Top things to do in Israel in the Summer
BY Lee Saunders DATE 28/06/2021
Your shorts, sunscreen, and COVID-19 paperwork are all packed. You are more than ready to unwind. With flying a challenging experience today and rest and relaxation absolutely critical, you will want to make sure you see and do everything you want to, in the time you have.
Among so many activities to choose from, we suggest 12 fun things to do in Israel in the summer
Summer in Israel
First, make no mistake about it, Israel in the summer is hot – both the temperature and energy. The mercury will hit the high 80’s and 90s from June to September. Tel Aviv, and Tiberias will be hot and humid (like New York or Miami). Jerusalem is dryer and cooler, particularly at night. Masada and Eilat are extremely hot (possibly above 110F) but dry. Not a drop of rain.
Summer activities in Israel
Grab your hat and hit the beach!
The first place to hit may well be the beach! Let those lockdown blues melt away as you top up your suntan at any of Israel’s spectacular beaches. With a coastline bordering the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, and the Sea of Galilee, you can enjoy first-rate scuba diving in Eilat and snorkeling, surfing and SUP on most of the Mediterranean beaches. Banana Beach is a slightly less touristy stretch of sand situated towards Jaffa and Ajami Beach, just south of Jaffa’s Old City – both walking distance from the Dan Tel Aviv and Dan Panorama Tel Aviv. Bring T-shirts, hats, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and of course – a bathing suit – and, as the locals do, come with cold watermelon and a willingness to play matkot (bat and ball game played on the beach).
Boat Rides on Kinneret
With temperatures soaring in Israel in the summertime, it is no surprise that heading to water is always a popular choice. One of our own particular favorites is to take a boat ride on the Kinneret, known as the Sea of Galilee, which is actually the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the largest in Israel. Located in the northeast of the country, the Sea of Galilee is a major attraction for campers, swimmers (every September, there is the Kinneret Crossing) and Christian pilgrims who come to see where Jesus carried out miracles, such as walking on water. There is no need for you to walk, though, there are tour companies offering boat trips. Stay at a nearby kibbutz (communal farm) or campsites, take in the early sunrise, and unwind in one of the most peaceful spots on Earth.
Scuba Diving in Eilat
While spectacular views lie above the water here, there are hidden treasures glimmering underneath the water’s surface at the other end of Israel – in the Red Sea. Deep beneath the pale blue waters, there is a treasure chest of life awaiting snorkelers and divers.
Be as close to nature as you possibly can be by taking a memorable dive at the Coral Beach Nature Reserve, a world of technicolor, a short drive south of the Dolphin Reef Eilat, a unique ecological site, where visitors magically bond with dolphins in their natural habitat, a memory to treasure and a high point of any trip to Eilat.
Floating in the Dead Sea
One of the must-dos for any visitor to Israel is to bathe in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea. Lying 40km away from Jerusalem, the Dead Sea is quite simply one of the most enduring experiences you will ever have. Soothe all your pandemic anxiety with a surreal floating experience in the water famous for its therapeutic qualities and high concentration of minerals, particularly its salt content, which is 10 times greater than the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Cover yourself in mud at Kalia Beach, one of the many, and soak up the rays. The experience allows bathers to float magically on the surface, almost like being in outer space. An unforgettably strange feeling, I always recall my own first time there, watching two elderly ladies sitting on plastic chairs float past, one reading a newspaper, the other talking to her.
Visit Sea Turtles in Rehab
Half hour drive north of Tel Aviv is The Israel Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, in Mikhmoret, and offers the chance to meet and learn about these magnificent and endangered marine reptiles. Established over 20 years ago, the center is part hospital, part rehab center and full educational facility set on raising awareness, educating the public and involving them in caring for these turtles. Since its inception, the center has treated some 700 turtles, mainly loggerhead and green sea turtles, as well as soft-shell and Western Caspian turtles and even five dolphins. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel runs tours of the sea turtle center in Hebrew and English and can be booked ahead of time.
Old City and Tower of David
Whether your interest is historical or pure fascination, Jerusalem never disappoints. The Tower of David, or Jerusalem Citadel, stands proudly at the western edge of the old city, which is shrouded in mystery and secrets. Jerusalem – also known as the city of gold – continues to shine, inviting you to explore a medley of cultures, the famous holy sites of the three monotheistic faiths dating back thousands of years. Weaving your way through the narrow alleyways, you are greeted with pure architectural and historical splendor, and the feeling that you are in the heart of a city like no other. The Western Wall, or Kotel, lies in the Jewish Quarter, beneath which you can take a fascinating tour of the tunnels. Nearby, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the spectacular Dome of the Rock lie in the nearby Muslim Quarter, while the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is one of the many highlights in the Christian and Armenian Quarters.
