In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, here are 75 MUST-DOs in Israel, from north to south. This is your complete travel guide or bucket list of things to do in Israel.
Jump to: The North | The Center and Jerusalem | The South
1. Go skiing on Mount Hermon.
It may surprise you to know that Israel’s Mount Hermon has over 28 miles (45 kilometers) of ski trails! While there is lots to do on top of the Hermon any time of year, skiing is definitely a special experience. Make sure to check they are open before making the trip up to the mountain.
2. Visit Ghajar, a town on the Lebanese border for a one-of-a-kind experience.
This Alawite-Arab village, now open after being closed to tourists for years, is well-known for its authentic Syrian and Lebanese food. There are many food trucks in the village, a beautiful park filled with flowers and an award-winning pastry shop.
3. Take the longest cable car in Israel up the Manara Cliff.
When most people think of cable cars and Israel, they think of Haifa or Masada, but the longest cable car in Israel is actually in Northern Israel up the Manara Cliff. In addition to the cable car, there is a climbing wall, a zip line and mountain sliding.
4. Have a delicious goat cheese lunch at Goats with the Wind.
Take a step back into biblical times with an incredible goat cheese lunch in Yodfat at Goats with the Wind, a family-run cheese farm. Their set tasting menu includes tons of seasonal fresh salads, homemade cheeses and roasted vegetables.
5. Drink wine at Tel Shifon winery, located in the northernmost part of Israel.
Tel Shifon Winery is a beautiful kibbutz winery offering attractions from wine tastings to onsite villas and ATV tours. If you can make it for one of their nighttime chef pop-up meals under the stars, it is a truly special experience.
6. Take a geopolitical tour of the Lebanon Border.
Seeing the border firsthand and hearing stories from locals will help you understand the complex geopolitical situation between Israel and Lebanon. There are many different companies offering these tours and they can often be tailored to your specific interests.
7. Visit a Druze family for a home hospitality cooking workshop with Galileat.
Galileat offers authentic culinary excursions like workshops, home hospitality and more in the Galil. Their hosts go above and beyond to give you a glimpse into the Druze religion and community. They have hosts that are Christian, Druze, and Muslim. I recommend asking for Snir and Miaad!
8. Bird-watch in the Hula Valley.
At the Hula Valley nature preserve, the lakes are stocked with fish to encourage migration, making it the ultimate bird-watching destination. Over 500 million birds (no less than 390 species) pass through the Hula Valley yearly on their way south.
9. Enjoy the view and pastries at Avtalion Coffee in Misgav.
This kosher culinary experience in the Galilee is one of the most talked-about bakeries in the north of Israel. While Avtalion Coffee is best known for their handmade pastries, they also have an impressive menu of decadent options like croissant sandwiches, blintzes, and shakshuka. The cafe has a stunning view of the region and is a must-visit if you’re in the area.
10. Visit the hot springs at Hamat Gader.
The Spa Village at Hamat Gader is a little oasis that is great for a few hours of relaxation or a full-weekend stay. The water in the springs is around 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) year-round and they offer a range of accommodations from romantic suites to tents.
11. Stop for hummus in a gas station at Hummus Eliyahu, Yokneam.
The original location of the famous Hummus Eliyahu hummus chain is located behind a gas station and you would probably never notice it if you didn’t know it was there. It is definitely some of the best hummus in Israel. Go early because they will sell out!
12. Spend time on Achziv and visit the micronation Akhzivland.
Achzivland is a micronation between Nahariya and the Lebanese border, near the ancient port city of Achziv. It is now a national park where you can camp at their beautiful waterfront campground, rent a beach bungalow, swim amongst the ruins of the ancient city and visit the museum.
13. Visit Merkaza, one of the largest grocery stores in the Middle East.
More than just a supermarket, the two-story Merkaza in Nof HaGalil includes a gourmet food court and a home goods store. The store has seemingly endless aisles and is a great place to stop on a road trip up north to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and buy local snacks/spices. It is especially cool to visit during Christmas time when it is covered in decorations.
14. Enjoy a cup of coffee at Arthur Cafe with a view of the Kinneret.
This coffee cart is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a coffee, pastries or even fresh-made pizza in the afternoons, while enjoying a stunning view of the Sea of Galilee. They offer a really wonderful relaxing atmosphere to take a break after a fun day in the water or after a long drive.
15. Stay in a tzimer (log cabin) in Mattat.
Although there are dozens of log cabins for rent in the area, my personal favorite is Maayan Bereshit. We go at least once a year and it is the most relaxing weekend you can imagine. Located in Mattat is a winery run on the honor system — you can go 24/7, take wine and leave money for what you take. There is also a great second-hand shop open each Friday.
