Sleeping in Jerusalem Old City

Again I’m sharing guide-information with you, but this time it’s about hotels and hostels in Jerusalem, especially the old city. Most budget accommodation is located in the Old City’s Muslim, Christian and Armenian Quarters or in the city center. Decent mid-range options are thin on the ground, but there are plenty of choices in the top-end category, including atmospheric Christian hospices in the Old City and boutique hotels in the city center.

There are no hotels or guesthouses of note in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. If you want atmosphere, by all means stay in the Old City. But if you are after proximity to restaurants, bars, cafes and public transport, you are much better off staying in the city center, Mamilla or Yemin Moshe. If you have a car you’ll need to stay in the New City or pay NIS 48 per 24 hours for a space at Mamilla Parking near Jaffa Gate.

Room rates can fluctuate wildly between seasons and in response to political disturbances. I have quoted high-season rates in my reviews; these apply from April to June and from September to October, as well as during Easter, Christmas and the New Year.

Before I go, some words about hotels and (especially) hostels in Israel in general and the hotels and hostels in Jerusalem specific and I will be brief. The inside of the hotels in Israel are in general more or less shabby (with exceptions) and compared with anywhere else pricey. Hotels in Jerusalem have the same problem, but the hostels are worse compared with the rest of Israel (with exceptions)! So please, don’t let you be fooled by prices as the means to make a choice in hotel or hostel. The best way to indicate the shabby-state of hotels and hostels are the bedrooms.

Old City

If you arrive in Jerusalem by taxi or sherut (taxi-bus) and are staying in the Old City, you’ll need to alight at one of the city gates and walk to your hotel. Note that the call to prayer can be a problem for light sleepers in the Muslim Quarter – bring earplugs.

  • Hashimi Hotel & Hostel (02-628 4410; http://www.alhashimihotel-jerusalem.com; 73 Souq Khan al-Zeit St, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/d US$35/60/95, Map)
    Slap bang in the middle of the market, this Palestinian-owned hostel imposes a number of rules on its guests (no alcohol, no unmarried couples in the same room, no credit cards, no mixed dorms, no breathing (joking 🙂), etc), but all is forgiven when the newly renovated rooms are inspected and the extraordinary view from the rooftop is admired. Some of the rooms have views of the Dome of the Rock (request 313 or 311). Each of the two dorms has air-con, private bathroom and TV; the one on the 3rd floor has a view. Wi-fi is available in the lobby and on the 4th floor only (buy a SIM to be and stay independent and always have Internet).
Hashimi Hotel & Hostel
Hashimi Hotel & Hostel
  • Jaffa Gate Hostel (02-627 6402; http://www.jaffa-gate.hostel.com; Jaffa Gate; dm 100NIS, s/d 250/320NIS, with shared bathroom 200/280NIS, Map)
    Arab-run, this small and friendly hostel has one dorm (sleeping four) and 23 small and very basic rooms (more like extended coffins). There’s a lounge, a small roof terrace with wonderful views and a communal kitchen. Note that Muslim house rules prevent alcohol on the premises, breakfast isn’t served and credit-card payments aren’t possible.

    Jaffa Gate Hostel
    Jaffa Gate Hostel
  • Golden Gate Inn (02-628 4317; http://www.goldengate4.com; 10 Souq Khan al-Zeit St, Muslim Quarter; dm/d/tr 80/250/350NIS, Map)
    Set inside an atmospheric old home, this family-run guesthouse near Damascus Gate has single-sex dorms and clean rooms with en-suite bathroom, cable TV and air-con. The communal kitchen is spacious and well maintained, and there’s a rooftop with views. Note that wi-fi only works in the lobby and alcohol is forbidden on the premises.

    Golden Gate Inn
    Golden Gate Inn
  • Citadel Youth Hostel (02-628 5253; http://www.citadelyouthhostel.com; 20 St Mark’s Rd, Armenian Quarter; mattresses on roof 55NIS, dm 70NIS, d 320NIS, s/d with shared bathroom 180/200NIS, Map)
    A perfect example of a hostel with unrealized potential, the Citadel is only worth considering if the Abraham, Hashimi and Jaffa Gate Hostels are full. A labyrinthine 500-year-old building with plenty of Jerry-built additions, it offers thin foam mattresses on the rooftop in summer, old mattresses on the dorm beds, cramped and smelly shared bathrooms and overpriced private rooms.

    Citadel Youth Hostel
    Citadel Youth Hostel
  • Petra Hostel (02-628 6618; http://www.newpetrahostel.com; Omar Ibn al-Khattab Sq, Jaffa Gate; mattress on roof 50NIS, dm 70NIS, s/d 220/320NIS, Map)
    Built in the 1820s, this is the oldest hotel in Jerusalem. Some of its illustrious former patrons include Mark Twain and Herman Melville (and me of course). Unfortunately, the antiquated charm counts for little when the hot, stuffy and grubby rooms and dorms are taken into account. Only worth considering if you’re on a very tight budget and don’t mind roughing it.
    The only thing still very special about this guest house is the roof! Don’t forget the roof when you are there. And for the price you pay, no complaining.

    Petra Hostel
    Petra Hostel
  • Austrian Hospice (02-626 5800; http://www.austrianhospice.com; 37 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/d/tr  €26/76/118/165, Map)
    This castle-like guesthouse first opened in 1863 and has plenty of heritage features. Rooms are simply furnished but are large and have good beds; three have a balcony and two have air-con (€5 surcharge). Single-sex dorms are in the basement, where there are also squeaky-clean shared bathrooms. The cloistered garden cafe is a popular retreat for guests. The hospice is on the corner of Al-Wad St and Via Dolorosa. Ring the intercom to enter (reception is open 7am to 11pm).

    Austrian Hospice
    Austrian Hospice
  • Lutheran Guest House (02-626 6888; http://www.luth-guesthouse-jerusalem.com; St Mark’s Rd, Armenian Quarter; s/d/tr €?, Map)(I never managed to get to know their prices. The man kept on talking and talking …)
    Beyond the heavy steel door are a welcoming lobby, a variety of rooms, a courtyard garden and rooftop reading room and a lounge. Guest rooms are simply furnished but comfortable, and there’s a generous buffet breakfast. From Jaffa Gate, walk down David St, then take the first right up a narrow staircase; the guesthouse is 100m down on the left.

    Lutheran Guest House
    Lutheran Guest House
  • Ecce Homo Pilgrim House (02-627 7292; reservation@eccehomoconvent.org; 41 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/tw US$35/63/106, Map)
    If staying a few nights in a convent sounds intriguing, book yourself into this 150-year-old pilgrim guesthouse on the Via Dolorosa. The stone walls and dim corridors certainly evoke the feeling of a time gone by, and the rooftop terrace and comfortable reading lounge are lovely. Rooms are simply furnished and can be hot (no air-con). There’s a curfew.
    I slept there one time for 5 nights because of a Pilgrim tour in Jerusalem. I lost 5 kg that week, it was so hot. That means that it’s good.

    Ecce Homo Pilgrim House
    Ecce Homo Pilgrim House
  • Hotel East New Imperial (02-628 2261; http://www.newimperial.com; Jaffa Gate; s/d US$70/120, Map)
    Owner Abu el-Walid Dajani provides a warm welcome to his family’s hotel (they’ve owned it since 1949) and can spin some nice stories about its history. The labyrinthine layout can be confusing and B&B rooms are of varying quality; ask for a newly renovated one overlooking the side street, as the others aren’t great. A four-course dinner costs US$20.

    Hotel East New Imperial
    Hotel East New Imperial
  • Armenian Guesthouse (02-626 0880; armenianguesthouse@hotmail.com; 36 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm US$39, s US$97, d US$136, Map)
    Recently renovated and reasonably priced rooms make this guesthouse in the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate worth considering. There’s no garden and no atmospheric common areas (the things that make the guesthouses run by other religious orders in the city so special), but the very clean rooms are modern with good bathrooms and comfortable beds.
    And there are the same beds my grandmother slept in in Holland. Amazing!

    Armenian Guesthouse
    Armenian Guesthouse
  • Christ Church Guesthouse (02-627 7727; http://www.cmj-israel.org; Omar Ibn al-Khattab Sq, Jaffa Gate; s US$128, d US$194, Map)
    This wonderfully maintained guesthouse gets high marks for its period atmosphere, multilingual staff, prime location and garden setting. The simply furnished rooms have stone floors, domed ceilings and comfortable beds, and there are lounges where guests can relax over free tea and coffee. Breakfast (included), lunch (20NIS to 60NIS) and dinner (65NIS) are served in the on-site cafe.
    It’s still quite pricey, and the food is reasonable (except that awful salad)!

    Christ Church Guesthouse
    Christ Church Guesthouse

East Jerusalem

Muslim Cemetery along the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem near Lions Gate.
Muslim Cemetery along the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem near Lions Gate.

The area immediately east of the Old City’s Damascus Gate is predominantly Palestinian and has a pronounced Middle Eastern vibe – street traders hawk their wares to housewives wearing hijab, Arabic music blares from cars, and shopfronts and streets are decidedly less manicured than their often-staid West Jerusalem equivalents. There is a mix of Arab- and multinational-owned hotels here, but few are worthy of recommendation. The Damascus Gate, Shivtel Israel and Shimon  HaTzadik JLR stops are close by.

  • American Colony Hotel (02-627 9777; http://www.americancolony.com; 1 Louis Vincent St; s US$265, d US$310-640, ste US$675- 955, Map)
    This historic hotel, built in 1902 and now Swiss-run, was a popular lodging for wealthy Westerners in the early 20th century and is still is a destination of choice for many VIPs. There’s a variety of rooms spread across three wings; all are elegant and comfortable, but those in the original building are definitely the best. The breakfast buffet is excellent. The facilities here include a pool, a well-equipped gym, a courtyard cafe, a lobby lounge, a cellar bar and a garden and the black haired receptionist with her smoldering green eyes and hot voice makes you not sleepy.
    If you have the budget, this is the hotel to stay when you are in Jerusalem. The one and only.

    American Colony Hotel In Jerusalem
    American Colony Hotel In Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem Hotel (02-628 8982, 02-628 3282; http://www.jrshotel.com; Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; s/d US$160/240, Map)
    With tile-clad stone walls, high ceilings and antique furnishings, this small and friendly hotel in an 1890s building opposite one of the East Jerusalem bus stations can rightfully claim boutique status. The vine-covered courtyard restaurant is a lovely spot for dinner in warm weather.
    I love this hotel, because the rooms are amazing. And their stories are amazing too, especially when you cant sleep.

    Jerusalem Hotel
    Jerusalem Hotel
  • St George’s Guesthouse (02-628 3302; stgeorges.gh@j-diocese.org; 20 Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; standard s/d US$110/150, deluxe s/d US$150/180, Map)
    Located on the property of a 110-year-old Anglican church, this tranquil guesthouse has twin guest rooms set around a lovely courtyard garden. Amenities are good – each room has beds with crisp linen, satellite TV and a kettle; the deluxe versions with their stone walls, extra space and modernized bathrooms are worth the extra charge.

    St George’s Guesthouse
    St George’s Guesthouse
  • Legacy Hotel (02-627 0800; http://www.jerusalemlegacy.com; 29 Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; royal s/d US$150/185, executive s/d US$175/195, Map)
    After changing its name and having a major facelift, the former YMCA hostel in East Jerusalem is looking pretty snazzy. There are two types of room (deluxe and standard), both of which have kettles and cable TV. It’s worth paying extra for a deluxe version as these have larger bathrooms and balconies with views over the Mount of Olives. Facilities include a 5th-floor restaurant with great views over the Old City, a lobby bar and a garden cafe. Guests are given free entry to the YMCA gym and indoor pool in the building next door.

    Legacy Hotel
    Legacy Hotel
  • National Hotel (02-627 8880; http://www.nationalhotel-jerusalem.com; As-Zahra St; s/d/tr US$170/200/270, Map)
    It wouldn’t win any awards for its design, but this modern hotel near Herod’s Gate has a number of things working in its favor, including good service, free parking and an on-site restaurant with views over the Mount of Olives (no alcohol, though). Wi-fi is available in the lobby only.

    National Hotel
    National Hotel

City Center

The commercial heart of predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem, this area is full of sleeping, eating and drinking options but almost totally closes down over Shabbat. The JLR travels down the city centre’s spine, Jaffa Rd, and both the Old City and the Central Bus Station are within walking distance.

  • Abraham Hostel (02-650 2200; https://abrahamhostels.com; 67 HaNevi’im St, Davidka Sq; dm 114NIS, s 300NIS, d 480NIS, Map)
    Put simply, the Abraham is an exemplar for hostels everywhere. The best backpacker option in the city (none of the others come close), it’s conveniently located next to the Davidka tram stop, its en-suite rooms are basic but clean, the convivial lounge-bar has an attached communal kitchen and – best of all – there’s a huge entertainment and tours program. Try to be here on Shabbat, when the hostel holds a dinner for up to 40 people (40NIS). You should also take advantage of the free Hebrew and Arabic lessons, enjoy happy hour (6pm to 8pm) at the bar and sign up for at least one tour. The entrance is on HaNevi’im St, near the bus stop.

