Mysterious deserts. Mountains in Jerusalem. Beaches in Tel Aviv. Biblical discoveries happening all the time. All in a country the size of New Jersey? How is it even possible?
The small nation of Israel is home to hundreds of hidden gems, some more majestic than others. While there might be plenty to do in Israel -- possibly more than you have time for -- there are some things that are guaranteed to give you goosebumps. Take a look at these seven gems that will make the hair jump on your skin.
The Western Wall
The holiest site in Judaism is the outer wall of the two Holy Temples. It’s the last structure remaining from the Temple days, when Jewish people would make sacrifices and in return, receive miracles. The wall is separated into a men’s section and women’s section, according to Orthodox Jewish traditions. When holidays come around, thousands of people visit the wall to pray. There is also an area just to the left of the main sections that you can tour to see ruins from the two Temples.
A Boat Ride on the Sea of Galilee
The Kinnert, as it is called in Hebrew, is the lake that Jesus walked on in the famed New Testament story. With water flowing in from the Jordan River, it is one of the most famous bodies of water in the world. While taking a boat ride around the calm, cool sea, you’ll get a gorgeous look at the ancient city of Tiberias. Oh, and there are dozens of shops to visit, both modern and ancient.
Haven’t you always wanted to scream a message out to your ancestors? Masada is the place to do it. The only plot twist? You need to wake up at the crack of dawn because it gets too hot and dangerous to climb by 8 a.m. The quick hike up lasts no more than an hour, and it gives you a magical view of the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. When you get to the very top, scream out a message to your ancestors and you might just receive a message back. Don’t worry, you won’t have to hike back down, either, because there’s a mall at the top of the mountain with a cable car.
The Dead Sea
This is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It’s the lowest point on Earth, sitting 420 meters below sea level, according to the BBC. Not only can you grab a newspaper and read it while floating in the warm, salty water, but you can soak yourself in a fun mud bath. Thanks to all of the salt, you’ll be floating right away, even if you can’t swim. It’s certainly better than it sounds, and your skin will be silky smooth after. Just don’t shave a few days before going there -- it will burn.
The Bahá'í Gardens
This area, in the midst of the northern city of Haifa, is one of Israel’s most beautiful places to go. One of the main areas for the Bahá'í Faith, these gardens are outstanding and unlike any you’ve ever seen. Be prepared to walk down dozens of stairs, but it is all worth it when you arrive at the golden dome, the Shrine of the Báb. This is where the remains of the Bahá'í Faith’s founders are, and its terrace is impossible to miss.
Part of what makes Israel unique is that it’s home to three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Nazareth is the home to Christianity, the center of the religion because it’s where Jesus came from. There are many incredible sites to visit in this northern town, including Basilica of the Annunciation, Mary's Well, El Rais and more.