16. Visit the Bahai Gardens.
There are two locations of Bahai Gardens in Israel, in Haifa and Akko. These gardens are holy sites for those who follow the Bahai faith, as well as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Touring the Bahai Garden is a must-do not only for the spectacular views but also to learn more about the Bahai religion.
17. Pick your own cherries at the Horse and Cherry Farm on Moshav Odem.
Hidden on Moshav Odem is a cute farm called the Horse and Cherry Farm that offers cherry-picking during cherry season (May and June)! Plus, it’s located next to Odem Mountain Winery so you can cool off with a glass of chilled white wine afterward.
18. Hike from the Mediterranean Sea to the Kinneret.
If you enjoy hiking and have 3-4 days to spare, you will definitely want to take the Yam l’Yam (Sea to Sea) hike. This classic hike is not only a favorite childhood experience for many Israelis — it is also a great way to connect to the land and experience Israel’s beautiful terrain firsthand.
19. Complete part or all of Shvil HaGolan, a hiking trail across the Golan.
The Golan Trail stretches from Mount Hermon in the north to the Sea of Galilee at its south. It’s a hiking trail, but the majority of it is also accessible by bike or horse. In its entirety, the trail is 75 miles (120 km) and is divided into 15 segments.
20. Spend time swimming in the beautiful natural pools of Gan Hashlosha.
Gan Hashlosha is a national park in Israel with three stunning natural pools of water, making it the perfect place to picnic or camp out. Watch out for the fish that nibble on the bottom of your feet — they tickle. Note that the entrance fee is 33 NIS per adult and 24 NIS per child.
21. Visit the Kangaroo Park.
Located just outside Gan Hashlosha, Gan Garoo is home to dozens of kangaroos. The kangaroos are free-roaming and you can feed them during your visit. In the park, you will also see cassowaries, emus, flying foxes, parrots and some rare reptiles.
22. Go rafting or kayaking in the Jordan River.
Jordan River Rafting offers tons of excursions in the Upper Galilee, but one that you cannot miss is rafting down the river itself. Trips range from 2-6 hours and there are different levels of difficulty. They also offer kayaking, jeep trips and guided hikes.
23. Visit the Pereh Mountain Hotel
Pereh Hotel blends luxury with history. Located in an old customs house that has been renovated to offer all the best amenities you would expect at a 5-star hotel, Pereh is truly a unique place. In addition to a stunning gym, pool and spa, they also have an on-site chef’s restaurant and a wine cellar. Spending a night at Pereh is like stepping into another time and place.
24. Tour the UNESCO world heritage sites in Akko.
The walled port city of Akko is a special place filled with history and a must-see for those traveling in Israel. Make sure you climb the walls to see the port from above, visit the market and take time to explore the Crusader City.
25. Hike Mount Arbel at sunrise.
From its beautiful observation points to biblical history, Mount Arbel is simply majestic. Carved into the mountain you will find caves where Jews hid during the Greek and Roman periods. You can also visit an ancient synagogue, which is a part of the Israel National Trail. There are a few hiking trails in the area, running from 30 minutes to three hours.
The Center and Jerusalem:
26. Visit a coffee cart. I recommend Blooms, Mama Coffee, or Arthura!
There are well over 80 coffee carts across Israel! At the start of the pandemic, they began popping up in small communities across the country. Many of them are located in parks or near historic sites. They are a fun way to visit off-the-beaten-path places in Israel. Here is a map to find one near you!
27. Spend an afternoon in a natural spring like Ein Aviel.
Located in the Binyamina area, this natural spring is free, easy to get to and has water year-round! Enjoy a short stroll, spend time swimming in the spring and don’t forget to bring food for a picnic. If you look hard enough, you may also find the hidden cave with a waterfall in it.
28. Enjoy ice cream at Buza, a special shop that is jointly owned by an Israeli and an Arab.
Buza ice cream is well-known across Israel for its really incredible texture and flavor. “Buza” means ice cream in Arabic and they make their ice cream by hand daily from fresh local ingredients. There are multiple locations in Israel, including in Tel Aviv and Akko.
29. Take a tour of Dialogue in the Dark, the Blind Museum in Holon.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience of being led through a dark museum by a blind guide to better embrace how it feels to be visually impaired. The museum is located in the Children’s Museum of Holon, which is an easy bus ride from Tel Aviv.