The Bahá’í Gardens, Haifa
Having attracted more than 7 million visitors in the decade since it opened to the public 20 years ago, today the Gardens had typically drawn close to a million visitors each year. Renowned as one of the Bahá’í faith’s two holiest sites and a major pilgrimage destination, you can take a guided tour to learn about the fascinating beliefs, values and spirituality of this young religion and gently walk down the 1km, 19-terrace staircase. Capture special panoramic views of the manicured lawns, tended only by Bahá’ís themselves, and enjoy the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, looking upwards towards the northern slopes of Mount Carmel and downwards, towards the impressive German Colony below. As you weave northwards via HaNassi Boulevard, you will enter the HaCarmel neighborhood containing the luxurious Dan Carmel and charming Dan Panorama Haifa.
Tel Aviv Architecture
While Jerusalem is often known as the “City of Gold,” Tel Aviv is often nicknamed the “White City” on account of more than 4,000 Bauhaus (or Bauhaus-style) buildings brought over by German Jewish architects in the 1930s. In fact, the Bauhaus Museum is a boutique gallery/museum on Bialik Street in Tel Aviv that showcases the history and development Bauhaus design in the heart of Tel Aviv’s UNESCO recognized White City and offers an interesting insight into the amazing Bauhaus architecture of Tel Aviv.
The Charms of Jaffa
A pleasant summer stroll down the boardwalk from Tel Aviv brings you to the eternal Jaffa, whose courtyards, narrow passageways and cobbled alleys are a rich part of Tel Aviv’s urban tapestry. From the historic port or the artist galleries, the city is ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of nearby Tel Aviv, and is perfect for a relaxing walk after a romantic dinner at any of the authentic local restaurants, with particular favorites, the spacious and sumptuous Arab restaurant Afluka, one of the best fish restaurants around. Take a nice stroll back to the heart of Tel Aviv through the quaint alleyways of the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, grabbing an ice cream at the iconic shop, Anita.
Cool escapes to the museums
While the COVID-19 pandemic had shuttered some of the museums, Israel is still home to more than 200 museums dedicated to art, science, history, design, architecture, and technology, all of which are educational as they are a cool escape from the sun and are following government guidelines on health and safety. Among the many, The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is almost undoubtedly one of the greatest museums of modern art in the world. With a massive newly opened wing, the museum has a great collection of works by both Israeli and leading international artists showcased in an incredible building. The Museum of Islamic Art and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem are well worth a visit, while Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People, is a fascinating museum located within the campus of the Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv in north Tel Aviv. The museum chronicles Jewish life across the diaspora over thousands of years using interesting and creative displays.
It’s summertime and hiking during the day hours can get hot. That’s why the Israel Nature and Parks Authority offers night hikes – some by lanterns, others by moonlight. The authority manages more than 60 national parks and nature reserves across the country. During the present pandemic, only some of them are open to the public and visits, like elsewhere, must be booked in advance.
In the ancient city of Caesarea, you can transport yourself back to Roman times too, with Caesarea National Park, a splendid reminder of the city’s ancient past when Herod the Great converted the small town into a small town thriving with a port, warehouses, markets, wide streets, bathhouses, temples and impressive public buildings. Take a stroll along the promenade at sunset and absorb the view from above the Roman theatre and imagine life here more than 2,000 years ago before resting at the Dan Caesarea Hotel, the perfect spot from which to explore the city’s rich history.
Sunrise at Masada
If you are a photo junkie, sunrise at Masada is incomparable. The ancient fortification on the edge of the Judaean desert overlooks the Dead Sea and offers immense panoramic views matched only by the significance of the area, both historically and archaeologically.
Remembered for the Herodian palaces and Roman siege of Masada, both almost 2,000 years ago, today many pilgrimage to the site to take an early morning trek, approximately an hour, to the top of the mountain or can opt for the cable car! Watch the sun peak through the Jordanian mountains. Unless you are there, no photo can ever do it justice. As you can see, there are so many fun things to do in Israel.
Written by Lee Saunders