The mountaintop city of Tsfat is an ethereal place to get lost for a day or two. A centre of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) since the 16th century, it’s home to an otherworldly mixture of Hasidic Jews, artists and devout-but-mellow former hippies, a surprising number of them American immigrants.
You'll feel like an extra in a sci-fi movie when exploring the massive Makhtesh Ramon Nature Reserve. The landscape resembles Tatooine (the fictional desert planet in Star Wars) and the wide, open spaces, far from city lights and crowds, are equally suited to those seeking solitude or an activity-triggered adrenaline rush.
The Golan Heights
Offering commanding views of the Sea of Galilee and the Hula Valley, the volcanic Golan plateau is dry and tan in the summer, and lush, green and carpeted with wildflowers in the spring. Its fields of basalt boulders – and, on its western edge, deep canyons – are mixed with cattle ranches, orchards, vineyards and small, middle-class communities.
Around Tel Aviv
The greater Tel Aviv area, known as the Gush Dan region, comprises a web of affluent suburbs (mainly to the east and north) and not-so-affluent suburbs (mainly to the south and southeast). The highlight of the region is the long stretch of golden beaches between Tel Aviv and Netanya, which is particularly alluring around the upscale Herzliya Pituach.
Sea of Galilee
The shores of the Sea of Galilee (in Hebrew, Yam Kinneret or HaKinneret), by far Israel’s largest freshwater lake, are lined with great places to relax: beaches, camping grounds, cycling trails and walking tracks. Jesus spent most of his ministry around the Sea of Galilee.
North of Tiberias
As you drive, cycle or walk north from Tiberias, Hwy 90 and the parallel Kinneret Trail (Shvil Sovev Kinneret) curve around the northwestern shore of the lake, passing some of Israel’s most significant New Testament sites. The places in this section are listed from southwest to northeast.
The exact meaning of the name Gaza has been obscured through time. The ancient Egyptians called it Ghazzat (‘the prized city’) and, as one of the oldest functioning cities in the world, Gaza has always been considered a treasure for invaders and emperors. Gaza City is based around the long Omar al-Mukhtar St, which runs north to south from the sea to the main Salah ad-Din St.
The Gaza Strip
Gaza has been off the to-do list for travellers for some time – and for good reason. Israel has blockaded the tiny strip from land, air and sea since just after Islamist party Hamas took control in 2006, keeping Gaza's 1.8 million residents in and, with the exception of a handful of journalists, politicians and aid workers, the world out.
Ramallah & Al-Bireh
Ramallah (the name means God’s Mountain) and Al-Bireh were once separate villages, but now make up one urban conglomerate, a mere 10km north of Jerusalem. Though Al-Bireh’s history can be traced back to the Canaanites, Ramallah was only settled in by Christians in the 1500s, and these days is a bustling, cosmopolitan city, with a thriving art scene and vibrant nightlife.