    Abraham Hostel
    Abraham Hostel
  • Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House (02-623 6102; http://www.jerusalem-hostel.com; 44 Jaffa Rd, Zion Sq; dm 90NIS, s 220-340NIS, d 270-360NIS, Map)
    A fine option for budget travelers keen to base themselves in the city center, this hostel offers clean en-suite rooms, single-sex dorms, a communal kitchen and a rooftop. There’s a healthy traveler vibe, with lots of info tacked onto the walls and plenty of other guests willing to lend free advice. In addition to the main backpacker wing the hostel has a new section in a separate building with private rooms (300NIS).
    Many in those rooms tend to separate them from those in the dorms. That’s a pity, because they miss loads of socializing and traveling info.

    Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House
    Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House
  • City Center Suites (02-650 9494; http://www.citycentervacation.com; 17 King George St (cnr HaHistadrut St); d US$130-150, ste US$165-190, economy studio s/d without breakfast US$110/130, Map)
    ‘Plenty of character, but looking a bit worn’ is a common descriptor for accommodation in this ancient city. And that’s why the existence of this spick-and-span modern hotel should be wholeheartedly celebrated. Spread over two buildings in a conveniently located part of the New City, it offers 38 comfortable rooms with kitchenette; the economy studio is the least impressive. The same owners operate the equally impressive Shamai suites.

    City Center Suites
    City Center Suites
  • Shamai Suites (02-579 7705; http://www.shamaisuites.com; 15 Ben Hillel St; studio r US$140-160, ste US$200-220, Map).
    What hey call suites are nothing else then normal or ordinary rooms.
  • Hotel Palatin (02-623 1141; http://www.palatinhotel.com; 4 Agrippas St; s US$110, d US$155, Map)
    Located near the hub of Jerusalem’s shopping and cafe district, the Palatin has small but reasonably comfortable rooms that are overpriced at the rack rates cited above but can be found at much better prices on booking sites. The friendly service almost (but not quite) compensates for the polyester sheets.

    Hotel Palatin
    Hotel Palatin
  • Arthur Hotel (02-623 9999; http://www.atlas.co.il; 13 Dorot Rishonim St; s/d US$275/325, Map)
    There are plenty of small hotels in Jerusalem, but few are as well run as this classy place near Zion Sq. Rooms come in many shapes and sizes, but the best are those at the rear of the building (ask for one with a balcony). The breakfast here is impressive, and the complimentary afternoon aperitif is a hit with guests.
    The breakfast is really impressive and you can eat a wonder full breakfast with loads of sweets (that’s for me of course). I took a bag with me the last time with a German group. When I talked with the owner last Sunday he asked me if I take a bag with me again, so he could guard his sweets …

    Arthur Hotel
    Arthur Hotel
  • 7 Kook Boutique Hotel (02-580 8068; http://www.7kookhotel.com; Ticho St; d US$240-380, s without breakfast US$216-342, Map)
    There aren’t too many boutique hotels in Jerusalem, so the 2014 opening of this well-located example of the genre was a welcome occurrence. Part of an upmarket apartment development, 7 Kook offers four stylish room types – studio, deluxe, family and suite – all of which have comfortable bed, excellent bathroom with tub, espresso machine and kettle.
    It’s a beautiful hotel from the inside and outside too.

    7 Kook Boutique Hotel
    7 Kook Boutique Hotel
  • Harmony Hotel (02-621 9999; http://www.atlas.co.il; 6 Yo’el Salomon St; s/d US$275/325, Map)
    A spacious lounge with pool table, books and a fireplace is the major draw at this well-run hotel near Zion Sq, especially during the free afternoon aperitif. There are 50 rooms in total; those on the 1st floor are new and the others are being renovated (opt for a corner one if possible). Free parking is available.
    A strange hotel. The interior designers were or color blind or there is something wrong with me. I got the feeling of being seasick.

    Harmony Hotel
    Harmony Hotel
  • Notre Dame Guest House (02-627 9111; http://www.notredamecenter.org; 3 Paratroopers Rd; d/tw US$240-290, tr US$290, ste US$450-550, Map)
    Most of the rooms at this splendidly located Vatican-owned guesthouse have wonderful views of the Old City and the Mount of Olives. The building dates from 1904 and its recently refurbished rooms are a great choice, especially as the guesthouse also has a Mediterranean restaurant with a garden terrace downstairs, and a cheese and wine restaurant on the rooftop.
    This so called guest house is pricey, and not family owned, but it’s fancy and well maintained and run. When I slept here during a Catholic tour, I couldn’t sleep the whole night, like I was counting the mosaic above my head. Beautiful guest house though.

    Notre Dame Guest House
    Notre Dame Guest House

Mamilla & Yemin Moshe

  • St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse (02-673 2401; http://www.scotsguesthouse.com; 1 David Remez St, Yemin Moshe; s US$135, d US$180, tw US$200, ste US$240, apt US$380, Map)
    St Andrew’s feels like a bit of Scotland transported to the Middle East, stone for stone, nun for nun. Set on a hill overlooking the Old City, with leafy gardens and an imposing stone facade, it has simple rooms and one two-bedroom apartment sleeping four. The more expensive rooms include balconies with a view; those that don’t have access to a large sun deck. All have kettles.
    I knew once a Scottish cook, who hated Scotland, but always slept here for some reason. He also couldn’t cook, but that’s my personal opinion.

    St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse
    St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse
  • Mamilla Hotel (02-548 2222; http://www.mamillahotel.com; 11 King Solomon (Shloma HaMelekh) St, Mamilla; r US$510- 635, ste US$785, Map)
    The best location in Jerusalem (near Jaffa Gate, on the edge of the Old and New Cities) is but one of many inducements on offer at this luxury hip hotel. Rooms are large and well equipped, and leisure B&B facilities include spa with steam room and hamam, gym, indoor pool, two bars, cafe and rooftop Italian restaurant.

    Mamilla Hotel
    Mamilla Hotel
  • David Citadel Hotel (02-621 1111; http://www.thedavidcitadel.com; 7 King David (David HaMelekh) St, Mamilla; r US$510-634, ste US$1000, Map)
    Like airports, some large hotels are microcities, populated with different people, housing, businesses and leisure facilities. The 400-room David Citadel fits this description, providing a city within a city for its pampered guests. Rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed (the suites are knockouts), there are three restaurants, and facilities include executive lounge, outdoor pool, children’s play centre, spa and gym.

    David Citadel Hotel
    David Citadel Hotel
  • YMCA Three Arches Hotel (02-569 2692; http://www.ymca3arch.co.il; 26 King David St, Yemin Moshe; s/tw/tr/ste US$200/220/250/290, Map)
    This 1933 building is an important local landmark and a decent place to spend a few nights. The hotel’s 56 rooms are simply furnished and could be cleaner; all have twin beds and cable TV. There’s an on-site restaurant, a gym and a pool.

    YMCA Three Arches Hotel
    YMCA Three Arches Hotel

German Colony & Rehavia

  • Little House in Rehavia (02-563 3344; http://www.jerusalem-hotel.co.il; 20 Ibn Ezra St, Rehavia; s 450NIS, d 600-690NIS, Map)
    There’s a boutique feel to this hotel in a restored 1942 stone building. Located in  one of Jerusalem’s prettiest neighborhoods (a 1.5km walk to the Old City), it has 28 rooms, a roof terrace, a garden and a strictly kosher dining room where a daily breakfast and Shabbat lunch and dinner are served.

    Little House in Rehavia
    Little House in Rehavia
  • Arcadia Ba’Moshava (02-542 3000; http://www.arcadiahotels.co.il; 13 Yehoshua bin-Nun St; s/d midweek US$240/270, weekend US$270/300, Map)
    Opened in 2014 after a major restoration, this hotel occupies a gorgeous Arab-style villa dating from 1935. ‘Ba’Moshava’ means ‘in the Colony’ and its location in a residential street off the Emek Refa’im shopping and entertainment strip is excellent. Rooms are smallish, but that won’t matter, as you’ll spend most of your time in the elegant lounge or leafy garden. The hotel provides bikes for the use of its guests.

    Arcadia Ba'Moshava
    Arcadia Ba’Moshava
  • Jerusalem Garden Home (050 524 0442; http://www.jerusalemgardenhome.com; 74 Derech Beit Lehem; s/d/tr US$140/185/210, Map)
    Run by a friendly couple, this B&B near the German Colony has a real home-away-from-home feel. It offers four rooms sleeping between two and four persons; each has a kitchenette and cable TV. The same owners operate a garden restaurant across the road, where breakfast is served.
Jerusalem Garden Home
Jerusalem Garden Home

Romema & Mekor Baruch

  • Allenby 2 B&B (052 396 3160; http://www.dahliaandnirbnb.com/ALLENBY-2; Allenby Sq 2, Romema; s 180NIS, d 330NIS, d with shared bathroom 250NIS, Map)
    One of the most popular B&Bs in Jerusalem, Allenby 2 combines a warm and convivial atmosphere with excellent service. With 11 rooms spread over a few properties, it’s also one of the larger B&Bs in the city. The shared kitchen and location close to the Central Bus Station and JLR line are definite draws. There’s no reception, so call ahead.

    Romema & Mekor Baruch Allenby
    Romema & Mekor Baruch Allenby 2

Restaurants in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has loads of restaurants in all kinds, representing all areas of the Arab world, as is the rest of the world. And you know what, you can always find something for any budget. You can choose a boutique type restaurant, or you can choose a restaurant, where you have a meal for a few shekels. And then there are those restaurants, which are based on the rising crop of ‘chef restaurants’ and an ever-growing number of swanky brasseries.


Click here for the gallery about the restaurants mentioned in this article.


Natan Cohen in his restaurant. Photo by Kobi Kalmanovitz
Natan Cohen in his restaurant. Photo by Kobi Kalmanovitz

If you’re self-catering, the best fresh fruit and vegetables in town are sold at the Carmel Market. But at the same Carmel market you can find also meat. At this market there is a so called ‘back-section’, where you can buy the ‘forbidden fruit’, eh, pork meat.

Eating in Tel Aviv
Eating in Tel Aviv

Convenience supermarkets offering a good selection of products, reasonable prices and late-night hours are found all over the city. Between Sunday and Friday, many restaurants offer ‘business lunch’ deals whereby diners get a free starter, or sometimes even a starter and a glass of wine, with every main course ordered.

Tel Aviv Food I love Israeli food
Tel Aviv Food I love Israeli food

Here follows a collection of restaurants, divided into sections of Tel Aviv. Be aware, this collection covers less then one percent of the number of restaurants in Tel Aviv.


Center of Tel Aviv

Miznon (30 King George St; pittas 23-44NIS; noon-1am Sun-Thu, to 3pm Fri, from 7pm Sat) Map.
The vibe here is bustling, the prices are (very) reasonable and the staff are young, friendly and full of energy. And let’s not forget the most important thing – the food is exceptionally delicious. Huge pitas stuffed with your choice of veggies, chicken, offal or meat await, as do fish and chips or roasted spiced yam and cauliflower (yum!). You’ll need to line up to order and give your name. Then make your choice from the tahina, labneh, green chilli sauce and pickle spread, claim a seat and wait for your order to be announced. Drinks include lemonade, beer and arak.

Miznon
Miznon

Felafel Gabai (25 Bograshov St; felafel 16NIS; 10.30am-10.30pm Sun-Thu) Map.
In a city where every felafel stall claims to be the best, Gabai is a strong contender for the title. Like most stalls, its crispy balls of felafel come with as much salad, pickles and tahina sauce as you can squeeze in a pita bread. It also serves a fine shakshuka and schnitzel.

Felafel Gabai
Felafel Gabai

Sabich Frishman (42 Frishman St; sabich 18NIS; 9am-11.30pm Sun-Thu, Fri before Shabbat, Sat after Shabbat) Map.
This tiny stall specializes in sabich, an Iraqi-derived snack consisting of fried aubergine, boiled egg, cabbage, salad, potato, hummus and spicy amba (mango) sauce, all stuffed into a pita. It’s on the corner of Dizengoff and Frishman Sts – just look for the long lines and the felafel stall next door.

Sabich Frishman
Sabich Frishman

HaKosem (1 Shlomo HaMelech St; felafel from 18NIS; 10.30am-11.30pm Sun-Thu, to 3pm Fri) Map.
One of the friendliest felafel stalls in town, HaKosem (the Magician) is a popular snack stop on the corner of King George St. Aside from its trademark green, fried chickpea balls in pita, it also offers sabich, schnitzel and shwarma (meat sliced off a spit and stuffed in a pocket of pita-type bread with chopped tomatoes and garnish). If you’re lucky, you’ll get a free felafel ball straight from the pan while you queue: magic.

HaKosem
HaKosem

Gala Gelateria (30 King George St; 1/2/3 scoops 14/19/23NIS; 10am-1am) Map.
Special choices for vegans (including a chocolate concoction) plus plenty of yoghurt and fruit options make this hole-in-the-wall gelateria opposite Gan Meir Park stand out from the Tel Aviv pack. We recommend anything with pistachio, tahina or mango in it.

Gala Gelateria
Gala Gelateria

Orna and Ella (03-525 2085; http://www.ornaandella.com; 33 Sheinken St; breakfast 36-58NIS, mains 42-92NIS; 8.30am-midnight Sun-Thu, from 10am Fri & Sat) Map.
Effortlessly melding its serious gastronomic focus with a casual-chic decor and a neighborhood vibe, this restaurant-cafe is beloved of locals for good reason. Seasonal, often organic, ingredients are used to excellent effect in hearty breakfasts and refined lunches and dinners. Vegans, vegetarians and anyone who appreciates good food will be very happy here. Dine inside, or in a rear courtyard.

