Jerusalem at Night

The Situation in Israel – Is it Safe to Travel to Israel Right Now?

Israel is considered by many as being the crossroads of diverse civilizations and cultures. The country attracts millions of tourists every year, lured by its historical, religious, and natural treasures. But with its geopolitical complexity, it’s only natural for potential visitors to wonder: Is it safe to travel in Israel now?

We want to start off by setting the record straight, recent studies have ranked Israel as the fifth safest country in the world for tourists. To put this in context, Israel has ranked higher than the UK, US, and many European countries in terms of safety for travelers. Such stats underscore the distinction between the perception and reality of safety in Israel.

Deciphering the Media Coverage

The media, in its relentless spotlight on regions such as southern Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, often portray a narrative dominated by chaos, conflicts, and war. This recurrent focus amplifies the perception of an entire nation under siege when, in reality, the issue is relatively localized.

While it’s undeniable that tensions exist in specific areas, this narrative of “war and conflict” does a disservice to the broader truth of Israel. Beyond Gaza and the West Bank, Israel boasts a mosaic of tranquil landscapes, historic sites, and culturally rich cities that have been captivating tourists for decades. The nation’s diverse terrains, from sun-kissed beaches to sprawling deserts and bustling metropolises, all coexist in harmony. This fuller, more nuanced picture is essential for anyone seeking a comprehensive understanding of Israel, beyond the narrow lens often presented in the headlines.

In Israel, Geography Matters

It’s a common misconception to associate all of Israel with the more volatile regions of Gaza and the West Bank. But in terms of size and population, these areas are relatively small compared to the entirety of the country. Most Israelis live outside of these regions, and they are not the typical destinations for travelers.

Gaza and West Bank would be similar to a tourist judging the safety of Illinois based on the news coming out of South Side Chicago.

Safety Statistics in Perspective

Balsam Tours has strategically positioned itself with two distinct segments: the US Division and the Israel Division. With my business colleague based in Israel, he is often on the frontline addressing the concerns and curiosities of tourists. Many visitors come with perceptions formed by media coverage, and it’s imperative for them to understand the broader context. The tensions and conflicts that periodically make headlines aren’t new developments; they have historical origins that can be traced back to 1948. By providing this perspective, we aim to offer a more comprehensive understanding of the region’s complexities and assure our clients of our expertise and experience in navigating them.

Popular Tourist Areas: Business as Usual

Tourist havens like Tel Aviv, with its bustling nightlife and beaches; Jerusalem, rich in religious and historical significance; the tranquil Negev desert; the biblical city of Nazareth; and the rejuvenating Dead Sea have always been popular and remain safe. These regions continue to operate as they always have, with an emphasis on security and safety for all who visit.


Stay Updated and Make Informed Choices

The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) strongly recommends avoiding all trips to Gaza, the Sheba’a Farms and Ghajjar, and areas within 500m of the Lebanon border (known as the ‘Blue Line’) to the east of Metula. This includes the town’s northern edge and areas east of Route 98 near the Syrian border. Furthermore, non-essential journeys to Nablus, Joseph’s Tomb, and the refugee camps of Balata and New Askar near Nablus are not advised. It’s worth noting that these specified regions are not common destinations for tourists traveling to Israel.


Travelers are urged to remain informed. While Israel is overwhelmingly safe, it’s always wise to stay updated with the latest advisories from your home country. If you’re a nervous traveler, consider joining a package trip or hiring a local guide. Not only will this give you an added sense of security, but it will also enrich your understanding and experience of this beautiful and diverse country.

Should you still travel to Israel? 

While there may be concerns, countless tourists continue to explore the nation, cherishing memorable and secure journeys. The dynamics of the security landscape in Israel and Gaza can shift. Thus, it’s imperative to remain vigilant and regularly consult your country’s updated travel advisories. But it’s important to remember – when you’re visiting Israel, Geography Matters.

Unearthing the Past: Exploring Israel’s Fascinating Archaeological Sites

Israel, a land steeped in rich history and home to diverse cultures, boasts a plethora of archaeological sites that offer unique glimpses into the past. From ancient cities to biblical locations, these sites provide a deeper understanding of the civilizations that once thrived in this region. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through some of Israel’s most fascinating archaeological sites, and encourage you to uncover the past for yourself.

Megiddo (Armageddon)

The ancient city of Megiddo, known as Armageddon in the New Testament, holds biblical significance and has witnessed numerous battles throughout history. Excavations have uncovered several layers of civilization, including Canaanite temples, city gates, and stables. Visiting Megiddo will transport you back in time as you explore the ruins and learn about the site’s historical and strategic importance.


Perched atop a desert plateau, Masada stands as a symbol of Jewish resistance against the Romans. This fortress, built by King Herod, is famed for the siege of Masada, where Jewish rebels made a last stand against the Roman army. Today, visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins, including Herod’s palaces and fortifications. You can reach the site by cable car or hike the famous Snake Path for a more adventurous experience.

Caesarea Maritima

Built by King Herod in honor of Augustus Caesar, Caesarea Maritima showcases impressive Roman architecture and engineering. The ancient city’s highlights include a well-preserved theater, aqueduct, and hippodrome. The Caesarea National Park offers a captivating blend of history and modern-day leisure, with restaurants and galleries overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Beit She’an

Boasting a history that spans over 5,000 years, Beit She’an features an extraordinary array of archaeological finds. Visitors can explore the Roman theater, bathhouse, and colonnaded streets, all set against the backdrop of ongoing excavations. Beit She’an is a living testament to the various cultures that once inhabited this ancient city.


