When I traveled to Israel, I only had five days to explore the country yet I still managed to have wonderful time. If you find yourself short on time, you may want to consider checking out these three places:
Old City of Jerusalem
The old City of Jerusalem is a major tourist destination of biblical proportion! The city itself is divided into four different regions based on religious backgrounds. They are:
- The Christian quarter
- The Armenian quarter
- The Jewish quarter
- The Islamic quarter
The three main religious groups that occupy Israel are the Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Despite the fact they don’t really like each other, they still manage to live in harmony with one another.
While there are many places to see in Old Jerusalem, the main attraction would be the Wailing Wall, a place where you can pray and write a wish on a piece of paper to insert in between the stone cracks of the wall.
Be aware though, as the wall is actually separated by gender. I accidentally walked into the side designated for females, and got kicked out. Also, you must never turn your back to the wall, meaning you need to walk backwards to exit.
A word of caution, the Jewish quarter is very sensitive and you might be told off if you spend too much time taking pictures.
Other popular areas that you may consider visiting if you happen to be in Old Jerusalem is the Cenacle or “Upper Room” where the famous picture of the last supper was held. Unfortunately I missed this!
Masada was built by Herold the Great and was also the major battle ground during the first Roman-Jewish war. 960 Jews committed mass suicide instead of being captured by the Roman forces during the invasion.
Masada is a fortification atop a mountain located in the Judean desert and is very close to the Dead Sea.
Since this is a major tourist attraction, be prepared for people to get in the way of your pictures! Also, make sure you bring water and adequate sun protection as there are very little places with shade. Initially we had planned on spending an hour exploring Masada, but because the area was so big we ended up spending twice as long atop the mountain.
The entry fee to Masada is 74 Shekels (about $25 CAD). As a group of 4, we paid a total of 800 Shekels for a taxi to take us both to Masada and the Dead Sea. It seemed more affordable to taxi, rather paying 300 Shekels per person to join a tour group organized by our hostel to transit to both locations.
If budget is a top concern, you also have the option of taking a local bus to both locations, but it will be a long ride.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is famous for being located 429 metres below sea level, making it the lowest point on earth. It is also the world’s saltiest body of water, 9.6 times saltier than Oceans to be precise!
Because of the high salt content, floating is effortless.
Do be careful, while the Dead Sea is fun, it is also a harsh place to be. If you have any open wounds, you many want to think twice before submerging in the water. The blisters on my feet, which had popped the night before, burned once I came into contact with the salt water. Also, the sun is quite intense, making the sand and rocks so hot it’s almost impossible to walk into the water without burning your feet.
The entry fee to the Dead Sea is 57 Shekels (about $20 Canadian).
And there you have it, if you are short on time in Israel, do make sure to visit Old Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea! You won’t regret it.