Israel is a small country, only 8,367 square miles, loaded with history, culture, resorts, and restaurants. For many visitors, more important than the history and culture, Israel is the cradle of three of the world's monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
In spite of hundreds of other exotic vacation spots around the world, people have continued to flood to Israel for many years, often being recognized as the oldest tourist destination on earth. In Israel, visitors can experience the Mediterranean, the desert, mountains, lakes, rivers, green valleys, and cities and towns of every size. Israel Ministry of Tourism is proud to be celebrating 50 years this year; each year welcoming well over three million people visiting Israel and the sights of significance.
Many of Israel's visitors are visiting for the second, third, fourth, or more times. They are looking for new and exciting locations to visit, allowing them to see and experience even more that Israel has to offer. Some hidden gems that are a great addition to your trip include:
Mt. Hermon - At the southern tip of the Alpine trail, Mt. Hermon boasts the only ski resort in the Middle East, featuring a wide range of ski trails at novice, intermediate, and expert levels. With beautiful views, Mt. Hermon offers spectacular views of Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.
Nimrod Fortress - An impressive site located on the slopes of Mount Hermon above the Banias Spring, affords glimpses of forested valleys and marvelous vistas. The fortress was built in 1228 AD to block passage from Acre to Damascus. Today, visitors can visit and explore the fortress during the day, and in the evening, with advanced arrangements being made you can take lantern tours through the secret passageway that served as an exit for those inside. The winter months are a perfect time for these tours with Day Light Savings time making the days shorter.
Hula Valley - The lake and the swamps are home to tens of thousands of birds of more than 200 species, including cranes, storks, pelicans, cormorants, and egrets. These birds stay in the reserve, knowing they can find an abundance of food. Visitors can ride in specially appointed John Deere tractors with trailers to see the birds up close.
Belvoir Castle - A crusader fortress in Northern Israel, Belvoir Castle, is the best preserved crusader fortress in all of Israel and the prototype of the Tower
Acre (Akko) - Originally a Crusader port city, Acre is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited sites in the world, offering a wealth of history, culture and culinary pleasures. Visitors can walk through the Knights Hall, visit the markets and ports while enjoying extraordinary cuisine, and stroll through Acre's Old City a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
No matter how many times you visit Israel, you can always explore new discoveries; come to Israel and experience them for yourself. If you need help in planning your trip, the Midwest Israel Government Tourist Office, led by Consul Omer Eshel, an Israel licensed and certified guide, can provide you with the education, resources, and tools to plan a life changing journey to Israel. For more information about tourism to Israel, visit www.goisrael.com or contact the Midwest Office at (312) 803-7080 or
Jill Daly is public relations director of the Israel Government Tourist Office for the Midwest.