The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in 1947 revolutionized our understanding of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. A visit to Qumran National Park offers insights into the Essenes, the sect responsible for the scrolls, and their unique way of life. Guided tours provide a deeper understanding of the site’s significance and its contribution to our understanding of biblical history.


As a prominent Canaanite city and biblical location, Hazor has been the focus of extensive archaeological excavations. Notable discoveries include the Solomonic Gate and various ancient structures. A visit to Hazor allows you to witness the ongoing work of archaeologists as they uncover the secrets of this ancient city.

Tel Dan Nature Reserve and Archaeological Site

The Tel Dan Nature Reserve combines biblical history with the beauty of nature. Explore the ancient city gate, believed to date back to the time of King Solomon, and the unique cultic site. The reserve also features hiking trails and water sources, perfect for a relaxing day immersed in history and nature.


Located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum holds great significance in the New Testament, as it was the center of Jesus’ ministry. Visitors can explore the ancient synagogue and Peter’s House, providing a tangible connection to the biblical stories that took place here.

Practical Tips for Visiting Archaeological Sites in Israel

To make the most of your archaeological adventures, plan your visit during the cooler months of spring or fall, and wear comfortable attire and footwear suitable for walking on uneven terrain. Consider joining guided tours for a more in-depth understanding of each site, or opt for self-guided exploration to wander at your own pace.

Israel’s archaeological heritage is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts and those seeking to understand the region’s past. Exploring these sites offers a unique educational and cultural experience, deepening your appreciation for the civilizations that once flourished in this ancient land. Whether you’re a casual traveler or a dedicated history buff, Israel’s fascinating archaeological sites are waiting for you to unearth their secrets.

Are you ready to delve into Israel’s captivating history and explore these incredible archaeological sites? Let us at Balsam Tours create the perfect itinerary tailored to your interests and needs. With our expert knowledge and passion for the Holy Land, we’ll ensure your journey through Israel is nothing short of unforgettable. Contact us today to plan your trip and let us be your guide to the wonders of Israel’s past.

Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: Christian Tours of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites with Balsam Tours

Jerusalem, the spiritual epicenter for Christianity, holds immense significance for believers around the world. As the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected, Jerusalem attracts millions of pilgrims seeking to deepen their faith and experience the rich history and culture of this ancient city. At Balsam Tours, we specialize in intimate, time-honoring experiences of the Holy Land, offering individually-guided tours that will bring these sacred places to life for you.

Must-Visit Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is undoubtedly the most significant Christian site in Jerusalem. Believed to be the location of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, this church has been a major pilgrimage destination since the fourth century. As you explore the magnificent interior, you’ll discover the Stone of Anointing, where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial, and the Edicule, which houses the tomb itself.

The Via Dolorosa, or the “Way of Sorrow,” traces the path Jesus walked on his way to Calvary. As you follow the Stations of the Cross, you’ll walk in the footsteps of Jesus and reflect on the final moments of his life. This journey is both a physical and spiritual experience, offering a deeper understanding of the Passion of Christ.

Located east of Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives is home to several important Christian sites. The Ascension Chapel commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven, while the Church of All Nations and the Dominus Flevit Church honor his teachings and miracles. Don’t forget to visit the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion.

The Garden Tomb offers an alternative site for Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. While its authenticity is debated, the peaceful garden and ancient tomb provide a serene space for contemplation and prayer.

Experience the History and Culture of Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s Old City is divided into four quarters: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Armenian. Each quarter offers a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history and diverse culture. Be sure to visit the Western Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple, and the Temple Mount, with its iconic Dome of the Rock.

Balsam Tours: A Unique and Personal Journey

Our individually-guided groups ensure a more personal and meaningful experience as you explore the Holy Land. Our expert local guides possess extensive knowledge of the sites and their spiritual and historical context. With customized itineraries, you’ll journey at your own pace, absorbing the profound significance of each location.

Exploring Israel Beyond Jerusalem with Balsam Tours

While Jerusalem is the heart of the Holy Land, there is so much more to discover in Israel. Join us on tours to the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and the Dead Sea, where you’ll uncover more of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Practical Information for Christian Pilgrims

The best time to visit Jerusalem is during spring or fall, when the weather is pleasant and crowds are thinner. Dress modestly and comfortably, as you’ll be visiting religious sites and walking on ancient cobblestone streets. For travel tips and safety information, consult our comprehensive guide or see our archeological sites you can visit!

Walking in the footsteps of Jesus is a life-changing experience, and Balsam Tours is dedicated to making your journey unforgettable. Let us guide you through the most sacred places on earth, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Contact us today to plan your perfect pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Balsam Tours.

David's waterfall in Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

Discovering Israel’s Natural Wonders: A Tour of National Parks and Reserves

Israel is a land of contrasts, with a diverse landscape that ranges from arid deserts to lush forests, vibrant wetlands, and Mediterranean beaches. These unique ecosystems are home to an array of flora and fauna, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth. In order to preserve these natural wonders, Israel has established numerous national parks and reserves, which serve as havens for conservation, education, and recreation. In this article, we will take you on a tour of some of the most stunning and captivating national parks and reserves in Israel.

