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10 gorgeous reasons to visit Israel next year

Cranking up the color with vivid images of the country's grace and majesty -- winter, spring, summer and fall
Jerusalem under the snow: Tower of David snowstorm (photo credit: Noam Chen)
Jerusalem under the snow: Tower of David snowstorm (photo credit: Noam Chen)

Israel is arguably one of the world’s smallest countries. Yet small as it may be, it has to be one of the most exciting places on earth.

It’s a country that can be an inspiration to all – the only place in the region where all religions live side by side under a solid democracy. It has become an international center for innovation and development, despite all geographical and political struggles. Even the desert flourishes in Israel.

A visit to the Holy Land may prove to be a spiritual experience even for those of who are not religious, considering how rich in history the land is. There is so much to be in awe for.

As 2014 comes to an end, it’s time to list my top 10 reasons for why you should start planning your visit here in 2015, in case you haven’t done so yet.

1. See the desert bloom (Spring)

The Negev desert is famous for its beautiful and arid landscape. There is a time in the year when, for a mere couple of months, the desert transforms and become dotted with lush and colorful fields. Spring comes early in Israel, and February is the peak season to see the forests of the northern Negev filled with flowers and visitors alike. The “Red South” festival is celebrated during this month, offering plenty of activities revolving the blooming scenery.

darom adom festival israel
Lush and colorful, Shokeda Forest
flowers field in southern Israel
Filled with color and magic, buttercups field in southern Israel

2. Join Israel’s Independence Day festivity (Spring)

Every year around April-May (set according to the Hebrew calendar), Israel is celebrating one of its most beloved national holidays – the Independence Day. It follows the national Day of Remembrance for fallen soldiers, and the proximity is an experience for itself. During the Day of Remembrance, a heavy atmosphere looms in the air, especially when the entire country stands in silence as one, to the sound of the siren.

As night falls, 8pm on the clock, the atmosphere changes as the country moves from remembering the fallen to celebrating its own rise. It starts with the traditional Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem, broadcasted live on national TV, followed by firework spectacles in almost every city. The next day is packed with events, the most exciting of which is the aerial demonstration by the IDF flying different types of aircraft over the country. Being here during these two national days is an ultimate Israeli experience.

fireworks in jerusalem during Israel's Independance Day
Celebrations at the Tower of David, Jerusalem
Israel's Independance Day celebrations tel aviv
Fireworks over Tel Aviv
IDF aeriel demonstration
Powerful and accurate, IDF aerial demonstration

3. Experience Jerusalem Day celebrations (Spring)

Also happening in May is the national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. The most thrilling celebration of the day is the flags parade, where thousands of men and women cross the Old City dancing and waving a sea of Israeli flags, all the way to the Western Wall. There, by the time the sun sets down, they all gather in a dense and ecstatic group singing Jerusalem-related tunes out loud. If you are Jewish, Zionist or feel a strong connection to the land and people of Israel, there’s no better time and place for you to be.

child with israeli flag at western wall
Strengthening the historical bond, Jerusalem Day at the Western Wall
Jerusalem Day celebration western wall
The flags parade reaching the Western Wall
Jerusalem Day celebrations
Celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem

4. Enjoy Jerusalem’s Festival of Light (Summer)

Every year in June, there is one week in which, each night, the historical streets of the Israeli capital turn even more magical. Dozens of art installations and light displays decorate the ancient walls and alleyways, some including live music and performances. With several tracks to choose from, food and gifts stands along the way and many photo opportunities, you can expect a joyful night out for the entire family.

damascus gate festival of light Jerusalem
The decorated Damascus Gate during Festival of Light
festival of light in jerusalem Israel
Fascinated by a display of music and light, visitors at the Jewish Quarter
Jerusalem's Festival of Light jaffa gate
One of many art installations, Jaffa Gate

5. Relax on one of many beaches (Summer)

From Nahariya in the north, to Eilat in the south, Israel’s coastline is stunning. If you’re not among those who prefer the air-conditioned malls to escape the Mediterranean summer, then dipping in the sea has to be your first choice. Whether you want to swim, engage in sport activities or simply sunbathe, there are plenty of wonderful beaches to choose from.

