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.
It’s not quite as old as nearby Jaffa – history here stretches back ‘only’ 1300 years – but Ramla's bustling market, underground pools and crumbling Islamic architecture make it an interesting half-day trip from Tel Aviv. Try to visit on a Wednesday, when the market is at its busiest and most colourful.
Dadaist painter Marcel Janco happened upon Ein Hod in 1950 – just two years after its Arab residents had been expelled or fled – and fell in love with the place. A good part of Israel's artistic elite followed and today the village is home to around 200 artists and their families. It is busiest on Saturday but relatively quiet on Friday, especially after 2pm.
Jezreel & Beit She’an Valleys
Stretching for about 45km from a bit west of Nazareth southeast to the Jordan River, the largely agricultural Jezreel Valley (also known as the Plain of Esdraelon) and the Beit She’an Valley, part of the Great Rift Valley, are bounded on the south by Mt Gilboa.
Developed in the 1960s and still rapidly expanding, the industry and university hub of Be'er Sheva (Beersheba) is the major city in the Negev. The only compelling reason for travellers to visit is to transfer between the train service that comes from the north and the bus services heading south.
With historic stone buildings, fine food, great wine, country air and throngs of holidaymakers, Zichron Ya’acov feels like a slice of Bordeaux transported to the Middle East. In its early years, Zichron (as Israelis often call it) was supported by Baron Edmond de Rothschild of the French banking family, who named it after his father James, aka Jacob (Ya'akov).
Part of the Great Rift Valley that runs for some 5000km from northern Syria to central Mozambique, this austerely beautiful and sparsely populated desert stretches from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea and has as its backdrop the majestic multi-hued Jordanian mountain range known in Israel as the Edom (Red) Mountains.