Israel’s National Parks and Reserves: An Overview

Israel boasts a rich network of over 80 protected areas, including national parks and nature reserves, managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. These protected areas aim to conserve biodiversity, preserve cultural heritage, and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and education.
Coastal and Mediterranean Gems

Caesarea Maritima National Park

This park combines historical significance with natural beauty. Once a bustling port city, it now boasts ancient ruins, including a Roman theater and a Byzantine street. The park also features picturesque beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life.

Achziv National Park

Achziv is a coastal paradise, featuring unique beaches with natural tide pools and abundant marine life. Snorkeling and swimming in the crystal-clear waters offer visitors a chance to experience the park’s underwater wonders.

Apollonia-Arsuf National Park

Home to ancient ruins and archaeological sites, this park offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. The coastal cliffs provide stunning views of the Mediterranean, while the wildflowers and vegetation create a colorful backdrop for exploration.

Desert Wonders and Oases

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

This desert oasis is a biodiversity hotspot, featuring endemic species, lush vegetation, and mesmerizing waterfalls. Hiking trails lead visitors through the diverse landscape, offering a refreshing break from the arid surroundings.

Masada National Park

Masada, an ancient fortress atop a plateau, holds historical and archaeological significance. Visitors can hike or take a cable car to the summit, where they will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Dead Sea and surrounding desert landscape.

Timna Park

Timna Park showcases striking geological formations and ancient rock art. With activities like cycling and hot air ballooning, visitors can fully appreciate the beauty of this unique desert landscape.

Mountain Ranges and Forests

Mount Carmel National Park

Mount Carmel offers lush forests, intriguing caves, and a diverse range of flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views from the mountaintop and explore the park’s extensive network of hiking trails.

Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve

This reserve features forested canyons, cascading waterfalls, and an array of wildlife. Guided tours provide visitors with an immersive experience of this enchanting environment.

Gamla Nature Reserve

Gamla is home to ancient ruins, archaeological sites, and a large population of Griffon Vultures, along with other rare species. The park offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and wildlife conservation.

Wetlands and Birdwatching Hotspots

Hula Valley Nature Reserve

This migratory bird sanctuary is a must-visit for birdwatching enthusiasts. The diverse habitats of the reserve attract a wide variety of bird species, offering exceptional birdwatching opportunities and guided tours.

Agamon Hula Park

Agamon Hula Park focuses on wetlands restoration and wildlife conservation. The park offers activities such as birdwatching, cycling, and photography, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the area.

Tips for Visiting Israel’s National Parks and Reserves

Best times of year to visit

Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) are ideal times to visit Israel’s national parks and reserves, as the weather is generally pleasant and the landscapes are at their most vibrant.

Planning your itinerary

Consider your interests and time constraints when planning your trip. Some parks and reserves can be visited in a day, while others may require more time to explore fully.

Admission fees and guided tours

Many parks and reserves charge an entrance fee, and some offer guided tours for an additional cost. Research the fees and tour options in advance to help plan your budget and ensure a smooth visit.

Responsible tourism and Leave No Trace principles

When visiting these protected areas, remember to practice responsible tourism by following the Leave No Trace principles. This includes staying on designated trails, disposing of waste properly, and respecting wildlife and other visitors.

Exploring Israel’s natural wonders is an unforgettable experience that allows visitors to appreciate the country’s diverse ecosystems and rich cultural heritage. By visiting national parks and reserves, you are not only immersing yourself in Israel’s natural beauty but also supporting the preservation of these unique environments for future generations. We encourage you to plan your own adventure and discover the breathtaking landscapes and fascinating history that await you in Israel’s national parks and reserves.


Jerusalem, Israel Museum, the Shrine of the Book fountain

Israel’s Cultural Scene: A Guide to Museums, Art Galleries, and Theaters

Israel, a nation with deep historical roots and a diverse cultural heritage, offers an incredible array of museums, art galleries, and theaters for locals and tourists alike. In this guide, we explore some of the most notable cultural institutions and attractions in Israel, delving into their histories, collections, and performances. So whether you’re an art enthusiast, history buff, or a theater lover, prepare to be enchanted by the richness of Israel’s cultural scene.

Museums in Israel

Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Established in 1965, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is the country’s largest and most prestigious cultural institution. Home to an extensive collection of art, archaeology, and Judaica, the museum is a must-visit destination for those interested in exploring Israel’s history and art. Key exhibits include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, and an impressive display of European and Israeli art.

Israel, Jerusalem, Israel Museum, the Shrine of the Book fountain

Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

The Eretz Israel Museum, located in Tel Aviv, is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the cultural history of the Land of Israel. Its diverse collection features archaeology, ethnography, and material culture, making it an important resource for researchers and visitors alike. The museum’s Planetarium and Glass Pavilion are particularly popular among visitors.

Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Jerusalem

Yad Vashem, situated on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, serves as a poignant reminder of the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish communities worldwide. The center features a Holocaust History Museum, Hall of Names, Children’s Memorial, and various outdoor monuments. A visit to Yad Vashem is an emotional and educational experience that promotes tolerance and understanding.

Other notable museums

Israel is home to many other fascinating museums, including the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv, the Design Museum Holon, and the Madatech – Israel National Museum of Science, Technology & Space in Haifa. Each offers a unique perspective on various aspects of Israeli culture, history, and innovation.

