Explore the best of both cities in Israel – Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
Israel is popular with many young travellers, being a hub for Gay Pride every year as well as having a bustling nightlife and beach city vibe, and will even host Eurovision in 2019.
The national carrier El Al has recently launched direct flights to Israel from Manchester, while easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways fly directly to Tel Aviv from London.
Many may no realise, however, that the capital city Jerusalem is less than an hour from Tel Aviv, lending itself to an easy day visit.
A long weekend could easily make a two city break to appease the whole family, with the modern city to the ancient walls.
Tel Aviv is certainly a young person’s city, with holes in the wall serving street food and drinks late into the night. While not cheap, there are a number of ‘bracelet’ bars, which is when a package can be bought, often for the price of two drinks, which allows unlimited alcohol all night. Their happy hour also differs to the UK: while it is often between 6pm and 8pm, once purchased, half-price drinks can be enjoyed all night.
Bars such as Sputnik, an outdoor steampunk-meets-jungle vibe, and Aria are some of the more upmarket joints, while Rutina is one for the cheap deals and Beer Bazaar offers a range of beers on the corner of the street.
While the nightlife is certainly what the city prides itself on, it doesn’t hide the history of the city. There was not much to it up until 1909.
With the 66 families based in Jaffa, the south of the city, over the next few years, 4,000 Bauhaus architecture buildings were assembled, similarly to the architecture in Berlin and Rio de Janerio.
With ‘Tel’ meaning old, this represents the ancient Roman, Greek and Turkish heritage, while ‘Aviv’ means the time it was established which was in the spring, representing new life.
This amalgamation of new and old best represents the city, which is best explored along the seafront.
Stay at the newly opened The Lighthouse hotel (prices from £124 per night) or Hotel Saul (prices from £102 per night) to be in the centre of the city.
Explore the seafront, which is regulated to ensure all prices are the same at each join, with the LA startup Bird, electric scooters that locals zip past on.
Whizz along the promenade down to Jaffa, where the markets and cafes are best explored for the best falafel wraps or local homewares.
However, spot the crowd at Hakosem where falafel pittas and pomegranate lemonade are worth the wait, and the cost.
Tel Aviv enjoys a beach bars, modern restaurants and a great coffee scene for young travellers
Happy hours and ‘bracelet’ bars in Tel Aviv make the nightlife popular with drinkers
The young vibe of Tel Aviv sees open coffee shops and bars late into the night
When the busy city becomes too much, it is time to head out to Jerusalem. While the crowds are no less in number, the history of the ancient city is one to be explored.
Less than an hour by road and a simple route, walking through any of the gates of the ancient walls is taking a step back in time.
The Western Wall is where many go to pray, and people write their notes to put into the wall, although no photographs or pens are allowed near this area during Shabbat, the day of rest for Jewish people.
Even for the strictest of atheists, it can be hard not to get swept up in the old city and all that it represents.
Just outside of the walls, however, is the Holocaust Museum. Tastefully done, the free museum conveys the depths of the Jewish genocide, exploring the years before and how it came to create the sentiment that spread through WWII, as well as the aftermath.
The Western Wall in Jerusalem is considered one of the holiest places to pray
The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem explores the history and the aftermath of World War II
Just an hour from Tel Aviv is Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel
A visit to Israel is also not without a visit to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth.
The Dead Sea, along the Israel-Jordan border, is somewhat hard to see off-the-beaten-track, with most points only pay-to-enter.
However, once down there, using the clay mud and floating in the water is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Tourists are warned against wearing contact lenses or having open wounds due to the high salt content in the water.
Enjoying the unusual sensation before leaving to soft skin is a trip all of the family will enjoy, however.
By experiencing the two cities, both offering something of the Israeli history as well as a combination of beach-city and historical sites means it can please even the fussiest of travellers.