Orna and Ella
Orna and Ella

Brasserie M&R (03-696 7111; http://www.brasserie.co.il; 70 Ibn Gabirol St; breakfast 22-49NIS, mains 62-110NIS; 24hr) Map.
Somewhat officious maîtres d’ orchestrate the service at this hugely popular cafe-brasserie opposite Rabin Sq. The art deco–inspired interior is très Parisian, as is the menu, which includes choices such as oysters, salads, steaks and a plat du jour. There are plenty of French wines to choose from, but many diners opt for an expertly made cocktail instead.

Brasserie M&R
Brasserie M&R

Cafe Noah (93 Ahad Ha’am St; breakfast 36NIS, sandwiches 35NIS; 8am-11pm Sun-Thu, to 5pm Fri) Map.
Popular with writers, poets, pundits and other folk desperately attempting to avoid a nine-to-five job, Noah has big windows, a small library and a palm-tree-shaded terrace. The menu offers salads, sandwiches and all-day breakfasts.

Cafe Noah
Cafe Noah

Agadir Burger (www.agadir.co.il; 2 Nahalat Binyamin St; burgers from 49NIS; noon-4am Sun-Thu, to 5am Fri, to 3am Sat) Map.
Locals swear by the burgers here, which feature beef or vegetarian patties of varying sizes sizzled up with choose-your-own toppings. The perfect place to indulge a beer-and-burger craving, it’s on Nahalat Binyamin St and is always busy.

Agadir Burger
Agadir Burger

Fresh Kitchen (03-529 2687; http://www.freshkitchen.co.il; 37 Basel St; salads from 36NIS; 11.30am-midnight Sat-Thu, noon-5pm Fri) Map.
With over a dozen types of salad on the menu, this is the place to get your daily five portions of greens and then some. The menu also has a multitude of muesli, sandwiches and refreshing shakes –and it even lists the calories. There are a few branches dotted around town, including another in the city center.

Fresh Kitchen
Fresh Kitchen

Tchernihovsky 6 (03-620 8729; 5 Tchernichovsky St; mains 68-110NIS; noon-11.45pm Mon-Thu, 10am-noon Fri,10.30am-5pm Sat, 11.45am-6pm Sun) Map.
A little taste of Lisbon here in the Middle East, Tchernihovsky 6 is owned and operated by a Portuguese-Israeli chef and is known for dishes featuring octopus, pulses, meats and other Iberian favorites. There’s a street-side terrace that’s invariably packed on warm evenings. The same crew operates the Porto wine bar opposite.

Tchernihovsky 6
Tchernihovsky 6

South of Tel Aviv

Anita (crn Shabazi & Pines Sts, Neve Tzedek; 1/2/3 scoops 15/20/24NIS; 8am-midnight) Map.
Neve Tzedek’s ‘Mama of Gelato’ has a loyal local following, a fact that will immediately become apparent if you head here on a summer evening (expect a queue). Flavours are many and varied, and come in both sorbet and ice-cream styles. There’s a second branch opposite, and a third down the street that sells frozen yoghurt.

Anita
Anita

Bet Lehem Hummus (5 Florentin St, Florentin; hummus 17NIS; 10am-9pm) Map.
The free self-service tshai nana (mint tea) is a nice touch, but regulars are drawn here solely on the strength of the hummus. Choose from full (with mashed and spiced fava beans) or masabacha (with chickpeas and warm tahina) versions, and consider ordering an egg topping (2NIS).

Bet Lehem Hummus (5 Florentin St)
Bet Lehem Hummus (5 Florentin St)

Port Sa’id (Har Sinai St 5; small plates 22-52NIS, mains 34-180NIS; noon-late) Map.
The mother ship for inner-city hipsters, this restaurant-bar next to the Great Synangogue is decorated with a library of vinyl records on wooden shelves and has a coterie of heavily tattooed regulars. There’s good Middle Eastern–accented food on offer (no English menu, so you’ll need to consult with the waiters) and lots of drink choices. Get here early to score a table, and don’t expect much in terms of service.

Port Sa'id
Port Sa’id

North Abraxas (03-516 6660; 40 Lilienblum St; small plates 22-52NIS, mains 34-120NIS, pizza 54NIS; noon-midnight Sun-Thu, 1pm-midnight Fri & Sat) Map.
The food at this flamboyant place is relegated to secondary importance – here, it’s all about the vibe. Sitting at the bar and watching the chefs and waiters chop, flambée, plate, sing and down arak shots with customers is fabulous fun, and the modern Israeli menu with its pizzas, colorful vegetable dishes and flavorful slow-cooked meats will please most diners.

North Abraxas
North Abraxas

Nachmani (03-566 3331; http://noirgroup.co.il; 26 Nachmani St; pastries 12-16NIS, pizzas 46-58NIS, mains 58-134NIS; 8am-midnight Sun-Fri, from 9am Sat) Map.
A perfect example of the casual yet stylish eatery trending in Tel Aviv, this cafe-restaurant serves generous antipasto platters, piping-hot pizzas from its brick oven, handmade pasta dishes and an array of sandwiches and salads. The outdoor tables are popular between 4.30pm and 7pm on weekdays, when every alcoholic drink comes with a free focaccia or bruschetta.

Nachmani
Nachmani

Ouzeria (44 Matalon St, Florentin; mezes 35-60NIS; noon-midnight) Map.
Popular with locals of every age and style, this exuberant corner restaurant in the Levinsky Spice Market precinct is busy every night but is absolutely hopping on Friday after the market closes. It doesn’t accept bookings, so you may need to queue. Greek mezes showcase vegetables and seafood and are both tasty and well priced.

Ouzeria
Ouzeria

Ahathaan (03-560 8070; corner of Ahad Ha’am & Balfour Sts; breakfast 36-59NIS; 8am-midnight Sun-Thu, to 5.30pm Fri, 9am-midnight Sat) Map.
Shaded by an awning, lit by multicolored lights at night and inevitably full of locals, the street-side terrace at this thrift shop–chic cafe is a popular meeting point at any time of the day but is particularly busy in the morning. Inside, there are plenty of laptop-friendly tables catering to the telecommuting crowd.

Ahathaan
Ahathaan

Cafe Lucia (03-744 8088 ; 18 Balfour St; breakfast 10-46NIS, sandwiches 36-42NIS, mains 32-48NIS; 7am – midnight Sun-Thu, to Shabbat Fri, 7pm-midnight Sat ) Map.
Every neighborhood should have its own Cafe Lucia. Known for its breads and pastries (the owners also operate the Lachmanina Bakery), its shady street-side terrace is inevitably full of locals catching up over coffee and ordering from the well-priced menu, which is strong on comfort foods including sandwiches (fresh and toasted), schnitzels, pastas, meatballs and fish and chips.

Cafe Lucia
Cafe Lucia

Lulu (03-516 8793; http://www.lulucafe.co.il; 55 Shabazi St, Neve Tzedek; breakfast 38-58NIS, sandwiches 44-48NIS, mains 64-96NIS; 7.30am-11.30pm) Map.
A perfect example of Neve Tzedek’s laid-back but carefully curated style, this cafe-bar-restaurant has a vaguely arty ambience, Mediterranean menu and fashionable clientele. The food is a notch or two up the quality scale from standard cafe fare, and the indoor-outdoor seating arrangement suits all weather.

Lulu
Lulu

Meshek Barzilay (03-516 6329; http://www.meshekbarzilay.co.il; 6 Ahad Ha’am St, Neve Tzedek; breakfast 38-64NIS, mains 46-68NIS; 7am-4pm Sun, to midnight Mon-Fri, from 9am Sat) Map.
Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for in Tel Aviv, but this place goes that extra mile when it comes to making them happy. One of only two restaurants we found serving organic free-range eggs (bravo!), it has plenty of interesting Indian- and Asian-influenced dishes on its menu and some great breakfast choices. Regulars swear by the vegan farm breakfast.

Meshek Barzilay
Meshek Barzilay

Giraffe (03-685 1155; cnr Montefiore & Yavne Sts; mains 51-98NIS; noon-midnight) Map.
Robustly flavored pan-Asian dishes including dumplings, noodles and sushi rolls are served at this bustling branch of the popular local chain. The food lacks finesse, but it’s fresh and tasty. Despite being ever-busy, the friendly waiters and bar staff are always happy to have a chat. giraffe

Suzanna (03-944 3060; http://www.suzana.rest-e.co.il; 9 Shabazi St, Neve Tzedek; breakfast 49NIS, meals 55-86NIS; 10am-2am) Map.
A longstanding Neve Tzedek favorite, Suzanna offers a Middle Eastern mix of dishes. Some of these are more successful than others, so the ‘I’ll have what they’re having’ approach pays off here. Enjoy your meal during summer months on the large open courtyard in the shade of an enormous ficus tree.

Suzanna
Suzanna

Nanuchka (03-516 2254; http://nanuchka-tlv.com/; 30 Lilienblum St; mains 49-68NIS; noon-late) Map.
A vegan Georgian restaurant? Surely not. But that is indeed what Nanuchka – once a traditional Georgian eatery – has transformed itself into. We’re puzzled as to the place’s popularity, as our meals have been bland and uninteresting, but there’s a bohemian buzz about the place that may provide an explanation. The starter of seven salads (58NIS) is a safe bet.

Nanuchka
Nanuchka
Thai House
Thai House

Thai House (03-517 8568; http://www.thai-house.co.il; 8 Bograshov St; mains 42-128NIS; noon-11pm) Map.
Dedicated restaurants serving Thai food are few and far between in Tel Aviv. So if you’re craving green, yellow or red curry, try a dinner at Thai House (Beit Thailandi), a bamboo-laden restaurant on the corner of Ben Yehuda and Bograshov Sts.

Catit (03-510 7001; http://www.catit.co.il; 57 Nahalat Binyamin St; 3/4/5 courses 349/399/479NIS; 6.30-11pm Sun-Fri) Map.
Meir Adoni is generally acknowledged to be be Tel Aviv’s most exciting and accomplished chef, and this intimate restaurant is his flagship restaurant (he also operates the attached Mizlala bistro and two venues at the Carleton Hotel). The food here is spectacular – ultra-refined dishes that are wonderful to look at and even better to eat. Service is impressive, too. Vegetarians and vegans should mention their requirements when booking.

Catit
Catit

Bindella Osteria & Bar (03-650 0071; http://www.bindella.co.il; 27 Montefiore St; pasta 49-99NIS, mains 68-128NIS; 12.30pm-late) Map.
Bindella is the epitome of a modern Tuscan ristorante – elegant, with an uncompromising focus on quality food, wine and service. Our meals here have been exemplary, featuring al dente pasta, meat and fish cooked simply so as to showcase its quality, and delectable desserts. The wine list is similarly impressive, being full of premium Israeli and Italian drops.

Bindella Osteria & Bar
Bindella Osteria & Bar

Mizlala (03-566 5505; http://mizlala.co.il; 57 Nahalat Binyamin St; mains 89-169NIS; noon-midnight) Map.
Catit’s younger sibling has cheaper prices, a simpler menu and way more va-va-voom than her big sis but still showcases Meir Adoni’s refined approach to cooking. The stylish dining space with its long bar is most definitely one of the city’s places to be seen, and the menu’s Mediterranean slant is particularly pleasing. Whatever you do, don’t contemplate skipping dessert, because that’s the best of all in Tel Aviv. No, scrap that … the Middle East.

Mizlala
Mizlala

Café Noir (03-566 3018; http://noirgroup.co.il; 43 Ahad Ha’am St; brunch 34-64NIS, mains 66-128NIS; noon-midnight Sun-Wed, to 1am Thu, 8am-1am Fri, 9am-midnight Sat) Map.
This bustling French-style brasserie is known locally for two things: weekend brunches and its signature schnitzels. We’re big fans of the first but prefer to order one of the consistently excellent salads or pastas rather than the second. It’s worth paying extra for a bread basket.

Café Noir
Café Noir

Hotel Montefiore (03-564 6100; http://www.hotelmontefiore.co.il; 36 Montefiore St; burgers & sandwiches 42-46NIS, mains 62-160NIS; 7am-midnight) Map.
For a special night out, you need look no further than the Montefiore’s French-flavored restaurant. Though not quiet (the place is far too fashionable for that), it’s a favorite with glam young things out on dates and with business people sealing deals. The menu travels across Asia and Europe, the wine list is impressive and the bar is perfect for solo diners.

Hotel Montefiore
Hotel Montefiore

Dallal (03-510 9292; http://www.dallal.info; 10 Shabazi St, Neve Tzedek; breakfast 32-62NIS, mains 76-170NIS; 9am-11.30pm Sun-Fri, noon-11pm Sat ) Map.
For one of Tel Aviv’s best brunches, head here on Saturday between noon and 6pm, when the garden tables are full of locals noshing on organic egg dishes such as the roasted eggplant shakshuka with spinach, tomato coulis and goat yoghurt. Dinner in the slightly twee dining room is a more formal affair, featuring conservative French-influenced meat and fish dishes. The nearby Dallal Bakery (7 Kol Israel Haverim St, Neve Tzedek; 7am-10pm Sun-Thu, to 5pm Fri) Map. is a great spot for a simple lunch, but seating is extremely limited. If it’s full, consider ordering to go and heading to nearby Alma Beach for a picnic.