Art Galleries in Israel

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, founded in 1932, is a leading institution in the Israeli art scene. Its extensive collection features modern and contemporary art from both international and Israeli artists. The museum regularly hosts rotating exhibitions, ensuring that there’s always something new and exciting for visitors to explore.

Jerusalem Artists’ House

The Jerusalem Artists’ House, established in the late 19th century, provides a platform for both emerging and established Israeli artists. With regular exhibitions, workshops, and events, the venue fosters creativity and encourages dialogue between artists and the public.

Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv

One of Israel’s premier contemporary art galleries, Gordon Gallery in Tel Aviv showcases works by both established and up-and-coming artists. With a focus on contemporary Israeli art, the gallery features a diverse range of exhibitions and projects, making it a key player in the local art scene.

Contemporary Israeli art scene

Israel’s vibrant contemporary art scene is constantly evolving, with emerging artists and alternative spaces pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. Be sure to visit smaller galleries and studios throughout the country to discover the latest trends and support local artists.

Theaters and Performing Arts

Habima National Theatre, Tel Aviv

Founded in 1917, the Habima National Theatre is Israel’s foremost theater, hosting performances in both Hebrew and Arabic. With a rich history and a diverse repertoire, the theater showcases the best of Israeli drama, including original productions and adaptations of international plays.

Jerusalem Theatre

The Jerusalem Theatre, located in the heart of the city, is a multi-disciplinary cultural center that hosts a wide range of events, including plays, concerts, dance performances, and film screenings. As a hub for the performing arts, the Jerusalem Theatre plays a vital role in fostering artistic talent and enriching the local cultural scene.

Israel Opera, Tel Aviv

Established in 1985, the Israel Opera is the country’s premier opera company, presenting world-class productions at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. With a commitment to nurturing Israeli talent, the opera company offers a diverse program of classic and contemporary productions, as well as special events and educational initiatives.

Dance and fringe theater

Israel is home to several innovative dance and fringe theater companies, such as the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company and the multi-cultural Gesher Theatre. Additionally, fringe festivals and alternative theater spaces provide a platform for experimental and avant-garde performances, offering audiences an exciting and diverse range of artistic experiences.

Tips for Exploring Israel’s Cultural Scene

Israel is a country with a rich cultural heritage, where ancient traditions meet modern influences. From music and art to food and fashion, the cultural scene in Israel is diverse and dynamic, offering a plethora of experiences to those who seek them. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, exploring Israel’s cultural scene is an essential part of any trip to this fascinating country.

Language considerations and accessibility

While Hebrew is the official language of Israel, many cultural institutions provide English translations, guides, or subtitles, ensuring that non-Hebrew speakers can enjoy and appreciate the art and performances on offer.

Planning a visit: best times and transportation options

Israel’s cultural scene thrives year-round, but events and festivals are especially abundant during the spring and fall months. When planning your visit, consider the various transportation options available, such as public buses, trains, and shared taxis (sherut), as well as guided tours that cater to specific interests. Learn more about the 10 Things to Know before you travel to Israel. 

Supporting local artists and cultural institutions

By visiting galleries, attending performances, and purchasing local art, you can directly support Israeli artists and cultural institutions. Engaging with the local creative community not only enriches your travel experience but also helps to sustain the vibrant arts scene in Israel.

Combining cultural experiences with historical and religious sites

Israel offers a wealth of historical and religious sites that can be easily combined with cultural experiences. For instance, explore the ancient city of Jerusalem before attending a performance at the Jerusalem Theatre or visit the coastal city of Jaffa and then discover Tel Aviv’s thriving art galleries.

Israel’s cultural scene is a testament to the nation’s rich history, diverse heritage, and creative spirit. By exploring its museums, art galleries, and theaters, you can gain a deeper understanding of the country’s past and present while supporting local artists and cultural institutions. We encourage you to immerse yourself in the thriving arts scene and discover the stories, talent, and passion that make Israel’s culture so unique and captivating. If you’d like to learn more about tips for exploring Israel, view our article on Tips Traveling around Israel here: Israel Travel Tips

Top Beaches to Visit in Israel

Israel is known for its rich history and diverse culture, but did you know that it also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world? If you’re looking for the perfect escape from the city, Israel’s beaches are the place to be. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at why Israel’s beaches are the perfect escape, which beaches to visit, and some lesser-known beaches to discover. We’ll also provide some tips for staying safe at the beach.

Why Israel’s Beaches are the Perfect Escape from the City


Israel’s beaches offer a unique combination of relaxation, scenic views, and outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, take a dip in the water, or enjoy a variety of water sports, Israel’s beaches have something for everyone. Moreover, with miles of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Dead Sea, you’ll never run out of beaches to explore.


Top Beaches to Visit in Israel

If you’re planning a trip to Israel, make sure to add these top beaches to your itinerary:

Tel Aviv Beaches – Located in the heart of Tel Aviv, these beaches are popular with locals and tourists alike. With plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars nearby, you can spend the entire day soaking up the sun and enjoying the lively atmosphere. Here, you’ll be able to find three of the popular beaches: Tel Aviv Beach, Aviv Beach, and Bugrashov Beach.