30. Shop in the Jaffa Flea Market.
Shop for unique vintage pieces from clothing to furniture at the Jaffa Flea Market. There are also amazing spots to eat nearby including the famous Mallabi shop HaMalabiah. Be sure to check out Shifra, a cute shop with lots of local goods like cheeses, oils and dips.
31. Eat lunch at Bottarga in Shuk HaCarmel, Tel Aviv
Bottarga is a home-cooking, female-run restaurant that has delicious options for everyone from meat to vegan and gluten-free. They opened recently and have been the talk of the town ever since. Check out what chef Adeena Sussman has to say about them!
32. Spend a day at Moshav Bat Shlomo
There is so much to do in Bat Shlomo, but most people drive right by without noticing it. I recommend visiting the “Truck BaMoshava” coffee cart, the award-winning winery and the cheese farm. I highly recommend taking a beautiful bike ride in the forest behind the village as well.
33. Relax on the beach at Hof Yanai, in the Hefer Valley.
Hof Bet Yanai is my favorite beach in Israel by far. There are stunning rock formations and it is often much quieter than other beaches in the center of Israel. There are lifeguards on duty, showers, a snack hut and shaded gazebos to make beach-going even more enjoyable.
34. Visit the Anu Museum
The newly-renovated Anu Museum of the Jewish People is known as one of Israel’s most unique and captivating museums. The museum celebrates multiculturalism and Jewish diversity, with exhibits on the Jewish people across generations. It is located inside Tel Aviv University and easily accessible by train.
35. Visit Asif, the Culinary Institute of Israel.
Asif is a unique combination of a library, cafe, market, garden and museum. Enjoy a delicious brunch, take a stroll through their ever-changing exhibit on Israel’s culinary history and peruse their library of cookbooks. If you’re lucky, you can catch a tour which includes a visit to their rooftop garden.
36. Take a hummus tour in the Old City of Jerusalem.
One of my favorite experiences in the Old City of Jerusalem was taking a hummus tour of the Muslim Quarter with tour guide Mo from The Holy Tourist. Mo grew up in the Old City and knows the area like the back of his hand, including all the best hummus places.
37. Enjoy coffee and a slice of cake at the Austrian Hospice in the Old City.
Most people who visit the Austrian Hospice see the rooftop and its stunning panoramic view of the Old City but miss the adorable cafe just downstairs. Stop in for coffee and a slice of cake and sit outside on the terrace. From there, you can see the Old City from a new perspective.
38. Experience a traditional afternoon tea at KumKum in Jerusalem.
Kumkum is a one-of-a-kind tea house in Jerusalem. Owned by Elisheva, an immigrant to Israel from England, her shop offers a super-authentic English tea experience down to the tea cups. Elisheva is a trained pastry chef and makes delicious homemade scones (there are also gluten-free scones!). There is no better way to spend a few hours in the afternoon with friends than with a tea tower at KumKum.
39. Row-boat in Ramla’s Pool of Arches.
A remnant from the time of the Abbasid caliphate, this building has survived over 1,200 years! Today, visitors can experience the reservoir by rowboat, making it a great activity for the whole family. Keep in mind that you have to climb a short steep set of stairs to access it.
40. Enjoy a wine tasting at Vitkin Winery.
Vitkin Winery is one of the most underrated wineries in Israel. On the weekends they offer a special tapas menu with great vegetarian options as well as vegan and gluten-free options.
41. See a concert at Zappa in Jerusalem.
Zappa is a cool restaurant and concert hall, offering shows by a wide variety of Israeli musicians. The small venue allows for a more intimate and relaxed ambiance than most concert halls. The venue opens a couple hours before the concert for dinner and the bartenders continue to serve drinks throughout. There are many locations in Israel, but my favorite is in Jerusalem.
42. Have hummus at Hummus Gingi on Kibbutz Einat.
One of the best and most fun places to stop for hummus in Israel is Gingi. Hummus Gingi has been a staple on Kibbutz Einat for nearly 20 years. They slow-cook the chickpeas overnight for especially creamy hummus and the spicy lemon sauce they serve alongside it takes the flavor to the next level.
43. Grab coffee and a cheese platter from Cohen’s Deli in Jerusalem.
The perfect place for an afternoon date, Cohen’s Deli has a top-notch cheese selection, but even better is their salad that comes with it. It is addictive. It looks like a typical Israeli salad, but what sets it apart is the quality of ingredients — they use the best produce, flakey salt, raw tahini and nuts, which perfectly complement each other.