Dallal
Dallal

Tel Aviv Beach and Coast

Gelateria Siciliana (http://glideria.co.il; 110 Ben Yehuda St; 1/2/3 scoops 15/20/25NIS; noon-midnight Sun-Thu, 11amlate Fri & Sat) Map.
Most Italians will agree that the test of a good gelateria is always its pistachio gelato, which should be a soft green color and have a sweet yet nutty taste. Happily, Tel Aviv’s Gelateria Siciliana (map) passes this and other gelato-associated tests with flying colors. There’s a second branch near Rabin Sq (63 Ibn Gabirol St, map), and one in Herzliya.

Gelateria Siciliana
Gelateria Siciliana

Tamara (96 Ben Yehuda St; small/medium/large cup 22/27/32NIS; 9.30am-12.30am Sun-Fri, from 10.30am Sat) Map.
We’re going to break some bad news here: despite the spin, we suspect that frozen yoghurt isn’t particularly healthy. It’s undoubtedly delicious, though, so we’re all for damning the consequences and following the world-wide frozen-yogurt wave to this excellent place near Gordon Beach. Enjoy your cup plain or choose from a range of indulgent toppings.

Tamara
Tamara

Pinati (http://pinati.co.il/; 43 Bograshov St; hummus 20-33NIS; 10am-10pm Sun-Thu, to 4pm Fri ) Map.
Close enough to the beach that the picnic potential is obvious, this branch of Jerusalem’s favorite hummus joint sells hummus, chicken schnitzels and other fast-food favorites.

Pinati
Pinati

Benedict (www.benedict.co.il; 171 Ben Yehuda St; breakfasts 38-98NIS; 24hr) Map.
Those craving blueberry pancakes, bacon and eggs, shakshuka or eggs benedict at five in the afternoon – or, for that matter, in the morning – need go no further than this constantly crowded all-night breakfast place. Bring a big appetite: servings are huge, and come with bread. There’s another branch in Tel Aviv (29 Rothschild Blvd) and one in Herzliya.

Benedict
Benedict

Shila-Sharon Cohen’s Kitchen  (03-522 1224; http://www.shila-rest.co.il; 182 Ben Yehuda St; tapas 46-59NIS, raciones 48-79NIS, mains 74-148NIS; noon-1am Sun-Thu & Sat ) Map.
Only a castanet click or two away from the beach, Sharo Cohen’s Spanish-inspired seafood restaurant offers an array of vividly colored and robustly flavored tapas, raciones (small plates) and grilled main courses – those in the know tend to start with a few carpaccio and tartar tapas and then graze on the vegetable, fish and seafood raciones on offer.

Shila-Sharon Cohen's Kitchen
Shila-Sharon Cohen’s Kitchen

Manta Ray (03-517 4773; http://www.mantaray.co.il; southern Tel Aviv Promenade; breakfast 39-45NIS, mains 75-175NIS; 9am-11pm) Map.
It’s stylish, casual and at the beach – the perfect Tel Avivian triumvirate. On the slope directly above Alma Beach, this is the summer breakfast and lunch venue of choice for locals and tourists alike, so be sure to book (specify an outside table with a view). Try an omelette at breakfast and fish at other times of the day.

Manta Ray
Manta Ray

Herbert Samuel (03-516 6516; http://www.herbertsamuel.co.il; 6 Kaufmann St, Neve Tzedek; business lunch 88NIS, pasta 88-98NIS, mains 112-168NIS; 12.30-11.30pm) Map.
Home turf for Master Chef Israel judge Yonatan Roshfeld, this upmarket choice offers refined Mediterranean dishes from a menu that changes daily. Surrounds are elegant, with sea views. Come for the two-course business lunch, which is available every day except Saturday and represents good value.

Herbert Samuel
Herbert Samuel

Jaffa

Ali Caravan (1 HaDolphin St; hummus portions 18NIS; 8am-3pm Sun-Fri;) Map.
If hummus is a religion, then this could well be its Mecca. This tiny restaurant near Jaffa Port offers a limited menu of three hummus choices: plain, full (with mashed and spiced fava beans) or masabacha (with chickpeas and warm tahina). It’s always busy, so you’ll probably need to queue.

Ali Caravan
Ali Caravan

Shafa Bar (Rabbi Nachman St 2, Jaffa; sandwiches 32NIS, mains 28-52NIS; 9am-late) Map.
Another hipster hangout (Jaffa is full of them), Shafa is our favorite of the flea-market cafe-bar hybrids, a place where the coffee machine and cocktail shaker get an equal workout, and where it’s possible to order everything from a simple sandwich to a crunchy Thai salad or a dude-food choice such as Irish sausages and fries.

Shafa Bar
Shafa Bar

Said Abu Elafia & Sons (7 Yefet St, Jaffa; pastries from 3NIS; 24hr) Map.
Jaffa’s first bakery was established in 1880, and four generations down the line the Abu Elafia family is busier than ever. The main attractions are its giant sambusas (filled pastries), bourekas (stuffed breads with sheep’s cheese) and a unique Arab oven-baked pizza-like concoction filled with eggs, tomato, cheese and olives. Take-out only. Members of the family run branches near Rabin Sq (73 Ibn Gabirol St) Map. and on the esplanade (center Herbert Samuel Esplanade & Yonah HaNavi St) Map.

Said Abu Elafia & Sons
Said Abu Elafia & Sons

 

Dr Shakshuka (http://shakshuka.rest.co.il; 3 Beit Eshal St, Jaffa; shakshuka 36-42NIS, couscous 42-58NIS, shwarma 48-58NIS; 8am-midnight Sun-Fri) Map.
Set in an atmospheric Ottoman-era building in the flea market, the doctor has been working his shakshuka magic since 1991 and shows no sign of giving up. The eponymous egg dish is great, of course (his secret is loads of spice, particularly paprika), but locals tend to prefer the shwarma and couscous. Dine inside or in the shaded courtyard.

Dr Shakshuka
Dr Shakshuka

Puaa (03-682 3821; http://www.puaa.co.il; 8 Rabbi Yohanan St; breakfast 38-48NIS, sandwiches 38NIS, mains 42-58NIS; 9am-1am Sun-Fri, from 10am Sat) Map.
The thrift shop–chic decor is truly authentic here – every piece of furniture and decorative knicknack is for sale. In the midst of the flea-market action, laid-back Puaa serves an all-day breakfast and is particularly busy on weekends, when the shakshuka, sabich and bundash (fried challah served with jam and halva or with sour cream and cucumber) are must-order treats.

Puaa
Puaa

El Jamila (03-550 0042; 4 Olei Zion St, Jaffa; mains 60-120NIS; noon-midnight) Map.
Traditional fish dishes from the Ajami district are on offer at this Arab-run restaurant in the flea market. The stone-walled dining space has a high ceiling and attractive tiled floor, and is a lovely place to park your shopping bags after a busy morning in the souq. Try the ta’ashima (fish fillets baked in dough and served with almond tahina).

El Jamila
El Jamila

Container (03-683 6321; http://www.container.org.il; Warehouse 2, Jaffa Port; pasta & risotto 68-118NIS, seafood mains 68-118NIS; noon-late Sun-Thu, from 10am Fri & Sat) Map.
Equal parts restaurant, late-night bar, club and art space, the port’s most popular venue serves a mix of mezes, seafood, pasta and Israeli-style brunches. Like the food, the music is fusion, with well known local DJs spinning world, dub and dance. There are live sets on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday after 10pm.

Container
Container

Kalimera Bar & Restaurant (03-682 3232; http://www.kalimera.co; Jaffa Port; mains 68-118NIS; h5pm-late Sun-Wed, noon-late Thu-Sat) Map.
With its Greek island–style decor and menu, Kalimera is the perfect choice for a laid-back summer meal. Order an array of vegetable and seafood meze dishes to share, set the kids up with something from the children’s menu and prepare to enjoy yourselves.

Kalimera Restaurant
Kalimera Restaurant

Where to Sleep in Tel Aviv? Hotels, Hostels, Boutique Hotels

There are accommodation choices to meet every budget and style requirement in Tel Aviv, but the city’s ever-expanding range of boutique hotels includes the most alluring options. The best location for visitors is the wedge of the south city center bounded by Rothschild Blvd, Sheinkin St and Allenby St, which is richly endowed with cafes and restaurants. It’s also within walking distance of most sights. Further away, Jaffa offers some stylish boutique options and a vibrant Arab-influenced street life.

Click here for the Gallery.


Just like Sleeping in the Old City Jerusalem, this article is about hostels and hotels in Tel Aviv. I believe that all budgets are covered here and there is also a small review for each hotel.


The major hotel chains tend to locate their monoliths on Ha-Yarkon St overlooking the beaches, which is fine in summer but not particularly pleasant in the colder months. On-site parking is rare; instead, most hotels have deals with nearby car parks for around 65NIS per day. In Jaffa, there’s free street parking at the Old City during the day and overnight parking there for 10NIS.

You’ll need to book ahead at weekends and at most times of the year, particularly during July, August and festival periods such as Sukkot, Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah and Passover. During Tel Aviv Pride Week every hotel in the city is full – make your booking as far ahead as possible. Note that we have cited high-season prices in our reviews – low-season prices can drop by up to 50%.


City Center

Brown TLV (03-717 0200; http://www.browntlv.com; 25 Kalisher St; budget s US$135, d US$250-350) (map)
Attention all party animals: this ‘urban hotel’ is after your business. It may not be in the best part of town, but scenesters love the rooftop bar with its sundeck and hot tub, can’t wait for Tuesday’s art event in the downstairs cocktail lounge and adore  the weekend yoga sessions. Rooms are compact but stylish; some have hot tubs. Other enticements include free bike hire, on-site parking (35NIS per day) and vouchers for a complimentary breakfast in a range of chic Neve Tzedek cafes.

Brown TLV
Brown TLV

Center Chic Hotel (03-526 6100; http://www.atlas.co.il; 2 Zamenhoff St; s US$189, d US$210) (map)
The name is cringe-worthy, but this 50-room hotel in a Bauhaus-style building is worth considering for its central location, its well-equipped and attractively decorated rooms and its pleasant roof terrace. Breakfast (US$21) is served in the next-door Hotel Cinema, which is operated by the same company, and guests can also enjoy an complimentary early-evening aperitif there.

Center Chic Hotel
Center Chic Hotel

Hotel Cinema (03-520 7100; http://www.atlas.co.il; 1 Zamenhoff St; r US$240, ste US$300) (map)
Fans of the silver screen will appreciate the decor of this converted Bauhaus-era cinema. Public spaces feature old projectors and cinema memorabilia, and the 83 rooms have movie posters and lights made from tripods. The feel is functional rather than glamorous, though the complimentary early-evening aperitif on the roof terrace strikes a Hollywood note. There’s free parking and bike hire.

Hotel Cinema
Hotel Cinema

Lusky Hotel (03-516 3030; http://www.luskysuites-htl.co.il; 84 HaYarkon St; s/d/ste US$140/200/315) (map)
This family-run choice offers well-appointed rooms featuring large windows letting in lots of light. Most of these have kitchenettes, and a number have balconies with sea view – the pick of the bunch is undoubtedly the one-bedroom penthouse, which has a huge balcony overlooking the beach. Drivers will appreciate the free underground parking.

Lusky Hotel
Lusky Hotel

South City Center

Florentine Hostel (03-518 7551; http://www.florentinehostel.com; 10 Elifelet St, Florentin; dm 88NIS, d 280/300NIS, s/d with shared bathroom 240/260NIS) (map)
On first view, the less-than-pictureque district in which this hostel is located can be off-putting. However, it doesn’t take backpackers long to appreciate the location, which is close to Neve Tzedek, Florentin, Jaffa and the beach. Eight six-bed dorms and nine private rooms are on offer (all small), as is a rooftop bar and busy entertainment program.

Florentine Hostel
Florentine Hostel

Hostel Overstay (057-421 0200; http://overstaytlv.com; 47 Derech Ben Tsvi St; mattresses on roof 50NIS, dm 80NIS, d 260NIS) (map)
Friendly owner-manager Omer knows exactly what backpackers want from a hostel: cheap prices, secure and clean rooms, a communal kitchen, bathrooms with plenty of hot water, a laid-back lounge area (there’s a great one on the roof here) and a busy entertainment program. The location on a busy road in an industrial area southeast of Jaffa is the major drawback.

Hostel Overstay
Hostel Overstay

Beit Immanuel (03-682 1459; http://www.beitimmanuel.org; 8 Auerbach St, American Colony; s/d 200/390NIS) (map)
This convent-style hostel is located in an 1884 building opposite a pretty Lutheran church. Operated by an evangelical congregation known as CMJ, who aim to convince Jews that Jesus is the Messiah, its rooms are clean and comfortable and it has a private garden and a free car park. Unfortunately, the atmosphere isn’t particularly welcoming. The building once housed a fashionable hotel – German Kaiser Wilhelm II stayed here in 1898 – owned by Baron Plato von Ustinov, grandfather of the actor Peter Ustinov. It’s located on a quiet street just off Eilat St (the continuation of Jaffa Rd).