Herzliya Beach – Known for its crystal-clear water and white sand, Herzliya Beach is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and windsurfing. It’s also home to some of Israel’s most luxurious hotels and restaurants.


Eilat Beaches – Located on the Red Sea, Eilat’s beaches offer a unique underwater experience. From snorkeling and diving to glass-bottom boat rides, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore the colorful marine life.


Lesser-Known Beaches to Discover

If you’re looking for a quieter, more secluded beach experience, check out these lesser-known beaches:

Dor Habonim Beach Nature Reserve – Located near Haifa, this beach offers a scenic hiking trail, stunning rock formations, and clear water perfect for swimming and snorkeling.


Achziv Beach – Located in northern Israel, this beach is known for its pristine water and white sand. It’s also home to an ancient Crusader fortress and a natural lagoon.


Palmachim Beach – Located south of Tel Aviv, this beach offers a more rustic experience with sand dunes and a nature reserve. It’s a great spot for camping and hiking.


Beach Safety Tips

While Israel’s beaches are generally safe, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Check weather and water conditions before heading to the beach.
  2. Swim with a buddy, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer.
  3. Apply sunscreen regularly and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  4. Keep an eye out for warning signs and follow the instructions of lifeguards.
  5. Know what to do in case of an emergency.


Israel’s beaches are a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a relaxing and scenic escape from the city. From popular beaches like Tel Aviv to hidden gems like Achziv, there’s something for everyone. By following some simple safety tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. So what are you waiting for?


Grab your sunscreen and head to the beach!


Negev Desert

Hiking the Israel National Trail: A Guide to the Country’s Epic Trek

The Israel National Trail (INT) is one of the most iconic and challenging long-distance hikes in the world. Covering over 1,000 kilometers, the trail takes hikers on a journey through some of Israel’s most stunning landscapes, including the Galilee, the Negev Desert, and the Judean Mountains. If you’re looking for an adventure, here’s everything you need to know about hiking the INT.

Planning for the Hike

The best time to hike the INT is in the spring (March to May) or the fall (September to November), when the weather is mild and the trail is less crowded. You’ll need to obtain a permit to hike the INT, which you can do through the Israel Nature and Parks Authority website.

In terms of equipment, you’ll need sturdy hiking boots, a backpack, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a water filtration system. It’s also important to be physically prepared for the hike, as the trail is quite challenging and requires a good level of fitness.

Finally, make sure you budget accordingly, as the hike can include accommodation, food, and transportation.

Navigating the Trail

The INT stretches from the northern tip of Israel to the southernmost point, covering a variety of landscapes along the way. The trail is broken up into 42 sections, each of which takes about a day to complete.

The trail’s terrain varies, from rocky mountain paths to sandy desert terrain. Hiking the INT requires a good level of navigation skills, as the trail is not always well-marked. It’s important to bring a map and a compass, and to familiarize yourself with the route before setting out.

Additionally, it’s important to be aware of safety considerations when hiking the INT, such as the risk of flash floods and the need to carry enough water.

Highlights of the Hike

One of the best things about hiking the INT is the incredible scenery you’ll encounter along the way. Some of the most notable landmarks on the trail include the Sea of Galilee, the Ramon Crater, and the Masada fortress. The trail also offers plenty of opportunities for cultural experiences, such as visiting Bedouin villages and learning about the history of the land. Additionally, hikers on the INT may encounter a range of wildlife, from ibex to desert foxes.

Accommodations and Logistics

There are a range of accommodation options along the INT, from camping to guesthouses to luxury hotels. Some sections of the trail require hikers to camp, while others have more established accommodation options. It’s important to plan your accommodation in advance, as options can be limited in some areas.

Finding food and water on the trail can also be challenging, so hikers should plan to bring enough supplies with them. Finally, transportation can be an issue, as the trail is not always easily accessible by public transport. Some hikers choose to hire a car or arrange for a shuttle service to transport them to and from the trail.

Hiking the Israel National Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers a unique and immersive way to experience the beauty and diversity of Israel. While the hike is challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding, offering hikers a chance to connect with nature and experience the rich history and culture of the land. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for an adventure, the INT is an experience you won’t soon forget. So why not lace up your hiking boots and set out on the trail today?


Religious Pilgrimage in Israel: A Spiritual Journey

Religious pilgrimage has been a significant practice for people of various faiths for thousands of years, offering a unique opportunity for spiritual connection, reflection, and growth. For many believers, going on a pilgrimage to a sacred location is considered an essential aspect of their faith journey, allowing them to deepen their connection to their religion and to the historical and cultural context of their beliefs.


Among the numerous destinations that attract religious pilgrims from around the world, Israel stands out as one of the most significant, with a rich history and culture that is intertwined with the birth and development of three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Pilgrims who visit Israel can experience the unique spiritual energy of this land, explore the roots of their faith, and connect with others who share their beliefs. As such, Israel is a destination that holds profound significance for millions of religious pilgrims, making it a place of deep spiritual importance and a must-visit location for those seeking to deepen their faith journey.

One of the most significant pilgrimage sites in Israel is the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It is considered the holiest site in Judaism and is visited by thousands of Jewish pilgrims each year. The Western Wall is believed to be the only remaining part of the Second Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. According to Jewish tradition, pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the three major festivals – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot – is required of Jewish men.


