodrome, the aqueduct, the royal palace and the temple of Augustus.
GOOD TO KNOW: If you like diving, make sure to visit the underwater ruins!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Caesarea National Park is open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 or 6:00 pm depending on the season. It closes at 4:00 or 5:00 pm on Fridays. Admission is NIS 39 (little over $11 USD).
Guided tours to Caesarea
Caesarea can be easily visited independently on a day trip from Tel Aviv. If you don’t have a car, the best way to get there is on guided trips. Most of them also go to Haifa and Akko. These are the best options:
- Caesarea, Haifa and Akko day trip from Tel Aviv
- Caesarea, Haifa, Akko and Rosh Hanikra day trip from Tel Aviv
- Akko, Nazareth and Caesarea day tour
Easily one of the nicest places to visit in Israel, Haifa is the third largest city in the country. It’s pretty, but what makes it special is the incredibly easy going, friendly atmosphere. Haifa has all the perks of Tel Aviv – beautiful beaches, a lovely city center, nice shops, a fantastic restaurant scene, good nightlife; minus the chaos.
Haifa best sight is the Baha’i Gardens, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. It’s one of the top rated Israel tourist attractions. The German Colony is a lovely part of town where it is pleasant to go for a walk.
Make sure to read my post “A Guide To The Things To Do In Haifa, Israel.”
Guided tours of Haifa
You can easily explore Haifa independently – which is easier to do if you have a car, actually. If you don’t, or if you’d rather opt for a more hassle free solution, you can opt for a guided tour departing from either Nazareth or Tel Aviv. These are the best ones:
- Cesarea, Haifa and Acre day trip from Tel Aviv
- From Tel Aviv: guided tour to Caesarea, Haifa, Acre and Rosh HaNickra
- Nazareth day tour to Haifa, Acre and Rosh HaNikra
Acre (or Akko, as it is called in Israel), is a small city located at around 18 km from the border with Lebanon, and it is right on the shores of the Mediterranean sea.
For as small as it is, Acre has plenty of history and it is a lovely place to explore, and as such one of the nicest places to visit in Israel. It isn’t by chance that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is a maze of narrow alleys, hidden squares, and has a beautiful local market. Among the best sights there’s the Citadel and the City Walls, originally built by the Crusaders and subsequently reinforced.
The Al-Jazzar Mosque, which was built at the end of the 19th century, is another must see.
BONUS: At about 30 minutes drive north of Acre and literally on the border with Lebanon, Rosh HaNikra Grottoes are among the nicest Israel tourist attractions. Open daily (times vary depending on the season; early closure on Shabbat), admission is NIS 48 (little over $14 USD).
Guided tours of Acre
Acre is so nice that you will want to spend a couple of days there, just taking in the nice atmosphere. However, it’s so small that you can easily explore it in a day. The following are some good guided tours departing from either Tel Aviv or Nazareth:
- Cesarea, Haifa and Acre day trip from Tel Aviv
- From Tel Aviv: guided tour to Caesarea, Haifa, Acre and Rosh HaNickra
- Nazareth day tour to Haifa, Acre and Rosh HaNikra
The ruins of Beit Shean are definitely among the best places to visit in Israel. Beautifully preserved, the ancient city dates back to Roman and Byzantine times, during which it flourished thanks to its strategic position. You will be able to see the colonnaded streets, a theater that has been beautifully restored and even the remains of a bathhouse. Don’t miss Kohav HaYarden, a Crusader fortress.
Galilee is a popular pilgrimage place for Christians, for whom Nazareth, Cana, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee remain among the most interesting places to visit in Israel.
Though Nazareth may lack the charm of other Israeli cities, it has some interesting sights. The Old City has been restored, yet as a result of the renovation works most of the shops have been closed and many have never opened again. It is nevertheless interesting to walk around, visit the Basilica of the Annunciation and Mary’s Well.
One of the nicest Israel tourist attractions in Nazareth is Fauzi Azar, a beautiful historic home which has been converted to a beautiful boutique hostel. El Babour, a fantastic shop in suq style, with an antique mill and where they sell all sorts of nuts, dried fruits, teas and coffees is a fun place to visit too.
Nazareth is also a good starting point for walking the Jesus Trail, which goes through various places of natural, historical, cultural and archaeological interest and then finishes in Tiberias.
Make sure to read my post “Everything You Need To Know To Hike The Jesus Trail.”
One of the four holy cities for the Jews, located on the shores of Lake Kineret (which most of us know as the Sea of Galilee), Tiberias is one of the most popular places to visit in Israel, both for local tourists and foreigners. The city has a nice promenade home of a light show taking place each evening. There also are some nice hot springs nearby, as well as Korazim National Park, home of a nice synagogue.
Galilee is packed with some of the most beautiful and unique places to visit in Israel – natural sites, archeological sites, villages, churches and more.
Among the most interesting attractions in Galilee there are Zippori National Park – between Nazareth and the village of Cana – inside which you will find the Old Zippori Village; Cana, locally known as Kfar Cana, known as the traditional site of the wedding party where Jesus performed one of his miracles, turning water into wine and where you’ll be able to see the Franciscan Wedding Church.
Moshav Arbel, a small village where you will find the ruins of a synagogie, and Mount Arbel, from where you can enjoy stunning views of the Sea of Galilee, are probably among the most beautiful places to visit in Israel.
