Just 12km north of central Tel Aviv, Herzliya is popular due to its fine, clean beaches, marina mall and string of seafront cafes. Named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, Herzliya started as a small farming community in 1924 and now consists of two main areas separated by Hwy 2.
The largest Druze settlement in Israel, Daliyat al-Karmel is a sprawling town on top of Mt Carmel, about 16km south of Haifa (11km south of Haifa University). Years of growth have sent Daliya washing over the neighbouring hills and have nearly fused it with the smaller Druze village of Isfiya (Usfiyeh), just to the north.
The swamps of the Hula Valley were once notorious for malaria, but a massive drainage program completed in 1958 got rid of the anopheles mosquitoes – and destroyed one of the country’s most important wetlands, a crucial stopping point for the millions of migratory birds who pass through Israel on their way between Europe and Africa.
Founded sometime in the 5th millennium BCE, Beit She’an – strategically situated at the intersection of the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley – has the most extensive Roman-era ruins in Israel. It was levelled in the massive earthquake of 749 CE. The struggling modern town (population 17,200) has little to offer the visitor.
The hillside Arab town of Abu Ghosh, 13km west of Jerusalem off the main highway to Tel Aviv, makes for a pleasant half-day trip from Jerusalem. It’s known in the Bible as Kiryat Ya’arim (Town of Forests), where the Ark of the Covenant was said to have been located for 20 years until David moved it to Jerusalem (I Chronicles 13:5-8).
Founded in 1958 by pioneers of the Israeli vegetarian movement, Amirim (elevation 600m) is still 100% veggie – no one here cooks, eats or serves meat, fowl or fish. Set on the southeastern slopes of the Mt Meron massif, the moshav is known for its clean air (no chicken coops or cow sheds), excellent organic food and rustic guesthouses – a beautiful place to bliss out.