For Christians, the most important pilgrimage site in Israel is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection and is visited by millions of Christians every year. Other significant pilgrimage sites for Christians include the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus is said to have performed miracles, and the Mount of Beatitudes, where he gave the Sermon on the Mount. Muslims also consider Jerusalem as an important pilgrimage site, as it is home to the Dome of the Rock, which is located on the Temple Mount and is considered the third holiest site in Islam.


With its rich history and culture, it’s no wonder that Israel is such a significant destination for religious pilgrims. To fully understand the significance of religious pilgrimage in Israel, it’s important to explore the significance of the practice.

Introductory Tour of the Holy Land, Jurusalem, Israel


The significance of religious pilgrimage in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Religious pilgrimage has been a tradition for millennia, with believers from different faiths traveling to sacred sites around the world to connect with their spirituality, deepen their understanding of their faith, and seek divine inspiration. The three major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all consider Israel as an important destination for religious pilgrimage. This is due to the land’s significance as the birthplace and historical center of their respective faiths, where important events in their religious narratives took place.


For Jews, pilgrimage to Israel is a fundamental part of their religious practice. The land is home to numerous sacred sites, with Jerusalem being the most significant. The Western Wall, a remnant of the Second Temple, is considered the holiest site in Judaism, and Jews from around the world travel to Jerusalem to pray and connect with their faith. The three major Jewish festivals, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot, also require Jewish men to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, highlighting the importance of the city in Jewish religious practice.


For Christians, Israel is a significant destination for religious pilgrimage as it is the birthplace of Jesus Christ and the location of many of the events described in the New Testament. Visiting the Holy Land allows Christians to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, to witness the locations of his birth, baptism, ministry, death, and resurrection. Some of the most significant pilgrimage sites for Christians include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended to heaven.


For Muslims, Israel is significant as it is home to the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which are both located in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is believed to be the site where Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, and Al-Aqsa Mosque is where he led prayers during his miraculous night journey. Jerusalem is also believed to be the place where the Prophet Ibrahim built the Kaaba, which is the most sacred site in Islam, located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Holy Land Touring | Tour Israel with Balsam Tours

Popular pilgrimage sites in Israel

The most popular pilgrimage sites in Israel include the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock. The Western Wall is a place of prayer and reflection for Jews from all over the world. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and is a major destination for Christians. The Dome of the Rock is significant for Muslims and is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture.


The experience of going on a pilgrimage to Israel

Going on a religious pilgrimage to Israel can be a life-changing experience. The physical journey can be challenging, but the spiritual rewards are significant. Religious pilgrims can deepen their connection to their faith and to the history and culture of the region. Advice for those considering going on a pilgrimage to Israel includes planning ahead, staying safe, and being respectful of the customs and traditions of the region.


The future of religious pilgrimage in Israel

Religious pilgrims in Israel face a number of challenges, including political conflict. However, it remains an important practice for believers around the world, and Israel will continue to be a significant destination for religious pilgrims in the future.


Religious pilgrimage to Israel is a unique and transformative experience that connects believers to their faith and to the history and culture of the region. Whether it’s to connect with the history and tradition of Judaism, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and connect with the early Christian church, or to visit the holy sites of Islam, religious pilgrimage to Israel is an opportunity to deepen one’s spiritual connection and to experience the unique culture and history of this remarkable land.


Exploring Israel’s Food Scene: A Gastronomic Tour

Israel is a country rich in culture, history, and most importantly, food. With its unique blend of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Ashkenazi cuisine, the food scene in Israel is truly one-of-a-kind. From street food stalls to gourmet restaurants, there’s something for every food lover in this vibrant country.

In this article, we’ll embark on a gastronomic tour of Israel, we’ll explore its diverse food culture and the dishes that define it. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or simply have a passion for good food, this article is for you. So, grab a fork and join us as we delve into the delicious world of Israeli cuisine.

A Quick History of the Israeli Cuisine

Israeli cuisine is a melting pot of flavors, reflecting the country’s diverse cultural and historical heritage. The cuisine has been shaped by the influx of Jewish immigrants from all over the world, as well as by the neighboring countries of the Middle East. In the early years of the state of Israel, the cuisine was simple and based on the traditional foods of the various immigrant groups. Over time, however, it has evolved into a unique and diverse cuisine, combining the flavors of the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and beyond.

One of the key influences on Israeli cuisine is the culinary traditions of the Sephardic Jews, who came to Israel from Spain, Portugal, and North Africa. These immigrants brought with them the flavors of the Mediterranean, including olive oil, lemons, and spices such as cumin and paprika. They also introduced dishes such as couscous and stews made with meats, vegetables, and legumes.

Another major influence on Israeli cuisine is the cuisine of the Ashkenazi Jews, who arrived in Israel from Eastern Europe. These immigrants brought with them traditional dishes such as gefilte fish, latkes, and kugel, which have since become integral to Israeli cuisine.

In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of modern Israeli cuisine. Many chefs and restaurants have been focusing on showcasing the best of the country’s ingredients and flavors. From fresh herbs and spices to locally grown fruits and vegetables, the food scene in Israel is thriving, and is sure to delight even the most discerning foodie.

What Types of Food to Expect in Israel

If you’re a food lover, you’re in for a treat when visiting Israel! Whether you’re in the mood for something savory, sweet, or spicy, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your cravings.


