Israel blew my expectations out of the water, and traveling in Israel is something that I urge all backpackers to do. The people were super friendly, the food had me excited every meal time, the nightlife is banging, the beaches are beautiful and the culture and history are virtually unmatched around the globe. It’s tough to know what to see when you’re in Israel though, you don’t wanna miss any of the major sites, so luckily I’m here to keep you on the straight and narrow! If you venture to this side of the Middle East, be sure not to miss any of these 5 places:
This is the sort of place everybody loves, it has so much character that every day you walk around feels like an adventure. It’s the holiest city in the world, there’s a cultural mix of Jews, Muslims and Christians. You can see where Jesus was crucified and resurrected, the oldest Mosque in the world is here too, as is the Mount of Olives and the Wailing Wall. It’s also home to the amazing Abraham hostel, easily the best hostel in Jerusalem so use that as your base and you’re all set.
Really starting to put itself on the map, Nazareth should be a blue print at how religions in the middle east can coexist. Muslims Arabs speaking Hebrew, interfaith friendships and all with the backdrop of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth is simply beautiful.
It’s also a great place to use as a base as you venture further afield for the daytrips to Haifa, Akko and the Sea of Galilee. Remember, the best boutique hotel in Israel, the Fauzi Azar Inn, is here too so thrown down your luggage and set up base there.
3) Tel Aviv:
Too much culture and religion makes Johnny a dull boy, lucky that the middle east’s hedonistic capital is just around the corner. With beautiful beaches to fill your days and endless bars to fill your nights, Tel Aviv is the boozey chalk to Jerusalem’s cultural cheese. It’s a great place to chill in a nice hostel, reconvene with friends and share your epic travel stories from elsewhere in the country.
4) Mitzpe Ramon:
This is one of those ‘hidden gem’ moments. The Green Backpackers here in Mitzpe Ramon are slowly putting the area on the map, and they have a little help from the largest ‘crater’ in the world, which they are perched on the side of. You can go hiking, star gazing, mountain-biking, jeep tours all of which leave your jaw on the floor with the vast beauty of the Michtesh, don’t miss this gem, it’s the Middle East’s answer to the Grand Canyon, and it very much is holding its own.
5) The West Bank:
Trying not to step on any political toes, I want to include a tour to the West Bank here. It’s recognized as Palestine by half the world, and Israel as the other half, but either way its close by! Crossing the ‘border’ to the West Bank is like flying to another continent, visiting Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho should all be in your plans. You’ll learn a lot about both sides political struggle and come back much better informed. Also, you can buy baklava at dirt cheap prices so eat up before you step back on the more expensive Israeli side!
If you have 10 days in Israel, divide them up with these 5 places above, you won’t regret it. Happy travels!