This page highlights my travel to Israel, March 2017. It includes key activities from visits to Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea, as well as suggestions for things I enjoyed eating.
Key destinations are highlighted and saved in the Google map. And I hope my list below helps you narrow the focus of your travel. The Top of the List section highlights my favorite activities, and Bottom of the List are things to consider skipping.
The section about What To Eat highlights food to try while visiting Israel. Most of the food is largely influenced by and can be found in other parts of the Middle East, but those listed were my favorites.
Finally, you can find related travel blog entries detailing information about each site at the bottom of the page. Be sure to check those out for photos and more detail.
top of the list
Plan a trip to Masada at sunrise. While you are there, don't pass by the water cisterns (they are marked on maps but be sure to go inside).
Floating the Dead Sea is a must! Don't just go to see it, float in it. Don’t forget your swimsuit.
Old City Jerusalem is amazing and full of history. It is a worthwhile destination.
Visit and tour the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa. They are pristine and beautiful. Haifa is a quick day trip from Tel Aviv by train.
Bottom of the List
In Tel Aviv, visit the Sorona Market but do not eat there. It was the most disappointing meal on my trip. Most restaurants in the market are conceptual “chains.” I also suggest skipping Carmel Market in Tel Aviv as the market consists of massed-produced items. But if you head that direction don't miss the artisan market next door, Nachlat Binyamin. It is open on Tuesdays and Fridays only.
What to Eat
Halva. a sweet confection formed from crushed sesame seeds blended with sugar, flavor extracts and nuts with a slight crunchy texture.
Bulgarian Feta. A salty, firm cheese similar to Greek feta but with a creamy texture. Sprinkle it with olive oil and Za'atar (see description below). Most Israeli breakfast spreads include this cheese in the assortment of cheeses.
Labneh. A soft cheese similar to the texture of Greek yogurt, yet creamier, saltier, and thicker. treat it similar to Bulgarian feta and sprinkle it with Za'atar or pour over date syrup. (I kind of have a thing with cheese.)
Za'atar. A green colored herb mix sprinkled with salt and sesame seeds
Hummus. In Israel, hummus is a rich 50/50 blend of tahini and chickpea puree enhanced with lemon juice and salt, served as crater with a pool of olive oil, chickpeas, and spices.
Chocolate krantz cake. A yeasted cake swirled with chocolate. Need I say more?
Shawarma. This is sliced meat is shaved from a rotating open spit and served on warm pillowed-flatbread, topped with cabbage salad, tahini and pickles. Yes, I said pickles. No, that's not how it is served in the United States. My best shawarma experience in Israel was sliced turkey at a hole-in-the-wall in Tel Aviv. If you can find turkey, get it.
Falafel. Fried chickpea balls served in soft pillowy pockets of pita filled with hummus, tahini, chile sauce, pickles, and thinly-sliced cabbage salad. My favorite falafel was in Haifa.