Welcome to Israel—a land of contrasts and wonderful surprises. Join hundreds of years of voyagers who have flocked to this dynamic country. Ancient and modern, secular and sacred, Israel beckons visitors with its magnificent sites, holy places and warm Mediterranean climate. Here, age-old sacred shrines exist alongside futuristic skyscrapers and posh resorts with swaying palms alongside desert wasteland. No matter where you look, the legendary stories of mankind’s collective history come to life in this magnificent place.
Dome of the Rock:
This structure dominates the old city. It is the shrine for Islam’s third most holy site. It covers a black stone in the mountain where Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven. It was the first dome shrine to be built and is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. It’s made of wood with marble slabs inside and covered with Persian tiles on the outside.
Known in the bible as Sea of the Arabah or Salt Sea, it gets its name from the high mineral content preventing anything from living in it. The lowest point of dry land on earth is the shoreline of the Dead Sea. Nearly 7 million tons of water evaporate from it every day, but the minerals remain.
Dead Sea Scrolls:
The first seven of many Dead Sea Scrolls were found by 3 brothers while gathering their goats high in the mountains. The brothers were not aware of what they found and sold the scripts. Years later, all scripts made their way to one location where the full content was finally revealed. See the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum to view the scrolls on display.
This is the birth place of Jesus. Christians all over the world consider this a holy site, but it is also significant to Jews because it is the burial place of the matriarch Rachel and birth place of King David. Manger Square is the main focus during Christmas celebrations three times a year.
This historic location plays a major part in the 3 monotheistic religions. The heart of Jerusalem is in the Old City. This section is surrounded by a wall divided into 4 quarters: Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim. Inside are important holy sites of the 3 major religions. Jerusalem also has a New City as well that still captures the original charm of the city.
Sea of Galilee:
This is a mountainous region in Israel’s north that is divided into two parts. It is densely populated and has the largest variety of ethnic communities in Israel. Its natural beauty and landscapes make it a main tourist destination. However, it is also popular for its national antiquities parks, farming communities, nature reserves, Jewish holy sites, Christian holy sites, and the Jordan River. One of the best ways to experience Galilee is to take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Visit the Wailing Wall:
The Wailing Wall is known as more than just that. It’s also the western wall and Kotel. It is the most holy place accessible to the Jewish people, since the Muslims control the temple mount.
Enjoy Tel Aviv:
Tel Aviv is Israel’s economic and cultural center and it’s referred to as the “city that never stops.” It is the country’s first modern Jewish city in Israel, but it still holds quite a bit of history. Visitors can find several important Christian sites there, but it’s also teeming with restaurants, shops, old courtyards, fishing ports and night clubs that attract tourists from all over.
As you prepare to explore Israel, enjoy a casual dress style and be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes. Please dress conservatively when visiting holy sites throughout the country; shorts and sleeveless shirts are not permitted when visiting churches and other religious sites.
You’re in for a treat as you explore the many delicious flavors of Israel. Israeli food is based off Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine. Common ingredients include lentils, nuts, raw vegetables, lamb and beef. Common beverages include mint tea, mint lemonade, egg cream and fruit shakes. Coffee lovers will enjoy Israel's Turkish style cup of java with its sweet notes of cardamom and caramel.
In Israel, religious items make popular souvenirs; these are not too hard to find in the "Holy Land." Many travelers love to collect beautiful glass-made products, ceramics and silver in Israel. Olive wood carvings are extremely popular here. For those who love beautiful jewels and jewelry, Israel is one of the world's leading diamond manufacturing and trading centers.