If you want to have a unique experience in one of the most diverse countries in the world, spend a weekend in Israel, the fascinating religious icon that brings together Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as large numbers of travelers eager to take in the country’s beauty.
A weekend is enough to catch a first glimpse of the country while exploring the progressive, vibrating Tel Aviv, visiting the holy city of Jerusalem, a place that is not only special to Jews, but also Christians and Muslims, and relaxing on the shores of spectacular Dead Sea.
If you are ready for a memorable 3-day experience in contrasting Israel, continue reading this article and find out how to spend your weekend in this lovely country.
Day 1: Lively Tel Aviv
Start your Israeli adventure with a day in bustling Tel Aviv, the country’s cultural and commercial capital, named “The Mediterranean Capital of Cool” by the New York Times.
You will instantly understand that Tel Aviv is not only Israel’s center for culture, liberalism, cuisine, and nightlife but also one of those fascinating cities that never sleep. One of the most special aspects of Tel Aviv is represented by its sensational contrasts. The beautifully arranged streets and cozy boutiques will amaze your eyes, but Tel Aviv also hosts a great number of tech companies, in an area considered to be the second most important hi-tech area in the world.
There are so many things to see and experience in this lovely city, and you can begin with stroking its streets and admiring the architecture and the vibrating life buzzing all day and all night. Stop at the world-famous Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Museum of the History of Tel Aviv-Yafo, before continuing your adventure with a visit to the Tel Aviv Port (Namal Tel Aviv). Afterward, relax in the beautiful green Park Hayarkon or visit the gorgeous Tel Aviv beach and enjoy the mild sun for a while.
If you want to have a first-hand experience of Israel’s hustle and bustle, vibrant noise, diversity of colors and smells, head towards the famous Carmel market, the largest authentic Middle-Eastern style market or shuk in Tel Aviv. Don’t let the noise and business of the traders, who sell everything from fruit to electronics, and clothing to spices scare you away. Follow the locals’ way of exploring the market and if you want, indulge in the freshest fruit and vegetables, or get something special at a great price.
Whether you want to get closer to Tel Aviv’s cultural scene in the evening, or you prefer a culinary experience and a good sleep, the city will completely satisfy your desires.
With theaters, concert halls, and dance centers spread throughout the city, Tel Aviv has a rich cultural scene. Also, this colorful city is world-famous for its amazing cafe culture and restaurants, as well as its explosive nightlife.
For a strong coffee, delicious breakfast, and a nice people-watching session, Cafe Yom Tov is a great option. Saluf & Sons, a lovely restaurant where mouthwatering middle eastern dishes are served, can be your favorite dinner spot in Tel Aviv. Make sure you try the Malawach if you haven’t had that before.
Kuli Alma, a labyrinthine nightspot that welcomes you with great art exhibitions, vegetarian Israeli food, and amazing live entertainment, promises to show night owls a bit of the Israeli party scene. If you plan to explore Tel Aviv’s nightlife, a bite of late-night food is mandatory. Onza, is the perfect spot for late Israeli Turkish style food, perfectly combined with a cool vibe and live music.
Day 2: The Holy City of Jerusalem
There is no better place to visit on your second day in Israel than Jerusalem, the historical and religious epicenter of the world, and the capital of modern-day Israel. Anyone’s first visit to vibrant Jerusalem, the city with so much importance for three religions, is surreal and even overwhelming.
Drive to Mount of Olives and enjoy a beautiful view of the city. Stop to visit King David Tomb, at Mount Zion, and head to the gorgeous Old City of Jerusalem, a one-square-kilometer area, surrounded by walls that is of so much importance to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
Catch a glimpse of the holiest site in Judaism, which is the last remaining wall of the Jewish Temple, known as the Western Wall, and always visited by religious people. Then, continue to the Christian Quarter. Walk along the Via Dolorosa and visit the shrine located within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is a tomb that allegedly held the body of Jesus Christ. According to scientific tests, it dates back to almost 1,700 years. Continue your religious discovery tour with visiting the Dome of the Rock, the place from where Muhammad rose into the heavens, and that makes Jerusalem the third holiest for Muslims.
To escape the conservative part of the city and taste your way around Jerusalem, head towards the more liberal areas, like the German Colony and the Emek Refaim Street, where you will find some of the greatest restaurants in the city. Or, if you want an even more authentic experience, go to the Machne Yehuda Market, the largest market in Jerusalem and one of its most important part, where you can check out the vendors, enjoy delicious hole-in-the-wall style restaurants, and visit a few bars to have a taste of Jerusalem’s nightlife.
Day 3: The Mesmerizing Dead Sea
Your third day in Israel can take you to the lowest point on earth, where you will find the famous Dead Sea, and you will be surrounded by the amazing landscape of the Negev Desert.
Called the Dead Sea, this is really just a lake, part of the long border between Israel and Jordan. The lake’s name comes from its saline water, which doesn’t allow fish to survive. These salty waters, however, are well-known all over the world for their health and healing properties, as well as for the unique, fun feature that allows you to float naturally in them.
Located one-hour drive from Jerusalem, the shores of the Dead Seas are filled with Israeli people and visitors eager to relax while taking advantage of the salty waters’ properties and the mineral-rich mud. Ein Gedi Beach and the beach at the Ein Bokek resort are two of the most popular beaches along the shores of this charming lake.
Depending on how you plan your day and how early you wake up, you can also visit Masada, an ancient fortress and a charming UNESCO World Heritage Site, atop a mountain. Whether you climb the mountain or you prefer to take a cable car, the view of the Dead Sea and mountains of Jordan in the distance is mesmerizing.
If time permits, also visit the Ein Gedi National Park, located close to Masada, in the famous Kibbutz. With beautiful hikes, a charming public beach, and a spa, the park is a great way to relax and experience the nature of Jerusalem.
Where to Stay
Whether you prefer to spend your night in Tel Aviv, or you also want to experience a late evening in Jerusalem or relax longer at the Dead Sea, there are plenty of hotels available ins all three locations.
The Lusky – Great Small Hotel in Tel Aviv, located just one block from a beach along the Mediterranean Sea, is a charming family-run hotel, and the perfect choice for any type of visitors. If you want something more luxurious, the upmarket Hilton Tel Aviv Hotel, also located close to the beach, can satisfy your desires.
You can spoil yourself at one of the most famous hotels in Jerusalem, King David, where you will find luxury and gorgeous views. And, if you want the ultimate pampering, Daniel Dead Sea Hotel is waiting for you with an extensive spa area, as well as indoor and outdoor pools.