jaffa old city and beach Israel
Surfing on the background of Jaffa’s Old City
tel aviv beach Israel
Typical sunset at the beach, Tel Aviv
eilat beach israel
Children play on the shores of Eilat

6. Observe the migrating birds at Hula Lake Park (Fall)

Hula Lake Park is, in my eyes, one of Israel’s hidden gems. Between October and December, tens of thousands of migrating birds gather here on their way to warmer countries. The views and sounds are spectacular, especially during dawn. There are guided tours on offer to see the birds during peak season, and the ambiance is nothing like you’d expect from a country like Israel.

migrating birds during a foggy morning Israel
Migrating birds on a foggy morning, Hula Lake Park
migrating birds at hula lake park
The views and sounds will captivate you, Autumn in Hula
migrating birds at hula lake park Israel
Not a typical sight you’d expect from Israel, the migrating Cranes

7. Tour the milestones in Jesus’ life and death during Christmas (Winter)

While billions of people celebrate the end of the year at home next to the Christmas tree, how about spending the holidays in the land where it all happened?

From Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israel is known for the numerous sites related to the life and death of Jesus Christ. For Christian believers, this has to be the highlight of a life-changing trip to the Holy Land.

Via Dolorosa jerusalem Israel
5th station of the Cross, Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem
stations of the cross Jerusalem
Christian worshiper at The Foundation Stone
church of the holy sepulcher jerusalem
Light above the Tomb of Jesus, Church of the Holy Sepulcher
ray of light above galilee mountains israel
Sun rays piercing through the clouds, the Galilee Mountains

8. Witness snow in Jerusalem (Winter)

It doesn’t snow in Jerusalem every year, so for this you’ll need a bit of luck. When it does snow, the views of the holy city covered in white are simply amazing. Your best chance to see snow in Jerusalem would be between January and February, although last year (2013) the city had experienced heavy snowfall in early December. For the full report of what it was like, check my previous blog.

man hiding from snow with prayer shawl
Heavy snowfall at the Western Wall
Tower of David under snow, Jerusalem
The views are simply amazing, Jerusalem under the snow

9. Visit the Dead Sea before it shrinks (Year around)

The Dead Sea is one of the most unique places in Israel. Its shores are the Earth’s lowest point on land, the sea is surrounded by Desert Mountains, and you can float on its salty water while covering yourself with nutritious mud. But the truth is that the Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking, due to various environmental reasons. It won’t disappear next year, but with its water receding in a rate of over 1 meter a year, with every year that’s gone by, we have less and less of the miraculous sea to enjoy.

Dead Sea, Israel
The miraculous Dead Sea, Israel
dead sea reflections
Its water are rapidly receding, the Dead Sea

10. Check out Tel Aviv’s new towers (Year around)

Tel Aviv is Israel’s biggest city and probably the fastest growing one as well. Every year new high-risers in all shapes and sizes, whether residential or enterprises, appear in almost every corner of the metropolis. If you’ve visited Tel Aviv before, the next time you come, you will surely notice the difference. Besides new skyscrapers, development always contributes to the rise of more restaurants, bars and shops as well, so everyone is guaranteed not to be bored during their visit to the big city.

tel aviv israel urban landscape
Cityscape of modern Tel Aviv
israel tel aviv skyscrapers
Israel’s tallest building, Moshe Aviv Tower
real estate architecture tel aviv
An urban jewel at one of the city’s business districts
tel aviv high-risers real estate
In all shapes and sizes, Tel Aviv’s high-risers

I want to wish all the readers and all my followers a very happy new year!

For more of Israel’s amazing landscapes visit my website, or join me on my Facebook page.

For feedback and inquiries, email me at: noamc75@gmail.com

About the Author
Noam Chen is a Tel Aviv-based photographer, specializing mostly in Landscape and Portraits. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the world, including National Geographic magazine, Entrepreneur, The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Le Figaro and more. He has exhibited in group and sole exhibitions in Israel, France and the U.S. Noam works closely with the Tourism and Real Estate industries in Israel, and now offers photography services throughout the U.S as well.
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