Beit Immanuel
Beit Immanuel

Hotel Montefiore (03-564 6100; http://www.hotelmontefiore.co.il; 36 Montefiore St; s/d 1420/1560NIS) (map)
A truly classy choice, the Montefiore occupies a heritage-listed 1920s villa in a tree-lined street running between Rothschild Blvd and Allenby St. The 12 elegant rooms have high ceilings, wooden floors, an armchair, a generously endowed bookshelf, double-glazed windows and a spacious bathroom. As is the case in the fashionable downstairs bar and restaurant, contemporary Israeli art adorns the walls.

Hotel Montefiore
Hotel Montefiore

Shenkin Hotel (03-600 9401; http://www.shenkinhotel.com; 21 Brenner St; s US$240-350, d US$300-380) (map)
Its mantra is ‘Locals Know Best’, and the excellent recommendations supplied by the Shenkin’s friendly staff certainly prove the point. A small and stylish place in a great location behind Sheinkin St, it offers four attractive room types, common areas showcasing local contemporary art, a roof terrace and a lovely rear terrace where complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits are available.

Shenkin Hotel
Shenkin Hotel

Rothschild 71 (03-629 0555; http://www.the-rothschild.com; 71 Rothschild Blvd; r US$300, ste US$350-750) (map)
Housed in a 1934 Bauhaus-style apartment block, this luxe hotel offers 32 sleek and stylish studios and suites with good amenities (Nespresso machine, iPod dock, work desk). Located in the centre of the inner-city action, it’s a great choice for couples as it doesn’t accept guests under 16, has an attached cafe and offers unobtrusive yet efficient service. Guests have free access to bicycles and a nearby gym. Breakfast isn’t included in the room charge, but croissants, biscuits, tea and coffee are available in the small lobby lounge.

Rothschild 71
Rothschild 71

Diaghilev (03-545 3131; http://www.diaghilev.co.il; 56 Mazeh St; d US$190-280) (map)
Paintings, prints and sculptures decorate every wall and common area in this ‘Live Art Hotel’, which occupies a handsome Bauhaus-style building off Rothschild Blvd. The spacious rooms have sitting area, kitchenette and separate bedroom. Top marks go to the quiet location, on-site parking (US$15) and helpful front-desk staff. Breakfast isn’t included in the room rate.

Diaghilev
Diaghilev

Rothschild Hotel (03-957 8888; http://www.rothschild-hotel.co.il; Rothschild Blvd; s 1070-1350NIS, d 1100-1400NIS, ste 1700-2800NIS)(map)
Ofra Zimbalista’s sculpture of choral singers on the exterior is but one of many whimsical features at this exemplary boutique hotel. Pre-dating Tel Aviv’s recent boutique-hotel boom, the Rothschild’s decor has worn extremely well and the place still leads the pack when it comes to service. The in-house restaurant serves what it describes as ‘Zionist cuisine with a French accent’.

Rothschild Hotel
Rothschild Hotel

Alma Hotel (03-630 8777; http://www.almahotel.co.il; 23 Yavne St; s/d deluxe US4420/470, executive US4440/490)(map)
The lovely 1920s building, theatrical decor and on-site restaurant and tapas bar are the main draws at this recently opened boutique choice just off Rothschild Blvd, but the rooftop bar and pretty rear courtyard garden provide additional inducement. Both room types offer plenty of space, a huge bed, an espresso machine and a lovely bathroom with luxe Sabon toiletries.

Alma Hotel
Alma Hotel

Townhouse Tel Aviv (03-944 4300; http://www.townhousetelaviv.com; 32 Yavne St; s/d US$200/240, ste US$350)(map)
Reasonable prices and a good location mean that this 19-room place deserves consideration. Though not as stylish as many other boutique hotels in this area, it offers comfortable rooms with large beds, airy white bathrooms and espresso machines, and has a small downstairs lounge where breakfast and all-day tea and coffee are served.

Townhouse Tel Aviv
Townhouse Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv Beach & Port

Beachfront Hotel (03-726 5230, 03-744 0347 ; http://www.telavivbeachfront.co.il; 78 Herbert Samuel Esplanade; dm US$30, s US$80, d with/without bathroom US$99/79)(map)
The beach-party vibe is one of many reasons to stay at this hostel opposite  Trumpeldor Beach. An array of clean, well-maintained dorms and rooms – some with views and private terraces – awaits, as does a rooftop bar serving free sangria nightly. Free wi-fi and beach towels are provided for guest use, but internet costs 60NIS per hour. No breakfast.

Beachfront Hotel
Beachfront Hotel

Hayarkon 48 Hostel (03-516 8989; http://www.hayarkon48.com; 48 HaYarkon St; dm 113NIS, r without/with bathroom 330/385NIS)(map)
Just two blocks from the beach, this hostel has decent facilities including communal kitchen, rooftop terrace and lounge with pool table and TV/DVD. Dorms are mixed and female-only, and the simple private rooms have double bed and cable TV. All dorms and half of the private rooms have air-con.

Hayarkon 48 Hostel
Hayarkon 48 Hostel

Embassy Hotel (03-679 9999; http://www.embassy-hotel-telaviv.co.il; 76 Hayarkon St; d US$150-160, d US$160-170, ste US$180)(map)
A decor reminiscent of Mad Men (series one) and a location directly opposite Trumpeldor Beach mean that this small hotel will please summer style-meisters whose budgets can’t quite stretch to the prices charged by boutique hotels in the Rothschild enclave. Opt for a suite if possible, as these are larger than the slightly cramped standards and come with a kitchenette.

Embassy Hotel
Embassy Hotel

Port Hotel (03-544 5544; http://www.porthoteltelaviv.com; 4 Yirmiyahu St; s/d US$150/160)(map)
This self-titled ‘mini hotel’ near the Old Port offers something that is very rare in Tel Aviv – stylish accommodation for those on a budget. Though small and without views, rooms are clean and comfortable. The roof terrace and proximity to the beach are major assets.

Port Hotel
Port Hotel

Mendeli Street Hotel (03-520 2700; http://www.mendelistreethotel.com; 5 Mendeli St)(map)
In summer, the living is both easy and glamorous at this hotel close to Bograshov and Frischmann Beaches. The hotel lobby and restaurant are design magazine chic, and the rooms are similarly stylish, with contemporary fittings and good amenities. The standard room is compact, so consider opting for a deluxe or superior version. Staff are young, charming and extremely helpful.

Mendeli Street Hotel
Mendeli Street Hotel

Shalom Hotel & Relax (03-542 5555; http://www.atlas.co.il; 216 Hayarkon St; standard/superior r US$263/303)(map)
Styled as a beach house – albeit one with 51 rooms – this spa hotel offers a free 15-minute massage to every guest at its rooftop treatment room. Rooms are attractive but small, so you should opt for a superior one if possible. Common areas include a rooftop sundeck and a welcoming lobby lounge where a delicious breakfast is served.

Shalom Hotel & Relax
Shalom Hotel & Relax

Art Plus Hotel (03-797 1700; http://www.atlas.co.il; 35 Ben Yehuda St; s/d/ste US$265/280/310)(map)
The interiors at this five-year-old art-themed hotel haven’t aged particularly well and are definitely in need of refurbishment. Fortunately, a new gym and spa provide compensation, as does the free parking and complimentary afternoon aperitif. There’s a roof terrace with sun lounges, though most guests prefer lazing on the nearby beach.

Art Plus Hotel
Art Plus Hotel

Jaffa (Yafo)

Old Jaffa Hostel (03-682 2370; http://www.telaviv-hostel.com; 13 Amiad St; dm US$25, s US$70-98, d US$80-105)(map)
Occupying an Ottoman-era house in the flea market, this hostel is definitely the most atmospheric option in its price range in Tel Aviv, but it’s not the most comfortable. Dorm beds are reasonably priced and there is a generous number of communal bathrooms, but the private rooms are overpriced. There’s a communal kichen and a roof terrace with sea glimpses. In summer, guests can sleep on the rooftop for US$21.

Old Jaffa Hostel
Old Jaffa Hostel

Old Jaffa Khan (052 866 6232; info@oldjaffakhan.com; 5 Mazar Taleh St, Old Jaffa; d US$350)
Hidden in an quiet enclave of artists’ studios in Old Jaffa, these studio apartments are perfect for a romantic getaway. Two have a sea view and two have private gardens – all are gorgeous. Amenities include hot tub, cable TV, music system, and kitchenette with kettle and espresso machine. Breakfast is served at a nearby cafe.

Old Jaffa Khan
Old Jaffa Khan

Market House Hotel (03-542 5555; http://www.atlashotels.co.il; 5 Beit Eshel St, Jaffa; s US$285, d US$300)(map)
There aren’t many opportunities in life to stay in a building incorporating remnants of a 8th-century Byzantine chapel, but that’s what’s on offer at this recently opened hotel in the middle of the flea market. Rooms are stylish, soundproofed and equipped with kettle and fridge; the standards are a bit cramped, so opt for a superior or penthouse if possible. Breakfast is enjoyed in the downstairs lobby and there’s a complimentary aperitif session in the upstairs lounge in the early evening.

Market House Hotel
Market House Hotel

Restaurants in Modern Jerusalem

day-tours  GIFThroughout the years of touring, I’ve a list of restaurants in modern Jerusalem, which I’ve visited with the various groups. What restaurant I visit depends totally on the type of group (young, old, religious, nationalistic, standard tourists, gem-tours, etc). Here is the list of those restaurants followed with a short description.

One warning for this list. If you are looking for low-budget restaurants, this is NOT the place.

Big Apple 13 Dorot Rishonim St, 94625 Tel (02) 625 6252, Map.
In the pedestrian zone just off Ben Yehuda St, this pizzeria serves New York-style thin-crust pizzas and is especially popular with Orthodox Jewish teenagers from New York who are in Jerusalem to take intensive religious studies courses. The restaurant is open until late and also offers a takeaway service.

Burgers Bar 20 Emeq Refaim St, German Colony, 93105 Tel (02) 561 2333. Map.
Acclaimed by many Jerusalem old-timers as having the city’s best hamburgers, this popular place also serves up other types of reasonably priced meat dishes. It is situated about 1 km (half a mile) south of the King David Hotel in the atmospheric German Colony, in the heart of a strip of popular cafés and restaurants.

Pinati 13 King George St, 94229 Tel (02) 625 4540, Map.
Situated at the spot where Ben Hillel St meets King George St at an oblique angle (hence the name, which means “on the corner”), this popular eatery has long been regarded by many local connoisseurs as the source of the city’s most delicious humus– creamy, delicately seasoned, never too heavy.

Rahmo 5 Eshkol St, Mahane Yehuda, 94322 Tel (02) 623 4595, Map.
A Jerusalem institution, Rahmo serves Israeli and Aleppo-style cuisine as well as authentic Jerusalem humus prepared according to a secret recipe from the owner’s mother. Situated on one of the tiny pedestrianized alleyways in the colorful Mahane Yehuda market, which is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

Agas ve-Tapuach ba-Kikar 6 Safra Square, 94141 Tel (02) 623 0280, Map.
Known in Italian as Pera e Mela in Piazza (The Pear and the Apple on the Square), this venerable Italian restaurant has been serving home-style Italian cuisine, made with recipes from the owner’s grandparents, since 1978. Dishes come from both northern and southern Italy and include antipasti, foccacia, bruschetta and, of  course, pasta.

Barood 31 Jaffa St, 94221 Tel (02) 625 9081, Map.
Just off Jaffa St on Feingold Courtyard, this laid-back, stone-built place is known for its Spanioli (Sepharadi) cuisine, as well as its juicy steaks and heavenly chocolate soufflé. The bar is decorated with a surprising collection of bottle openers and offers a wide selection of alcoholic beverages. Hosts art exhibits and live concerts of mellow music.

Focaccia Bar 4 Rabi Akiva St, 94582 Tel (02) 624 2273, Map.
Situated on a quaint courtyard, this romantic place, built entirely of stone, is evocative of the early 1900s. Specialties include meat dishes, pasta, seafood, salads and, naturally, focaccia. Situated in the heart of West Jerusalem, two blocks south of Ben Yehuda St and just off Hillel St.

HaShipudia 5 HaArmonim St, Mahane Yehuda, 94322 Tel (02) 625 4036, Map.
In the heart of the Mahane Yehuda market, this good-value eatery serves a range of excellent local dishes, including soups, stuffed vegetables, humus and grilled meats. Situated just one block west of the main street of Jerusalem’s largest fruit and vegetable market. For dessert, try one of the nearby pastry shops.

Kan Zaman Nablus Rd, 97200 Tel (02) 628 3282, Map.
Situated in a 19th-century house just north of Damascus Gate, this is the restaurant of the Jerusalem Hotel. The vaulted ceilings, shaded terrace and Oriental decor create a typically Arab atmosphere. The Palestinian cuisine is carefully prepared. There are often live concerts of Arab music on Friday from 8pm.

Link 3 HaMaalot St, 94263 Tel (02) 625 3446, Map.
Housed in a century-old Jerusalem-style building, this café-bistro is known for its superb spicy chicken wings, made with soy sauce and honey, its juicy steaks and, for vegetarians, the soy-and-honey tofu salad. Link has a generously shaded terrace and a congenial atmosphere. It is situated just off King George St, across from Independence Park.

