Check out the New Tourist Israel Site

Friday, 31 July 2009

Tourist Israel and the Tourist Israel blog now have a new home. We've integrated the blog into our new site at www.touristisrael.com which has been designed with a greater emphasis on new stories, pictures, and user interraction in response to feedback we have received.

The new site is now live, but isnt totally finished - we've got loads of new features we'll be adding over the coming weeks.

So please update your subscription links by clicking on the RSS or Email icons below. Or if you arent subscribed yet, subscribe now to be kept up to date with the latest articles.

10 Steps to Plan your Successful Israel Vacation

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Whilst it might not be big geographically, Israel has a huge array of attractions and places to visit. With this is in mind, many travellers are quite daunted by the prospect of travelling to Israel, and are unsure of where to start when creating an itinerary. Here are our top ten tips to creating the perfect Israeli vacation.

Step 1 - When to Go

Israel has a mild climate all year round meaning there really isnt a time to avoid visiting Israel. The summer months are, however, generally very hot, with average temperatures over 30 degrees celsius, whilst the winter months can be unpredictable with storms often lasting a few days at a time. Having said this, the winter months can also see some very pleasant spring-like weather. The best months for travelling to Israel are, in our opinion, May and October as the weather is most temperate and comfortable, although there are really no no-go months. Read more about the weather in Israel, here.

Step 2 - How Long

Often the length of a trip to Israel is dictated by work vacations or school breaks, meaning there is only a limited time window. It is safe to say, however, that whether you have one week, or one month, you wont come anywhere near to seeing everything this country has to show. Ten days to two weeks are probably the best length of time to get a good feel for Israel, allowing you to tour around and spend a few days in the major tourist destinations of Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Dead Sea, and Tel Aviv.

Step 3 - Getting to Israel

Most tourists arrive in Israel by plane. Israel's main airport is Ben Gurion Airport and airlines fly here from around the world. From the USA and Canada, direct flights come from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Toronto, although many travellers opt to travel via Europe as this can not only work out cheaper, but breaks up the length of the journey. From Europe, there are flights from most major cities, and increasingly, fares are being offered by low-cost airlines.

Step 4 - Getting Around

So you know when you're in Israel, but how you get around, dictates where you stay and what you'll do. Some travellers decide to base themselves somewhere, and then take day trips or overnight trips, whilst others opt to tour around, staying a few nights in a number of places. The easiest way to get around in Israel is by rental car. With most major international car hire firms having branches here, it is a cost effective and easy way to travel around. If you are unable to drive, then the Israeli train network is very comfortable, although not too extensive, although the bus network is very extensive, covering most of the country. A word of warning though, public transport is very limited between sundown on Friday and Saturday night due to the Sabbath.

Step 5 - Splitting the Trip

Knowing how you will get around will now allow you to plan how you wish to split up your trip to Israel. It really does depend on how much time you have, as to how long to spend somewhere. In 2 weeks, we would suggest that you spend 5 nights in Jerusalem, 2 at the Dead Sea, 3 in Tel Aviv, and 4 in the Galilee region. Eilat takes the best part of a day to travel to from most of the country, and therefore in 2 weeks, there isnt really time to get here, unless you really want to!

Step 6 - Where to Stay

Obviously where you can stay depends largely on your budget. Hotels in Israel vary from hostels and campsites, right up to high-end boutiques and even converted mansions. Hotels in Jerusalem range from a large number of hotels geared up to tourists ranging from some prestigious, historic properties, to some cheaper, more generic alternatives. Many Hotels in Tel Aviv, have, in recent years become boutique hotels, whilst there are also some great beach front properties and hostels. Spa-style hotels dominate at the Dead Sea, where there are a lot of spa-style resort hotels, as well as some great quality hostels. Hotels in the Galilee range from large resort hotels, to the very popular small bed and breakfasts called Zimmers which can be very luxuirous, quaint and relaxing!

Step 7 - What to Do

There will probably be some places you've known you want to go to for some time. There will also be places such as the Western Wall and Yad Vashem Museum that most tourists to Israel take time to visit. There will then be places that you havent even heard of yet, that you'll want go to! The best thing to do is to look with an open mind in the area you are staying for things which appeal to you rather than to look for certain types of attraction. There are some seriously unique places to go in Israel, and its so easy to overlook them!

