There are hundreds of archaeological sites to visit in Israel dating from almost every major historical empire. Israel is covered in history and with these, and so many other things to do in Israel choice can make it hard for tourists in Israel to decide which archaeological sites to visit. This list includes the five archaeological sites you should most consider including in your trip to Israel.
Old City of Jerusalem
The Old City of Jerusalem is undoubtedly one of the most amazing places in the world. It is a walled city crammed full of history and religion. The walls of the Old City were rebuilt in the 16th century by Ottoman Empire Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and within the Old City are narrow streets lined with buildings brimming with history. The Western Wall is the holiest place in the world for Jews and is the last remaining wall of the Temple, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque sit above it, whilst the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located just around the corner. The Old City also has a number of archaeological museums, including the Tower of David Museum and Davidson Center. Regardless of whether you are interested in archaeology, the Old City of Jerusalem is somewhere you have to visit in Israel.
The port city of Caesarea was built by King Herod the Great. A deep sea port, the city flourished throughout Herod’s rule over the land, hosting major cultural and sporting events for which people traveled great distances. After Herod’s rule, Caesarea continued to flourish, particularly during the Byzantine period when the city was a major commercial hub. Over time, Caesarea fell into ruin and disrepair, and it has only been in the past fifty or so years, that the site has been excavated to create one of the best archaeological sites to visit in Israel, with a great visitor center, and great restaurants, cafes, and galleries, as well as the amazing amphitheater which hosts concerts throughout the summer. Travel & Leisure named Caesarea the best tourist spot in the Middle East in 2020. The archaeological sites definitely had something to do with this!
Akko, on the Mediterranean coast in the north of Israel, is an amazing city, with a rich history which includes the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs, and Ottomans. The Old City of Akko, with its pretty harbor is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (as are Masada and the Old City of Jerusalem), and is still relatively earlier in its excavation and conservation than the other sites listed here, making it interesting in a different way. Having said this, there are great visitor attractions across the Old City, and Akko is becoming an increasingly popular archaeological site to visit in Israel.
Majestically situated next in the Negev Desert, aside the Dead Sea, Masada is a symbol of Jewish heroism and one of the iconic sites of Israel. The climb to Masada, up the snake path, has consistently been an iconic activity, for Israelis and visitors alike, although a newer cable car makes the site accessible for everyone. Once at the top, visitors can tour the ancient fortifications and palaces, and stare in awe across the desert and Dead Sea that stand below.
Like the Old City of Jerusalem and Akko, Jaffa is still inhabited today. The port city out of which the modern metropolis that is Tel Aviv grew, Jaffa is thought to be one of the oldest ports in the world, known to have been used since at least the Bronze Age. Magnificently restored and conserved, the narrow, cool alleyways of the Old City and harbor of the port are fascinating to visit, and the new Old Jaffa visitors center helps to tell the story of Jaffa to visitors.