44. Enjoy the vegetarian tasting menu from Asaf Granit’s Tzemah.
Many of the world’s top restaurants are renowned for their meat dishes, but Asaf Granit’s Tzemah is a 100% vegetarian restaurant serving up 5-star meals. They offer a tasting menu where you can try all the chefs’ picks and it is one of the best ways to celebrate special occasions from birthdays to anniversaries.
45. Enjoy a tour and tasting at Thinkers Distillery in Jerusalem.
Thinkers is a gin distillery located just a few steps away from Jerusalem’s famous Machne Yehudah Market. You can take a 45-minute tour for 95 NIS per person, which of course includes tasting the gin. They also have a longer deep-dive tour where you can sample cocktails from their mixologists.
46. Watch the sunset at the cliffs of Shefayim with a snack from Cafe v’Yam.
The cliffs located behind Hotel Shefayim are one of my favorite places in all of Israel, so much so that my fiance actually proposed to me there. They offer an absolutely breathtaking view of the sunset, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch Cafe v’Yam still open for pizza and beer.
47. Spend the day at Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo.
Located in southern Jerusalem in a very pastoral area, the Biblical Zoo is one of Israel’s most popular places to visit. What sets the Biblical Zoo apart is that they have verses from the Torah next to the animals showing the connection between the animal and Jewish tradition.
48. Hike in the Forest of the Martyrs, which memorializes the six million killed in the Holocaust.
In this forest, which is located on the edge of the Jerusalem Forest, six million trees were planted to commemorate the memories of those who perished during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, is also located nearby.
49. Walk from the Kraft Sports Center through Emek HaArazim to Ein Kerem, stopping in Motza for a bite at Alloro Cafe.
This 6mile (10 km) hike is a beautiful way to explore the outskirts of Jerusalem. Most of the path is paved and only the end has a steep uphill incline. About one-third of the way along the route, you’ll pass through Motza where there is an incredible pastry shop that’s perfect for a pitstop.
50. Visit Hollander Distillery for a liquor tour and tasting.
A hidden gem in the Jerusalem Hills, Hollander has a rich history that can only truly be understood through experiencing the distillery. You can sample their delicious liquors made from local fruit while enjoying the unbeatable view from their porch.
51. Eat ice cream at Yotvata.
You’ll probably recognize the name Yotvata if you have ever had shoko b’sakit (chocolate milk in a bag). After Tnuva, Yotvata is the second-largest milk producer in Israel and their “pundak” (rest stop) makes the perfect pitstop on any drive to Eilat. Try their fresh ice cream with local dairy from the kibbutz.
52. Hike in Timna Park.
In my opinion, Timna is the most beautiful national park in Israel and there are endless photo ops. They even have an “Instagram map” of the most photo-worthy sites in the park. You can easily spend more than a day here, so I recommend allotting a decent amount of time to your visit. You can even rent or room or bring a tent!
53. Visit the hidden lake, a gorgeous viewpoint just minutes from Eilat.
Bring a pakal cafe (travel coffee stove) and stop for a coffee break while looking out at the gorgeous lake in the middle of the desert. This is the most beautiful spot to stop on your long drive down to Eilat.
54. Do a late-night astronomy tour in the Ramon Crater.
With some of the clearest and darkest skies in Israel, Mitzpe Ramon or The Ramon Crater is one of the best places to go stargazing. The cost of a tour with Astronomy Israel is 175 NIS per adult and 85 NIS per child above the age of 6.
55. Stay at the luxury hotel Beresheet.
Beresheet is one of the most famous hotels in Israel and for good reason! Just be sure to lock your door at night or you may be woken up by an ibex staring you in the face. If you don’t want to shell out a few thousand shekels a night to sleep at the hotel, you can also go for breakfast!
56. Sleep in a cement pipe at Naot Farm.
You read that right — a cement pipe! Naot Farm is a family-run farm in the middle of the Negev with tiny little pipe rooms that you can rent for just over $100 a night. They also have a small natural pool, a cafe with homemade cheeses and local wine, and plenty of space to stroll and enjoy the quiet.
57. Visit the Dolphin Reef in Eilat.
Magical views, a private beach, dolphins, snorkeling, diving and a beach bar… what more could you ask for? The cost to enter Dolphin Reef is 69 NIS for adults and 48 NIS for kids under 15.
58. Spend a day on Hof Mosh.
Visiting Hof Mosh, the most famous beach in Israel, is a must-do at least once in a lifetime. The beach is well-equipped with restaurants, making it a great option if you’re looking to spend the entire day relaxing by the water.