Falafel is a staple of Israeli cuisine and is made from ground chickpeas or fava beans that are shaped into small balls and fried to crispy perfection. This dish is typically served in a pita bread with vegetables and a variety of sauces, such as tahini or hot sauce. Falafel is a popular street food in Israel and is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.


Shawarma is another popular street food in Israel and is made from marinated meat (typically chicken or beef) that is slowly roasted on a spit and then sliced thin. The meat is usually served in a pita bread with vegetables and sauces, similar to falafel. Shawarma is a flavorful and filling dish that is sure to satisfy your hunger.


Hummus is a creamy dip made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. It is a staple of Israeli cuisine and is often served as a side dish with pita bread or as a dip for vegetables. Hummus is a healthy and delicious dish that is enjoyed by people all over the world.


Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds and is used in a variety of dishes in Israeli cuisine. It is a key ingredient in hummus and is also used as a sauce for falafel and shawarma. Tahini is rich and nutty in flavor and adds depth and complexity to dishes.

Notable Mentions

In addition to falafel, shawarma, hummus, and tahini, there are many other popular dishes in Israeli cuisine. Some examples include shakshuka (a dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce), kebabs (grilled meat skewers), and mezze (a variety of small dishes served as appetizers).

What about freshness?

A comment we hear often is – “Israeli food tastes different in the US” This has much to do with the type of ingredients used for the food. Fresh ingredients, such as herbs and spices, are an integral part of Israeli cuisine. From parsley and mint to cumin and paprika, the use of these ingredients adds flavor and depth to dishes. In Israel, it is common to use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, which are often grown in the country’s fertile farmland. Whether you’re trying falafel or shawarma, the use of fresh ingredients is sure to elevate your dining experience.

Israeli Food Markets and Street Food

The Bustling Food Markets

Food markets in Israel are a feast for the senses and a must-visit for any food lover. From the bustling Carmel Market in Tel Aviv to the historic Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, these markets offer a glimpse into the vibrant food culture of the country. You’ll find a wide range of fresh ingredients, from exotic spices to locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as street food stalls serving up delicious dishes to eat on the go.

Street Food and Food Stalls – The Staple of Israeli Cuisine

Street food and food stalls are a staple of Israeli cuisine and can be found all over the country. From falafel and shawarma to shakshuka and kebabs, these dishes are quick, tasty, and affordable. Street food is a great way to try a variety of dishes and experience the flavors of Israeli cuisine.

Recommendations for the Newcomers

If you’re looking to try street food in Israel, there are a few places you won’t want to miss. The Carmel Market and Mahane Yehuda Market in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, respectively, are both excellent places to start. You can also try street food at food stalls in open-air markets and food courts, or at street food festivals, which are held regularly throughout the country. Regardless of where you try it, street food in Israel is sure to be a delicious and memorable experience.

Fine Dining and Gourmet Restaurants in Israel

Maybe street food and food stalls are not for you, or you may not feel comfortable when you first arrive in the country. If that’s the case, you’ll want to check out some of the fine dining and gourmet restaurants. The fine dining scene in Israel is thriving, with many talented chefs and gourmet restaurants showcasing the best of the country’s ingredients and flavors. From farm-to-table dining experiences to modern takes on traditional dishes, the dining options in Israel are diverse and exciting.

There are many gourmet restaurants in Israel that showcase the unique and diverse flavors of the country’s cuisine. These restaurants are led by talented chefs who are dedicated to creating innovative dishes that highlight the best of Israeli ingredients. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, succulent meats, or seasonal vegetables, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your cravings at one of these gourmet restaurants.

Our Recommendations for the best fine dining experiences in Israel

If you’re looking for the best fine dining experiences in Israel, here are a few recommendations to consider. In Tel Aviv, Shila and Taizu are both excellent options.

Aria: Indulge in contemporary cuisine at this fine dining restaurant helmed by renowned Chef Guy Gamzo. –

HaSalon: Celebrity chef Eyal Shani puts his signature spin on contemporary Israeli cuisine at this must-visit restaurant. –

Messa: Immerse yourself in a New York-style dining experience at this impressive restaurant, crafted by renowned Chef Aviv Moshe. 

OCD: Enjoy a meticulously crafted dinner at OCD, where flavors pop and the playfulness of the menu entices your taste buds. Dine with others in a communal seating area for a unique experience. 

Topolopompo: From the fiery theme to the large and creative space, everything at this restaurant is inspired by heat and flavor. 

Wrapping up our Culinary Journey

As a whole, Israel is a food lover’s paradise, offering a diverse and delicious food scene that is sure to delight even the most discerning palate. From street food stalls to gourmet restaurants, the country is brimming with flavor and diversity. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional dishes or modern cuisine, there’s something for everyone in the vibrant food culture of Israel.

We encourage you to explore the bustling food markets, like Carmel Market and Mahane Yehuda Market, and try street food for a true taste of the country’s cuisine. Then, in the evening, enjoy a more upscale dining experience by visiting one of the many gourmet restaurants in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new dishes. If you’re concerned about health, we want to remind you that Israel has one of the best health care systems in the world, ranking 6th v/s the US at 23rd –  You’re not going to get sick from the mistreatment of food. Try it all. From shawarma to shakshuka, there are many delicious dishes to discover. By exploring the food culture in Israel, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s rich heritage and diverse culinary traditions. So go ahead, be adventurous, and savor the flavors of Israel!


