Welcome back to the destination of the week, each week we will highlight a popular destination and give you all the information and first-hand recommendations you need to have an amazing holiday there.
This week you told us that the next destination should be Israel. Don't forget to join in on our Instagram polls @tysontrails to let us know which places you would like to see next!
Currency: Israeli Shekel or the US Dollar is also widely used
Time difference: GMT +3/BST +2
Flight time: London to Israel is around 4 hours and 55 minutes
British Embassy: British Consulate-General Jerusalem (+970 2 541 4100), Rajeib Nashashibi St 15، القدس, https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-consulate-general-jerusalem
Emergency services: Ambulance 101, Fire 101, Police 100
Important local laws in Israel
Israel has 3 religions but the main one with around 75% of the country following is Judaism. Some areas of Israel are considered Ultra-Orthodox Jewish and therefore have stricter rules in place. Like any large cities pickpocketing and petty theft is always a risk so take extra care when walking around.
Dress modestly in Jerusalem.
Local residents in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods can react strongly to anyone (particularly women) dressed inappropriately.
Avoid driving into ultra-Orthodox Jewish areas of Jerusalem on Shabbat (from sunset on Friday to nightfall (approximately 1 hour after sunset) on Saturday). If you attempt to drive into these areas local residents may throw stones at your car.
Be sensitive about taking pictures of people in Orthodox Jewish areas. Don’t take photographs of military or police personnel or installations.
Carry identification with you at all times. (eg a photocopy of the personal details and entry stamp pages of your passport).
Best time to visit Israel
For the best weather plan your visit from March to May and from September to November, when the weather is warm and dry. We visited in December and it was quite cold however when you head further into the land it does warm up.
What to pack
Dress respectfully and cover up, especially when visiting areas of religious interest but I would recommend dressing conservatively the whole time. Israel is a progressive country and casual clothing is more common but I would suggest women should cover their shoulders, knees and chest unless at the beach.
Things to see and do
The Old City Jerusalem
We spent around half a day exploring the Old City but I would recommend taking a full day for this to really take everything in. Home to some of the main holy sites such as the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock Islamic Shrine and Church of the Holy Sepulchre and surrounded by stunning ancient walls. You can either book onto a locally guided tour or if you prefer to set the pace as we do then it is very easy to wing it. Inside you will also find lots of small shops and market stalls selling trinkets and souvenirs, then continue to get lost in exploring the busy alleys and food stalls which is great for a lunch stop.
The Dead Sea
This was one of the main things I was really excited about visiting. The dead sea is the lowest point on earth and so incredibly salty that you just float in the water. It did not disappoint and was an amazing experience that I highly recommend, The only cautions I would make that I wasn't prepared for is if you have even the tiniest cut or graze it will sting instantly and If you plan on slathering on the miracle mud don't wear your best swimmers as its not the easiest to get off.
The River Jordan
According to the Christian beliefs, the Jordan River is considered the third most holy site in Israel because it is the site of the most important event of Jesus' life; his baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, the river is the divider between Jordan and Israel and one of my favourite parts was seeing visitors on both sides and knowing you were in completely different countries divided by a small wall bordering the countries. Visitors to the site today can be baptised in the River Jordan with prior arrangement. and we got to witness this, they are fully submerged in the water.
Tel Aviv is definitely with a visit, and as the majority of international flights land here it is a great start or end point. It is Israels most modern and cosmopolitan city, home to around 4 million people and boasts 13 beautiful beaches so makes a great holiday destination. One of the biggest draws for people to visit Tel Aviv is the food, some of the best restaurants mixing traditional Israeli cuisine and food from around the world using the freshest organic ingredients. Sites not to miss include the amazing array of museums such as Yitzhak Rabin Center, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, or the Museum of the Jewish People and the ancient port of Jaffa where you will find a bustling flea market, eateries and an artists quarter.
Where to eat
Traditional Israeli cuisine has a very middle eastern feel, foods such as hummus, falafels, shakshouka and baba ganoush are widely available and absolutely beautiful from most places you decide to eat. Some of our favourite places to eat in each city are -
Jerusalem - Moshiko Falafel
A great place if you are travelling with kids, serving up delicious falafel and shawarma either in a pita or laffa bread you pick from all the fresh ingredients available to build your own meal, lots of outdoor seating with a very relaxed vibe.
Tel Aviv - The House of Hummus
On the menu, it says 'probably the second-best hummus place' however they are serving up some of the best hummus you will ever taste so I would love to know who they think is number 1! A super relaxed and friendly place that will cater for the whole family. Don't be tempted to over-order as the portions are huge and very filling!
How to get around
The transport options in Israel are extensive, serviced by 2 main airports; daily flights arrive and depart from Eilat and Ben Gurion. Buses are widely available and are a great cheap option, from the airport you can grab a shuttle bus (#485) to Jerusalem which runs 24 hours a day 6 days a week (not during Shabbat) it departs hourly and the journey takes around 1 hour. You can also take a train if you are headed to Tel Aviv which only takes around 20 minutes. The most popular transport is a taxi, they are very accessible and relatively cheap (Uber is also available)
Where to stay
Budget - Jerusalem Inn
This was our choice and we really liked this small boutique hotel, It was set right in the heart of the city and we could walk to all of the main attractions. The rooms are en suite and come with free Wi-Fi. The beds were very comfortable, the rooms were clean and the staff were very helpful and friendly so we couldn't have asked for much more for the price.
Luxury - Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem
This 5-star hotel from the chain Waldorf is set right in the city centre, housed in a building whose design blends Greco-Roman, Gothic and Ottoman motifs. The decor is beautiful rooms are comfortable and they offer 2 restaurants on site. The Palace Restaurant serves an Israeli buffet breakfast in the mornings. Afternoon it turns to a kosher restaurant that offers an à la carte menu. Guests can enjoy afternoon tea or a drink at the King's Court, while The Gaden Terrace is a tapas bar serving cocktails and Mediterranean cuisine.