59. Snorkel in the Red Sea.
The Red Sea is known around the world as one of the best locations for both snorkeling and diving. Coral Reef Beach is a super popular and easily accessible spot for snorkeling, renowned for its rich corals and diverse sea life.
60. Eat ice cream at Glenderia Ice Cream Truck.
We’ve already covered coffee carts — now it’s time for an ice cream truck! Located near Sde Boker (the exact location varies but you can find it on their Facebook page), Glenderia has been serving ice cream to passersby since 2020.
61. Shop at the second-hand store in Sde Boker.
Right outside of Ben-Gurion’s Hut is one of my favorite second-hand stores in Israel! It is quite small but always packed with unique finds, local art and great prices. To get to the store, follow directions to Ben-Gurion’s Hut and you won’t miss it.
62. Have a coffee with an ibex at Ben-Gurion’s Tomb overlooking Ein Avdat.
Knaaniya Cafe is an excellent place to grab coffee, but be sure to order it to-go and take a short three-minute walk over to the edge of Ben-Gurion’s Tomb, where you can often find ibex hanging out. Sit and enjoy the stunning view of Ein Avdat while sipping your coffee.
63. Go swimming in Ein Akev.
Located just below Midreshet Ben-Gurion, this gorgeous, hidden natural pool is one of the best places in Israel to spend an afternoon. Remember to bring snacks and a hat, as there is little shade and it gets very hot.
64. Hike to Gev Holon, Ein Gedi.
The hike to Gev Holon may be challenging, but it is more than worth it. While most people only make it to the small pools and waterfalls at the base of the mountain, this hike takes you to a lovely hidden pool with a breathtaking view of the Dead Sea down below.
65. Float in the Dead Sea.
Of course, no trip to Israel is complete without taking a dip in the Dead Sea. But, if you’re looking for a different experience, check out the Dead Sea mushrooms, which are salt islands you can walk out onto for gorgeous photos.
66. Stop for brunch at Studio Coffee in Arad.
Studio Coffee is American-owned and serves up amazing treats like homemade-flavored coffee syrups and keto desserts with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Try their great breads and homemade dips.
67. Glamp at the Dead Sea.
Glamping has all the fun of camping but with a much higher comfort level! Located right on the Dead Sea, Badolina is a great place to glamp with an onsite cafe/bar and access to a local pool. With tents that accommodate up to 8 people, it’s a great place to go with friends, and the price can’t be beat.
68. Take a tour of Neot Semadar.
Neot Semadar is a unique kibbutz located just north of Eilat. You might recognize the arts center and famous statue in the middle of the kibbutz. On the kibbutz you can enjoy a tour of the arts center and a visit to their winery.
69. Go for a wine tasting at Carmey Avdat, with the option to book a villa and stay overnight!
This desert winery and estate is a small family-run establishment. They say that the farm is located on the remains of a 1500-year-old agricultural settlement on the path of the ancient Spice Route.
70. Experience home hospitality for lunch with Mevashlot Yerucham and learn about the local women of the area.
The Culinary Queens of Yerucham is part of a project to promote diversity, solidarity and a more pluralistic Israel. They offer home hospitality and workshops where you can learn about and enjoy recipes that have been passed down for generations.
71. Go ice skating in the Ice Mall in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat.
Ice skating in Israel? In Eilat of all places? Yes, it is real. When you’re overheated from a full day in the sun at the beach and can’t spend any more time shopping in the tax-free malls, ice skating is the perfect way to spend the evening. Be sure to check Groo (Israeli Groupon) for a deal on tickets.
72. Have delicious Indian food at Little India in Beersheva.
Little India is one of the best Indian restaurants in Israel, and shockingly enough, it isn’t in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem — it’s in Beer Sheva! And it’s kosher. Try the paneer!
73. Take a cable car to the top of the Masada Fortress.
While some people enjoy the challenge (or torture, depending on your interpretation) of hiking the snake path up the mountain, I prefer the more relaxed experience of taking the quick cable car ride and spending more time enjoying the ruins of the fortress at the top.
74. Check out the graffiti at Gallery Minus 430 at Kalia Beach.
Named for its elevation level, this unique art gallery in Kalia Beach features graffiti from local and international artists who joined the project to raise awareness about the many environmental issues threatening the Dead Sea.
75. Visit the Antelope Ranch in the Arava Valley.
Africa meets Israel’s Negev Desert at this cool ranch! Take a mini safari tour, where you will meet antelopes, elk, goats, exotic sheep and other animals, or visit the petting zoo. There are also cabins and a campground which come with access to a sulfur pool.
Originally Published Apr 24, 2023 05:25PM EDT