Mona 12 Shmuel HaNagid St, 94592 Tel (02) 622 2283, Map.
Housed in the historic, stone-built home of the century-old Bezalel Art School, with its high ceilings and fanciful crenelations, this café-restaurant combines great food with a magical, arty Jerusalem atmosphere and exhibits of contemporary and historic Israeli art. The cuisine is international and includes salads, soups, antipasti and meat dishes.

Shanti 4 Nahalat Shiva St, 94240 Tel (02) 624 3434, Map.
On a tiny alleyway in the 19th-century Nahalat Yitzhak quarter, this pub-restaurant is popular with young and old alike. Served in a warm and authentic Jerusalem atmosphere, the salads are huge, as are the steaks. The chicken wings prepared with soy sauce, honey and ginger are delicious. Open only in the evening, from 7pm to 3am.

Shonka 1 HaSoreg St, 94145 Tel (02) 625 7033. Map.
Highlights at this elegant, Italian bar-restaurant include fish, hamburgers and various Mediterranean-style dishes. The lunch specials are particularly good value. The venue becomes a dance bar on weekends. Situated around the corner from where Shlomtzion Hamalka St joins Jaffa Road, just south of the Russian Compound. Permanently closed! Maybe this amazing restaurant might reopen! Check it out before you go.

Te’enim 12 Emile Botta St, 94109 Tel (02) 625 1967, Map.
Beautifully situated at the northern edge of Yemin Moshe, in an old stone building known as Beit HaKonfederatzia, this small place is one of Jerusalem’s oldest, and best, vegetarian restaurants. The decor is modern, with Armenian ceramic highlights. Diners enjoy a superb panorama of the walls of the Old City and Mount Zion.

Village Green 33 Jaffa St, 94221 Tel (02) 625 3065, Map.
In the low-rise,19th-century Nahalat Shiva quarter, this veteran vegetarian restaurant serves up everything from miso soup and Greek salad to quiches, ratatouille, lasagna and tofu dishes. Culinary inspiration comes from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin. Dessert options include fresh, healthy, home-made cakes.

Adom 31 Jaffa St, 94221 Tel (02) 624 6242, Map.
On the 19th-century Feingold Courtyard, this restaurant and wine bar serves meat, fish, seafood and vegetable dishes in the traditions of France and Belgium, with light Israeli touches. The daily specials are based on seasonal products fresh from the market. Great selection of wines and beers. Good value business lunch specials.

Anashim 73 Ein Karem St, Ein Karem, 95744 Tel (02) 641 7430, Map.
In the pastoral neighborhood of Ein Karem, on the far western edge of Jerusalem, this rustic, informal restaurant has a great atmosphere and tasty international cuisine, including focaccia baked in a traditional oven. Specialties include shrimps in a butter, wine and lemon sauce and chicken breast stuffed with goat’s cheese.

Arabesque 23 Nablus Rd, 97200 Tel (02) 627 9777, Map.
The elegant house restaurant of the legendary American Colony Hotel serves a fine selection of hearty, traditional Arab dishes, some based on lamb, as well as European cuisine and, often, a few off-beat surprises. The wine cellar is excellent and the Saturday lunch buffet is legendary. Turkish-style courtyard and lovely gardens.

Darna 3 Horkanos St, 94235 Tel (02) 624 5406, Map.
Moorish-inspired decor, Moroccan ceramics and lots of cushions adorn this gourmet Moroccan restaurant, whose name means “our home” in Arabic. Specialties include meze, harira marrakshia (veal and lentil soup made with fresh coriander) and mechoui (roast lamb with almonds). Situated two blocks north of Jaffa St.

Dolphin Yam 9 Shimon Ben Shetah St, 94147 Tel (02) 623 2272, Map.
For some four decades a Jerusalem favorite for fresh fish and seafood, this place, on the edge of Nahalat Shiva, also serves meat dishes and pasta. The decor is understated and informal. Recommended dishes include shrimp in cream sauce and grilled whole calamari. Has a wide selection of fried or grilled fish.

Jacksi 1 Shlomtzion HaMalka St, 94146 Tel (02) 622 2527, Map.
This elegant French restaurant, with a French-trained chef and an extensive international wine list, serves creative, artfully presented dishes in a sleek, modern dining room. Favorites include shrimp sautéed with hot chillis and cream, and lamb in pepper sauce. The fixed price menus offer great value. The soundtrack is classic jazz.

Philadelphia 9 El-Zahra St, 97200 Tel (02) 628 9770, Map.
One of East Jerusalem’s best-known Arab restaurants, Philadelphia is much appreciated for its Palestinian-style stuffed vegetables, spit-roasted meats, fish (including St Peter’s fish) and seafood. The ambience is welcoming, if a little formal. Live music on Friday from 9pm. Three blocks north of the Old City’s Herod’s Gate, which leads to the Muslim Quarter.

Sakura 31 Jaffa St, 94221 Tel (02) 623 5464, Map.
Acclaimed as the city’s best sushi bar and Japanese restaurant, this place has authentic Japanese furnishings. Sushi and sashimi, served on little wooden platters, are classic mainstays but you can also order dishes such as tempura with almonds and chicken yakitori. Drinks include sake and Japanese beers. Situated on the edge of Nahalat Shiva.

Taverna 2 Naomi St, Abu Tor, 93552 Tel (02) 671 9796, Map.
A classy, contemporary restaurant that has rave reviews, Taverna is situated in elegant stone pavilion on the Sherover Promenade. It offers a superb panorama over southeast Jerusalem, towards the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan. Food is non-meat and Mediterranean in style; desserts are particularly good. Situated off Hebron Road.

Tmol Shilshom 5 Yoel Moshe Salomon St, 91316 Tel (02) 623 2758, Map.
Hidden at the end of a Nahalat Shiva courtyard in a private house built in the 1870s is this mellow café-restaurant-bookshop. Dining options include superb whole trout, soups, quiches, creative salads, pasta and stuffed mushrooms. Great for a quiet conversation. Has a superb Friday morning buffet (9am to 1pm). Reservations are recommended.

Arcadia 10 Agripas St, 94301 Tel (02) 624 9138, Map.
One of Israel’s most talked-about restaurants, Arcadia is next to Mahane Yehuda market and its super-fresh ingredients. French and Mediterranean traditions are skillfully brought together with dishes from the Jerusalem-Sepharadi tradition and the chef’s family’s native Iraq to produce cuisine that is uniquely Israeli. Reservations advisable.

Cavalier 1 Ben Sira St, 94181 Tel (02) 624 2945, Map.
This up-market French bistro and bar, in Nahalat Shiva, offers classic French cuisine as well as Mediterranean influenced dishes, all made with only the freshest ingredients and presented with supreme elegance. Dishes include entrecote in pepper and cream sauce and chocolate volcano dessert. Good deals between noon and 3:30pm. Permanently closed! Maybe it might reopen again. Please call before you want to visit!

Sailing on the Sea of Galilee

As you head out to sail on the Sea of Galilee from the pier Tiberias, Genesaret, Capernaum National Park or Ein Gev, the spray refreshes you, gulls wheel overhead, and other “sailors” call out greetings.



Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee

What would a lake be without some wet fun? Cruise the lake in a floating restaurant, nightclub yacht, fishing boat, kayak or canoe – all available to rent or book in advance on the shoreline, particularly at the Yigal Alon Harbor in Tiberias. Or splash around at one of three water amusement parks in the vicinity.

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee

For Christian believers, Jesus walked on the water (John 6:19-21), calmed a storm (Matt. 8:23-26), and showed the disciples miraculous catches of fish (Luke 5:1-8; John 21:1-6).

For Jewish believers, who also take the lake trip, heading out to where tradition says Miriam the Prophetess caused a miraculous spring to appear.

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee

There are – in 2016 – four sailing companies available. All of them are available in Tiberias, and there are some differences between them. And there are some things you need to take care it will not happen:

  1. Many shippers of the boats by the various sailing companies tend to cut the time of the boat tour short to save fuel! Don’t let this happen. The best way is ‘asking’ the shipper how long the trip lasts and monitor it.
  2. The blaring Israeli music from the speakers is a headache creating experience. Ask the shipper to cut it.
  3. The best time for a boat trip is early morning in silence. Alternatively the late evening is something beautiful, especially with all the lights from the shores, except you don’t see much! A boat trip in the afternoon or late morning s not advised; it’s warm and sweaty.
  4. Instead of taking a boat trip, you can hire a little 3-4 persons boat from the pier of Tiberias for NIS 100 per hour. In the winter months, the price will lower to NIS 75 per one and half hour.

The Galilee Sailing Ltd company is located at the Yigal Alon Promenade and is a standard sailing company with nothing extra then only supplying you with a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee in their Jesus Boats. Be aware of overzealous shippers, because they tend to cut the duration of the boat trip short to save fuel! They don’t have an Internet presence and the only way to get more info or order a trip is by calling them or go directly to the company.

Holy Land Sailing is a boat company, operating on the Sea of Galilee for already 20 years and are focused on Christians. They maintain seven boats, ranging from 45 to 150 people on a boat. They fleet consists only out of Jesus Boats.

The Lido in Tiberias is a bit more then a sailing company. It has its own ‘beach’, series of restaurants and a fleet of ten boats. They do have not only Jesus Boats in their collections, also the more conventional tour boats. They organize different cruises for everyone, ranging from party boats in the evening and night, religious cruises in Jesus Boats, Dinner boats and more. But also here you need to look out of cutting the trip short by the shippers to save fuel.

The last, but not the least is the Sea of Galilee Worship Boats, which is managed by Daniel, a converted Christian. They have a fleet of boats and focus on the Christian public for boat trips. They are highly professional and truly offers an excellent experience to anyone booking a tour.

Prices for a tour on the Sea of Galilee range from company to company. The reasonable price for an individual wanting a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee is between the $15 and $25, and not more.

The duration of a boat tour is between 40-60 minutes, unless they declare it differently before the tour.

The price of hiring the Jesus Boat with shipper is from $250 for a hour.

  • For those, who want to have a Holy Mass on the Sea of Galilee, you need to provide your own priest. Contact Wim the Guide for a list.
  • With tours from Wim the Guide, he always asks his groups for their preferences. For example, if they want to catch their own fish (with or without a little help of the shipper) and to eat it in the restaurants in Tiberias. Or a praying session or a Holy Mass, or swimming at certain locations in the Sea of Galilee. Or maybe to organize live music on the tour. And there is no reason that you can ask this yourself to the boat company instead of letting Wim organize it.

Galilee Sailing LTD

Address: Yigal Alon Promenade | Ancient Boat Museum, Tiberias 14122, Israel
Phone Number: +972-50-939-7000
Sun – Thu 7:00 am – 11:30 pm
Fri 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sat 8:00 pm – 11:30 pm
Map.


Holy Land Sailing

Address: Tiberias Marina, Tiberias 14100, Israel
Phone Number: +972-46723006
Map.
Website.


Lido

Tel: (972)-4-6710800
Fax:(972)-4-6790470
E-Mail: decks@barak.net.il
Address : The Lido beach, Gdud Barak Rd.    P.O.BOX: 253   Tiberias   Zip:14102
Map.
Website.


Sea of Galilee Worship Boats

Tiberias Pier, Tiberias, Israel
Phone Number: 972-54-6864247
Map.
Website.

Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus 99

Egged Bus 99 was a bus route that was operated for tourists in Jerusalem. The bus had 29 stops It was a hop on/hop off double-Decker bus that reached 35 of the leading tourist attractions in Jerusalem, provided audio commentary in eight languages. Map.

Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus 99
Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus 99

In 2015, Egged sold the bus route with its double Decker buses to Yara Tours (972-2-645-0884, Ikhwan e-Safa street, 17, Jerusalem and website ). During the operation of the route by Yara Tours, the route was operated by request only. In 2016, Yara Tours completely stopped to operate the route and the newest bus from the fleet of the route was sold while the older buses went out of service.

The Egged 99 Bus stopped at:


For more information about transportation in Jerusalem (read here only buses), click here for the Egged transport company search pages (in English).


  • In case you can’t find the Egged line 99 (Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus), I suggest to hire a taxi for the day or part of the day. Try to talk to an Arab taxi driver(there are many) and ask him for a ‘deal’ to drive you and your company around for the day or part of the day. In that way you’ve also a guide.
  • Another option is download the maps about Jerusalem and get your way by walking in Jerusalem. Click here for the maps about Jerusalem, or the maps about the old city of Jerusalem.

Camping Sites in Israel

In Israel there are camping sites of course. The only problem is how to find them. I give you one wonderful tip, and that’s Google Maps. In Google maps you can search for “Camping sites in Israel” or “Camping sites in Tel Aviv” and the like. Here, take a look and click here for an example. But here are some ideas of main camping sites and where possible, the price in Israeli Shekels.


The Masada Night Camp

Masada Mountain & Cable Car

For those astonished by the rich history of the Judean Desert, the Masada night camp is a must. The ancient fortification holds the tragic story of the demolition and exile of the Israelite people in the first century. The site, visited by hundreds of thousands each year, is considered a symbol of Jewish identity and is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Make sure to arrive on a day where the local audio-visual show takes place. For a truly picture perfect moment, climb the mountain before dawn and enjoy the stunning sunrise from the top, an intense yet worthy hike.

Hurshat Tal

Mount Tabor

Nature lovers should not miss Hurshat Tal, located in northern Israel. The national park was declared a nature reserve mainly due to the centuries-old Mount Tabor oaks growing there. The campsite has a large pond of cool water from the Dan River; perfect for a summer swim. Guests can also enjoy the small springs spread out throughout the reserve. For those who prefer to sleep in closed areas, the site offers various bungalows and guest rooms.

