Israel is a small country, but it’s packed with culture, history, amazing landscapes, and plenty of hidden gems. While most people know famous sites like Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, Israel’s hidden gems such as Mea Shearim or the Negev Desert often go overlooked.
From breathtaking beaches to ancient ruins and unique attractions, Israel has something for everyone. Here are just a few of the lesser-known wonders this fascinating country offers. Keep reading to learn how to visit 7 of Israel’s hidden gems.
1) Wander Jerusalem’s Hidden Neighborhoods
Mea Shearim and Nachlaot are two of the most interesting, if lesser-known, neighborhoods. Mea Shearim is a traditional ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood that has existed since the early 1900s and remains relatively unchanged. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with small shops and restaurants serving Jewish fares like kugel and gefilte fish.
Nachlaot, on the other hand, the neighborhood next to Machane Yehuda food market, is a vibrant area full of trendy cafes and galleries that attract young people from all over Israel. Both feature unique architecture and a fascinating glimpse into different aspects of Israeli culture.
In Davidka Square, found at the intersection of Mea Shearim and Nachlaot, you’ll find one of the few remaining Davidkas – a homemade mortar used by the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1948 War of Independence. These neighborhoods certainly contain some of the most unusual things to do in Jerusalem, and you can explore them in just one day through this unique walking tour.
2) Uncover the Mysteries of the Judean Desert
If you want to go off the beaten path Israel has plenty to offer in the desert. The Judean Desert houses unique attractions, including Jabal Montar and the Mar Saba Monastery. Jabal Montar is a mountain that rises 824 meters above sea level. See incredible views of the surrounding desert landscape, from this rocky terrain. Then, ascend to its summit, rumored to be where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
The ancient Mar Saba Monastery was founded in 478 AD by Saint Sabbas and still stands today. It’s located on a cliff overlooking Wadi Kelt and offers visitors an incredibly unique experience. The Dead Sea is also close by, providing an opportunity to float in the healing waters and explore its surrounding area, which is full of fun things to do in Israel. You can explore the Judean Desert in the comfort of air conditioning with a Jeep tour of the area.
3) Immerse Yourself in Ancient Jewish History in the North
In the opposite direction from the Negev, you have another absolute gem of Israel: Safed and the Golan Heights, two of Israel’s best-kept secrets. Safed, known as one of the four holy cities in Israel and Judaism, is located in Northern Israel and is rich in Jewish history. It is home to several ancient synagogues, including the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue from the 16th century and the Yosef Caro synagogue from the 15th century. Mount Meron, the second-highest mountain in Israel, is located here and is a great way to experience the country’s beauty, especially when watching a sunset. The Golan Heights region also features historic sites that date back thousands of years.
Sites such as Nimrod Castle and Tel Dan Nature Reserve offer visitors a chance to explore ancient Jewish fortifications, churches, and other ruins. Katzrin, the “capital of Golan”, is also an incredible place to visit, as it contains reconstructed homes from the Bronze Age Talmudic period. You can explore all these sights and more on this truly one-of-a-kind day tour, on a journey full of comfort and discovery.
4) Discover the Secrets of Israeli Security
If you’ve watched Fauda or Homeland, chances are you’ve heard about the security measures taken in Israel. But have you ever wanted to learn more? Well, here’s your chance!
One of the more unusual things to do in Israel, visitors can have the option to go behind the scenes and uncover the secrets of Israeli security. This unique experience takes participants through checkpoints, hidden bunkers, and secret passages as they discover why Israel is such a safe place for its citizens and visitors. This guided tour from former members of the Special Forces is available to you if you want to learn secrets in safety.
5) Glitter with Tel Aviv Diamonds
Tel Aviv is known for its vibrant nightlife and hipster cafes, but did you know it’s also a great place to find some real hidden gems: diamonds?
Israel produces some of the world’s most beautiful diamonds, and visitors can get their hands on these sparkling gems in Tel Aviv. From traditional jewelry stores to flea markets and diamond exchanges, the diamond exchange is booming in the city.
For those looking for an even more exclusive experience of one of the most unique things to do in Tel Aviv, private tours of diamond factories can be arranged. On one of these trips, you’ll have the chance to talk with just some of the more than 15,000 professionals employed in the industry. If you’d like to sit down with one of these professionals and hear their perspective, try this special 3-hour Diamond district tour.
6) Take in the Beauty of Jaffa at Sunset
Jaffa is a beautiful port city that dates back to ancient times, filled with winding cobblestone streets, old churches, and many great restaurants and bars. But the best way to experience Jaffa is at sunset when the sky turns pink and orange as the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea. You could stroll by the waterfront for stunning views or wander around the old town for an even more authentic feel.
For the best sunset view in town, you can head up to St. Peter’s Church, or you can explore the many other attractions the city has to offer, like the Hapisga Gardens, the Ilana Goor Museum, and the Jaffa Flea Market. All of these sights are offered in this Jaffa Sunset Walking Tour, which you can add on to your day after coming back from any day tour that leaves from Tel Aviv!
7) Stargaze in the Negev Desert
The Negev Desert may not be the first place that comes to mind when considering a night out, but it can be an unforgettable experience and is one of the most unique places in Israel. Visit at sunset to see the sky light up with shades of pinks and oranges, then set up camp for the night beneath moonlit skies.
Stargazing in this area is particularly spectacular due to low levels of light pollution, so bring your telescope or just lay back and enjoy the vast expanse of stars above you. There are also plenty of nocturnal animals in Negev, perfect for viewing on a night safari. Stargazing Tours and Night Safaris are available through Tourist Israel, so you can see these wonders of nature with an expert at your side.
What Hidden Gems Will You Mine?
Israel may be a small country, but it’s full of hidden gems. From learning the secrets of the Judean Desert to discovering the actual gems in Tel Aviv, there are plenty of unique activities and attractions to explore. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to take in some stunning views, Israel has something for everyone – so why not go discover them?
Tourist Israel offers many packages to help you explore the country, all tailored to what you want to get out of your trip. Whether you’re in Israel for a day or a week, by yourself or with a group, Tourist Israel is here to take you off the beaten path for an experience that will make your trip one-of-a-kind.