Israel’s Hidden Gems: A Guide to Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

Israel is a popular tourist destination known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. From the ancient city of Jerusalem to the modern metropolis of Tel Aviv, Israel offers a wide range of attractions that draw visitors from around the world. However, despite its popularity, there are still many hidden gems and lesser-known destinations in Israel that are worth exploring for a unique and authentic travel experience. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of Israel’s best-kept secrets, from the shores of the Dead Sea to the rugged wilderness of the Negev Desert.

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is one of the world’s most famous natural wonders, known for its healing properties and unique landscape. However, many of the resorts and spas that line the shores of the Dead Sea can be crowded and touristy. To truly experience the magic of the Dead Sea, consider exploring some of the less-crowded spots along the shore. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, for example, is a stunning oasis in the middle of the desert that offers hiking trails, waterfalls, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Another hidden gem is the Dead Sea Panorama, a lookout point that provides breathtaking views of the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountains.

What’s special about the Dead Sea?

  • The Dead Sea is a saltwater lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west.
  • It is the lowest point on the Earth’s surface, at 430 meters below sea level.
  • The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, with a salt concentration of about 34%. This high salt concentration makes it difficult for most organisms to survive in the water.
  • Due to its unique properties, the Dead Sea is a popular destination for people seeking relief from skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
  • The water and mud from the Dead Sea are used in a variety of cosmetic and therapeutic products, and the region around the Dead Sea has a rich history, with several ancient civilizations leaving their mark on the area.

The Golan Heights

The Golan Heights is a volcanic plateau in northern Israel that offers stunning views, historical significance, and a range of outdoor activities. The Golan Heights has played a strategic role in Israeli history and has been the site of several conflicts. Today, it is a peaceful and scenic area that offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and wine tasting. The Golan Heights Winery, for example, is one of Israel’s most renowned wineries and offers guided tours and tastings. The Golan Trail, a 125-kilometer trail that winds through the Golan Heights, is another popular attraction for outdoor enthusiasts.

What’s special about the Golan Heights?

  • Nimrod Fortress is a medieval castle located in the northern Golan Heights, near the border with Lebanon and Syria.
  • The fortress was built in the 13th century by the Ayyubid ruler Salah ad-Din, also known as Saladin, to protect against Crusader invasions.
  • It is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval castles in the Middle East, with impressive walls, towers, and fortifications that offer stunning views of the surrounding area.
  • The fortress changed hands several times over the centuries, with various rulers and armies using it for their own purposes.
  • Today, Nimrod Fortress is a popular tourist destination, with visitors able to explore the castle and its many rooms, corridors, and underground passages.

Yelloy flowers near sea of Galilee in sunny spring day. Beautiful Israel nature.

The Galilee

The Galilee region in northern Israel is a rural and scenic area that offers a unique blend of religious and cultural attractions. From historic churches to charming villages, the Galilee is a hidden gem that offers a glimpse into Israel’s diverse and complex culture. Some of the highlights of the Galilee include the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, a church built on the site where Jesus is said to have fed the multitudes, and the ancient city of Tzippori, a well-preserved Roman city with stunning mosaics. For a taste of local flavor, be sure to visit one of the region’s bustling markets, such as the Nazareth Market or the Akko Market.

What’s special about The Galilee?

  • The Galilee is a region in northern Israel known for its beautiful landscapes, including lush green hills, valleys, forests, and bodies of water.
  • It is a historical and religiously significant region, with many sites mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, including the cities of Nazareth and Capernaum.
  • The Galilee is also known for its diverse population, including Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze communities, which have all left their mark on the region’s culture and cuisine.
  • The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret, is the largest freshwater lake in Israel and an important source of drinking water for the country. It is also a popular destination for fishing, boating, and water sports.
  • The Galilee is home to many natural attractions, including national parks, nature reserves, and hiking trails, such as the popular Israel National Trail, which runs through the region.

The Negev Desert

The Negev Desert is a vast and rugged landscape in southern Israel that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. The Negev is home to several nature reserves and parks, including the Ramon Crater (Pictured above) and the Ein Avdat National Park, that offer opportunities for hiking, stargazing, and wildlife viewing. For a taste of traditional Bedouin culture, consider staying at one of the many Bedouin hospitality camps in the Negev. These camps offer a chance to experience the traditional Bedouin way of life, including camel treks, authentic meals, and storytelling around the campfire.

What’s special about The Negev Desert?

  • The Negev Desert is a large desert region in southern Israel, covering over 60% of the country’s land area.
  • It is a desert of extremes, with temperatures that can reach over 40°C (104°F) in the summer and drop below freezing in the winter.
  • The Negev is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including several species that are unique to the region, such as the Negev tortoise and the acacia tree.
  • The desert is also home to several Bedouin communities, who have lived in the region for centuries and have adapted to the harsh conditions through their nomadic way of life.
  • The Negev is rich in natural resources, including minerals such as phosphates, which are mined in the region. It is also home to several research institutions, including the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, which specializes in desert research and innovation.

Israel offers a wealth of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations that are worth exploring for a unique and authentic travel experience. Whether you are interested in history, culture, or outdoor activities, there is something for everyone in Israel’s lesser-known destinations. So why not step off the beaten path and discover the beauty that Israel has to offer!?