A young nation state with ancient roots
The nation of Israel is one of the youngest countries in the world, yet has its historical roots in the ancient Biblical Land of Israel. Its territories have been disputed and fought over for centuries, and still are to this day. The ancient heart of the Israeli capital Jerusalem is a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed full of historic sites, but divided into four quarters that are predominantly Christian, Jewish, Armenian and Muslim. On the Mediterranean coast Israel’s second city Tel Aviv is a lively, cosmopolitan tourist destination, with some great beaches, a vibrant café culture, and lively nightlife in the numerous bars and restaurants. Tel Aviv is also the country’s main financial centre. The ancient port city of Jaffa has been somewhat swallowed by Tel Aviv but retains many of the characteristics that make it an historic place to visit.
Israel has an interesting mixture of beach resorts, bustling city life and awe-inspiring historical sightseeing opportunities. Of course it is also hugely significant in the wider context of the Jewish faith and has a great many important religious sites to visit, especially the Wailing Wall.
When to Go?
People travel to Israel at various times throughout the year for holidays, to visit family, or for religious festivals and special occasions. Israel can get very hot in the summer, so spring and autumn are better for sightseeing. The Red Sea resort of Eilat is extremely popular for beach holidays throughout the year, and especially for scuba diving and snorkelling in warm Red Sea waters in the summer.
How to get there?
You can book flights to Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv with Israeli flag carrier El Al from London Heathrow and Luton Airport. British Airways fly from Heathrow, and Easyjet offer low cost flights from Luton to Tel Aviv. Jet2 fly to Tel Aviv from Manchester. Flights to Eilat Airport (ETH) are available intermittently with charter companies, as are occasional flights to Ovda International (VDA), which is about 40 miles north of Eilat.
Israel has a huge number of sites of historical interest, particularly those with a Biblical connection. The City of David is the site where King David established his seat of rule over a thousand years before Christ. The archaeological dig and visitors’ centre reveals several millennia of settlement and civilisation, including the 2,700 year old Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The Western Wall, commonly known as the Wailing Wall, is one of the most historically important and religiously significant places in the world and is a place of pilgrimage for Jews the world over.