Closer to the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, is thought to be one of the most sacred sites in the Christian pilgrimage and one of the most famous Israel tourist attractions. There you can see the remains of an ancient synagogue and those of the Church and House of Peter. Don’t miss the churches of Tabgha!
Other places to visit in Israel include Nebi Shu’eib, the site of the tomb of Jethro (father in law of Moses and a prophet in the Druze tradition); and the Horns of Attin, the site where in 1187, during the battle of Hattin, the Crusaders faced the army of Saladin.
Guided tours of Nazareth and Galilee
I explored Galilee during the Jesus Trail so I literally hiked and walked everywhere. Unless you also want to walk the Jesus trail, you are better off renting a car. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour. These are the best options:
- Nazareth, Tiberias & Sea of Galilee Day Trip from Tel Aviv
- Nazareth, Tiberias & Sea of Galilee Tour from Jerusalem
- From Jerusalem: Jordan River, Nazareth & Sea of Galilee Tour
- Biblical tour: Northern Israel full day tour
- Christian gems around the Sea of Galilee tour from Tel Aviv
In the north of the country, the Golan Heights are one of the most beautiful places to visit in Israel, and a great place to escape the tremendous summer heat. This mountainous region are at their best in the spring months, when you can enjoy the many hiking trails and admire nature in full bloom. Mount Hermon is a popular ski resort in the winter months.
If you have time, head all the way north to Nimrod Fortress National Park, where you will find the remains of 13th century Muslim fortress which is the biggest castle in Israel.
GOOD TO KNOW: On the way to the Golan Heights, you may want to stop at Safed – locally known as Tsfat. It’s Israel’s highest city and one of the four holy cities in the country, where you can see synagogues and nice art galleries.
Guided tours of the Golan Heights
In my opinion, the Golan Heights are best explored hiking. However, if you are tight on time and still want to visit, you can join a guided tour. The following are both good options:
- Golan Heights day trip with guide from Tel Aviv
- From Tel Aviv: Banias & Golan Heights Private Guided Tour
Eilat is one of the most fun places to visit in Israel. Located in the Southern Negev Desert, it’s the country’s outpost on the Red Sea.
Locally known as “Eilat Vegas,” it’s a place many unfairly dismiss as tacky. I find it to be the best place in the country to relax, enjoy the clear waters of the Red Sea – diving, snorkeling, and other water sports such as wind and kite surfing – and to explore the incredible surroundings.
To read more about Eilat, check out my post “17 Unmissable Things To Do In Eilat, Israel.”
GOOD TO KNOW: Eilat is a great starting point to visit Petra, in Jordan. You may want to join a guided tour such as this one for ease. Make sure to also read my post 13 Things To Know Before You Visit Petra, Jordan.
Guided tours of Eilat
Eilat is a great starting point to explore the surrounding region. Here are some of the best guided tours:
- Sunset sail and snorkel experience
- Eilat Mountains: Sunset Jeep Adventure to Mount Joash
- Coral reef snorkeling trip with instructor
- Introduction to scuba diving
- Red Canyon and Kibbutz life
If you are a fan of the desert, you will definitely agree that Timna Park is one of the best rated Israel tourist attractions. Located at around 30 km from Eilat, it is a fabulous combination of an archaeological site and a natural site with unique rock formations. The best way to explore it is on a guided tour such as this one.
Makhtesh Ramon, or Ramon Crater, is located in Mitzpe Ramon, a small town in the Negev Desert. It is a massive crater of 40 km on length, a whopping 6 km wide in points – this being the largest erosion crater (also known as makteshim) in the world. It truly is one of the coolest places to visit in Israel!
The best way to explore Ramon Crater is during hikes that also go through the Ein Avdat – but be prepared for the terrible heat. Alternatively, you can explore it by jeep. There even are hot air balloon flights.
Be’er Sheva and the Negev Desert
Hardly one of the best known places to visit in Israel, Be’er Sheva has more of a local feel compared to all the other places mentioned in this post. It is the biggest city in the Negev Desert, home to a university – thus quite lively. Among the most interesting places to visit, there’s the Old City, which has some lovely cafés, and the Bedouin Market. Abraham’s Well is located in the Old City.
It’s easy enough to reach by train from central Tel Aviv, so it makes for a unique day trip if you want to get off the beaten path.
Be’er Sheva is also a good starting point to visit the Negev Desert, truly one of the coolest places to visit in Israel – so to speak. The Negev is the best place to experience breathtaking sunrises or sunsets, but also for adventurous activities – think hiking or ATV tours and 4X4 tours.
You don’t often see Netanya in a post about the best places to visit in Israel, because it really isn’t home to any of the most popular Israel tourist attractions. I go every time I am in the country because I enjoy its local atmosphere, the busy market, and the nice beaches.
Most of the people living there are of Northern Africa origins, coming from Tripoli, Tunisia, Morocco. That means that you can find some really tasty Northern Africa style street food. And if you fancy the best hummus in Israel, head to Uzi Hummus.
Further readings about Israel
Make sure to read my other posts to better plan your trip to Israel:
- How To Plan The Perfect Trip To Israel
- 33 Tips For Traveling To Israel
- A Complete Guide To Israeli Food