Step 8 - Packing

The trips fast approaching and you're now wondering what clothes to take to Israel with you! From the perspective of being respectful, take some clothes with long sleeves and trousers as these are required in certain places. In most of the country, however, you can wear anything (and we mean anything) and noone will raise an eyebrow. Look at the weather for that time of the year, and pack accordingly. We'd always advise, even in summer that you bring some warmer clothes as the evenings can get quite cool once the sun has set, especially in the desert.

Step 9 - Other Practicalities

Will my kids like the food in Israel? Can I get a wi-fi connection? Will I be able to call home?... Loads of questions will no doubt enter your mind as the trip approaches. Yes is the answer to all three of the above questions. Remember, Israel is a very westernised country, and all the services you expect and take for granted at home, will be available! So sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

Step 10 - Enjoy Yourself

You've arrived, so enjoy it. Relax and stay safe. Remember that Israelis are really hospitable people, and will be more than willing to help you if you have any questions. Have a great time, and dont forget to send us your photos when you get home!

be cool in israel
www.touristisrael.com

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Life's a beach...in Israel

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

With so much coastline, Israel is not short of beaches. Here are some of our picks along the Mediterranean and Sea of Galilee coastlines.

Caesarea

Located about half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa, Caesarea has two of Israel's best beaches, the Harbor Beach, and Aquaduct Beach.

One of Israel's most unique beaches is at the Caesarea Harbor. This archaelogical site is one of the world's oldest ports, and inside the cove lies a quaint and well maintained beach - the Harbor Beach. Although an entry fee of 25 NIS fo adult/20 NIS for child is required, this beach has great facilities, including a lifeguard, changing rooms, and an all important bar/cafe. Combine this with a visit to Caesarea's ancient ruins, for an even more special day.

The Aquaduct Beach might not be in Caesarea's National Park, but has a stunning location of its own. Located in front of an ancient Aquaduct, the beach is breathtaking although facilites are not as good.

Read more about Caesarea here.

Herzliya

An upscale neighborhood just 20 minutes north of downtown Tel Aviv, Herzliya seems worlds away, and its beaches are extremely popular. Herzliya Beach is a long clean, lifeguarded stretch of beach which runs from the Marina in the South to the area of Nof Yam in the North. The beach gets incredibly crowded in the summer, especially at weekends, however.

Read more about Herzliya here.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv's 14 mile long stretch of coastline has so many beaches, that we've dedicated a whole page to them here.

Hilton Beach is located in the north of the city, and is one of the city's youngest, trendiest beach, and unofficially the city's gay beach. Gordon-Frishman beach is right in the center of the city and is packed in the summer as people chill out from their hectic days. The Banana Beach is great for a relaxing evening drink, whilst the Dolphinarium Beach is renowned for its Friday music festivals! And maybe, the most laid back beach in the city, Alma Beach is quieter because it has no lifeguard.

Sea of Galilee

There are lots of open access points to the beaches surrounding the Sea of Galilee, although these are unserviced. If you dont require facilities, the best beach is Tsemach Beach on the eastern shore, where you can also rent basic facilities for a small fee.

Where do Tourists Really Like to go?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Forget London and Paris, two of the world's tourist magnets, each attracting tens of millions of tourists each year, it seems that Jerusalem is a more favored destination!

A survey by Travel + Leisure magazine has ranked the 'City of Gold' the 17th best tourist destination in the world, making it more popular than London, Paris, and Barcelona.

And why would be surprised...

Jerusalem is really a unique city - nowhere else holds such importance to so many people being holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The ancient sites lie next to modern attractions, and a Western infrastructure supports it all. Plus, the rest of Israel is nearby, with Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea well under an hour away. Read more about travelling in Jerusalem here.

Despite Jerusalem's popularity, Tel Aviv did not make the top 20 list although it did rank seventh among cities in the Middle East and Africa. That really isnt bad

Now all we need is some more tourists to enjoy it and make us number one next year!

be cool in israel
www.touristisrael.com

New 7 Wonders of the World - Dead Sea

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Dead Sea is now the only remaining Israeli contender in the competition to find the new 7 Wonders of the World among the 77 remaining worldwide contenders.

Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov announced an international campaign for the Dead Sea to win the competition, by emphasizing the uniqueness of this natural wonder.

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, some
420 meters below sea level. Being nominated as a wonder would probably be more beneficial to this wonder than many others. Firstly, it is shrinking at an alarming rate of meters every year, and secondly, it is shared between the Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians meaning saving it is a coexistence priority for the three peoples.

