Recently I travelled to Israel for the second time and was very enthusiastic again. First the security question: Yes, everything is safe in Israel. Perhaps even safer than other European cities. Military and police are omnipresent with visibly carrying pistols and machine guns. It does not, however, give me the feeling of a threat, but of security. I have not been to the West Bank before, so I cannot say anything about the situation there.
Journey to Israel
The journey to Israel is uncomplicated. Most airports fly to Ben Gurion airport. The airport is located 20 km southeast of Tel Aviv and 50 km northwest of Jerusalem. From the airport you can travel frequently by train to Tel Aviv (2€) or Jerusalem (4€). In 2018, the new Eilat Ramon Airport on the Red Sea was opened to boost tourism in the south of Israel. A useful info for planning trips within Israel is that all bus and train connections are displayed via the Google Maps app.
Accommodation in Israel
Tel Aviv is one of the cities with the highest number of AirBnB accommodations in the world. According to the German ADAC Travel Magazine (Amazon Link), which is highly recommended, there are 14,000 accommodations solely in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem there are another 4,500. In addition, it is also possible to stay in hotels or hostels. No matter where, the costs are not to be underestimated.
City trip to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem or small round trip including the Dead Sea
Those who fly to Israel for a long weekend should set up their camp in Tel Aviv and plan a day trip to Jerusalem. Preferred districts in Tel Aviv are Florentin, Lev HaIr, Kerem HaTeimanim and Neve Tzedek or simply everything around the streets Levinsky (western end) or Nahalat Binyamin.
Those are my favorite neighborhoods and they are characterized by an alternative scene with countless cafés, restaurants, bars and clubs. In Tel Aviv, despite the Sabbath, you can have a great party Friday evening and there are open cafés on Saturday mornings for an extensive hangover breakfast.
- Little Tel-Aviv Hostel (Hostel) – Booking.com
- Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv (Hostel) – Booking.com
- Rena’s House (Aparthotel) – Booking.com
- Ourplace Apartments (Apartement) – Booking.com
- Kalvin Boutique Hotel (Hotel) – Booking.com
Hints, excursions, sightseeing…
- Arrived in Tel Aviv, put on comfortable shoes and explore the city by foot or bike.
- Visit the Carmel Market and Tel Aviv Museum of Art
- Let yourself float on Friday (noonish) in in the old town of Jaffa
- Dive Friday night into the nightlife of Florentin
- Walking the Boulevard Rothschild on the Sabbath
- Enjoy the beach and the promenade
- Start a bus ride at the legendary Central Bus Station
Food and drink
- Snacking at Garger HaZahav (Florentin) – Google Maps Link
- Eat hummus at Hassons Humus (Florentin) – Google Maps Link
- Meat attack in the grill restaurant M25 (Carmel Market) – Google Maps Link
- Drink cocktails at Pimpinella (Florentin) – Google Maps Link
- Eat pizza and party with Live-DJ in teder.fm – Program and music sample and Google Maps Link
- Hang out and drink beer at Tony & Esther (Florentin) – Google Maps Link
- Start the evening with drinks at The Prince (Lev HaIr) – Google Maps Link
- Breakfast on Sabbath morning at Shpagat (Lev HaIr) – Google Maps Link
Jerusalem is a must and it is worth spending 1-3 days there to have time and space to immerse yourself in the old city. It is not advisable to go to Jerusalem on the Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday evening) as there is a lot closed. From the legendary Tel Aviv Central Bus Station there is a bus to Jerusalem every 15 minutes. Duration: 50 minutes. Cost: 5€. The buses are very comfortable and equipped with WiFi. Alternatively you can travel by train.
The 3-star Malka Hotel (Booking.com) is located 10 minutes from the Old Town and just a few minutes from Jaffa Street. The rooms are quite small, but totally beautiful with thick, heavy, old stone walls. Best to look at pictures at Booking. There is no breakfast in the hotel, but this is no problem, because of the countless cafés around Jaffa Street.
Hints, excursions, sightseeing…
- Float through the old city and markets of Jerusalem
- Visit of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall and Temple Mount (limited visiting hours!)
- Visit of the memorial Yad Vashem
Food and drink
- Snacking at the Mahane Yehuda Market – Google Maps Link
- Lunch and coffee at Tmol Shilshom – Google Maps Link
- Sweet pieces and coffee at Kadosh Café Patisserie –Google Maps Linkk
- Super Hummus by Ben-Sira Hummus –Google Maps Link
- The special evening with a view of the old town in Notre Dame Rooftop Wine & Cheese – Google Maps Link
Dead Sea and Negev Desert
If you have a little more time, you can consider planning a small round trip and drive from Jerusalem by rental car or public bus to the Dead Sea (Ein Gedi or En Bokek). It is recommended to get a rental car. The road there is very well developed and you can make stops to admire the impressive landscape. Also a visit to the Jewish fortress Masada is worthwhile. The highlight is of course a mud bath in the Dead Sea. After spending the night at the Dead Sea, you can drive back to Tel Aviv in about 3.5 hours through the northern parts of Negev desert.
Near the Dead Sea you can spend the night close to the Masada Fortress in the HI – Massada Hostel (Booking.com). This is one of the most affordable options as most hotels at the Dead Sea are quite expensive.
On the way back you can spend the night in Be’er Sheva. Since there are hardly any tourists in the city, it is rather quiet and authentic. Whoever arrives here Friday evening (Sabbath) might think that the city is extinct. I can recommend THE WELL IN (Booking.com). Very nice owners! There are only 3-4 rooms sharing a beautiful courtyard where you can have breakfast together. For dinner I can recommend the Bilbao Tapas-Bar Google Maps Link).
Big Thanks to DeepL for the great translation service