The Dead Sea

Dead Sea

The famous Dead Sea, known for its extreme saltiness allowing you to float effortlessly in the water, and its healing effects. The water may not contain living organisms but definitely it’s full of life with hundreds of guests visiting daily. Many attractive campsites can be found near this national treasure. A recommended place to pitch a tent is the Ein Gedi Beach Campground. With a natural spa as your backyard, what can go wrong. Let yourself relax with a one of a kind landscape at the lowest point on earth.

Ein Gedi Beach Campground
This campground sits on the northern shores of the Dead Sea in Ein Gedi Beach. It is in a centralized location for travelers who want to explore the Masada, Dead Sea and Ein Gedi region. Because the campsite is attached to the Ein Gedi Beach, travelers can can take advantage of the beach’s picnic areas and snackbar. Kibbutz Ein Gedi is also across the street from the campsite. Staying overnight at the campsite is free, but there is a charge for the use of toilets and showers. There is no electricity. The campground is located off Route 90.

Ein Gedi Beach Campground is temporarily closed due to sink holes in the area

Kefar Hanokdim

Arad

Kefar Hanokdim campground is between the city of Arad and Masada, located in the Kana’im Valley in the Judean desert. The campground includes bedouin-style tents with colorful rugs and mattresses. The site is designed to be a peaceful, reflective place, shaded by palm trees and surrounded by gardens. Visitors have a great view of the Judean desert and are a short distance to Masada. There are also various activities visitors can do at the campground, like riding camels. Prices at this site vary depending on the type of accommodation.

Kesem Hamidbar Campsite

Dead Sea

This campground is located 20 minutes south of the Dead Sea coast in Moshav Neot Hakikar. Kesem Hamidbar offers large Bedouin tents. There are five tents that can accommodate 10 to 25 people, and mats, mattresses and pillows are included. There is a self-service barbeque and kitchen, where visitors can cook their food (charcoal not included). There are also hot showers. Kesem Hamidbar is located off of Route 90, 10 minutes north of the Arava junction.

Masada Campsite West

Dead Sea

Masada Campsite West is located inside the National Park near Mount Masada. Here, travelers can bring their own private tents and trailers or rent rent tents and mattresses. There are also six guest cabins on site. The campsite includes an outdoor barbeque area (charcoal not included), a gas cooking area, a kitchen and a refrigerator. The cost for camping overnight in a private tent starts at 53 NIS for adults. Other prices vary. The entrance to the campsite can be accessed only from the city of Arad.

Shkedi Camp Lodge
Shkedi’s Camp Lodge sits south of the Dead Sea in Neot Hakikar. The campground has several spacious and stylish bungalows. They include mats, mattresses, and cushion. Each bungalow can accommodate up to 15 people. There are also air-conditioned cabins available. The campground includes clean toilets, hot water showers, a barbeque and grill area, and a self-serve kitchen. Shkedi’s Camp Lodge is open September-June and is 20 minutes south of the Dead Sea shoreline.

Camping Neot 

Lot’s Wife pillar, Mount Sodom

The Camping Neot is located 20 minutes from the Southern Shore of the Dead Sea, in the Valley of Soddom. The Camping offers space for private tents and has 3 large communal tents with mattresses.In summer months you will be able to enjoy the swimming pool of the camping! Also, the camping facilities include hot showers, grocery store, BBQ space.Prices start from 50 ILS.

Kfar Blum Kayaks – Jordan Campground

Rafting the Jordan River

The Jordan campground located at Kfar Blum Kayaks (see also Rafting the Jordan River and Kayaking down the Jordan River) offers the ideal combination of excitement and serenity. The site is located on one of the most sacred rivers in history, the Jordan River. Enjoy it’s beauty by taking a kayak trip. There are various routes available depending on your preference and expertise. Other adrenaline activities include zip-lining and wall climbing. Explore the outdoors by day and absorb the peaceful environment by night.

Rafting the Jordan River

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee

Israel’s largest freshwater lake, the Sea of Galilee, is also the lowest freshwater lake on earth. Much of the country’s water supply comes from these sweet waters. Besides swimming, there are many activities to do in the area. Visit Hamat Gader hot springs for a soothing experience or get in shape by biking around the shore (a 60-kilometer trail awaits). The Kinneret has a variety of campsites to choose including the Gofra Beach campground, which offers a thermo-mineral water spring. Leave your smartphone behind as you explore all that the natural environment has to offer.

 

This summer, instead of booking a five star hotel, why not try a five-billion star hotel and instead of the repetitive hotel experience, go camping and connect with mother nature. Israel’s constant warm weather makes it the ideal place for a camping retreat. Whether it’s by the beach, river, or lake, the country’s natural gems can satisfy any wanderlust. Read on to discover the must visit campsites in Israel.

Ha’Bonim Nature Reserve

Shipshape in Haifa

If you’re looking for an alternative to the popular Tel Avivian beaches, Ha’Bonim Beach is the answer. Located south of Haifa, this nature reserve has clear blue waters, outstanding sunsets, and nature trails. Fall asleep to the sound of the ocean as you spend the night at one of Israel’s most beautiful shores. In the morning take a walk along the coast and discover the area’s secret blue cave and colorful flowers. For lunch it is recommended to visit the small town of Zichron Yaakov, a short drive from the campground.

Yarok (Green) Campground, Beit Hillel

In the heavenly Upper Galilee, you will find the moshav Beit Hillel. The Green Campground is located on the Hasbani River, a stream which later connects to the Jordan River. Bring your family, friends or significant other and enjoy the fresh air and green scenery characterizing the area. Depending on your preference, you can either bring your own equipment to the site or reserve a Native American tipi tent. Start packing for a weekend full of bonfires, mores, and river-dipping.

The best 10 hiking trails in Israel

 

Israel is a hiker’s paradise. The country is crisscrossed with trails, including the 580-mile long Israel Trail, which starts in the northern Galilee and winds its way south until it reaches the tip of Eilat. All of Israel’s trails are clearly marked by colors painted on rocks, and you can buy a set of 20 glossy maps (about $25 each) to keep you moving in the right direction.


Jerusalem area

Nahal Katlav (4 hours)Nahal Katlav Nahal Katlav

This lovely four-hour hike starts at the Bar Behar restaurant and ice cream stand, a short drive west from Jerusalem in the Bar Giora area (the restaurant is on the road to Nes Harim). The path descends, winding past a spring until you reach the nahal – Hebrew for a dry riverbed; in Arabic it’s wadi. The walk along the nahal takes less than an hour. While there’s no water anymore, it’s still very shady, a place of beauty and solitude close to the big city.

Eventually, the trail reaches the abandoned Bar Giora train station, a good place to stop and eat lunch as Jerusalem-Tel Aviv trains pass nearby. After the station, the trail climbs steeply, passing an abandoned Arab village, before looping back to the starting point. Nahal Katlav is popular in part because you can look forward to a frozen treat at the end, especially welcome in the hotter months.

The Burma Road (3.5 hours)

Burma Road

The Burma Road is steeped with history. During the War of Independence, the Jordanians blocked the main route into Jerusalem, attempting to starve the city into surrender. Under the cover of night, soldiers from the nascent State of Israel clandestinely built a bypass road, which succeeded in breaking the boycott. You can now hike this road in two parts. For both, you park your car just before the Paz gas station on Highway 38, coming from Route 1, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway. Both segments follow the Israel Trail for some of the way.

Burma Road

The western part of the trail goes along the Burma Road in the direction of Latrun, but you’ll be turning north before then to make a loop back to your starting point. This takes you through a pine forest known as Park Rabin. There is also a bike rental shop as the trail is popular with cyclists.

The eastern flank of the trail across the road kicks off with a very steep ascent until reaching the village of Beit Meir. Along the way are some great views of the highway far below. From the top, you can continue on the Burma Road toward Jerusalem, or descend through the Martyr’s Forest, established by B’nai B’rith to commemorate those lost in the Holocaust. There are various memorials, plaques and even a cave. The trail ends up on Highway 38, where you can catch a shared taxi and take it three stops back to your car.


Dead Sea area

Nahal David
Nahal David

Upper Nahal David (1 hour or 5 hours)

You might find that parts of the hike are challenging but this is a hike that is doable by parents and kids.

Nahal David
Nahal David

Nahal David is the most touristy part of the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. You pay an entrance fee of about $5 (discounts for children and soldiers), then make the short 30-minute hike to David’s waterfall for pictures and snacks. More intrepid hikers can extend the hike to nearly five hours by starting at the nearby Ein Gedi Field School.

Nahal David
Nahal David

The first half hour of the hike heads up a tough mountain (including one short segment where you’re climbing straight up without any footholds). The trail then winds around until it reaches a narrow canyon that can only be traversed by hanging on rungs dug into the mountain face (think of it as hiking on monkey bars) and jumping over — or wading into — pools of water of varying depths, depending on the time of year.

Nahal David
Nahal David

The payoff at the end of the canyon (which can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to traverse, depending on how nimble you are) is an opening toward the Dead Sea called the halon (“window”). There’s room here for a medium-sized group to eat lunch and admire the stunning view. You then go back out the way you came, and climb again, before descending to the lovely Ein Gedi spring and a Chalcolithic-era temple. You’ll eventually meet up with the aforementioned short hike through Nahal David. No one’s checking at the entrance, but be nice and pay the entrance fee.

Nahal David
Nahal David

Nahal Dragot

Nahal Dragot

If adventure is your game, the lower part of Nahal Dragot (more popularly known by its Arabic name, Darga) will keep your heart beating. Indeed, the hike is considered somewhat of a rite of passage for Israelis.

Nahal Dragot

Drive along the Dead Sea road and head up to Metzukei Dragot. The Darga is incredibly challenging, with 50-meter-high walls, dry waterfalls and pools of natural water in craters that you have to swim across. Although there are metal stakes hammered into the rocks in some places, you really can’t do this hike without a rope. Or, in some places, skip the rope and jump into the water below. Warning: Don’t do this hike alone!

Nahal Dragot

If ropes aren’t your thing, there are also several tamer routes within the nahal that stick to the upper plains. The views are spectacular and you can tell your friends that you “did” the Darga.

Judean Desert

Wadi Kelt

Wadi Kelt (5-6 hours)

Wadi Kelt is the Arabic name for this area and the one used most often, though it also goes by Ein Prat and Nahal Kelt. It is one of the most popular hiking spots in Israel, with the parks authorities reporting some 60,000 visitors a year. The parking lot is too small for all the cars, so expect to leave your vehicle on the narrow road that winds down to the north from the Jerusalem-Dead Sea Highway (there are clearly marked signs).

Wadi Kelt

From the parking lot, you can hike west through a series of refreshing pools and picnic spots before ascending in the direction of Pisgat Ze’ev – or head east in the direction of Jericho.

Wadi Kelt

The eastern side of the tiyul is the more spectacular, cutting through a deep desert gorge with plenty of water in which to swim. Even in the heat of the summer, the high canyon walls and the water make this a pleasant refuge. Wadi Kelt has gotten a bad rap over the years – four trekkers were murdered in 1995 and 1997 – but there have been no incidents in 14 years. Nevertheless, you might consider hiking on a Friday or during a Jewish holiday when there are more people on the trail.

Wadi Kelt

At the end of the hike is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George; the monastic community here dates back to 420 CE. If you were to continue on, you’d reach Jericho – but you can’t, as Jericho is part of the Palestinian Authority and closed to Israelis. You can double back through the nahal or take a quicker (but less scenic) road that runs along the top of the canyon.

Wadi Kelt

Nahal Og (3 hours)

Nahal Og

Nahal Og is a beautiful walk that winds through a number of white chalk canyons. It’s mostly flat and pleasant except for one part, where it descends through several near-vertical cliffs. To scale these cliffs, you must hold onto rungs drilled into the side of the mountain. Unlike the rungs in the halon section of the Upper Nahal David hike, however, which go along the cliff wall horizontally, these rungs are truly terrifying, as you can’t see where you’re ending up. So for those with less “spatial intelligence,” you might need a guide to tell you where to place your feet.

Nahal Og

This is a one-way tiyul; park one car near the Nebi Musa antiquities spot (there’s a sign as you descend the highway from Jerusalem toward the Dead Sea) and another near the entrance to Kibbutz Almog. As an alternative, you can start at the foot of Nahal Og and climb up – more strenuous but less scary when you get to the rungs. There are no real views, but the canyon more than makes up for it.

Nahal Og

Nahal Og actually extends farther toward the settlement of Kfar Adumim, and you can hike the entire route in about six to seven hours. As with any hike in a nahal (particularly in the Dead Sea and Judean Desert areas), if there is a chance of rain, don’t hike! There can be a flash flood at any time.

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Eilat mountains

Amram’s Pillars/The Black Canyon (4+ hours)

Amram’s Pillars

The start of the hike is off Highway 90; there is a clearly marked turn about 15 minutes north of Eilat. You then drive on a bumpy dirt road for another 15 minutes before parking your car (it’s not a loop, so you have to use two cars and shuttle between; the whole back-and-forth process can take up to an hour, so build that into your total hiking time).

