There are so many hidden gems in Israel to explore. Israel is many different things to many different people. But what we all can agree on is that it is an area of Earth with a fascinating history, beautiful sights as far as the eye can see and a spiritual feel that can be found no where else on the planet. But don’t just stick to the touristy stuff when you go; as the crossroads between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there’s plenty more to see in the country’s spirituality, its geography and its culture. So stand out! Here’s just ten less well-known sites that you must see during your visit to Israel.
1. Hurva Synagogue (Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter)
Known for being a target of war, the Hurva Synagogue as it stands today is one of the most beautiful parts of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. But its beauty is not just confined to the outside. Inside, there’s an observation deck where you see a spectacular view of the main hall and an even more spectacular view of the city of Jerusalem itself. Whether you’re religious or not, it doesn’t matter. This is a must-see stop for anyone interested in getting a look at Israeli culture and history.
2. Via Dolorosa (Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter)
The Via Dolorosa is one of the most special things in modern Christianity. It is widely accepted as the path which Jesus himself took on the way to his crucifixion. Along the way, there are various pit-stops marking several reported events which took place on the path. Of note are multiple hole-in-the-wall cathedrals where Jesus supposedly had fallen while carrying the cross on his back. Sure, religion may not be your thing (it certainly isn’t mine) but this path is still fascinating to walk down. And what a workout it is too! By the time I got to the end, I was sweating harder than any workout I’d done at home!
3. Nafoura (Jerusalem)
Need a place to eat after spending all that time checking out Jerusalem? Want to get a taste of the city’s lesser-known Armenian quarter? Then Nafoura is the best place for you! Enjoy the delicious food, beautiful murals and wonderful environment while you engage in Israeli-Armenian culture. Where else can you have such an experience?
4. Beit Hatfutsot (Tel Aviv)
Centered around scenes from history, whether that be from ancient history or from the modern era, Beit Hatfutsot is a worthy museum to visit for anyone wishing to learn more about the Jewish people and their culture. Among silly things such as the create-your-own synagogue machines, there are also serious, informative exhibits that are worth a look for any History or Jewish Studies majors. Check out the Tel Aviv University campus while you’re there in case you need a place to go for study abroad!
5. Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Tel Aviv)
If you’re an Art major or art appreciator, this is a perfect stop for you! This is one of the hidden gems in Israel you can’t miss! The museum is full of fascinating paintings and interesting exhibits (from all around the world). To top it all off, located in the museum’s basement is just the cutest café with delicious lunch food that’s light but filling. Keep your shekels on hand though, it’s a bit expensive!
6. The Border with Lebanon (Rosh HaNikra)
Those with an interest in international politics will know that Lebanon and Israel are far from allies. Therefore, although there’s little to see at their border, it is still a sobering, and a teensy-bit thrilling, to stand at it. It’s a unique experience and one that provokes a lot of thought for those who stay there long enough. Take pictures as you wish but it might feel odd.
7. The Grottos at Rosh HaNikra (Rosh HaNikra)
Now this is what I call spectacular! The Grottos at Rosh HaNikra allow you to get close to Mediterranean sea while looking at some of the stunning effects its presence has had on the land it rides up against. These natural formations are not just worthy of being in your camera roll; they’re worthy of being in an art gallery. They will brighten up anyone’s day and anyone’s Instagram feed. If you need a reason to visit Israel this year, make this the one; you must see these at least once in person before you die. One of the best hidden gems in Israel, go see if for yourself!
8. The Old City of Acre (Akko)
Whether you’re exploring its tunnels, its markets or its wonderful views of the sea, Acre has something for everybody to enjoy. Feeling a quick bite to eat by the sea? Plenty of restaurants are available to provide just that. Wanna bone up on your knowledge of the Crusades? The old fortress in the city is one of its main attractions. History, culture and cuisine combine here to make a fun day for all. One of the best hidden gems in Israel, this place is a must to travel to!
9. Baha’í Gardens and Golden Dome (Haifa)
The Baha’í faith is one of the most fascinating religions in the world and its central gardens located in Haifa are some of the most beautiful in the world. They are marked by their lushness and their colorfulness, an especially gorgeous sight in such a hot desert climate. Alas, they have to be viewed by tour but the free observation deck is a spectacular enough view. A great place to head to if you want a really special picture from your trip.
10. Cable Car up Mount Carmel (Haifa)
After all the walking and sightseeing and picture-taking is done, how about some relaxing as well? A short cable car ride up Mount Carmel will give you time to sit back and time to enjoy good views of the city as well. At the top of the ride, there are more views, restaurants and a good breeze to cool you off while you’re there. Rest easy. You deserve it.