People have been writing about Jerusalem for the better part of its 3000-year history, but still today your first glimpse inside the ancient walled city will leave you speechless. More than beautiful, however, Jerusalem is a spiritual centre, holy to the three great monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Haifa & The North Coast
The Israeli coast from Ashkelon to Rosh HaNikra is a long band of white sand backed up by a flat, fertile coastal plain interrupted by low coastal hills. Most of Israel's growing population is concentrated in this area, particularly in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa and a host of sprouting new suburbs and communities.
Spilling over the sides of woodsy Mt Carmel, with sweeping views of the sea, twisting roads and one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, Haifa is one of the most picturesque cities in the Middle East. Its cultural fabric as a mixed city of tolerance between Arabs and Jews also makes it something of an anomaly in Israel.
The Negev Desert, often bypassed by travellers hurrying to Eilat, is much more than just sand. Look closely between the rocks of the wadis (valleys) and you will find water and even wine. The Negev Highlands region is also home to so many vineyards that it now has its own wine route.
Tiberias is a town that seems to face in two directions at once. It’s one of the four holy cities of Judaism, home to the tombs of venerated sages and ancient ritual baths, and is a popular holiday spot for the ultraorthodox, who combine treatment of the body with purification of the soul.
Don’t make Akko the first place you visit in Israel. After visiting this wonderfully preserved city of stone all the historic settlements scattered across Israel will appear rather ho-hum. Akko, sited on a narrow spit of land that pokes into the sea, seduces visitors with its narrow alleys, slender minarets, secret passageways, subterranean vaults and impressive ramparts.