Amram’s Pillars

The hike itself is worth it, though. First, stop at Amram’s Pillars, two natural rock formations at the end of a short canyon. The hike then proceeds up Mount Amir to its peak, where you’ll be treated to some great views. As you descend, you’ll have two options: a mostly flat route that goes along the Israel Trail, and another, more interesting walk through a canyon filled with ancient copper mines and digging shafts.

Amram’s Pillars

At the end of either of the two routes, you will be close to the Black Canyon – if you’re not short on time, don’t miss it. The canyon is filled with gray and sometimes black granite rock formations, white limestone chalk, plus some narrow passageways, which are fun to climb and slide through.

Amram’s Pillars

Mount Zefachot

Mount Zefachot

This Eilat-area tiyul is easy to find – follow the road that leads to the Egyptian border at Taba, park slightly east of the Eilat Field School and start climbing. Mount Zefachot is not an easy ascent, nor is it a particularly beautiful climb. There are some tricky ups and a few cliffs to keep it interesting. But this hike is all about the payoff, and it’s spectacular.

Mount Zefachot

From the top of the mountain, you get a panoramic view of the entire Red Sea area. You can see four countries from this vantage point: Israel, of course, but also Jordan, Egypt, and the tip of Saudi Arabia. The sea remains a shimmering blue year round, and Eilat’s mild winters make this a perfect hike to break the cold of Israel’s more northern locales.

Mount Zefachot

Once you’ve drunk in the view, there are several options for the descent depending on how much you want to walk. If you take the longest option (about four hours), you’ll end up near Taba; you can then take a public Egged bus or taxi back to your car.

Mount Zefachot

Galilee

Nahal Amud

Nahal Amud (2-5 hours)

Nahal Amud (“pillar canyon”) is the preeminent Galilee hike. It runs from Mount Meron in the west toward the Sea of Galilee in the east. You can walk it in either direction; starting at Meron means more downhill and is generally preferred. The nahal, which parallels the Israel Trail, is gorgeous and shaded, but the highlight is the water – this nahal is not a dry creek. In the summer, the pools are crowded with campers from various youth movements. If you can make it past them, you’ll be treated to a more relaxing walk. There are a number of ancient flour mills along the path.

Nahal Amud

The best place to start is at the parking lot off Highway 89, which connects the mystical town of Safed with Acre on the coast. This is a national park, so you’ll have to pay an entry fee. You start by winding down a steep path before arriving in the nahal. After the pools, you can continue west, or bail early near Safed. There’s a trail that climbs out of the nahal toward the cemetery in Safed. Keep heading up the hill, grab a falafel on the main street to recharge your batteries, then catch a taxi back to your starting point.

Nahal Amud

The other, much shorter alternative is to double back to the parking lot. There’s an upper trail in the nahal that avoids the pools and crowds.

Nahal Amud

Golan Heights

Nahal Yehudiah

Nahal Yehudiah (4-5 hours)

There’s probably no better hike in the heat of summer than Nahal Yehudiah, where the water is so deep, you have no choice but to swim to get to the other side. There are actually some 12 trails in this canyon off Highway 87, just northeast of the Sea of Galilee. But the one that ranks on our top 10 list is “upper” Nahal Yehudiah. The path starts by passing a deserted Syrian village that was built on top of an earlier Jewish town from the Roman-Byzantine period. You’ll pass a cattle-grazing field before heading down into the valley towards the 20-meter high Yehudiah Falls.

Nahal Yehudiah

That’s where the fun starts. There are two cliffs to climb down, using rungs and ladders drilled into the side of the rock – one is four meters long, the second nine meters, which ends in the pool. Make sure your belongings are wrapped up in waterproof bags, or do like some of the more creative hikers who pack small inflatable boats to float their gear across! There’s another pool after that (though you can walk it if you don’t slip). When you’re done swimming, you can backtrack to the start on a dry trail at the top of the nahal.

Nahal Yehudiah

Gorgeous and challenging trails

Fortunately, Israel offers an over-abundance of gorgeous and challenging hikes, from the waterfalls of the Golan Heights to the breathtaking views overlooking the Red Sea. Israel’s trails are clearly marked by colors painted on rocks and tree trunks (the SPNI has a crew of volunteers who regularly check on the markers), and there is a set of 20 glossy maps you can buy (about $25 each) that will keep you moving in the right direction. The maps are available only in Hebrew, but the SPNI is looking for donors to produce English-language versions.

Linking it all together is the 580-mile long Israel Trail, which starts in the northern Galilee and winds its way south until it reaches the tip of Eilat. Inspired by the Appalachian Trail in the US, the Israel Trail was officially marked in 1995 and for the most part follows existing routes. It is indicated by distinctive white-, blue- and orange-striped trail markers (white for the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon, blue for the water and orange for the desert).


At Nahal Yehudiah, hikers climb down cliffs using ladders drilled into the side of the rock.

The Israel Trail is not a straight shot from north to south, hence its length of nearly double the actual miles from one end of the country to the other. Rather, it winds its way through the country’s most scenic geography, zipping over to the Mediterranean coast and the central Tel Aviv area before snaking up to the hills surrounding Jerusalem, then plunging south into the Negev and Arava deserts.

The SPNI is working with the Jerusalem municipality to mark a 25-mile round trip “spur” from the Israel Trail into Jerusalem, covering both urban and forest areas of the capital city.

The Israel Trail specifically avoids regions still in contention, such as the Golan Heights and the West Bank. It also must avoid army training grounds, which take up about 60 percent of the Negev.

Hiking in Israel is a seasonal activity, best done in the fall and spring. The Israel Trail has become a rite of passage, as a growing number of Israelis choose to hike its entire length over two to three months. While much of the time trekkers don’t have any choice but to pitch their own tents for the night, designated “Trail Angels” along the route provide hospitality – often in their homes – at low rates. Trail Angels can also be found on kibbutzim, and some even have free WiFi connections.

Top Israeli hikes

The SPNI recently finished marking a new route dubbed “The Jesus Trail.” It connects important sites from the life of Jesus, and runs for 40 miles from Nazareth to Capernaum, all in the Galilee region. The idea was initiated by an Israeli entrepreneur who runs a chain of hostels, including the Fauzi Azar Inn in Nazareth.

Among the most popular treks in Israel, hikers can choose from a relatively leisurely route (albeit with a few ups and downs) to death-defying challenges, rappelling down cliffs or jumping past waterfalls.

Here are a few favorites:

The Burma Road is one of the easier routes, and also one steeped in history. During the War of Independence, the Jordanians blocked the main route into Jerusalem, attempting to starve the city into surrender. Under the cover of night, soldiers from the nascent state of Israel clandestinely built a bypass road, which succeeded in breaking the blockade.


The Burma Road

The trail starts just outside of Beit Shemesh. You can hike the western part of the trail in the direction of Latrun. You’ll turn north before then, though, to make a loop back to your starting point. This takes you through a pine forest known as Park Rabin. There is also a bike rental shop, as the trail is popular with cyclists.

The eastern flank of the trail is a bit tougher, and kicks off with a steep ascent until reaching the village of Beit Meir. Along the way are some great views of the highway far below. Both sections follow the Israel Trail for much of the route.

Another pleasant hike goes through Nahal Amud (“nahal” means “dry canyon” in Hebrew; the Arabic “wadi” is often substituted). This trek is in the Galilee area – it runs from Mount Meron in the west toward the Sea of Galilee in the east, passing close to the kabalistic town of Safed. In addition to following the Israel Trail, Nahal Amud is particularly shady, even in the summer.

The highlight of the hike is the water – this nahal is not a dry creek – and the pools are frequently filled with campers from the various youth movements. If you can make it past the crowds, you’ll follow the river, then loop back past ancient flourmills before reaching the spacious parking lot (and an ice cream stand – a nice treat at the end of your day).


The highlight of a Nahal Amud hike is the water.

If adventure is your game, the lower part of Nahal Dragot (more popularly known by its Arabic name, Darga) will keep your heart beating. Located in the Dead Sea area, the Darga is incredibly challenging with 50-meter high walls, dry waterfalls and pools of natural water in craters that you have to swim across. Although there are metal stakes hammered into the rocks in some places, you really can’t do this hike without bringing a rope. Or, in some places, skip the rope and jump into the water instead. Warning: Don’t do this hike without a buddy!

Another challenging hike with rungs and water is in the Golan Heights. In Nahal Yehudiah, the water is so deep you have no choice but to swim to reach the other side. The path starts by passing a deserted Syrian village that was built on top of an earlier Jewish town from the Roman-Byzantine period. Further down the valley is the 20-meter-high Yehudiah Falls.

There are two cliffs to climb down using ladders drilled into the side of the rock – one is four meters (13 feet) long, the second nine meters (29.5 feet), ending in the pool. Make sure your belongings are wrapped up in waterproof bags, or do like some of the more creative hikers who pack small inflatable boats to float their gear across.

Water is also the calling card of Wadi Kelt, by far one of the most popular hiking spots in Israel, with some 60,000 visitors a year. The hike, which parallels the Jerusalem-Dead Sea highway, cuts through a deep desert gorge. Even in the heat of the summer, the high canyon walls and the water make this a pleasant refuge.

At the end of the hike is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George; the monastic community here dates back to 420 CE. If you were to continue on, you’d reach Jericho. Instead, Israelis either double back through the nahal or take a quicker (but less scenic) road that runs along the top of the canyon. Better yet, take two cars and park one at each end. That way you can spend more time in the water.

If you prefer to look at water, Mount Zefachot is particularly spectacular. This Eilat-area tiyul starts from the road that leads to the Egyptian border at Taba. There is a steep ascent with some tricky ups and a few cliffs to keep it interesting. But this hike is all about the payoff: From the top of the mountain, you get a panoramic view of the entire Red Sea area. You can see four countries from this vantage point: Israel, of course, but also Jordan, Egypt and the tip of Saudi Arabia. The sea remains a shimmering blue year round, and Eilat’s mild winters make this a perfect hike to break the cold of Israel’s more northern locales.

Day Tour Jerusalem

For costs, questions, queries and other related information, click here.

This tour is for any visitors to Jerusalem (or locals). This tour will bring you to all the important and well-known touristic sights the Jerusalem has to offer. The tour is designed for the individual, as for groups, with or without a professional guide.

In this itinerary are always alternatives and added sights. Click on More Info or Things to do behind the sigh. Restaurants in the neighborhood of the sights are available in this itinerary each day. Click on Restaurants.

Click here for the day tour map.

  1. Jaffa Gate at the Tourist information boot (tour starts here)
  2. Tower of David
  3. Qishle – police headquarters and prison during Ottoman times
  4. St. James Cathedral Church
  5. Zion Gate
  6. King David’s tomb
  7. Mount Zion
  8. Dormition Abbey

BREAK

  1. The Western Wall Excavations
  2. The Davidson Center
  3. City of David
  4. Gihon Spring
  5. Hezekiah’s and Siloam Tunnels
  6. Zecharias’ Tomb
  7. Church of the Assumption (Mary’s Tomb)
  8. Lions’ Gate
  9. Church convictionRestaurants.

BREAK

  1. Church of St. Mary of agony
  2. VIA DOLOROSA
  3. The Ethiopian PatriarchateRestaurants.
  4. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
  5. Old City Bazaar
  6. Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
  7. Church of St. John the Baptist
  8. Cardo

BREAK

  1. Burnt House
  2. Western wall
  3. Al-Aqsa Mosque
  4. Temple Mount
  5. Dome of the Rock (tour ends here) – Restaurants.

The Foundation Stone of the World

The Foundation Stone is the name of the rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Jews traditionally face it while praying, in the belief that it was the location of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Muslims believe that angels visited the site 2,000 years before the creation of Adam, the place to which Muhammad traveled in the Night Journey and it’s the place where Israfel, the angel of the trumpet, will sound his horn on Resurrection Day. Map.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

Many sages from the Talmud were mentioned about the Foundation Stone.

  • God took the Foundation Stone and threw it into the depths and from it the world expanded. It’s the center point of the world and the first part of the Earth to come into existence.
  • Also it was close to the Foundation Stone, that God gathered the earth and created Adam.
  • It was on this rock that Adam—and later Cain, Abel, and Noah—offered sacrifices to God.
  • Jewish sources identify this rock as the place mentioned in the Bible where Abraham fulfilled God’s test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.
  • It is also identified as the rock upon which Jacob dreamt about angels ascending and descending on a ladder and consequently consecrating and offering a sacrifice upon.
  • When (according to the Bible) King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite (Canaanites), it is believed that it was upon this rock that he offered the sacrifice mentioned in the verse.
  • He wanted to construct a permanent temple there, but as his hands were “bloodied”, he was forbidden to do so himself. The task was left to his son Solomon, who completed the Temple in c. 950 BCE.
  • Situated inside the Holy of Holies, this was the rock upon which the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the First Temple.
  • During the Second Temple period when the Ark of the Covenant was not present, the stone was used by the High Priest who offered up the incense and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices on it during the Yom Kippur service.
Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The rock itself is 90-million-year-old and quite different compared with rocks surrounding it. The southern side of the Foundation Stone forms a ledge, with a gap between it and the surrounding ground; a set of steps currently uses this gap to provide access from the Dome of the Rock to the Well of Souls beneath it.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The rock has several human-made cuts in its surface, created by the Crusaders. Flat sections on the stone indicates foundation trenches on top of which the walls of the original temple were laid.

Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone
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