This young nation has one of the oldest and influential histories in the world. Step into a different world in the only country in the world that runs according to the Jewish calendar which observes the Shabbat (Sabbath) on Saturday, the day of rest. In the meantime, here are six days in Israel for you, one for each working day of the week.
Day One: Jerusalem
Start at the Western wall, the archaeological remnant of the temple built by King Herod 2000 years ago. Visit the Tomb of David at Mount Zion, and tour the ancient City of David where Jesus performed his second miracle. Try some biblical couscous at Eucalyptus Restaurant- It’s not every day you get to eat what King Solomon ate! Enter the Islamic Jerusalem at the Al Aqsa mosqu, the third holiest site to Islam. For more contemporary history, head to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial.
Day Two: The Dead Sea and Masada
Not quite walking on water, but you will literally float in the Dead Sea, a body of water so high in salinity that macroscopic organisms are unable to survive. As a cool fact, you should also know that it is the lowest point on earth. Nearby, Masada National Park is an ancient fortress great for catching the sunrise over the desert and Dead Sea. Book a guided tour and spend the rest of the day lost in the stories its aged walls have to tell.
Day Three: Haifa
Transit to chic Hafia, the edgy little sister of her more antiquated surroundings. Noted for its inclusive personality (Arabs and Jewish live in mixed neighbourhoods here) and creative types. Park yourself in Cafe Masada or spend a night bar hopping in Tihon with the hipster crowd; this is where you’ll find live music in contemporary Arab and Hebrew forms.
Day Four: Caesarea
On your way to Tel Aviv, explore the ancient Roman city of Caesarea, a humble fishing port that eventually became the Roman capital. Most of the city is under the sea but you can still see the theatre named after Julius Caesar. End your night with an Israeli concert at the restored Roman amphitheatre overlooking the sea.
Day Five and Six: Tel Aviv
Catch an opera at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center or a Batsheva dance performance at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre. The Bei Hatfutsot Museum of Jewish people is a ride out of town but a worthy trip to get acquainted with Jewish culture. Don’t miss out on the HaTachana, an outdoor marketplace situated on an old railway station by the beach. The port is especially popular with families; wind down your trip on a sculptured wooden deck at the water’s edge.
The national buses are run by Egged, and is generally clean, safe and air conditioned. Do note the intercity buses don’t run on Shabbat (Friday afternoon to Sunday evening). Local buses are used widely in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, but you will need to consult the locals on when to hop on and off if you don’t read Hebrew!
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