Gura Berger, spokesman for the Megillot Dead Sea Regional Council, said that "part of the idea behind listing the Dead Sea for this competition was to raise international public awareness about this bad situation. I believe that winning is to be able to tell people that the Dead Sea is vanishing at a rate of more than a meter a year."

Berger said the municipality had organized a rock festival dedicated to helping the Dead Sea and "calling people to vote," as well as the "Tour of the Dead Sea" campaign and many other events.

"Winning in such a competition means a lot [not only] in terms of tourism, but also about caring for the environment," said Berger. "If we win, it means that we care where we live… and this is the real victory."

According to Amnon Lieberman, media adviser to the tourism minister, there is "no doubt [the nomination] will increase tourism and attract public attention from all over the world. This competition will allow us [also] to emphasize why the Dead Sea is so unique."

Asked whether he was optimistic about the final nomination of the Dead Sea, Lieberman said, "This candidacy is still lasting after a year. It has already been through two phases, and I hope that we will get to the final phase."

The voting for the final round will begin July 22 at www.new7wonders.com, and is expected to continue into 2011. Please vote and help to save this true wonder of the world.

For more see the full article at JPost or visit our Dead Sea Travel Guide.

be cool in israel
www.touristisrael.com

What's happening in Israel this July

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Sorry for the belated release of our monthly guide to the coolest things happening in Israel

July 9 - Jerusalem International Film Festival

July 11 - Mayumana, the Israeli act who are likened to Stomp launch their new show, Momentum

July 13 - The Maccabiah Games - the Jewish Olympics kicks off across the country

July 19- Suzanne Vega comes to perform in Tel Aviv

July 21 - The Pet Shop Boys perform in Tel Aviv

Have a good month

be cool in israel
www.touristisrael.com

Easyjet to Start Flights to Tel Aviv (and other flight news)

News just in that leading British low cost airline Easyjet will launch six times weekly flights from London Luton Airport to Tel Aviv from this November. We covered speculation about Easyjet starting flights to Israel earlier in the year and it is great to hear that they have come true!

Flights will start on November 2, with fares starting at £71.98 one way.

More news when we get it here!

Also...

Last week, US Airways launched flights from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv opening up an important new route to the USA

And, yesterday, Germany's second largest airline, Air Berlin launched twice weekly flights from Berlin to Tel Aviv

We hope to have more exciting news on new ways to get to Israel soon

be cool in israel
www.touristisrael.com

Miami and Ibiza, Tel Aviv and Netanya

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Tel Aviv has long been referred to as a mini Miami because of its architecture, setting, and relaxed culture. Now, the city of Netanya, about 30 miles north, wants to be the Ibiza of the Middle East. The city, a holiday resort currently popular with British families, and home to a large ex-patriate British, Russian, and French population is setting about redefining itself.

Ibiza, the Spanish island renowned for its nightlife and party lifestyle is being used as a model for rebranding the city.

As Ynet Reports:

Netanya has a dream – to look as much as possible like Las Vegas. To this end, the city's Council Member for Cultural Affairs Zuzi Zilberberg is currently studying up on the branding steps taken by Spanish island Ibiza in a bid to make turn Netanya into the Ibiza of the Middle East that will attract young people from around the world.

"In my opinion, the beaches in Netanya are no less spectacular than the ones in Ibiza," said Zilberberg this week. "I think that our beach fronts are an inextricable part of our culture. Let's see what we can do to attract the youth masses to our beaches, just as Ibiza did."

Zilberberg believes that there is great tourist potential in Netanya's beaches, and, according to her, will take all measures necessary to attract Spanish Christian pilgrims to the city. "Netanya is on the way to the holy sites in the north," said Zilberberg, "and I suggest they come to Netanya to stay here for at least a night to enjoy the cultural bounty Netanya has to offer."

Zilberberg, a Spanish speaker, said that Spaniards will soon be able to enjoy Spanish-language plays in the city as a result of an initiative she is currently promoting that will establish a Spanish theatre group that will perform in Israel and abroad.

Some of her Spanish dreams came true this week when Zilberberg hosted 21 Spanish mayors in Netanya on Monday for a tour run by ELNET, a Belgian-based, pro-Israel organization founded with the objective of influencing European public officials on EU-Israeli relations.
be cool in israel
www.touristisrael.com